Grammie/Grandchild vs. Gramps/Grandchild

a special feature by Margo Daniels, ‘grammie’ extraordinaire*

My husband (Gramps) and myself (Grammie) are truly blessed, with six grandchildren. We pinch ourselves all the time! Our five granddaughters are lovin’ their time in the kitchen with us, and our 3-year-old grandson is starting to show an interest as well. I guess you could say, we are a big group of foodies.

And, lucky we are…. four of the grandkids live pretty close to us on the Monterey Peninsula. When we are all together, we love doing a lot of ‘food’ related activities, such as making pancakes for breakfast, and creating a family pizza challenge. What is that you ask? Simple…. we buy all the pre-made individual kits from our local Papa Murphy’s and then with our grandchildren, we set out to create masterpiece pizzas with ingredients and toppings that we dream up, and then a winner is anointed!  It’s amazing what food can do.

Yes, everyone in our family loves to COOK- it brings us together, creates conversation and interaction, giggles, smiles, creative time together, and above all else, a chance to exhibit our inner chef skills!  This is a family time that we have carved out of our busy lives. It’s how we are creating memories with our grandchildren for sure.

Just recently, my husband and I went down to visit our other two grandchildren who live in the San Diego area: Emerson Rose who is 9 and 7 year old Maggie.  Both love to cook with us, but we believe little Maggie could be a budding Julia Child! For her 6th & 7th birthday celebrations, she went to Chef Jeff Strauss’s Restaurant Pamplemousse in Solana Beach, and cooked with him in his kitchen.

On our visit this past weekend, the girls decided we were going to have a cooking challenge…Gramps and Maggie vs. Grammie and Emerson. The theme: Italian. Each granddaughter went through two cookbooks, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen Cookbook (100 favorite family recipes) and Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, and they decided  each ‘team’ would make an appetizer, entrée and dessert.  At the end of it all, our competition would be judged by four adults.

The Menu
Emerson & Grammie:  Italian Wedding Soup
Chicken Piccata
Warm Bananas with Brown Sugar
Maggie & Gramps: Fabio’s Momma’s Meatballs
Chicken Marsala
Ugly but good cookies

After coming up with the menu intended to be a secret, we all went off to the market to buy the ingredients. Of course, as you can well imagine, two little girls and their grandparents were racing in one direction and another, because remember, this was all supposed to be a secret! Laughs and giggles were only the beginning of our special day together.

So….. back in the kitchen we shared, we spent an afternoon of dicing, slicing, and chopping. I was mindful of what an incredibly special time this was with our grandchildren — again, so thankful for these moments. What was supposed to be a ‘secret’ obviously added to the fun, but we finally had to tell each other what we were cooking, since we were shared the same kitchen/cooktop and oven. Emerson and I did make a big mistake in purchasing our chicken; as much as we pounded the chicken breast, we were not successful in creating it ‘piccata’ style. The result: our main entrée was a bit tough and dry, but the judges cut us a little slack.

After all the food was tasted and the votes were tallied, The Great Family Cook-off ended in a tie. All of us delighted in sharing and tasting our creations together. While dessert was scrumptious, the best dessert of all was just being there in the moment.

Cooking together is such a bonding experience. But there’s a whole lot more that we all get from the experience of being together. Gramps and I can’t wait for the next challenge. We hope to make this a tradition when we return to San Diego to visit the girls!

*Margo and Tim Daniels, aka Grammie and Gramps, reside in the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California. As you can see, one of their favorite things to do is cook with the grandkids, especially Tim, who specializes in breakfasts and desserts. They are truly grandparents extraordinaire!

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