Eggs for snack?
So, the other day I let my 4-year-old loose with a carton of eggs and a microwave. He likes eggs for his after-school snack, especially “flat eggs”—his term for eggs sunny-side up.
Better yet, he likes making eggs. Cracking them into the dish, stirring them with a fork, carrying said dish across the kitchen to the microwave, pushing the buttons, watching the egg explode (okay, I don’t let the last one happen, usually).
I like to give the kids a substantial after-school snack—basically as much as they want to eat, as long as it’s healthy. After all, some of them haven’t had anything to eat for hours, and a hungry kid is a cranky kid.
But letting them make their own eggs—4-year-old Matthew in the microwave, 11-year-old Maria on the stovetop—gave me pause. Let me tell you, our kitchen is a hurricane of activity in the hour after school without adding egg-wielding kids to the mix. I don’t need to spell out the details of everything that could go wrong, do I?
But when Maria asked to make eggs and Matthew chimed in that he wanted to make eggs too, I reluctantly went along. (Mind you, not before doing a quick survey of my own energy level and crabbiness. I wouldn’t ever do this on a crabby day.)
So, you can watch the video to see how it all unfolded, but the upshot is that it all turned out (although Alex asked to make his own eggs after this video was shot and ended up breaking one in his lap, ha ha).
Yeah, but is it worth the mess?
Why go to all the extra hassle? If you have the energy for it (moms and dads, take care of yourselves first!), cooking with kids—even in the chaos of the after-school scene—has three great benefits:
- First, it’s an opportunity to deepen the relationship between you and your kids. You might think you’re explaining to your kid how not to explode the egg in the microwave, but you’re also laying the groundwork—the habits and rhythms of good communication—for the two of you to talk about more substantial things down the road.
- Second, it builds independence and confidence. If you watch the video, listen to what Matthew says to Alex near the end—“You can do it all by yourself, just like me!” Maria Montessori would be so proud!
- Third, cooking is a basic life skill that too many kids grow up not acquiring. Teaching them basic cooking techniques while they’re young lays the foundation for more complicated cooking when they’re older—and eventually, making five-course gourmet dinners for their parents (heh, heh)!
All of that for a little bit of mess, which is easily cleaned up and quickly forgotten. If you want to try it with your kid, here’s what to do.
Matthew’s Flat Eggs (microwave-style)
- cooking spray or butter
- a microwave-safe dish
- salt and pepper (unless you’re Matthew, who likes his plain)
All these steps can be performed by your child, with supervision.
- Set up your workspace next to the kitchen sink, so your child isn’t carrying dripping egg shells across the floor.
- Have your child spray the microwave-safe dish with the cooking spray, or coat it with butter, to prevent the egg from sticking.
- Have your child break one or two eggs into the dish. If your child hasn’t done this before, go through the motions once (or do the first egg for them), and then encourage them to go for it! It won’t be neat, but they can pick out the larger shell pieces, and over time they will become more skilled.
- Have your child pierce the yolk with a fork or stir it up to prevent it from exploding in the microwave.
- Let your child carry the dish “carefully” to the microwave. Yes, little kids can do this! Spot them the first few times if you’re worried about a mess. If there’s a spill, no big deal—have them wipe it up and make another egg. This time, you carry it for them, with a promise that they can try again next time.
- Cover loosely to prevent spattering. Microwave on high for one minute (one egg) or 90 seconds (two eggs). Have your child work the controls and watch the egg as it cooks.
- Faith Bonus: Talk about how eggs are a symbol of life and the Resurrection, or tell the story of Saint Swithin, who is said to have miraculously restored an old woman’s eggs after they were broken by workers building a church under Saint Swithin’s supervision.
- Let cool and eat!