Posted by: Jamie Stamm | October 2, 2008

Cera in the kitchen

Because of our own love for food and cooking, Jerry and I began Cera’s culinary arts education at an early age (that’s her above, making biscuits with her dad at 23 months and chocolate-covered pretzels with her Grandmama at age 3). So as I was planning activities for Cera and I to do together while she’s on intercession, I figured we would both enjoy some time in the kitchen.

I plucked several kids’ cookbooks from my bookshelves, and Cera and I went through them together, choosing three recipes to try – Pizza Braids and Soft Pretzels from “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cool Kids’ Cooking” and Candy-Coated Dragonflies from “Batter Up Kids Delicious Desserts” by Barbara Beery (I think this last one will be our most ambitious cooking project).

Tuesday was our first day in the kitchen, and we started with Pizza Braids, an easy-to-make and easy-to-eat treat created from refrigerated breadsticks, pepperoni, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. There was a lot for Cera to do in this recipe, from helping me unroll the breadsticks, to beating together an egg and milk and then brushing the top of each breadstick with this mixture, to coating the breadsticks with the assorted toppings.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much from the finished product (I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to anything pizza-related), but these were really good. They baked up golden brown and crispy, and the flavor was great – dip a Pizza Braid in some pizza sauce and it’s like eating a thick slice of pepperoni pizza. My only complaint – and it was no fault of the recipe – was that the store-bought breadsticks were a little too sweet.

But I wasn’t really the one who mattered anyway. The true judge was Cera, and she LOVED the Pizza Braids. In fact, she had one for lunch and one for dinner on Tuesday, and then asked me to make a second batch yesterday for lunch (which I did, and she plans to have the leftovers for lunch today).

A few tips for anyone who might want to get their hands on Sandra Lee’s cookbook and try this recipe:

  • Leave the breadsticks in the refrigerator for as long as possible. We gathered all our ingredients together at the same time, and by the time we were ready for the breadsticks, the dough was soft and hard to handle.
  • I was unable to find pre-packaged diced pepperoni, as called for in the recipe, so I bought sliced pepperoni and diced it myself. I found that a 3.5-ounce package, minus about 10 slices, worked perfectly.

Today, we plan to try the soft pretzels, which are made from frozen bread dough (it’s thawing on the counter as I type). I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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