Tag Archives: cooking

Emma Makes Breakfast

Yesterday morning Emma was up and in the kitchen by 6:30AM.  This was late for Em.  For the past two mornings she was up at 5:00AM and 4:00AM.  I was grateful for the extra few hours.

When I went downstairs I saw Emma.

She seemed to have everything under control, so I just followed her around taking photos as she worked.

There were a few minor spills, but nothing she wasn’t able to clean up on her own.

She was well organized.  All the ingredients she needed were laid out.

She even sang a little song as she worked.

“Mix, mix, mix the pancakes, mix, mix, mix the pancakes, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix!”

She tasted it, to be sure it was good.

I helped pour the batter onto the grill.

But she took it from there.


It’s good to be home.

For more on Emma’ journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book

Cooking with Emma

Emma seems to have lost interest in her velcro strip.  It was actually the plastic back to the self adhesive velcro that she liked, but her yellow balloon string has replaced it for the past few weeks.  Instead of holding it in her hand, she puts it between her front teeth, like an enormous piece of floss, allowing her hands free.  She races around on her scooter, the balloon string held in her teeth, the rest of it undulating after her.  It reminded me of a Turkish woman I encountered years ago in Ezurum, Turkey.  She was wearing a shawl like head covering the size of a bed sheet and had one corner hooked on one of her front teeth.  The fabric was loosely around her face, but kept slipping off her head.  I remember watching her move along an alley, the fabric billowing out, as she hurried away.  She turned, at one point and looked directly at me, many of her teeth were missing, but her upper incisor was intact and she used it to secure the fabric so that it couldn’t blow away, leaving her hands free.

Yesterday evening when Emma asked that we make pancakes, she climbed up onto the kitchen island, the balloon string secured between her front teeth.  “Mixing bowl,”  Emma said, despite the presence of the yellow string in her mouth.

“Emma!” I laughed.  “You can’t cook with that balloon string.”

“Have to put it down!” Emma said, pulling it from her teeth and tossing it to the floor.

“Pancakes with chocolate chips please!”  Emma said.

As I rummaged around to locate the chocolate chips I heard Emma say, “Uh-oh!”

“What happened Em?” I asked turning around.  Emma sat with about a cup of pancake mix in her lap, a dusting of mix covered her arms and legs.

“You have to pour it in the bowl!”  Emma observed with a slightly irritated tone.

“Here you go Em.  Let’s clean that up.”  I handed her a damp paper towel which she used to dab at her face.

“Okay, but we have to clean up all this mix,” I said, pointing to the flour covering her and the counter.

“Mommy help?”  Emma said, half heartedly patting at the mix creating little clouds that then spread out over ever increasing areas of the counter.

“Yes.  I’ll help.  Here, look.  Let’s clean it like this.”  I brushed mix into my hand and threw it in the sink.  “Now you do it,” I said as I got out the milk.  When Emma had finished cleaning up most of the mix I said, “Here, you measure the milk.”  I handed her the measuring cup and gave her the milk.  Carefully she poured the milk into the measuring cup until it filled it about half way.

“Dit,dit, dit, dit, dit, pour in!”  Emma sang.  She always says this when she is measuring something during our cooking together.  I don’t know where the “dit, dit, dit” comes from or even what it means, but it’s part of the process now and so she always says it.

I held the whisk in front of her.

“Mommy, can I have the whisk, please?”

“Yes!  Here you go,” I said, handing it to her.

“Whisk, whisk, whisk, the pancakes, mix, mix, mix the pancakes,” Emma sang as she stirred, while occasionally dipping her finger into the batter to eat large dollops of it.  ‘Yum, yum!”  she said.

Emma making pancakes

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism and cooking, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com

“Strawberry Cake”

Saturday morning Emma said, “Make cake?”

“What kind of cake, Em?” I asked.

“Make strawberry cake?”  Emma said in her usual questioning way.

