New Castle News

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July 13, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Cook with a kid and make a memory

NEW CASTLE — “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” — Helen Keller, American educator, activist, humanitarian

My niece Mia probably doesn’t know about Helen Keller.

And, having just turned 9, she didn’t have much choice in her “daring adventure.” But my husband and I joined her in that adventure and we all not only survived but thrived.

Because of various commitments, her parents and two brothers were going to be away in late June. So the decision was made that she’d spend 11 days in New Castle with her aunt and uncle.

I was a little nervous. She’d never been that far away from home — 300 miles — all alone. I thought it would be horrible or wonderful, no in-between, and held my breath.

It was wonderful.

Most days we were joined by the 9-year-old granddaughter of a friend of mine. The two girls meshed as if they’d known each other forever and Mia’s stay included two giggle-and-whisper-filled sleepovers with her new friend, Amelia.

As I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner the first of those nights, I noticed the bananas were well on their way to black. Before I hit the D at the end of “banana bread” there were two squealing girls clamoring to help.

Mia has joined my sister to bake Christmas cookies for several years and Amelia’s grandmother is teaching her to cook, starting with some basics.

This simple banana bread recipe — no mixer needed! — allowed them to mash, measure, pour and stir. They even greased the loaf pan like pros.

All I did was oversee the measuring and handle the oven.

“There is always a gift in any challenge.”  — Bronnie Ware, Australian author, blogger and musician

My husband and I were challenged to care for this little treasure, but we received the gifts of lots of quality time with our niece, loads of memories from fun and silly days together and the huge satisfaction of seeing her grow and stretch and mature.

We’re all three looking forward to a visit next summer.

Whether you’re a mom or dad, aunt or uncle, or somebody’s grandparent, I recommend you cook with your little ones.

Culinary Conversation columnist Lugene Hudson was gracious enough to allow me to guest-write this column as encouragement.

The key is to find something that’s not too complicated or time-consuming, then let them have at it.

Their sense of accomplishment is a reward in itself. The finished product is, as they say, icing on the cake.

In addition to the banana bread, we’re including three more kid-friendly recipes.

We invite you to send in anything you and your little ones have found to be a success. Lugene will use them in an up-coming installment of Culinary Conversation.

Banana Bread

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