• Last modified 755 days ago (April 30, 2020)


Kitchens provide valuable family experiences

Staff writer

Darlene Bartel took an interest in baking bread half a decade ago, but the hobby harkens back to her childhood.

“It reminds me of my grandmother,” she said. “She made her own bread, so I think there’s some nostalgia there with great memories attached to it.”

Working in the kitchen also provides teaching opportunities for families with young children, Marion resident Eric Richmond said.

“Food doesn’t just come from the store,” she said. “Someone has to put it there and make it or put it together. Then there are so many other things you can teach as far as measuring and fractions.”

Having children of varying ages also means there are differing levels of responsibility, said the mother of three.

“Obviously, for my 8-year-old that looks different than for the 2-year-old,” she said. “It’s definitely important, in the household in general, for them to learn their responsibilities and how they can help.”

A large part of that comes through teaching by example, Richmond said.

Having an activity that can keeps people engaged and fed is especially important, she said.

“My kids really enjoy being in the kitchen,” she said. “Even if it’s just pancakes, muffin, or smoothies, things they can do on their own, that’s always been fun for us.”

Bartel works mostly with yeast breads but said variety is important.

“I just enjoy experimenting with different recipes and techniques,” she said. “You learn as you go, and some are better than others.

“Just try it, and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t turn out great.”

Richmond recently made sourdough bread at home which she said was a new experience for the family. Mixing up the process doesn’t just mean making different foods, but also including new confections.

“Changing it up when you have three kids is important,” she said. “You don’t want them just feeling like you’re eating the same thing for every meal. It makes it a little more exciting when they can add blueberries or put honey on top.”

Most of Bartel’s breads are pre-fermented, which allows her to start the process the night before and keep the dough mainly at room temperature.

Being at home more often is advantageous because the process takes about 18 hours total.

“It’s not good bread for when you’re at work all day,” she said. “Now that I have the time to spend then I can. I don’t know if it’s the kind of bread I can continue to make.”

There are different merits to using box mixes and starting from scratch, Richmond said.

“It depends on the day and the product,” she said. “We definitely use box mixes every now and then, and then I think it’s fun to have my kids learn how to make something on their own, that you can take all these ingredients and make it from scratch.”

While she could use a bread machine or a mixer, Bartel prefers bread-making’s manual aspects.

“I like to knead bread, it’s soothing,” she said. “It’s kind of fun to feel the gluten form as you knead it, you can actually feel it.”

Last modified April 30, 2020