We haven’t really tried to force the Girl, as she gets older, to learn how to cook. She’s learned how to clean her room, to dust, to wash a window, to clean the hardwood floors in our house, but cooking, we just didn’t really make her. I don’t know about K, but I figured that she’ll learn when she’s interested. That’s how it was with me. Still, as she nears middle school, we’ve been talking about how, at the very least, she needs to begin making her own lunch for the day.
This weekend, she decided she wanted to make chocolate chip muffins. She didn’t want help other than buying the ingredients and going over the recipe with her. The rest, she wanted to do. So when we went to bed last night, it was with the plan of making muffins in the afternoon after school.
Little did we know that school had already been canceled in anticipation of a front that was supposed to bring ice and freezing rain but never really materialized. We woke up, went through our normal morning routine, and somehow, though the local news was on, missed that Greenville County Schools had canceled everything for the day. We found out when L and I arrived at her school only to find an empty parking lot. “It can’t be a two-hour delay,” I thought, “because there would be some cars there. Someone would be there.” We returned home to find that there was no school, so afternoon muffins became morning muffins.
She began cooking, and I, still not feeling 100%, took the opportunity to lie down for a while. I went to the kitchen occasionally to check on the progress, but overall, she seemed to be doing well, with a little help from the Boy. His help with her was much like his help with anyone: only slightly helpful, often less than helpful, but always eager.
L called me in to help her when she was filling the muffin forms. I looked at the dough and had my doubts.
“Did you follow the instructions very closely?” I asked.
“Yes,” she assured.
“And you mixed this very well?” I asked, wondering how she could have done it without using the mixer. It was thick and not easily budged: it would have been a nightmare to do it by hand.
I took a spatula and found most of the sugar and a good bit of the flour still sitting at the base of the mixing bowl, untouched.
“Oh,” she laughed.
We threw it in the mixer, combined the ingredients thoroughly, and got put everything in the muffin forms.
“Now put it in the oven,” I said.
The Girl doesn’t deal with heat well. Things that seem only lukewarm to K and me threaten to scald her, to send her to the emergency room with third-degree burns. But with a little encouragement, she was able to open the door, put the pan in, and pull it back out in twenty minutes when the buzzer went off.
And the result? For a first attempt, utterly amazing. For any attempt, really very good. Moist, chocolatey, and perfect. A hit for the whole family.
The upshot of this: the Girl was eager to cook again. When it was dinner time, she wanted to learn to make the rice. Instead of just plain old rice, though, I taught her to cook a quick and easy risotto. After looking through a cookbook and finding a recipe for lemony broiled chicken, she’s ready to cook a full dinner next week.
And the rain and ice that shut down schools? Nothing. The ground was dry until early afternoon. A district spokeswoman explained it to a local news outlet:
“When an alert of that magnitude is issued we have to consider the problems it would present not only for our bus riders, but also car riders, including high school drivers, who travel over bridges and on curvy roads,” Brotherton said. “We considered the circumstances that occurred in Asheville on December 31st when even small amounts of fog and drizzle quickly turned to ice on roadways and led to treacherous road conditions and multiple wrecks. After a week of freezing temperatures and already cold roads, asking parents, students and employees to travel in the predicted conditions was not a risk we were willing to take. Safety always comes first.”
It’s not the first time something like this has happened; it won’t be the last. But we’ll always make the most of such days.