February 28, 2013 @ 8:15 AM

 February 28 ~

My kids had an Easy Bake Oven and now, my grandson has one of the new and improved models. I grew up watching how to.... and then using a real oven. They did make tiny rolling pins and kid size pans back then, but meant for a kitchen stove. So, I have always been a bit irrationally offended by the idea of Easy Bakes because it signifies to me the fact that many parents do not cook/bake or even really know how and the foods available to "bake" in these toys are not at all nutritious and just encourage the eating of even more empty calories. Most kids, however, are fascinated with cooking, so at least they can get some exposure to the process if cooking is not a priority in the home. Given my feelings, why did my kids have an Easy Bake? Because my husband grew up in a home where little cooking and no baking occured--and he always wanted one. Why does my grandson have one now? Again, my husband's fascination (another example of how deeply childhood deprivations can last a lifetime!!)--but I also realize--kids love MINIATURE things--dollhouses, action figures, etc.

So, in spite of the fact that at 7, my grandson knows his way around the kitchen, a Kitchen Aid mixer, the stovetop and knows what the secret ingredient is in all baked goods (MY secret), he still likes those insanely tiny products of the Easy Bake. They are made from all chemical ingredients, but taste OK----the benefit of them being so small! I was determined to make them a bit more "food like" and maybe add some flavor and nutrition.

You can not change the recipe or substitute your own mix (unless you are really ambitious and have time for lots of failures) or add much because the oven area is so small, no leavening can be added--or any ingredient that might cause spreading. The best you can do is add a little more dry ingredient and then a tad more water as needed according to the directions. I decided to add a smidge of soy protein powder, and use mint tea as the water--which gave the "Whoopie Pies" a chocolate minty taste. I would not add an essential or food flavor oil to these recipes because the amount of dough/batter is so small--one drop would be overpowering. So, make a strong tea of whatever flavor your child (or husband!) likes and use that to moisten the mix instead of the water called for. If an icing is involved, it is gooey enough to be able to sprinkle some lavender or violet buds/petals on top. This afternoon, when he comes home from school, he wants to make a pizza in that thing!! It will be about the size of a small coaster--at best. We will sprinkle some oregano that he picked from last year's garden on top and add more soy or whole wheat flour to the dough.

I am still looking for SOMETHING that herbs can not help with or improve........