We call her my mini-me, but most of my blog readers know her as mini-chef. Her real name is Brielle.
She is my heart, my soul and she’s almost 16. I sit and wonder where the time has gone and I realize how precious our time together really is.
Having 5 teenagers as part of a blended family, can get very challenging at times. Trying to find time for everyone is a job all in itself. They need a lot of face time and connection with mom and I have to spread myself pretty thin to be able to accomplish it all.
Brielle made it easy for me early on, though. She has a passion for cooking and baking, just like me and we have spent countless hours in the kitchen together creating delicious meals and snacks for the family. That time in the kitchen is precious. We get a chance to talk. Really talk. And teenagers need that. They really need personal face-to-face communication. In this world where teens are tethered to their phones and i-this-and-that, it’s uber important to find time to really connect. We text, sure. We update each other throughout the day via text, but it’s not enough. Spending time together, looking into each others eyes and really creating memories together, that’s what counts. Those are the moments that matter.
The kitchen is where Brielle and I unwind together at the end of the day and keep each other updated on our lives and what is happening on any given day. It’s so important to both of us that we get this time together.
Right now, our lives are facing some personal challenges so our time together in the kitchen is more important than ever. She might hop on a stool and be kneading dough or stirring at the stove and telling me all about her boyfriend, or kids at school, a big assignment that is stressing her out, or just life in general. I might be taking hot, fresh muffins out of the oven and telling her about my day or a cool thing that happened with my food blog, or updating her on what is going on with us personally. She might be getting ready to take some photos for me, and we might be talking about our upcoming trip this summer to the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando. There is no limit to what we talk about.
She is my food blog photographer most of the time as well. I would definitely say a large percentage of the photographs on my blog are taken by her. She loves to go through my food props and try to find the perfect set up for a dish. She sets the table, she arranges the food, all the while she is chattering away about something or another. She snaps dozens of photographs from every angle, climbing on the kitchen table at times. This of course, usually brings loads of laughter as she perches precariously trying to get the perfect angle. This time together in the kitchen has done something I had no idea it would do.
It gave me my teenager back. In our world, it’s so difficult to connect on a personal level, as a parent, with a teen. They think we don’t understand and they don’t feel comfortable sharing their lives with us. But that’s not the case here. I’m sure she has secrets, don’t we all? But in general I know about everything that counts. Even the personal stuff and even the negative. But mostly it’s all good and it allows me to be there for her. That’s why face-to-face communication is so incredibly important.
On one such afternoon in the kitchen, we were both feeling sluggish after a rather rough day, and we decided to play around and create this delicious coffee drink. We do this a lot. Mix a little of this, a little of that, to get the perfect coffee drink. We are both HUGE fans of a super popular coffee house chain, but we refuse to spend so much money, so we create them at home. Together.
CHOCOLATE CINNAMON COCONUT MILK LATTE
- ½ cup ground coffee (I just used folgers)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 can coconut milk (I used full fat)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (you can use regular table sugar if you'd like)
- 1 teaspoon of coconut extract (you can use another flavor if you'd like... vanilla is good)
- In your coffee maker basket, combine the ground coffee and ground cinnamon. Brew as directed for coffee maker.
- On the stove, over medium-low heat, combine the coconut milk, cocoa sugar and coconut extract in a saucepan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring several times, careful not to boil it. Small bubbles are okay, and when they start, remove from heat. Pour the hot coconut milk mixture into four coffee cups about half full, then top with the cinnamon-flavored coffee. The coconut milk mixture can be saved in a sealed jar for about a week, and added cold to your morning coffee. For fun, top with whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon, and garnish with a cinnamon stick. (makes a great stirrer).
Want to know how to build a successful restaurant? Check out BonAppetit.com’s “Out of the Kitchen”, a glimpse into the inner workings of two successful restaurants. Meet the back of the house inner circle and see how face-to-face relationships keep customers coming back for more.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bon Appetit. The opinions and text are all mine.