Here’s the song reference.
Nearly every time I set foot in the kitchen, I am immediately beset by the midget mob and their pleas to be allowed to assist with the preparation of whatever food might be on the menu for our next meal or snack. While I try to accommodate them as often as possible, the mayhem that usually accompanies their participation, particularly the heated arguments among the tiny people over who should be permitted to do what, generally has me shooing them away from the stove and dispatching them to fold napkins or retrieve forks and spoons from the silverware drawer.
Of course, as I type this, I’m struck by the realization that I’ve been missing a wonderful opportunity to teach them patience, humility, and cooperation that has a built-in and highly desirable reinforcer. Sometimes the efficient way isn’t the best one.
At any rate, I had thawed out a pork roast to cook for last night’s dinner, and, as I removed it from the refrigerator, it occurred to me that the preparation of that particular roast was fairly simple, and something Bugaboo could certainly do. As I took a pie plate down from the cupboard, I called to her, “Hey, Bugaboo, do you want to help make dinner tonight?”
A faint “Wha-a-at?” wafted up the stairs at me from behind the closed door of the boys’ room, where Bugaboo was into something involving stuffed animals, action figures, and a toy picnic basket with Baby Guy.
“Do you want to help make dinner tonight?”
I heard the distinctive sound of a door crashing into a wall, then the pounding of Bugaboo feet ascending the stairs at a run.
“I can help make dinner? Yes, I’d love to! What are we making?”
I showed her the bag with the roast in it. “What is this?”
“I think it’s pork. Are we making that?”
“Yup. And you can help, if you want. Go wash your hands. When you think they’re really clean, wash them again. And please don’t slam the bathroom door,” I added, as the bathroom door slammed shut behind her.
Moments later, my able and eager assistant was perched on a kitchen chair, awaiting instructions. Her first task was to line the pie plate with foil (because Mommy hates scrubbing caramelized sugar and other burnt stuff off the dishes), and she quickly learned that it’s not as easy as it looks to get foil to conform to the contours of a round pan. Still, she managed to do a decent job of it, and I showed her how to put a finger in the center of the foil and use her other hand to trace the outline of the pan’s bottom in the foil with her finger, which makes it lay flat. She thought that was pretty cool.
I handed her a can of cooking spray and asked her to spray the foil, so the roast would release when it was done cooking. She stared dubiously at the can for a few moments, and I reminded her to find the hole in the can top, and point that at the pan, but not at her face. About a minute later, as I was assembling ingredients for her to mix the crust for the roast, I heard a sound like an angry snake, followed by a great deal of coughing. Turning to see what had happened, I saw a puddle of pale yellow foam in the middle of the pie plate and a red-faced, coughing, six-year-old.
“You okay, Bugaboo?”
“Yeah (cough), I think (cough) so.”
I handed her a paper towel and a cup of water. “What happened?”
“I finally got it to spray, but it sprayed at me. I didn’t point it at my face, see, I pointed it at the pan, but it still sprayed at me.”
Managing not to chuckle, I gently reminded her (she’s used cooking spray before) that she needed to hold the can a little farther above the pan when spraying it, or the mist would ricochet off the pan and into her face. “Are you okay? Do you want to try to finish it, or do you want me to help you?”
“Can you show me how high to hold the can?
“This, I can do.” Holding the can about a foot above the pan, I gave the pie plate a quick spritz. “See? Like that.”
“Oh.” Bugaboo glanced up at me sheepishly. “I guess that was pretty silly.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Everybody forgets things, especially things they don’t do that often. Ready to try again?”
“Sure.” This time, she succeeded in coating the pan instead of herself, and went on to finish the rest of the steps to prepare the pork for roasting, while her envious sister watched. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but I will include the recipe after today’s prayer.
Dinner was delicious.
Beanie extracted a promise from me that she would get to help make dinner tonight.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the abundance of nourishing food You provide for our family, for the home with its kitchen table where we all gather for meals, for a family that believes that meals should be eaten together, without distractions, for the means to pay for electricity to run the appliances to prepare them, for a place to store our daily bread safely. Thank You for Your blessings who want to learn about and help with everything that goes into making those family dinners. Please grant us the grace to give sincere thanks to You for all Your gifts, instead of rushing through a prayer before meals, patient hearts that yearn to teach the right lessons to Your blessings, and gentle tongues when we instruct. Remind us, as we enjoy Your bounty, to recall and refresh Your children with whom we should share it, and inflame us with the desire to minister to them.
Pork roast even picky two-year-olds will eat:
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp (or more) ginger
salt for sprinkling
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil, then oil, butter, or spray the foil. Sprinkle a pinch or two of salt on the greased foil. Lay the pork loin on top of the salt, fat side up. Mix the brown sugar with the remaining seasonings (if you have maple sugar, this recipe benefits hugely from a dash of that as well) and pat it onto the pork loin, forming a crust. Roast for 30 minutes per pound. Slice thickly, and lay the slices in the pan juices for serving. If you have kids, be prepared for fights to break out over pieces of the crust.