As a mother of three girls, the evolution of “helping Mom in the kitchen” has taken many shapes. I expect we’ve all been on one side of this scene or the other. If you are the young helper, you never get to do the fun stuff with knives, mixers or hot pans. If you are the helpee, it’s certainly not about the helpfulness as much as finding tasks to make the young helper feel included without injury or destruction.
The tale in our home was no different…until Smushies came into our lives! Our dear friend Annette, with hyggelig in her DNA and a cookbook in her sights, offered us the opportunity to be a part of her passion. The size of a smushi is directly opposite the size of Annette’s big heart which lovingly and effortlessly extends itself to children. Our family was invited to share in this passion for good food. Comfort food. Danish style. We learned, we cooked, we tested, we experimented, we cooked, we tasted, we liked, we disliked, we cooked, we improvised, we shopped, we cooked. We gathered, we enjoyed, we cooked, we laughed, we shared, we cooked, we hugged, we prayed, we cooked.
It was, without a doubt, life-changing.
The girls were truly involved, not just helping. They were free to experiment, and create, sometimes a simple sauce or sometimes a full menu. They had a sense of ownership over the food that was prepared and shared. They learned that how food is served alters the way it is received. They learned that how a table is set can alter the mood of the room. For me? Not only did I enjoy every aspect of our family’s involvement, I had the sheer joy of being amazed by my young children. You are never too young to decorate a platter with parsley, spread butter on bread, create some name cards, or decorate a placemat. With time, it evolved into experimenting with flavors, incorporating their Nana’s Italian recipes into the Danish menu, selecting spices and most of all, tasting everything. Without their investment into smushies, my girls would never had tried many, many foods. Often to their surprise, they have liked many more foods than they expected. They are even happy to admit that!
Now, smushies are just a part of our family. Our girls, now in middle school, come up with their own ideas on flavors, recipes and menus. They each bring their own slant to the table and know that everyone gathered will be eager to taste it. I can only think that the sky is the limit for how this thinking, developing and creating will help them in many aspects of their lives. But for now, we will just enjoy the hyggelig.