Cooking adventures with The Boy

apronOur son is 3.5 years old. He’s at the age where he wants to learn and do things “all by myself!” but still needs help. There’s one thing I love to have him help with and that’s cooking dinner. I want him to know that boys can cook. I want him to know how to make food for himself and be independent, and I want him to know what it takes to get his food prepared. He’s been helping me a lot lately and I realized something early on that makes me really encourage him to help me cook. He loves to eat the food he’s made himself. He’s willing to try new things. He loves going out with me to the container garden and picking a tomato and then (if it lasts that long and isn’t eaten first) seeing that tomato end up on the table in a dinner he’s helped to make.

One of our favorite things to make together is pancakes. He does everything once and then “lets” me take over. We talk about how much Bisquick mix we need. He gets to stir, pour it out on the pan and flip the pancakes when done. If we’re in the mood, he sprinkles chocolate chips on some of them.  I even let him flip the bacon the first time (before it starts to really sizzle and pop).

Yesterday, he got his first “burn.” We’d been talking about not touching hot pans. I’d just turned the pan on and it was beginning to warm up. I warned him several times to not touch. But, I also decided to step back a bit and see what he’d do. As I suspected, he reached out and lightly brushed the end of the pan with his finger. He jumped back to show me his “burn” and we dealt with it. The pan was just barely warm and the “burn” was not even a red spot. (By the time we turned around to the sink to run cool water over it and get the medicinal Mama kiss, neither of us could remember which finger was actually “burned.” We finally settled on the right since that had been closest to the pan). I hope it was enough for him to understand not to touch, though. He could tell that the pans continued to heat up. Considering they are talking about the five senses this week in daycare, I’m wondering if he’ll mention this incident for “touch.”

Yes, having my helper makes it harder to get dinner on the table. But it is so much fun. We are learning about hand-washing before food prep and washing after touching raw meat and eggs. We’re learning what food looks like cooked and un-cooked. He’s learning that there are ways to measure things and how to be careful so we don’t make too big of a mess – though some mess is required and the cooks definitely get to sample the chocolate chips. But he’s also learning that he’s part of the family and has responsibilities to help. All this and the memories are priceless.

Easy Homemade Donuts

chocolate covered donut
Chocolate frosted

My mother used to make us donuts at home. They were delicious. She’d mix the dough and spend the time to deep fry them. Then, we’d all choose our toppings from an array that she’d mix up from a base powdered sugar mixture. It’s one of my favorite memories from childhood. I decided this would be one of the memories The Boy would have of his childhood. But I don’t have the time or inclination to mix up donut dough from scratch. Thankfully, cans of Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Biscuits exist.

To make easy homemade (and delicious) donuts at home, you’ll need

  • The biscuit dough
  • Frying oil (I usually use the leftover peanut oil after I’ve made eggrolls)
  • Flavorings (like: maple, almond, vanilla)
  • Other toppings (like: cake frosting, cocoa powder, crushed nuts, sprinkles, etc.)
  • Milk (if you don’t have milk, you can use water, but the glaze tastes like it’s missing a little something)
  • Powdered Sugar

Making the Donuts

maple frosted donut
Maple frosted
  1. Open the can of Pillsbury Homestyle Biscuits
  2. Use a cap from a bottle, or a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pop a hole out of the center
  3. In a pan of hot oil, drop the donuts and donut holes a few at a time. Flip after they are golden brown on the bottom.
  4. After frying on both sides, remove from the oil and drain.
  5. While the donuts are still warm, dip them in your favorite toppings.

Making the Donut Toppings

array of donut toppings
From top to bottom: maple, powdered sugar, plain glaze, melted chocolate frosting


  1. Get a large bag of powdered sugar
  2. Split off a small bowl for just plain powdered sugar
  3. Mix the rest of the powdered sugar with milk to make a plain glaze. (This is what your Krispy Kreme donut is covered in)
  4. Split the plain glaze into several bowls,  depending on what flavors you like.
  5. Here is what we usually do:
  • Leave one bowl plane
  • On the second bowl, add a small amount of maple flavoring (or syrup if that’s all you have)
  • On the third, add cocoa powder (if you’re out of cocoa powder, a chocolate can of cake frosting microwaved for a few seconds until it’s melted makes an AMAZING chocolate frosting for donuts. That is what the chocolate donut above is covered in).
  • Line the bowls up into an assembly line and let everyone choose their own toppings.