I went on a shopping trip to The Container Store with my 5-year-old granddaughter Nicky. Nicky is one of those people who was born with sorting and organization skills. Nicky commented, “The last time we were here we got that box for my shells.” I said, “That’s true.” Last summer we purchased a 24-compartment plastic box, to organize her growing shell collection. Sorting and organizing her shells was fun for Nicky; she took a long thoughtful time to do this. She’s the kind of kid that cleans her room during nap time; she stores things in order under her bed. She has “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I couldn’t have a better partner to help me organize my kitchen. Nicky has always had her “special drawer”, another lower kitchen drawer. I’ve always placed special surprises in there for her like: margarine tubs, big calculators, non-skid pads, “safe” giveaways from meetings like stress reliever squeeze balls, laminated baby photos of Nicky with her family, and tiny toys. We’ll turn this “special drawer” into convenient storage for Nicky’s child-size safe cooking tools.
Despite the temptation to fill the cart with so many extra items I successfully stuck to my simple list: drawer organizer and spice rack. It would be so easy to go crazy in either The Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond; the very thought that my kitchen could look put away, and clutter free is reason enough to indulge beyond my budget. When I really think about it I feel that a “garage-cupboard” for my small appliances would accomplish the same goal. Currently I’m accumulating more small appliances as I purchase safe work-around tools to use with Nicky like the: Egg Central, electric skillet, rice cooker, and my growing collection of crock-pots.
Nicky pushed the cart; I prefer this to her habit of hitching a ride on the side of the cart. She did a very good job of navigating the aisles, safely avoiding other customers. I’m really glad that they don’t have Cozy Coop carts at The Container Store. Trying to navigate a supermarket Cozy Coop cart is like driving a semi. We selected two items: a Expand-a-Drawer Cutlery Tray (for Nicky’s drawer) and a 24- SpiceStack (for my nightmare of a spice cabinet). As we approached the check out we both simultaneously saw it – a little purple transparent plastic piggy bank. Last summer I told Nicky, “I will remember how much you admire it, and add it to your Christmas or birthday wish list.” Well I had forgotten. Since her 5th birthday was coming up very soon I told her we could buy it; Nicky has never begged for anything. I’m just saying. The cashier gave her the bag with the piggy at check out. Needless to say she skipped to the car.
Upon arriving home I emptied her drawer, and put all the baby toys in a bankers box. I wiped out the drawer, and installed the Expand-a-Drawer Cutlery Tray in seconds. It fit perfectly. Meantime Nicky was loading her new piggy bank with plastic toy rings and other small trinkets. I offered pennies, but she turned down the offer. She said, “Grammy, this piggy bank isn’t for pennies.” Together we placed all the new child-size safe tools, purchased on our Bed Bath and Beyond trip, into her drawer. Nicky cut off the tags with her child-size safe scissors. I put an old-fashioned egg beater in there also. I found this egg beater in one of my drawers. Nicky said, “What is this?” She was fascinated with it, and started whirling the beaters. To tell you the truth I probably haven’t used it in at least 20 years! I thought, “Does anyone use an egg beater these days?” This is truly “her grandmother’s” egg beater!
We placed some larger items, like the bowl, colander, and two sifters in the adjoining roll-out cabinet.
During Nicky’s next visit we worked on the SpiceStack. You have no idea how good it felt to remove all the spices from the messy cabinet. I was always searching for a spice every time I started preparing a new recipe. Most times I’ve had to remove at least half of them in order to find the one-two the I need.
I piled all the spices on the dining room table. I decided not to affix the pre-printed labels to the drawers of the SpiceStack, because I may purchase additional spices at later dates. I helped Nicky alphabetize the spices, and insert into the new rack. This went well as we grouped all the Bs, Cs, and so on, but even I got confused as I tried to explain that we needed to alphabetize the second letters as well, example: Black Pepper, Basil, Bay Leaves and so on. Nicky commented, “But Grammy I have all the Bs (and C’s…) together?” I replied, “Yes, yes, you do.” As I wiped out the spice cabinet she loaded the SpiceStack and closed the drawers. She announced, “All done.” It was fine.
