Someone's in the Kitchen with Lucy

Cooking is productive. The thing to do when you're stewing about something? Stew something. Or bake it or braise it or roast it. Cook the food into submission, and exhibit a level of control over ingredients that you don't have over your own life.

Or your own nearly two-year-old. I won't continue my griping about Lu, but the kid is running this joint like Margaret Thatcher with a slightly better haircut. Iron Lu is exhausting. She entertains herself creatively — magnificently. Until the precise moment she stops wanting to do whatever it is she is doing. HARD STOP. This activity is dead to us. We hate it. Damn blocks. We never liked these blocks. Banish them. Cast them from our sight. We're done, just like that.

So, as Lu approaches the Terrible Twos (I shudder to imagine the molten fury that will erupt from her skull come March 12), and work-related stress mounts, and house chores pile up accusingly around us, my solution is...cook. We need to eat, don't we? Cooking is the perfect stalling task — necessary, creative, repetitive, productive. In two days, I have made salmon with tomato vinaigrette, two variations of roasted asparagus, an unfortunate chocolate gingerbread, braised chicken in tomato sauce with olives, lemon garlic spaghettini, peanut butter cookies, a crude capellini alfredo and the jewel in my culinary crown: cheddar apple muffins.

Sure, the muffins themselves were indecisive and dense, but their key ingredient? Enthusiasm. Lu stood on a stool and mixed the batter herself, earnestly dumping ingredients and whisking it all together — with some help from Chef Mom, but I eventually gave in to cries of "No, MY mussins! Lucy do it!" After I settled into the role of sous chef, we got the batter into the pan, watched them cook with great anticipation ("Mussins cooking? Hot?"), took them out of the oven and...lost interest. Lu, like her mother, hates the food once she has cooked it.

Today her snack tray from school was, as always, nearly as full as when we prepared it. Lu is way too busy running things at school to eat. There are people to SEE, problems to SOLVE, sticks to GATHER. So when I opened her snack tray, it appeared she had eaten nothing as usual. But upon closer inspection the muffins were gone. She even asked for more on the way home. "Lucy mussins? Lucy and Mama mussins?"

There are like 8 mussins left. Come and have one. Even though they taste kind of weird, I promise they will make you smile.