Do you ever get the feeling that Father’s Day is an “also ran” compared to Mother’s Day? There aren’t fancy brunches at hotels, restaurants or clubs. Florists aren’t inundated with orders. Card sales are OK, but not nearly at the level of Mother’s Day.
I read recently that this year around $25 billion was spent on flowers, cards, brunches, jewelry and miscellaneous gifts for Mom. It’s time to step up and make a big — bigger — deal over Dad.
A good place to start is in the kitchen, creating a sweet of some kind, like a special dessert. This makes a fun and educational project for youngsters.
Is there a Dad who doesn’t love a dessert or something sweet, maybe with chocolate? There are a lot of options, whether it’s more involved, like making ice cream, or something easier, like baking a cake from a mix. Anything you come up with will make him feel special knowing you made it for him.
Also — and this is a bonus — there will be a learning curve for youngsters that may not only apply to the here and now, but to future cooking and baking projects.
To get a better idea of what sorts of things would be appropriate for kids and guarantee success, whatever their ages, I sought out a pastry chef and an experienced baker.
Danika Ohly is the pastry chef at Cameo and suggested Special K Bars, a longtime favorite of younger cooks.
“Those are easy and even the youngest in the family can help out,” she said.
Anyone frequenting the Farmer’s Market is familiar with Lori Feyen’s selection of baked goods. She didn’t hesitate when asked: “Black Forest Trifle is easy and impressive, and who doesn’t like a combination of chocolate and cherries?”
First off, the young bakers need to decide what to make.
Does Dad have a favorite? Oldest to youngest should have input, and once that is settled, find a recipe. Read through it several times. It goes without saying that parental supervision is a given from start to finish. Does everyone have clean hands? Wash well before starting.
Check the ingredient list, making sure you have everything you’ll need, then put them all on the counter. (The French call this Mise en place, organizing and arranging the ingredients.) Also bring out the equipment you need — bowls, stirring spoons, measuring spoons and cups, and the proper pans. Kids can do all of this.
Remember this is a group effort, so even the youngest can be involved by stirring, adding measured ingredients to a bowl, cracking an egg and greasing pans.
As you get started, expect a little culinary chaos, and youngsters might need to be reminded that the kitchen is no place for horseplay or fighting. (I’ve been there.) This is also a time to talk about kitchen safety. It can quickly turn into a dangerous place with sharp knives, hot burners, a hot oven, kitchen shears, and mixers with whirling beaters.
Just as important as the baking project is the clean-up. (This is where everyone usually disappears.) Ingredients need to be put away, spills cleaned up, counters wiped, dirty bowls and utensils either washed and put away or loaded into the dishwasher. Check that the burners and the oven are off.
With all of that done, sit back and admire what you’ve accomplished, then serve it up to that very special dad.