Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Preschool Assisted Risotto - A recipe

Tadpole and I made Risotto recently!

Yes, that's Tadpole standing on a bar stool & stirring the rice into the risotto.  Next to her hand is the ladle which she used to ladle the water & stock into the pan as the water bor was absorbed.

Every once and a while I find myself stepping out of an interaction with Tadpole and wondering how this happened.  It seems like we were just practicing siting safely on stools, and now she's standing on a bar stool and stirring rice at a hot stove! Even having seen all of those individual skills appear and come together, this moment just blew me away.

Recipe for preschool-assisted risotto:
Safe and Stable Stool Standing: Tadpole's been working on this pretty much since she was able to reach the top of the stools.  Sitting, standing, with and without assistance, and eventually climbing on  with and without assistance.  I still remember the first time we had a visitor over whose mom let her sit unassisted on a stool.  I was blown away. And terrified to try it with Tadpole.  But eventually we both got brave and did it.  She's been getting more comfortable on the stools ever since.

Stirring: Stirring without making a huge mess, that is.  Getting the spoon into the right spot, moving it around enough to keep things mixing, but not so much that they spill everywhere.  We practiced this a lot with beans, which were pretty much the best toy ever from about 18 months to 2 1/2 (and still in the rotation).  

Pouring Ingredients: We've been practicing this during morning coffee-making for quite a while.  (Back in the day, I'd make coffee at the espresso maker with Tadpole carried in a baby Bjorn and pushing the buttons.  She's been doing more of the steps ever since). She watered the Christmas tree & some plants this year, and helps with baking.  For risotto, I poured the olive oil, but Tadpole handled the rice, wine after I added it to the measuring cup, and ladling the liquid.

Respect for the hot stove: We've been enforcing this since it was clear that Tadpole understood words. For a long time, it was simply a space she had to stay away from.  More recently, though, we've been exploring the boundaries of the stove and the oven.  The stove gets hot, the nearby counter doesn't.  We can look at the oven, but not try to open it, and have to stand back when mommy or daddy opens it.  As she shows that she's understanding a lesson about safety, we get to refine that lesson. In fact, when we started this risotto, Tadpole didn't want to stir: "I will pour daddy.  You stir because that's a hot stove."  There's a parenting win!  After watching me stir, she was interested in trying.  We practiced it together first, then with her stirring by herself before I stepped away to take the picture.

Making risotto with Tadpole was an amazing experience.  She was somewhat excited about it, although I don't think she really drew the connection to making our family dinner that I did.  For me, though, passing this on to my daughter, and watching all of the skills we've been practicing (consciously and unconsciously) come together as she stirred rice and ladled in broth as the liquid was absorbed was pretty much the highlight of my week.  Baby steps, built over literally years, eventually became the ingredients for making family dinner together.

For those interested in the actual recipe, I think we went with:
  • Chop an onion (Tadpole did NOT help with this part)
  • Add a small amount (1-2 Tbsp?) Olive Oil to a pan and turn on medium heat
  • Add chopped onion and stir ~5 minutes until browning
  • Add 2 cups arborio rice & 1/2 cup white wine
  • Heat a container (~4 cups?) stock in a separate pot. Water is fine if stock not available
  • Stir, ladling in more liquid as the liquid is absorbed/boiled off (~30 minutes)
  • We topped off with green beans, parmesan and pesto that R made.  We have previously topped with mushrooms, which Tadpole disapproves of on general principle.
But really, google or a cookbook can give you better directions.  (Of course, if you have risotto suggestions, please let me know.  Especially after this success, I expect we'll be making more)

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