It’s always interesting to me that Emma will make a statement, but will say it in a way that turns it into a question.  For instance when I ask her – do you want  to wear this?  She will answer, “No?”  which means she doesn’t want to wear it, but is asking if it’s okay not to.  Usually my answer is – okay – or – how about this?  To which she’ll then say – Okay or sometimes she’ll offer an alternative of her own, such as, “Wear this one?”  It’s a clever shorthand using much fewer words, but still gets the meaning across.  When we were in Panama having her third stem cell treatment done, another autistic girl a few years older than Emma did the same thing.  I remember after the procedure she kept saying, “Have chicken sandwich?”  She used the same upward lilt to the ending of the sentence that Emma incorporates.

“You want to make strawberry cake?” I asked Emma, somewhat incredulous as this was something she’s never requested before.

“Yeah!” Emma said jumping up and down.

“Okay.  How about we make a cake tonight?”

“Strawberry cake later,” Emma said.

“Yes, this afternoon.  Okay?”

“Okay,” Emma said.

Later that afternoon, Emma came over to me, “Mommy!  I want to make strawberry cake, please!”

“Okay, Em.  What should we do first?”  I asked as Nic ran over to join us.

“Get a bowl and get out strawberries,” Emma said, taking the container of strawberries from the refrigerator.

“Now what should we do?”  I asked.

“Mush them,” Emma said.

“Okay, here,” I handed her a potato masher.

Emma waited as I removed the stems from the strawberries and put them in the bowl.  Then she began mashing them.  After a little while, (about a minute) she took the milk out and said, “Pour in to mush.”

“Yeah, okay,” I said watching her.

“Mom, are you sure this is a good idea?” Nic asked.

I shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Let’s see what happens.”

“But what about the cake?” Nic asked.

“We can make a batter and add the strawberries to it,” I said, wondering exactly how this was going to work out.  “Hey Nic, why don’t you turn the oven on.”

As Nic turned on the oven, Emma continued to mash the strawberries in with the milk.

“Em, I have an idea, let’s use this,” I offered her a hand blender.  “This will mash the strawberries better,” I added, plugging it in.

“Okay.  Have to mush, mush, mush,”  Emma sang as she worked.  “Mush the strawberries, mush, mush, mush, mush the strawberries.”

Meanwhile I had Nic add a little bit of sugar, mix the flour and baking powder, then cream the butter, sugar and eggs in the electric mixer.

“Hey Em, are you ready to add the strawberries to our cake batter?”

“Yes!”  Emma said, pouring the now blended strawberries into the batter.  “Smell!”  she said, lowering her head so that it was close to the batter.

“Does it smell good?” I asked.

“Yum!”  Emma said.

While the cake was in the oven, Nic and Emma helped me make buttercream frosting.  “Em, should we put strawberries into the frosting?”

“No!”  Emma laughed as though this was the most ridiculous question she’d ever heard.  I looked at Nic.

He shrugged and said, “No strawberries in the frosting, Mom.”

“Okay it’s unanimous.”

When the cake was finished we pulled it out of the oven, let it cool and then Nic and Emma “helped” me frost it, which meant licking the spatula, licking the beater, licking the bowl.   When it was finished I said, “Who wants to have some strawberry cake?”

“I do!” Nic yelled.

“Hey Em, want to taste it?”

“Naaah!” Emma said running to the other side of the room.

“Hey Em.  Come on!  It’s your strawberry cake.  Don’t you want to try it?”

“Okay, just a taste,” Emma said coming over to sniff the cake.

“Mom!”  Nic yelled.  “This is the best cake ever!”

Meanwhile Emma poked at the cake with her fork then tasted the frosting and walked away.  Nic looked over, then rolled his eyes at me.  “Whatever Mom.  It’s a great cake,” he said, taking another mouthful.

What remains of Emma’s Strawberry Cake

For more on Emma and autism go to:  EmmasHopeBook