Hanging with the Peeps

My friend’s twelve year-old daughter had been asking me to show her how to make homemade marshmallow peeps. So, the Saturday before Easter, my kitchen was transformed into peep central. All the ingredients were assembled. The pans, bowls, and assorted equipment were collected and put into place. The kitchen staff, donning aprons, consisted of my wife, the “Pre-Teen”, and myself. The Pre-Teen chose the music – “oldies” from the 1980s – and we were off!

I was pleasantly surprised in myself for the restraint of letting the Pre-Teen do most of the work. My wife and I observed and only interjected to demonstrate or give a hint or two. You may be thinking that’s not a big deal, but for those chefs out there that know, giving up control, and your kitchen, is sometimes a challenge.

I read off the ingredients and measurements as the manufacturing began. I watched as the Pre-Teen tried to measure powdered sugar into the measuring cup. It only took a small amount of struggle and a mild dust storm, and we intervened to show an easier way to measure the dry ingredients. She started to put herself down and we assured her that only by doing will you learn. We steadily progressed through the recipe. I then rambled off into a “slight” chef’s lecture on culinary naming conventions. With the Pre-Teen’s eyes glazing over and a “whatever shrug,” it was back to the task at hand. Coming to the conclusion of the mixing stage, she gleefully added the yellow food coloring to the exact, artistic hue of a true peep. The piping bags were loaded and the artistic portion of the evening was about to begin.

I started by demonstrating the theory of how a peep is piped. Being slack in my skills, I humbly created something between a flamboyant Miami Beach amoeba and a golden elephant seal. Second try was better. I handed the bag over to the Pre-Teen and let her give it a shot. I was proud that her first attempt with the piping bag showed a spark of natural skill.

I explained that this is art. And the best part is that your work is edible and you get to eat your mistakes before the critics rip you apart. The Pre-Teen then unleashed her inner artist. She experimented with crafting letters, Salvador Dali-like free-form shapes, and goofy faces. After all had been piped, they were fittingly bejeweled with bright yellow, crystal sugar. I then let her play with the food coloring that started out as the traditional dotting of the eyes but ended as strokes of impressionistic genius. There I sat smiling along with the sugar dusted Pre-Teen as she surveyed with great pride and satisfaction the Easter menagerie like no other.

Re: Hanging with the Peeps