Coronavirus, Quarantine, & Kids

My grad school, undergrad university, high school, and grade schools are all closed today and for the foreseeable future. My town’s school system is open – for now – but is sending out daily updates and a pamphlet titled “How to Talk about Coronavirus to Your Kids.” It’s a strange world we’re living in. But Belle is almost 3 and Buddy isn’t yet 1 and we can still shield them from the uncertainty by giving the family a routine. Here, at home, we bake.

“But I don’t bake,” you say. Don’t worry. This is simple stuff (and if not, ask and I’ll walk you through it with pictures) and who cares if it gets messed up? Not my kid.

“But I don’t even know what supplies I need,” you protest. I got you. Here’s your 14-day quarantine Amazon Pantry/Instacart order, for daily baking:

  • 7 lbs butter (baking takes up a lot of butter – but you can often substitute margarine if you don’t care that cut out cookies don’t hold their shape and biscuits aren’t perfectly flaky, or I’ll give you some recipes that work through your giant tub of Crisco instead. Recipes often call for unsalted for a precise saltiness, but whatever, use what’s available.)
  • 15 lbs flour (almost certainly overkill but if you start making bread every day you’ll go through it quickly)
  • 5 lb sugar (I like lower sugar recipes but this is the most standard size available)
  • 2 lb confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar; multiply that if you like to frost things as it’s a key component of royal icing and buttercream frosting)
  • 12 oz cocoa powder (add a 4 oz jar of ground espresso for depth of flavor, optional)
  • Baking soda, baking powder, and salt (if you don’t have a box/can that’s at least half-full already. Kosher salt is useful for pretzels.)
  • 24-30 oz semisweet or dark chocolate chips (please note that these are also useful as potty training bribery and snacks for mamas who didn’t get to finish their cold coffee from 4 hours ago)
  • Sprinkles (just get a variety, more if you don’t feel like decanting them back into their containers after some, er, overly enthusiastic sprinkling)
  • Spices (cinnamon, mostly. Add cloves and ginger for a warming fall profile. Cream of tartar for play dough.)
  • 2 doz eggs (more if you want to use them for omelettes, etc)
  • 1 jar active dry yeast (or 6 packets; more if you want to make bread daily)
  • 4+ oz vanilla extract (most recipes call for 1 tsp, which means you get 6 recipes worth of vanilla out of a 2 oz bottle…or a little less because of sloshes and never getting that last drop)
  • 2 oz almond extract (optional, if you like the flavor)
  • Old fashioned oats (optional, if you like oatmeal cookies or granola. Use whatever variety is already in your pantry if necessary.)
  • Dried fruit, like raisins, craisins, and dried cherries (optional, if you like them)
  • Fresh citrus, especially lemons (optional, usually okay to drop from a recipe)
  • Crisco (optional, but good for greasing pans and as a butter alternative)
  • Coconut (optional, but key for macaroons)
  • Food coloring (optional, but fun)
  • 1-2 bears of honey (optional, and yes, a bear is a unit of measure!)

We will also use whatever is already in your pantry: tea, canned pumpkin, peanut butter, maple syrup, and so forth.

“But we don’t have a stand mixer!” you declare. No problemo. Hand mixers and even mechanical egg beaters (if the butter is soft enough) work just fine. Look around the house to find a hard canister if you need a makeshift rolling pin. Equipment and supplies that will make this easier:

  • Mixer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Silicone spatula
  • Parchment paper
  • Hand soap
  • Forks/knives/spoons
  • Cookie sheet
  • 8 or 9″ square or round pan (or 2, or one of each)
  • Muffin tins
  • Cookie cutters, optional (but more fun than upside down glasses)
  • Pie plate, optional
  • Oven (but I’ve made cookies in a toaster oven)
  • Aprons (Belle has not once kept everything in the bowl and that is a-ok)
  • Some sort of kitchen tower or uncushioned chair to get kids to counter level

“Cool, what are we baking?” There’s the spirit! I mean, what aren’t we baking? Bread so you don’t have to go to the store, scones/muffins/quick breads for tomorrow’s breakfast, snacks, all kinds of dessert, pasta, pizza, holiday treats…perhaps the baking gods provide divine guidance to your child and you end up with a mysterious concoction! We can do a bake-along though to keep this easy.

Here we go.

Day 1: Coconut Macaroons

Day 2: Pizza Pie

Day 3: Irish Brown Soda Bread

Day 4: Rainbow Pasta

Day 5: No Sugar Added Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Day 6: Irish Flapjacks

Day 7: Sweet Potato Fries

Day 8: Pretzels

Day 9: Snickerdoodles

Day 10: Shortbread

Day 11: Mac & Cheese

Day 12: Pumpkin Bread

Day 13: Goldfish

Days 14-16: Gingerbread House

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus, Quarantine, & Kids

  1. Love this site!! Great for grandmothers too!
    Do you have a set of Baking with Belle measuring cups or child kitchen tools that can be given as gifts to children or grandchildren? Would love to purchase a few sets!!
    Thank you for all the suggestions…


    1. Thanks! No products yet, though I’m working on a cookbook that reformats these recipes to make them even more kid-friendly. I’m sure a kitchen tool set would go with it perfectly!

      Meanwhile, I really like some of the following products for little hands:
      •Food Network Mini Whisks (available at Kohl’s, in a set of 2 that allows everyone to have their own whisk)
      •any sturdy stainless steel measuring spoons with deep round bowls – I find these the most likely to fit into spice jars and the least likely to lose half the contents when toddlers insist on doing it themselves
      •a mini rolling pin (9-12”, I like wood but silicone works too) – we steal one from our PlayDoh set when cutting out cookies!


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