So it's a cold gray day here in the Middle. Not the kind of Autumn cold that is invigorating, but the kind of damp chill that is demoralizing. "What should we do today Mommy?" says 5 year old Marge. "Can we make something?" Bless her heart for asking that question instead of "Can we watch television?" Score one for the mother!!
"Yes, we can make something. How about cookies?" I replied with trepidation as I began to dig in the baking cabinet looking for ingredients. I was not about to take 3 children to the store, in the rain, to buy a missing ingredient. So it was with a bit of luck and a little Googling that I was able to come up with a recipe for cookies that matched the 5 bags of leftover chocolate morsels and rock of brown sugar that I had on hand. WooHoo! Score two for the mother!!
We got all the ingredients out and lined them up on the counter so they could help me dump them into the bowl one at a time. They wanted to sample each ingredient before it went in and since this activity was intended to be a time killer and not just a baking project, I agreed. They sampled everything and had some fabulous responses:
After the flour Mona said, "Mom this tastes like paper." And when I asked her how she knew what paper tasted like she responded, "Because yesterday I was being a recycle bin and I ate my tiny art project." I'm not happy about the consumption of non-edibles. But hey! My three year old knows what a recycle bin is! WooHoo! Score three!
The salt produced puckered faces and cries for beverages. Not unexpected.
When we got to the baking soda, Marge said "Mom, if I eat this will I rise?" Where does she learn this stuff?
I sliced off a tiny sliver of butter for each girl and placed it in the palm of their hand. The little one licked and licked and licked and then finally put her whole fist in her mouth. The butter was a hit with Minnie.
It was when we got to the sugar that this little culinary adventure became a opportunity for true learning. I got out the brown sugar and we sampled and measured. Smiles all around, no big surprise there. Then I got out the white sugar AND the Splenda. My thinking was I would let them sample both and give them the choice about which to put into the recipe. (Here is where I'll get some comments about feeding my children chemicals and sucralose. About how I'm stunting their growth. About how children don't need to eat that stuff and I should be reported for crimes against nutrition. To that I have only one thing to say...COKE IN A BABY BOTTLE! So either get over the choice I offered them and keep reading while I get to the point of this whole fable or stop reading. Your choice.)
Back to the sugar and the Splenda. I gave them each a pinch of sugar in their palm and told them to taste. I explained that we were going to try the next ingredient and decide which one we should put in the recipe. I told them that both ingredients would do the same job for the cookies, and that they were a lot alike but just a little different. Not unlike the brown sugar sampling, the white sugar was a hit. Then I gave them each a pinch of Splenda.
Minnie breathed into her palm too hard and her first pinch blew away in an instant.
Mona observed "It's so 'airy'. It doesn't feel like anything."
Marge peered at it dubiously and upon sampling it declared, "It's sweet, but it's not the same."
So we made the cookies with the sugar. We spent nearly an hour on a cold rainy day combining things that by themselves, weren't all that great but together turned out spectacularly. We laughed and counted and measured and mixed and spooned and made a huge mess. Then we had chocolate chip cookies for lunch.
Which proves two things:
1. Always use the real sugar, whether you're baking or saying something to someone you love. The fake stuff is sweet but it disappears if you don't hold onto it carefully, it doesn't really feel like anything AND it's just not the same as the real thing.
2. She who can see the wisdom and good fortune in the batter is truly a smart cookie.