Teaching Giving Through Baking | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Teaching Giving Through Baking

Teaching Giving Through Baking

Courtesy Ronnie Fein

Teach your kids the mitzvot of Purim while sharing quality time baking together

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the countless benefits of cooking with kids. For me it’s the ultimate in quality time. There’s some real learning done too: measuring and math, hygiene and healthy eating choices, and an understanding of concepts (such as preheating an oven) and equipment (such as the difference between a measuring spoon and the kind of spoon you use to eat).

But recently I had the opportunity to share another lesson with some of my grandchildren as we baked banana muffins: the meaning and importance of the Jewish holiday Purim.

Purim is always a fun time, of course. My grandkids are well aware of the groggers and the foot stomping, the hamantaschen and the costumes. But we also talked about the mitzvah of shalach manot, described in the Megillah, which speaks of the Jews of Shushan, who celebrated their deliverance from Haman by sending gifts of food to friends.

Centuries after these historic events, we still reach out to people we care about and to those in need on Purim. Some people send huge and costly gift baskets filled with pastries, chocolates, and wine, and while I have no issues with that, I prefer the personal touch. Maybe it’s because the list of people I include is smaller than some or maybe it’s because I like to cook. Whatever the reason, homemade items are my go-to for shaloach manot. It’s also a lot less expensive and most of the edible goodies I make are not terribly labor-intensive or time consuming. Like banana muffins.

The children and I tested a new recipe to see if the muffins would be Purim-worthy. As we proceeded, our six-year old learned the importance of spooning – not scooping – flour into a measuring cup, and to measure precisely not by patting down the contents but by flattening the top with the straight side of a knife. That’s the best way to get an accurate measurement of flour (and other, similar ingredients).

The youngest, age 4, volunteered to crack the eggs. It took a few tries but she finally figured out that you have to hit the shell with some force in order to get it open.

Our 9 and 10 year olds worked as a team to hand-mash the bananas and to spoon even amounts of the batter into prepared muffin tins.

Everyone got a shot at sprinkling the tops with streusel. Everyone had a turn at licking something – batter remnants from the bowl, streusel crumbs, mashed banana bits. And of course, each one of them got a muffin. Everyone thought the muffins turned out to be perfect for Purim.

The time we had together was perfect, period.

Banana Cranberry Streusel Muffins


Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.

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