Today’s post comes to us from Food Fighters contestant and lifestyle guru Cortney Anderson-Sanford. An avid home cook and mother of two, Cortney gets a kick out of cooking with her kids and taking inspiration from them.
This time of year is filled with joyous kitchen “smemories” for me. Almost every portion of the winter holiday season is attached to distinctive smell memories from my childhood kitchen. Walking in the door from stacking wood on a crisp New Hampshire winter night, my fingers tingling as they warmed. My nose immediately wrapped in an enchanting hug of ginger and molasses, tinged with a touch of wood smoke from the fire. My mom welcoming me in the door with a steaming mug of hot chocolate with a decadent dollop of whipped cream and a minty candy cane stir stick.
Fast forward many years and now I have two children—Oliver, thirteen, and Tucker, ten, to share the art of cooking with. I am a HUGE proponent of teaching children to cook. Thank goodness my grandmother had amazing culinary skills and took loving care in teaching my mom to cook. My mom passed those skills on to me and now I have the gift of sharing them with my children.
Ollie and I often sit and go through vintage cookbooks my mother gave me from grandma’s1950s kitchen to pick tasty treats to make. Our favorite right now is a tattered and torn red and white Better Homes and Gardens cookbook published in 1953.
As much as I adore sharing the culinary arts with my children, I do find it difficult sometimes to give up my kitchen to the amazing buzz of chaos that comes with the learning curve of kids in the kitchen. Especially when I am trying to make dinner for four, homemade holiday treats, and six dozen cookies for a neighborhood cookie exchange. Thank goodness Ollie and I found Sur La Table’s delectable holiday mixes from Baked NYC, or as I like to call them, ingredient-enhanced recipes in a box.
This past Saturday, Ollie made the Chocolate Chip Peppermint Brownies. As they were baking, the house was filled with the same aroma of hot chocolate and candy canes that warmed my heart and belly as a child. With great anticipation, we waited for the brownies to cool enough to cut. With the first bite Ollie proclaimed “ten out of ten!” We served ours warm with vanilla ice cream and Better Homes and Garden’s Regal Chocolate Sauce. If you can control yourself and your family and don’t eat them all, a plate of these fudgelicious brownies makes a wonderful holiday gift!
Then last night Ollie begged me to make the Sur La Table Holiday Spice Gingerbread Mix. I hemmed and hawed and said that it was a school night, and we just did not have time. Ollie negotiated, asking that if he finished his homework, took out the trash AND cleaned up the kitchen could he please, please make the gingerbread. Literally by the time I acquiesced, Ollie had put the loaf of gingerbread in the oven to bake and cleaned up the kitchen. One bowl, one measuring cup, and one whisk were the only items required. Seriously, in less than ten minutes the house was filled with the warm and cozy smell of gingerbread.
Just as my mom had when I was growing up, we made the Daffodil Lemon Sauce straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens to serve with the spice-scented cake and fresh whipped cream. You can easily layer it all in a pretty glass to make individual trifles for the simplest festive treat.
As I am sitting here writing, my younger son Tucker has come in for his third piece of gingerbread. He told me, “Mom, this gingerbread is just too good to resist.” He then asked me if he could make it sometime. Now, I’m starting to get ready to put my feet up and hand over my kitchen to both of my boys and enjoy a stress-free holiday kitchen!
Thanks, Cortney! If you’re looking for fun cooking and baking projects to take on with your kids, we’ve put together plenty of ideas. Have fun!