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A gadget for all seasons

Christina Abuelo

Essentially, our interests do not intersect. I enjoy preparing and eating delicious, local, seasonal foods. My 3-and-a-half-year-old son Benjamin is into trains, trucks and demolition equipment. We spend our share of time in the car pulled over by the side of the road watching tractors rumbling around construction sites. –

How then, do I get a 3-year-old’s attention when I am toiling away in the kitchen? When I want him to learn about nutritious food? The answer lies in my gadgets and appliances. They’re cool. Especially anything with a motor.-

Last week, I took out the sleek and elegant Apple Pro Peeler and affixed it to my counter with its suction-gripper feet. After I impaled a beautiful Granny Smith on the machine’s central spike, I turned the hand crank. “Look Ben,” I said. He watched. Nothing happened.

“I better check the instruction booklet,” I mumbled, wheeling around the kitchen, conscious that I had left a 3-year-old near a sharp blade. “Don’t touch any”,” I ordered sternly.-

“Mama, look,” he interrupted me. I spun around. In just a few seconds, he had skinned the entire apple, bottom to top. A two-foot-long apple peel snaked over the counter.-

I should not have been surprised. At two years old, Benjamin was deftly expelling cherry pits into the sink with both my manual and hand cranked cherry stoners. Last week, he insisted on zesting four mandarin oranges after he saw me doing it.

-And anytime a soup needs pureeing, the boy is there, holding my immersible blender steadily in the pot and lecturing me on what speed is best. Not bad for someone who can’t reach the counter unless he’s standing on a dining room chair.

While some of my kitchen tools are employed year round, many of them are used only at certain parts of the year. What a great way to teach the kids about the nature of the seasons, a concept even I have trouble with sometimes (I’m still halfway in denial that tomato season is over).-

Springtime is when we make lots of salads with fresh, field-picked greens. What a great opportunity to really get the salad spinner whizzing around at top speed. Before they get put away for the year, the cherry pitter and garlic press each see a lot of action in early summer. The mandolin is handy in the mid-summer for making cucumber salads and razor-thin potato and beet chips. In the fall, we peel and core lots of apples, and in winter we zest citrus.-

In my kitchen, a mother and son bond over ice cream makers and melon ballers and grapefruit spoons. Through these gizmos, the boy learns about the flavors of seasonal foods and the magic of the natural cycles of nature. He sees what food looks like in its pure, unprocessed state before it’s prepared for consumption. And, for a short time, we ” a rambunctious 3-and-a-half-year-old and his weary, food-obsessed mother ” find common ground … Even if my Cuisinart can’t hold a candle to a front loader/ backhoe combo tractor.


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