Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Learning from Mistakes

I love working in the kitchen. Cooking, baking--I love it all and often make our meals from scratch. There's something therapeutic about kneading a batch of dough or creating a delicious pie or concocting a comforting soup. It's a creative outlet for me and relieves stress. It's also a way I show love to my family. Just watch the way their eyes light up when they see a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies or fall-off-the-bone bbq ribs. It's magical.

But I don't cook like that every day. 

Wednesdays are busy. School, chores, church. Leighton gets home from work, jumps in the shower, gets dressed, and we're out the door. There's no time for major clean up before church, and there's not much time afterward either. Rush in, snack, pajamas, brush teeth, bed. To save time in both preparing and cleaning, we opt for simple meals. Leftovers, sandwiches, homemade pizza, pasta, fend-for-yourself night. Something. 

This particular Wednesday was no different, except that I wanted to try something new. Well, not a new meal, but a new way of preparing it. 

The Instant Pot has been hugely popular with home cooks lately. Since I have a thing for kitchen gadgets and tools, I was won over by the lure of this magical pot a year ago. I had read rave reviews about this appliance and was excited when the box showed up on our porch. The kids and I tore open the box and carefully pulled out the pot. We oohed and ahhed. 

And then the pot sat there. 

I was intimidated by this thing! It's completely different than other cooking methods and can have a learning curve. There's no way to check doneness without stopping and restarting again. And how long do I cook things? Which setting do I use? Look at all these functions! And you have to decipher all sorts of jargon. QR. NPR. PIP. HP. 

I am trying to use it more, because it actually is convenient once you figure it out. Not everything has been fantastic though. The first time I used it for hard boiled eggs, I ended up with green rings in the yolks. The first time I cooked a pasta dish in it, the meal was a big pile of mush. I've also made under-cooked, crunchy rice and dry, over-cooked pheasant. Impressive, right? Not very appetizing. But those issues were a matter of following someone else's directions and not because I made a "mistake."

This Wednesday though, I wanted to use the Instant Pot for macaroni and cheese. When I bake the dish in the oven, I typically make it in the same basic way each time, but not by following a recipe. I change up the shape of the noodle and types of cheese. I never measure. A little of this seasoning. A little of that. But making it in the Pot was completely different. I found a promising recipe and gathered my ingredients. 

The oldest had spent the night at my parents, the toddler was napping, and the middle 3 children and I were playing a rousing game of Sequence for Kids. I was trying to multitask. Not a big deal, I mean, I have 5 children--multitasking is my life. I played a card and walked back to the counter to add an ingredient to the Pot.

"Mom, it's your turn."

It's a fast-paced game. Play a card. Add an ingredient. Play a card. Add an ingredient. Repeat. 

Despite their pleas, I finished up that game and called it quits so I could start getting ready for church before having to complete the next step of the meal. 

A little bit later, I heard the chime signaling that it was time to add the heavy cream and shredded cheese. Easy. Turn on the saute function. Pour, stir, dump, mix. I filled bowls for the kiddos and passed them out. I took a bite myself.

Whoa, is this salty!

My thoughts were mirrored on the faces on my kids. "This is really salty, Mom. Do I have to eat it?"

Well, let's see. We leave for church in 30 minutes. I have no time to cook anything else and you're not even dressed yet. That's a yes.

And there I was applying eye shadow and explaining to Leighton (er, grumbling) how I just have a hard time with this silly appliance. I know how to cook! Yet here I am, still having to look up cooking times and whatnot and following recipes and not liking the outcome anyway. I almost never follow recipes exactly, because I never like how it turns out. And why was it so salty? Do people really think that tastes good? I mean, I followed it exactly! It called for 2 teaspoons--

And that's when I stopped completely. Shock took over. And then laughter.

An image of the measuring spoon I grabbed out of the drawer was not a teaspoon . . . but a tablespoon. Oh. That's right, instead of 2 teaspoons, I used 2 tablespoons, which is the equivalent of 6 teaspoons. SIX. No wonder it was so salty. Huh, I guess it wasn't the recipe's fault after all. 

And I guess I wasn't doing so well multitasking during the game either.

We all gulped down the nearly inedible dish. I bribed the kids to eat faster by offering a piece of chocolate for each of them once they finished. You know, to compensate for the salt and balance it out. Big smiles. Empty bowls. Chocolate. Happy kids.

When we got home from church a few hours later, I was still laughing at myself. I grabbed both a teaspoon and a tablespoon and used my error as a teaching moment with the kids. I explained why it was so important to pay attention in the kitchen. Read the directions. Read the labels. Pay attention. I'm often pointing stuff like that out on Mondays when the kids cook, so this was nothing new. They were standing there listening intently, nodding their cute, little heads. And then I explained my mistake, and they visually could see the size difference and could mentally remember the taste of dinner. And their sweet, little faces broke into huge smiles. 

We all laughed, because, really, what else could we do?

All of a sudden, Alyssa stopped. "Wait. Did you do that on purpose to prove a point?"

Why, yes, yes, I did. 

 Ha. No. I made that mistake honestly by being rushed and not paying attention. But pointing out my fault to my little ones became a perfect example. These teaching moments are what I'm focusing on this year. And if they learn from my mistakes, then it's worth it.

Ok. Eating that much salt may never be worth it, but you get the idea.

These kids need to hear me admit when I make mistakes. Adding too much of an ingredient may not big a major issue, but if we're not willing to admit small faults, how we can ever expect to own major ones. Our kids like to put the blame on others when some mistake is made. It's a human flaw that dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden. We're trying to teach them to admit their mistake, accept the correction, and move on. Learn from it. 

I've since made macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot, and wouldn't you know, if you don't add triple the suggested amount of salt, it's actually quite tasty, ha. 

We're never going to reach a point in life where we stop making mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. And don't be afraid to humble yourself, so others can learn from them, too.

Also? Don't use 2 tablespoons of salt for mac & cheese. Trust me. Learn from my mistake.

Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment