Plinth Blog Special Needs Parenting

13Oct/150

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

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

I've talked about this before, but I think it's good to bring it up again. Cooking is a basic life skill that is important for living independently. It's also important, I feel, to set an example for good, homemade food. For the most part, we try to have vegetable heavy meals with some meat and a treat here and there. Since we're in fall in New England, I thought today would be a good day to make an apple pie with Alice. For this, we used two kinds of apples: honeycrisp and macoun. Neither are traditional pie apples, but I figured they would work out just fine.

As Alton Brown has spoken about setting up a proper mis-en-place, "organization will set you free." I measured out the sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and spices and let Alice mix them up. I cut up the apples and chopped some dry cranberries and then had her put the sugar mix on top and I mixed them up. Then we took turns filling the pie shell.

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I put on the top shell and Alice helped pinch the crust down. I cut out a simple dough shape, cut a few holes in the top and put it in to bake. It came out quite well.

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The crust is gluten free. I was assured by my family that it was a delicious pie (I've sworn off sugar a few months back). I served it with faux banana ice cream, which is frozen bananas, a small amount of milk and some vanilla, run though a blender.

Alice loved the entire process, from putting on her apron to mixing and filling and of course eating. I can tell you from experience that without the single organizational step, this process is much more difficult. Alice wants to help, so when I'm cooking, I try to have some steps in my back pocket that Alice can do. A few months back I heard Wil Wheaton talking about how to be an awesome dungeon master in role playing games. He said that it's important to figure out a way to say 'yes' instead of 'no'. Cooking with a child with special needs is the same thing. How can I figure out how to say 'yes' when Alice asks, "May I help please?" It can be something as simple as putting silverware on the table or as complicated and measuring and mixing. If I'm cooking from scratch with no recipe, it might take me an extra couple minutes to put all the seasoning into a small dish for Alice to add into the dish instead of me adding them in piecemeal. Those extra couple of minutes are an investment in her future, or at least I hope so. Yes, it takes me very little time to, say, make something from a boxed mix and a lot longer for Alice to read all the words and to help her follow the instructions, but getting that teachable moment will be so important when I'm not around.

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