Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cooking with Aunt D

Being an aunt is one of my favorite roles in life! To my siblings' kiddos, I am - and always will be - Aunt D. I decided to shorten my name from Dana to D for totally selfish reasons. Because I wanted my nuggets to be able to say my name as early (and easily) as possible. Oh, I also shortened "nieces and nephews" to "nuggets;" for ease but also just because like the sound of it. And I am the proud aunt of 8 nuggets - four on each side. But this is a little story about time I spent with just one of those nuggets, my niece Kaylee.
During my recent visit home - to my hometown that is - I had the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon with my little Kaylee Bug. Those few hours were a wonderful and exciting glimpse at the fun I have in store as the mommy of a little girl.
The plan was to make two lasagnas, one for Kaylee's family - my attempt at nourishing parents of a newborn, my sister had given birth to her third just 5 days before - and one for my dad (to share with me and my mom) because he loves my lasagna.
First, we had to go to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients. Now, keep in mind I've never actually taken a 6 year old to the grocery store by myself. Leaving the house, I realized Kaylee was carrying a purse; how very grown-up of her, especially considering that I was carrying my keys, wallet, and cell phone (sans diaper bag) - I looked like a fumbling moron while she looked totally put together - Hello Kitty bag and all!
Before we even pulled out of the driveway, a mini-makeover was needed. Kaylee proceeded to pull out one accessory after another from her ever-so-handy purse, and we got to work bedazzling ourselves with rings, hair bows, and bracelets. I referred to it as our "pling," the plastic version of bling. Once inside the store, I quickly learned the memory power of a young mind. Thankfully I had recited our ingredient list to Kaylee because I left the list at home, and there's little to no chance of me being able to remember anything these days. But she remembered everything we needed. Of course, she also negotiated a little something - not on the list - for herself. An item that started - in her head - as a princess dress, got scaled back to a toy, and finally settled on a journal (in the school supply aisle) ... as she realized the grocery store lacks the selection she was hoping for.
Back at Grammy's house, Kaylee kept me company - asking lots of very good questions - while I put together the sauce and boiled noodles. And then we constructed both meals layer-by-layer and side-by-side. She even handled the ooey-gooeyness of the ricotta cheese like a seasoned chef.
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The end results were two delicious pans of lasagna, a mess Grammy was kind enough to clean up while Kaylee and I stole away to read books together, very fond memories, and an anticipation of the not-so-distant future when my little Natalie will be a purse-carrying, pling-wearing, list-remembering, lasagna-making six year old!

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