Last weekend, I wanted to do a fun cooking project with the girls. Their friends, Nakamae and Kissa and their parents spent the weekend in the country with us, so there was lots of help.
I want to fess up right here and say that if you think I cook with my kids for lofty, ethical reasons, think again. I do it because playing Barbie sucks. The very idea of Edie being Malibu Barbie and me having to be crazy Ken with the bad hair, fake tan and no genitals, and having to make interesting conversation over the Malibu corvette, makes my eyes roll back in my head. Give me a messy kitchen, tiny hands and a bag full of sugar tipped over on the floor any day.
This time, I decided we should make Everyday Food's Strawberry Cream Bars. There was much fighting at first - I want this, give me that, I'm sitting here!- so I divided up the kids into two groups: Little Girls (Edie & Kissa) and Big Girls (Lucy & Nakamae). The Little Girls drew the strawberry part. The Big Girls drew the cream.
Edie and Kissa ate the strawberries. And put a few of them in the blender.
There was pouring.
And tandem tipping of the jar to get every single drop into the pan.
Then, we popped the strawberry mixture into the freezer, and I excused the Little Girls, and called the Big Girls to the kitchen.
The Big Girls were tasked with cracking seven eggs, which is like a dream job for six year olds.
And we learned that separating yolks from whites is easier with our fingers, than tossing it back and forth in the shell. And that picking yolk bits out of a puddle of whites is not fun or terribly easy.
Then the girls figured out that funny things happen when you turn the Kitchen Aid up to 10, while Mommy has her back turned.
Like you can spatter your best friend and your mom's kitchen with cream, and laugh, laugh, laugh your ass off.
I found cream on the ceiling.
There was the ritual eating of the cream with our fingers. Constant testing of the food is a given in my kitchen.
And then we folded the cream onto to the slushy strawberry and put it in the freezer to harden into a beautiful bar that Martha Stewart says should look like this:
But Martha doesn't really understand my kids. Because after a couple of hours in the freezer, our bars looked like this:
I started moaning under my breath about how we should've waited, and they don't look like bars, and how we ruined the bars with our insistence that they should be eaten too soon, and David, like a guru, said: If we waited for them to form into bars, we wouldn't be able to eat them now.
Which, I have to say, is a darned good point.
So we grabbed spoons and ate. And it was messy and formless and soupy and I have to say, luscious, creamy, fruity, and frosty. The perfect outdoor, sitting-on-the-deck-before-plunging-into-the-sprinkler, kind of treat.
Also, they were good enough that you might find your husband, alone in a dark corner of the house, with the last of the bowl, secretly polishing it off when he thinks no one is looking. Someone call the Paleo Police, my husband is eating sugar.
We will make these again, but we will never even try for the fussy bars, (which aren't fussy unless you are six and terribly impatient.) Instead, I plan on taking Lucy's advice and waiting until no one is looking and swirling the cream into the fruit and freezing it that way. Big, fat, white, careless swirls. For some things, children are smarter than Martha Stewart.
In case you don't get Everyday Food (which you should - it's practical, simple, straight-forward and the recipes are do-able for every level of home cook), here is the recipe. Make this instead of playing with freakin' Barbie. La la la, Ken you're such a superstar...I love your tan...Wanna climb in my pink corvette and go for a ride?
You'll thank me.
Strawberries and Cream Bars
from Everyday Food
2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, halved if large (6 cups)
1 1/2 cups sugar
7 large egg whites
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a blender, combine the strawberries, 3/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Transfer to freezer. Every 30 minutes, for 2 hours, scrape the fruit mixture with a fork until it’s thick and slushy. Smooth top with a rubber spatula.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until foamy. With mixer on medium, gradually add 3/4 cup sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 minutes.
In another bowl, beat cream and vanilla on high until you stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into the egg white mixture. Pour over the fruit mixture and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours (or covered, up to 3 days), before cutting into 12 squares.
Serves: 12 (unless you're my family and it serves 6-8)