Why I Believe in Dessert

pecan pie

At a women’s conference recently, I listened to the Food Nanny explain how to have home cooked meals for your family most nights of the week.  While that is a situation I currently have well under control, I was interested in the things she said.  Even more so, I appreciated her statement that dessert was important because sweet smells coming out of the kitchen really build family bonds.  I personally am a firm believer in desserts.  Yes, I know we shouldn’t reward/punish/etc., ourselves or our children with food.  But if you divorce food from the pleasure of eating, what culture are you achieving?  After all, humans enjoy food.  Cars don’t savor gasoline — food is more than fuel.  Here are a few reasons I believe in dessert:

1.  Dessert is a great way to convince even reluctant teenagers to socialize with their family.  Even if they aren’t anxious to turn off their video game for an instant, it’s really hard to eat cake and ice cream and hold a game controller.  All members of the family come running to eat dessert, and this leads to (accidental) socialization.

2.  Desserts convince reluctant cooks to step into the kitchen.  Max wasn’t going to learn to cook — until he discovered that his “specialty” was going to be chocolate chip Cowboy Cookies.  Then he was eager to put on his apron.  Many desserts– cookies, cakes and quick breads — are easy ways with an instant reward to lure someone who is reluctant to learn cooking skills into the kitchen.

3.  Making someone’s favorite dessert can cheer them up like nothing else.  After a long, disappointing day at a concerto competition a few weeks ago, Eden and I came home and made homemade doughnuts.  We overdosed on sugar in a way we hadn’t done for a long time.  We felt better.  Our home was a warm, safe haven where we are capable, happy and appreciated.  A favorite dessert can celebrate an achievement or help mourn a loss, and either way, when it is homemade, it rarely leads to the kind of chronic overindulgence that typifies the American diet.  After all, who has time to make homemade doughnuts daily?  But as a splurge toward happiness, it really works.

Do you think dessert is an important part of your family life?  How often do you make dessert for your family?  Please leave me a comment below.


Kids in the Kitchen: Kids Cooking Together — Cowboy Cookies

My older kids have recently reached the point that they can help their younger siblings to finish a recipe.  Recently, my two boys worked together to make a treat.  Cowboy Cookies are our go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies, since they turn out reliably and contain the added nutrition of oatmeal.  This addition gives us the dubious excuse that they are healthy enough to eat more than one.  Anyway, instead of spreading all over the cookie sheet like many chocolate chip cookies, these make a perfect cookie every time.

When the kids are cooking together, you just have to remember that they are building a wonderful sibling relationship and learning a new skill — which is not necessarily cooking, but more like patience or working together.  You kind of have to put aside your standards of cleanliness for the achievement of happiness.  (Don’t ask how many times they licked their fingers — you don’t want to know.  I didn’t give these cookies to anyone outside the family.)

Sorry for the blurry i-phone pictures.  Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Cowboy Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 and 3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar.  When thoroughly mixed, add the eggs.  Continue mixing and add dry ingredients.  To the soft dough add vanilla and chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoons (or form them into balls as Brett does) on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Happy eating!