Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part CXXXI: More Cooking

I’ve done a lot of blog entries here on cooking with Alice. This shouldn’t be surprising. In the hierarchy of needs, food is pretty high up so true independence will involve being able to cook for herself. Although I’m not confident that Alice will get there, we do try to set things up for her so she get more and more experience doing things. Last Wednesday, we had to do an afternoon shuffle where I had to take a little time off of work to be with her. I decided that we would make dinner together. I had Alice get out the cookbook we needed and I directed her to the page. She turned to it (eventually, but hey – number literacy!) and I let her read the recipe: Apricot Chicken Wings. “What do we need?” Alice read the ingredients for me and I took them out. Then I set up a quick mis-en-place (organization will set you free!). Alice had an exercise in patience while I cut up the wings, but I can do that pretty quickly so no big deal.

Alice did most of the work of making the sauce: reading the recipe and adding the ingredients to a food processor. Alice did a good job. I fried the wings, but I’m thinking that next time she can do it. The pan is hot and there are grease spatters, but the biggest worry is really making sure that she doesn’t operate the stove on her own. I put the cooked wings into the crock pot, Alice poured in the sauce and turned it on. Mission accomplished.

What makes this work for us is that I already have the recipe in my head so I don’t need to read it. Giving Alice the responsibility of reading the recipe does three things. First, it slows her down. Second, it prevents a lot of her impulsive behaviors, because she’s busy reading. Finally, it’s literacy. All good things.

As a side note, at our last house the original stove was some 30 years old and at one point a part failed and I couldn’t get a suitable replacement. While a replacement stove was on order, I dealt with the lack of a stove by buying a slow cooker. For a number of classes of recipes, it is absolutely indispensable. Unfortunately, a lot of typical recipes fall in the category of “3 can casserole” cooking and are just not that good. I found the book “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker“. Not everything is a winner, but most of the recipes like the Apricot Chicken Wings areĀ far better than typical ones. While many are not gluten free, a lot of those adapt naturally.