Little hands are a big help in the kitchen – The Examiner

By Gloria Yoder The Amish Cook

Kitchen styles come and go in spurts with us. I like to leaf through cooking magazines with creative ideas from other cooks. However, in the midst of an intense life of homeschooling three and mothering six young children, I rarely have or make time for extravagant dishes.

When I dig for new recipes, it’s no longer the prettiest creations I’m looking for, but what falls into the category of nutritious, simple and affordable all-in-one foods. Julia is definitely a baker at heart and enjoys trying new recipes in the baking channel. There is a satisfaction that I never imagined possible in growing a baker among us. With a growing family consuming huge amounts of food, it’s such a blessing that she comes to see me in the afternoon to ask if she can cook something.

Unless I have other plans for her, I always give her the green light, “Go ahead!” After choosing a recipe and tying the new baker’s apron Aunt Mary made for her, she’s ready to go.

Hosanna is on her heels. Thanks to Mary for making a matching beige and white apron for her too. Recently, she mixed pancakes from scratch on her own as I told her the ingredients and quantities from the recliner, where I was holding a feverish child.

Since Austin learned to read, he now enjoys reading his ingredients on his own. As a 7 year old boy, I was amazed at his cooking skills. Maybe he will look like his father, who is a chef at heart.

Jesse likes to help where he can. Last week, while mixing dry ingredients for cookies, pancakes, and brownies (for convenience on busy days), Jesse said he wanted to drive the new little digger through my ingredients. I debated. No doubt it would keep him out of trouble for quite a while.

I scanned my turntable with containers and spotted a flat one. Grabbing it, I put a few cups of quick oats in it.

“Here you dig into these rolled oats and walk them around in the container, okay?”

It worked beautifully as Elijah carefully helped me measure and scoop out the ingredients and whisk them together. Elijah has his dad’s patience and can happily help out in the kitchen for a long time, reminding me now and then that since he’s cooking this food, he can pour it on his plate too. It’s amazing how much it motivates them to want to bake or cook when they know they can make their own food, and if it’s cake or bars they’re helping out with , they have the chance to cut them.

At one year old, little Joshua is serious about doing his part in dumping and fussing. He follows Elijah and Dad’s traits of being careful and precise and careful not to mess up too much.

As you can only imagine, at 4:00 p.m. our kitchen takes on its own characteristics as we prepare supper. While it teaches valuable life lessons that kids help clean up the kitchen, it’s a pleasure and a half that Dad sometimes takes the little tribe with him into the living room while I clean up! And yes, when the canisters were replenished and the projects finished, Jesse wiped down his new charger and I was like new again!

Now that Julia is baking chocolate chip cookies, I’ll leave you with my “too easy and too good rice,” which we’ll have for supper tonight. As you know, rice isn’t usually too high on kids’ favorites list, but this rice is a hit no matter where we go! It seems too easy for his taste every time. Thanks to Mary, Daniel’s sister, for showing us the recipe!

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mother, homemaker, and writer from rural Illinois. To learn more about the column, visit www.amish365.com/about.

Rice cooking too easy and too good

4 cups of chicken broth

1 cup of water

2 cups rice (I prefer to use Parboil rice)

3 tablespoons parsley flakes

2 teaspoons seasoning salt

6 tablespoons of butter

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon chicken base

2 cups diced and prepared chicken

1 cup bell peppers, diced (optional)

1 cup onions, chopped (optional)

1 cup mushrooms, diced (optional)

Pour everything into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, mix everything together and bake at 350 for one hour or until the rice is tender. You can add a little water if more is needed to absorb the rice. Sprinkle with a cup of shredded cheese of your choice and, if desired, top with seasoned breadcrumbs. Return to oven until cheese is melted.

For 15 people. The recipe can also be cut in half.

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