So, Angstrom is turning out to be quite interested in the goings on in the kitchen. Not that I’d wish him to become a pro (Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be line cooks!), but I do hope he’ll have the skills. Shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. He uses his bamboo knife to slice things and is an active sandbox chef (his specialty: apple-spaghetti cake, which he covers with a bucket to “bake for two months.”)
Yesterday, when we came home, I offered to get him set up with a snack so that I could start cooking dinner. He went to grab his big, yellow stool (”Want your big yellow stool,” he said) and started dragging it in from the dining room so that he could reach the counter. It toppled over. He continued to try to drag it, even as he told me, “you need help.”
I tried to set him up on his own patch of counter top, but that didn’t fit his image of the afternoon. He wanted to join me on the butcher block so that he could watch me cook. I was a little concerned about this idea, seeing as much of my work was going to consist of chopping vegetables with a 9-inch knife and most of the time that he’s set up there with me, our work consists of measuring and stirring. But he was insistent, and I’m not one to discourage him from learning, so I relented pretty quickly.
Before we could get started, though, we had to figure out what to make. “How about omelets?” I suggested.
“Don’t want omelets!” he replied.
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t like eggs!”
I knew that wasn’t entirely true. I also knew that he has to be in the right mood to enjoy them, so I moved on. “OK, how about beans?”
“Don’t like beans!”
I knew that was entirely false, so I scooped him up and suggested that maybe he wanted to come to the basement with me to choose what kind of beans we ate. No sooner had I said the words, “black beans” than he gave his vigorous approval.
We came back upstairs with two cans of beans; I pulled the coffee cake out of the toaster oven and gave it to him on a plate. As he shoved it in is mouth, I grabbed two onions off of the counter to dice. One was yellow, one was red. “What is that?” he asked, pointing to the red onion. I told him. He corrected me, “It’s a beet.” I was eventually able to convince him otherwise.
Once the onions were in the hot pan, I asked Angstrom what else we should cook with the onions. “Cinnamon,” he told me. That’s his first answer to any cooking question.
“How about tomatoes?” I asked.
“Don’t want tomatoes! Want apples!”
Now, that was cooking advice I could use. “Sure,” I said, “That sounds good.”
At this point, I had to decide he knew what he was talking about. Into the pan went some cinnamon. I also used some black pepper (”Angstrom loves pepper!” he told me) and some ginger.
I peeled the apples each in one strip. With the first apple, I rolled up the peel into a rose. “What is that?” Angstrom asked, then answered his own question. “It’s a flower! Angstrom loves flowers.”
He also loves apples, and he did me the favor of eating half of an apple as I was preparing them to go in the pan. He never reached toward the knife, though, always asking for a piece when he wanted some more. He even said please.
Once the apple went into the pan, I started asking what else should go in. “Beans,” said Angstrom.
“I meant before the beans. Do we want any more vegetables?”
“Angstrom wants tomatoes.”
“Wait, no, you’re the one who talked me out of using tomatoes.”
“Angstrom loves tomatoes.”
This was one piece of advice I didn’t heed. “Actually, Mr.,” I told him (I often call him Mr. Sharrard), “I think you were right the first time. I like the idea of using apples instead of tomatoes. How about we add some peppers?”
He was all right with this plan, so I went ahead and chopped up half a bell pepper and added it into the pan. “Anything else?” I asked the chef.
He was right, it was about time to add the beans. I drained and rinsed the two cans of beans, and put ‘em in the pan along with a cup of stock. While dinner simmered, we sat down and read a book.