Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kitchen Angels

Not long before Christmas, I bought a few Tomie dePaola books for my family and I to enjoy together. (And I just have to say: To all of you who ever recommended or even just mentioned these books, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!) We really loved The Night of Las Posadas and The Legend of the Poinsettia, and now we're tremendously enjoying Pascual and the Kitchen Angels. After reading it again a few days ago, I had the idea that it would be fun to base an activity project on this book. I thought about it for a couple of days, and finally it occurred to me that I could accomplish two goals with one task. I absolutely love the whimsical angels in this book, and I thought it would be so much fun to make our own to create a mobile that we could hang in our kitchen. Also: one of my new year's resolutions was to start cooking more from scratch. So, a menu based on the meals in this book was the second part of my plan, including my very first ever attempt at making homemade bread!

We began making the angels a few days ago. Using brightly colored card stock, I cut out multiple gowns, aprons, sleeves...everything, down to the tiny feet! Next, I simply glued them together in layers to form our angels and, as a final touch, embellished the wings with sparkly glitter glue.

These were actually really easy to make. I used the cutouts of my first one as templates for the others, so that saved a lot of work. (The first one definitely took the longest.) Once we had as many as we wanted (we made eight), we fashioned our mobile. With some multi-colored yarn, I tied two long, thin dowels into a large cross, and formed a small Ojo de Dios in the center to help secure it.
Next, with a needle and embroidery floss, I tied each angel to the dowels at varying lengths.
We all loved the finished product, which we suspended from the chandelier above our dining room table. (I had hoped to actually hang it in the kitchen, but couldn't really find a suitable spot. This was close enough for me!)
While these angels were a fun and crafty project, one I really enjoyed, dinner was a much more daunting task! Just as in the book, we decided to cook beans (in the form of a 15 bean soup) and bread. (They're predicting snow tonight, so the cold weather made this a perfect day for the exciting culmination of our three day long effort!) But I felt much like poor Pascual as I attempted to begin our meal:

"All the pots and pans, bowls and dishes made his head spin. How did he boil water? How did he cook the beans? How did he make the bread?"

How, indeed?

(Can you guess who does most of the cooking in this family?)

The bean soup didn't really require any effort. I let it simmer in the crock pot for most of the day and it was delicious! The bread, however, was an entirely different matter. (I had to call Darren at work to ask him how to scald milk. And thank goodness my mom stopped by just when I was about to start kneading the dough, because I completely lacked confidence when it came to determining how much flour to add!) Dylan and Caitlyn were such eager assistants, and were so excited to be helping! They loved the feel of the sticky dough, and were amazed by watching it rise.

Without a doubt, I had more fun today than I have in a long while! This is a day I think we will still fondly recall many years from now. Our dinner was scrumptious, the bread divine, and, after eating, we read the book one more time to review the many similarities between the story and our day.

"The angels mixed up dough, put it in a pan and popped it in the oven. They put water on to boil and poured the beans in the pot. They cut up the cheeses and put them on a board."

I think we'll be keeping those kitchen angels around for a while.


Michelle said...

I am so very un-crafty...I totally admire your creativity in making that beautiful mobile!

And homemade bread is divine, isn't it? Do you have a KitchenAid mixer? It's not as hands-on, but you can have the same taste with half the work by mixing it in there with a dough hook.

Barite said...

Hey Sweetie-

It was really cool to come home to the angels flying in the house, and dinner? Gotta say that was one of the best we've ever had - wonderful!

You guys stay warm, it's starting to sleet and snow here and hopefully I'll see you early this afternoon!


He who wears the most black wins. said...

Do you have any idea what an incredibly cool mom you are? Amazing, Melissa. Amazing.

What wonderful memories and what a beautiful craft project. It almost feels like an insult to call it a "craft". That's a work of art.

Now...please pass the butter. I'm about to DIVE into that beautiful bread!

Jennifer said...

I love your angels. They are adorable. And the bread looks so yummy.

Jamie said...

I just ordered the book from Amazon for $3 and am already signed up for a bread baking class next month, so thank you for the inspiration, I am going to try your ideas, I am a copy cat!! Your day looked wonderful, thanks Melissa! My angels probably won't look as nice as yours though!

Jane Ramsey said...

What a beautiful project!

theresa said...

What a fun day! Learning like you all had is the stuff that lasts.

I've ejoyed my visit here tonight.


Suzanne Temple said...


erin said...

So, true to my ways, I love the samall things. I LOVE that above your angel mobile is the eye of god. So awesome, dude. So awesome.

Blair said...

Amazing angels and yummy-looking bread! A visit to your blog always makes me smile :)

MaryM said...

We love Pasqual and the Kitchen Angels. What great ideas to go along with the book - I absolutely love the mobile. It is incredible!

Kristen Laurence said...

Melissa, those angels are so sweet! What a blessing this day was for you, your children, and for us! Such a treat - thank you for sharing it!