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By Jorj Morgan
A skinned knee, poor quiz grade, or best friend turned foe are all great excuses for a little mommy and me time. Scoop her up into your arms, stand her on a kitchen chair, and pull out that bag of chocolate chips hiding in the back of the cupboard. Spend the next 20 minutes of quality time baking homemade chocolate chip cookies - just you and your baby. Soon you will be sharing a big glass of cold milk, warm-from-the-oven cookies and a memory that she will never forget.
Start by involving your child in the idea of baking cookies. Of course, you can open a store bought bag and hand her a cookie, but you would miss an opportunity to do more than assuage her dark mood. Children and home-baked cookies are a tradition. Connecting with your child in kitchen activities is a way to develop skills like sorting, measuring, adding and subtracting. Baking cookies is a good way to introduce time concepts. Stirring and dropping the cookies is an example of fine motor skill activities. Working together, hand-in-hand is an excellent example of teamwork. Here is a terrific way to spend time together that offers an educational opportunity with the added benefit of a good treat.
Here are some fun tips to make cookie baking a breeze. Start by locating all of the ingredients you need, and placing them on the counter. Sort the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, etc.). Use a measuring cup and measuring spoons to scoop up the correct amount of each. Digging and pouring will keep a tiny mind occupied while unhappy memories recede.
Soften butter in the microwave or better yet, substitute with a solid vegetable shortening that blends easily and quickly. Use an electric mixer to cream the sugar into the shortening. Be careful to occupy little hands with other interests while you scrape down the sides of the bowl. Perhaps counting those little chocolate chips would be a fun task. Toss in a cupful of uncooked oats to the batter to give the cookies a chunky texture.
Now comes the fun part - adding those luscious chips to your chunky batter. Pour them in - or drizzle them around the side of the bowl. You may choose to count them as they're added; one for mom, two for the bowl, and - how many are being crammed into her giggling mouth?
While the cookies bake, join together in a quick clean up. Kitchen fun includes reinforcing chores and taking pride in completing a task. Don't forget to ask for a soapy hug or a bubbly kiss.
When the oven timer winds down and the buzzer finally buzzes the cookies come out of the oven smelling just like you remember them from your childhood. Pour a couple of glasses of chilled milk, sit down at the table, and offer her the first gooey bite. As her cheery smile reappears, you relax. Enjoy this special moment made possible by a well-spent twenty minutes!
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