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Holiday memories start in the kitchen


Jean Ince | Domestic Columnist

If you are looking for a
new holiday tradition to
start with your children,
consider baking up a batch
of cookies or breads. Such
memories can last a lifetime
and it is fun both for the
adult and the child. Plus
your child will be learning
new life skills.
Children are natural
kitchen helpers. They like
to share simple tasks such
as shopping for food, picking
what foods to prepare,
stirring mixes, cutting out
cookies, even simple chopping.
They love helping you
prepare and serve food to
the family.
Baking Christmas cookies
for Santa is a perfect way
to introduce your child to
the kitchen. Baking cookies
gives the child a chance to
measure, count, and see
food change. That’s early
math and science learning.
Cooking together also builds
language and reading skills.
You can read the labels on
the ingredients and read
the recipe together. Small
muscle skills are being developed
too, when your
child uses his or her hands
to mix, measure, cut out or
decorate the cookies. Even
cleaning up provides an opportunity
to teach. Cleanup
teaches responsibility. It is
part of many creative, messy
things we do.
When baking in the kitchen
with children, there are
some safety rules you will
want to follow. They include:
– Fasten child’s hair back
if it is long. This goes for
your hair too.
– Wear clean clothes
with short sleeves. Wear an
apron. It makes children feel
“super” special. Consider
making or wearing matching
– Wash your hands properly
and keep kitchen surfaces
as clean as possible.
– Resist nibbling cookie
dough or cake batter. Raw
eggs carry the bacteria salmonella.
Save your tasting
until the recipe is complete.
– Stay away from hot surfaces
and utensils and sharp
objects. As the parent, be
in charge of removing pans
from the oven. Older children
can be taught how to
use an oven mitt to remove
hot pans from the oven.
– Wipe up spills as soon
as they happen.
Children can and will
want to do a lot when baking
together. Some of the tasks
they can perform easily
– Stirring items together.
Shaking sprinkles on the
finished cookies. Cutting out
the cookies with a cookie
– Spreading the icing on
the cookies once they have
cooled. Mixing ingredients
together. Kneading the cookie
dough. Rolling the cookie
dough out before cutting.
As a parent, be aware that
cooking together may require
a little more patience.
Your child will make a mess.
It’s okay! Young children do
not have the same muscle
coordination and skills that
you do. Sometimes even
adults make a mess when
Allow plenty of time to
bake together. A recipe that
takes 20 minutes to prepare,
will probably take twice as
long when you are preparing
it with a child. Also be
prepared for the child to
lose interest. They may not
complete each step, but
will probably do some of
each step as you go along.
It’s worth letting your child
help. Kitchen time is learning
time that you share together.
When you finish, sit
down and share a cookie
and a glass of milk. Reflect
on the day’s activity. Who
knew learning could be so
much fun! For more information
on nutrition, meal
preparation, or cooking
with children, contact the
Howard County Extension
Office at 870-845-7517 or visit
our office located on the
second floor of the courthouse.
Have fun baking and
building memories together
with your child this holiday
Recipe of the Week
Here is a basic sugar
cookie recipe to get you
started baking with your
children. Children will have
lots of fun cutting out and
decorating the cookies!
Sugar Cookies
1 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable shortening
(may use shortening
1 egg
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. vanilla
Cream together the sugar
and shortening. Add egg and
mix well. Sift dry ingredients
together and add to mixture.
Finally, add vanilla and mix
well. Roll out cookie dough
and cut with a cookie cutter.
Bake at 350 degrees for
about 10 minutes.
Butter Cream Frosting
1 lb. powdered sugar,
¼ lb. (1/2 c.) soft butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 to 4 tbsp. milk
Food coloring, optional
Cream 1/3 of sugar with
butter and salt in large bowl.
Blend extract, 2 tablespoons
milk, and remaining sugar
into mixture. Gradually stir
remaining milk into frosting
until desired spreading
consistency is reached. Add
food coloring, if desired.
Complete with candy sprinkles
or colored sugar.