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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

That Yucky Banana in the Freezer

Why is there always yucky black bananas in the freezer, Mama?, Ana had asked a couple of years ago.

She was not convinced with my answer then:
To make delicious smoothies!

Smoothies - any time of day, any amount, in lieu of a meal - Ana enjoys them. Oggie will try a sip of it (as that is the house rule) before he generously offers, "You can have my smoothie, Mama".

This summer Ana started making her own smoothies. Very simple recipes. Fresh berries picked from the farm, or frozen ones, pears/currants/raspberries from the backyard, peaches, nectarines, some plain non-fat yogurt, some fat free milk, and "don't forget" frozen bananas, sometimes a pinch of ground cinnamon, maybe a drop of vanilla essence, and if we are indulgent maybe even a bit of brown sugar.

I operate the blender, of course, or rather, hold the lid down and let her turn the knob. Don't want to be scrubbing walls and ceiling for days...

Be it Strawberry Banana Smoothie or Spiced Banana Breakfast Shake, it is always nice to have that black-spotted mushy banana sitting handy in the freezer.

Summer has been an explosion of cooking expeditions for Ana. I cannot take all the credit for it. She did go for a 2-week camp where she made all kinds of goodies like pizza from scratch and burritos and muffins and such, not to mention salads and vinaigrette earlier in school.

Before those 2 camp weeks however, D and I have enlisted her assistance in the kitchen on and off for the past couple of years. Much like I became a sous chef in my mom's home kitchen around six.

D prepares pizza from scratch, making it look fun and easy. So, Ana always assists him, wanting to "decorate" her half of the "kids pizza". Be it Home-garden Zucchini bread or Home-made pasta, Ana has shown interest in not just helping but learning how to do it herself.

This little contraption my parents gave me for finely chopping vegetables has become her favorite tool. Me, I find it faster to use my trusted knife and chop away. So, this tool was simply sitting there until Ana expressed interest. Simply toss in coarsely chopped chunks of veggies - especially onions, carrots, cabbage, beets - turn the handle and watch the tiny minced bits of veggies falling to the bottom. Violà!

Not sure how long the enthusiastic "What else can I chop for you, Mama?" will last, but as long as it does, I have no reservations putting her to work.

Over summer Oggie has turned out to be a bit of a helper in the kitchen: putting the dishes away, packing snacks, sweeping/mopping spills and such. Jumping up to fulfill simple tasks when I ask, Can you help me fill the small container with nuts - all the way full to the top? Can you help put 20 crackers in this container to pack with us for the park?

Of course he is free to say, "Not at this time, Mama. I can help you later." And am sure he will once in a while, after the novelty wears off. And then again, maybe he won't.

But, for now, when Ana spies the leopard-like banana in the fruit basket, she reminds me to put them in the freezer so we can make smoothies later, Mama!

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