I placed the new SpiceStack inside the cabinet, and we finally had an organized system for viewing spices. From now on, every time I buy a new or replacement spice, I’ll write the date in permanent marker on the container.
The same day we prepared hard-cooked eggs using Humpty Dumpty or Egg Central. I swear it t looks exactly like Humpty Dumpty. We purchased this safe work-around tool during our trip to Bed Bath and Beyond. Previously I had taught Nicky how to use it, and this was her second time using it. I was so impressed with her retention. She stood up on her stool, poured the pre-measured distilled water from the beaker into the base; loaded the eggs into the rack. I pricked the top of each egg with the spike on the beaker bottom. This is actually a job that Nicky can do from now on. She felt the spike, and I allowed her to prick several eggs. She did them perfectly with one swift punch – making a tiny pinhole in each egg. She placed the cover on Humpty Dumpty and turned the switch to On.
When the hard-cooked eggs were done, as signaled by the beep, I removed the hot tray of cooked eggs and dipped them into ice water waiting in the sink. The eggs were perfect!
These Humpty Dumpty eggs peel like a dream. Now she can prepare hard-cooked eggs all by herself without hurting herself.
The next day Nicky helped me doing other simple tasks. We prepped a healthy lunch together. After a simple demonstration she handled the vegetable peeler safely. She always washes her hands and puts on her apron.
I must remember that Nicky just turned five this week. She took all her child-size tools out of her drawer and set them up with her stuffed animals. Each pet had a nice food bowl, and she had a lot of fun playing with the tools (that doubled as toys especially my “old-fashioned” Grammy eggbeater)
Fruit = 1/2 c fresh strawberries
Vegetable = 1/2 cup grape tomatoes + sliced cucumber (+ 2 BIG carrots that Nicky peeled – bonus snacks)
Grains = 3 whole grain crackers = 1/2 ounce
Protein = 2 oz Lean deli-turkey (6 thin slices) + 1 Tablespoon peanut butter = 1 ounce
Dairy = 1 c low-fat milk + 1 stick (21 g) natural Light string cheese = 1/2 cup milk
Grammy Post-It Note: the Kambrook Skillet Frypan 9.5 inch Round Model Number KFT, with the single long handle, as used by little Caspar in Kids In The Kitchen, is only available in Australia. I haven’t given up trying to find a similar model in the US, but most I’ve seen in-store and on-line have two small side handles. Please comment. Thanks.
Grammy Post-It Note: At five-years-old Nicky can alphabetize using the first letter of each word. I must remember that Nicky is only five-years-old. It’s okay for her to take all her child-size safe tools out of her drawer and use them as toys. During her visits we also took trips to the park, library, “hot” pool, and ran errands. We can’t stay in the kitchen all the time.
Grammy Post-It Note: Nicky has excellent retention. She prepared the hard-cooked eggs perfectly the second time. Nicky jumped to it when I said, “Grammy can use some help in the kitchen. Can you peel these carrots…. (or wash these tomatoes).” She likes to help and be praised for her efforts.
Grammy Post-It Note: Nicky eats what she prepares. After she peeled and ate the BIG carrot as a snack in the morning, she asked me if she could peel another in the afternoon. She also ate that one. Previously I’ve given her peeled baby carrots from a bag in the refrigerator.
Age Appropriate Cooking Skills – this list will build on itself as child matures and learns new skills
|Skill||Age||Safe Tool||Safe Work-around Tool*||Date Skill:|
|Hard cook eggs||4 and up||Cuisinart Egg Central||2/15/13 – demonstrate
3/1/13 – by herself
|Alphabetize spices||4 and up||SpiceStack||3/1/13|
|Peel carrots||4 and up||safe vegetable peeler||3/2/13|
|Peel cucumber||4 and up||safe vegetable peeler||3/2/13|
|Wash tomatoes||4 and up||stool, small colander||3/2/13|
|MyPlate presentation||4 and up||child’s plastic dinner plate||3/2/13|
* work-around the safety hazards of heat or sharps (as a general rule children should not use the: microwave, oven or stove top unsupervised until age 10-13 years old. They can use a knife with supervision at age 10-13.)
Nicky won’t be back at my house for two weeks. I have a lot planned: skills and recipes.