Saturday, February 10, 2007

Easy Mac Breakdown

A couple of days ago, Son16 was making some Easy Mac. Now before you assume that we only feed our kids prepackaged foods that can be cooked in the microwave, let me reassure you that is not the case. We feed them honest-to-goodness real cooked food once a week whether they need it or not!

But on this particular day, it was every person for himself and Son16 grabbed two packages of the Easy Mac Big Packs.

Now let's establish a few of the necessary background features for this story. First of all, we've never had the Big Packs before, only the 'regular' size packs. Secondly, you may recall, Son16 is diagnosed with multiple special needs - among those is obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder.

Those two pieces of information help explain why he was totally unsure how to combine two packages and still have it turn out right. So he asked for help. I showed him the instructions for one pack, explained he would just double the amount of water, milk and butter, and he would end up with macaroni and cheese, just like with the regular packs.

And I observed as he so very carefully got out measuring spoons and measuring cups to begin the process. I commented that he probably didn't need to be that precise in his measurements, that an estimate would probably be good enough.

His eyes bulged to the size of softballs as he considered the imprecision of that pathway. "No dad, that would just wreck my noodles!" he informed me.

As he started to measure the 1 and 1/4 cups of water - yes, with the 1 cup measuring cup and the 1/4 cup measuring cup - I suggested he either use the 1/4 cup and fill it five times or else use the 1 cup and just estimate the 1/4 amount.

"What are you talking about?!?!"

"Look, Son16, watch this." And I proceeded to put in 1 cup of water and then estimate the 1/4 cup. He anxiously paced the kitchen telling me several times "You're wrecking my noodles!"

While the noodles did their thing in the microwave, I showed him how we would just cut a little chunk of butter and toss it in rather than measuring a precise tablespoon. I even mentioned that we would not actually measure the milk at all, but just pour in a bit, as needed, to get the consistency of the sauce he wanted.

As I began to demonstrate those things with the cooked noodles, he was getting two more packages from the box, certain of the fact my haphazard concoction would be inedible.

Somehow, in the midst of his repeated declarations that I was "wrecking his noodles" and while his whirlwind of pacing went on around me, I did manage to make macaroni and cheese using my freakishly bizarre method called 'estimating'. And I set it before him with the assurance that "your noodles are not wrecked".

He tasted it. He ate it. He told me it was 'okay'. But he assured me it would have been better if I had done it 'correctly'.

I'm not sure if the noodles would have been better. But his heart rate might have stayed in the normal range!

29 comments:

Jill said...

I've never been an estimater. I always go for the measuring spoons and cups. For me, it's less OCD and more being inept in the kitchen. Though I am wondering what "wrecked noodles" would look like. :)

indigo said...

I'd make it the first time or two following the rules and measuring everything. But after that, I go with my tastebuds. Seems to work quite nicely. I'm also kinda wondering how hard it would be to wreck Mac & Cheese (except for microwaving it for too long!).

Thanks for popping by. I'll come back to visit. :-)

Carmi said...

This experience is ample proof that you have an amazingly sensitive parenting style.

bardouble29 said...

when it comes to mac and cheese, I "eyeball" the ingredients. But yes, it might have been easier on your poor son if he had been able to do it "exactly". Thanks for sharing the funny parenting story!

T. said...

I'm a fly by the seat of my pants type of gal when it comes to cooking.

But then, I don't have OCD tendencies. Except for my potato chip eating habits. Which are apparently, very similar to yours!

Oh, and may I suggest Chef BoyrDee canned pastas? Just open and nuke. Had my kids trained by age three.

It's why I keep winning those Mommy of the Year awards.

Beth said...

awww, that's cute. you have to do it the way it says on the box!! get with it dad! You almost messed up his noodles.

Mine freak out when I just put some water in the bowl with instant oatmeal and throw it in the microwave....ahhhhh!

Teena said...

Easy Mac rocks!!! But it's too many calories these days for me.

I didn't know it came in the ginormous packs!

Trish said...

You are a very patient dad indeed. I estimate everything but then again wrecked noodles are no fun.

Glad it turned out:)

That Chick Over There said...

Estimating makes me uneasy.

Also I'm on Weight Watchers now so my food scale and my measuring cups are my new BFF.

However, you did a good job. :)

Becky68 said...

