Cooking with Neko
Santa Claus brought Neko a play kitchen for Christmas, and she has spent countless hours in it since. Visits to IKEA and digs through our cupboards have resulted in her having a very well equipped kitchen. She has whisks, spatulas, pots, pans, cupcake pans, a pizza cutter, a citrus juicer, a garlic press, teaspoons, dishes, a fridge full of wooden and plastic food, mixing bowls, containers full of puffed rice, a bundt pan, a pasta strainer … I could go on, but suffice it to say the girl is ready for some serious cooking.
And serving. After banging around in her kitchen for a while, she’ll walk around the house with a dish or two in her hands, sounding not unlike an Italian grandmother, instructing all the stuffed and real animals in the house to “Eat! Eat!”
A few weeks ago, I was late on making lunch and the resulting low blood sugar had turned normally sweet Neko into a bit of a grouch. I knew that the only way to get lunch made was to involve her. So I took one of our dining chairs, turned it around, pushed it up to the counter and let her help me measure and pour pasta and grate cheese.
After that, there was no turning back. Every day afterwards, as soon as I was in the kitchen for a solid minute, Neko would push up a dining chair and hop up to help. But our dining chairs are as unsturdy as they come—they have no armrests, the backs are open, so it was only a matter of time before Neko fell out of one of the chairs.
I was lucky that it wasn’t a bad fall, but as soon as her tears dried, I got online and found a wooden tower built just to safely boost a toddler to counter height. I asked Neko if she wanted one, and she replied with a still-sniffling “Yeah.”
The tower came quickly and was easy to put together, which is super lucky for me, since the second Neko saw the box, she had to have it assembled, no waiting for Eric to get home to help.
There’s a learning curve for getting in and out of it, but every night since then, Neko has climbed up and assisted from her tower with zero injuries.
If I’m preparing a boring meal, that is one that involves a lot of oven and stove use, which of course I don’t let Neko assist with, she eventually climbs down and goes back to her little kitchen, where she is always safe to preheat, bake, broil and fry to her heart’s content.