I'm an estimater from way back, it drove both my mother & my grandmother nuts, now 2 out of 3 of my kids are ok with it, the other goes crazy!
Annother funny Mac&Cheese story:
My ex & I were struggling to fix a problem with a gutter on our rental house before it rained, so my oldest who was 10 at that time, asked to eat, we told her while working on replacing the gutter how to cook hot dogs & start the water boiling for mac&cheese (this was one of those velveta shells & cheese packs with the creamy cheese in a foil pack) while the shells were boiling my ex told her to put the cheese in a cup of hot water to soften up & make it easier to mix into the shells, so she cut the packet open & poured it into a cup of hot water! He had meant for her to just put the unopened packet in the water "but you didn't say so Dad!"

thethinker said...

I'm no good at estimating.

And I am also horrible at dealing with those "everybody for him/herself cooking days". Usually, I end up starving.

Melody said...

It depends on what I am making, whether I estimate or not. If its the first time I am using a recipe I am pretty precise. But then I can get lazy and just guess...

That's a great story and I have to say I was rather relieved to see the macaroni turned out A OK!!

Ramblin Rose said...

I always estimate... and I so miss real Mac and cheese we get horrible stuff over here in oz....


I found you via coffee house chatter....

rr

www.ramble-on-rose.com

skeet said...

I was using my mother's "pinch of this, dab of that" methods by the time I was seven. It works for me, but I can completely understand how it drives others crazy when they are used to more precise ffod science, lol.

I really need to make you a daily habit. You tell good stories.
http://skeetsstuff.skeeterbess.com/

Meander said...

mmm...now i am hungry! i love mac and cheese. i am thinking that you probably helped your son to know that it didn't have to be perfect for it to still be good. you are a wonderful parent.

Jocelyn said...

This is the kind of slice of life story that I love. And now your son has the beautiful anticipation still in front of him of making them "right" soon enough...after he suffers through a night of some healty, home-cooked concoction, of course.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm with the kid. I measure every time. I am not very good at estimating.

Chelle said...

He sounds a lot like my 13 yr old son!! Some things have to be just so...like measuring. I have just learned to let him be and do his thing! lol It's not easy sometimes....i do things differently.....but, well, live and learn :)

BTW...i NEVER measure mac and cheese stuff either :)

Jazz said...

Em, I think he was remembering your "mashed potatos".

Just sayin'

CSL said...

I always estimate when cooking, but I think I'd be inclined to let my son be militarily precise if he had OCD and needed that. Logic doesn't even enter into the picture. Thanks for sharing the story.

Baron Ectar said...

I have to tell ya that I have made it with the small packages - I tried combining them and it did wreck the noodles- it was better when I cooked them seperate and then added them - I would have paced to!

Helen said...

I cannpt estimate for my life, yet I am to impatient to measure things precisely all the time. So I get stuck!
Helen

Helen said...

*cannot
*too

(I spell things wrong because I type too quickly!)

Sheila said...

prepackaged food is the food of champs! Ramen noodles and mac & cheese, diet of the college student! ;o)If my boyfriend didn't buy me food, I'd never eat anything else!

Wizened Wizard said...

I don't think I've ever met a noodle-wrecker before. Who knew a wrecker could be so specialized?

As a sufferer of OCD, the thought of your "estimating" gave me a bit of the shudders. You're supposed to get out the equipment, line it up, be sure to measure exactly, stir ten times right and then ten times left... DON'T YOU KNOW THAT?!?!? I think Son16 handled your cooking quite well!

On a much more serious - and personal - note, one of my earlier blog pieces is about O.C.D.

I'm really glad you were able to enjoy the noodles together.

velvet girl said...

Even though I'm not OCD, I can relate somewhat to that. I used to be a typical virgo perfectionist when I was just starting to cook and would be really particular about measurements.

Of course, now I know that you only have to be that fussy about measuring baking stuff. :)

-velvet

liv said...

made the jump from our domestic slackstress, because if you mention my name in your comment, I'm your forever.

seriously, though, what I see in this post is the beauty of home occupational therapy, and what you're doing for your son in freakishly daring to estimate is huge. today, my house has been in a tizzy because I might have dared to switch one brand of strawberry yogurt smoothie with another, and THEN, THEN even attempt to do the switcheroo. I put the new smoothie in his Dora the Explorer cup (because only THOSE 'straw' cups will do) and my darling Davis did not look amused. not one bit.

I feel you, my brother.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Just dropping by to say Happy Valentine's Day!

Elle said...

I have to laugh... my autistic daughter is very precise on how she likes things done already, and she's FOUR!!! I can only imagine the fun we'll have in 12 years!! ;)