Aprons and Utensils...
...a miniature iron stove and retro cook books, for a cooking theme.
That's about all I needed with the folks at the Community Center and at Silverado. Everyone has stories about cooking disasters and favorite comfort foods. People like to talk about kitchens they remember and foods Mom made.
A Bit of Dough
Since I'm starting to catch on with this mostly Spanish speaking group, I gave them something to do with their hands.
I made some salt dough earlier, but I needed them to knead in the food coloring so I could deliver it to the Shelter kids later. What busy hands and busy mouths! I use dough to calm kids, but with this group, the noise level shot up as they colored, then played with the dough...and jabbered away!
Some sculpted faces and others made flower designs. All the while the voices hollered over one another as they threw out their favorite comfort foods. "Tamales! Mole! Enchiladas..."
After Talking About Food
We cleaned up and 2 of the women who had arrived late that morning, unpacked warm Chile Rellenos and Spanish Rice! A feast!
What a treat after all the food talk!
On to Silverado
Same props and same dough coloring task, but such a different response. Eloise worked very seriously to get the white dough to turn pink. I forgot that these hands are older and the dough needed softening.
Some seemed reluctant to touch the sticky dough. But as they worked with the rolling pin and cookie cutters, the hands seemed to grow more comfortable, as if remembering.
Vivian sighed, "I wonder if I were back in my kitchen again if I would even know how to cook a meal, now?" Those are the kinds of words that make me hold my breath for a moment. "I guess I would." She smiled and seemed satisfied.
My mom was happiest, looking through cook books. She was also glad to chime in with some singing, "If I knew you were coming, I'd a baked a cake..."
We talked comfort foods, but no Mexican food came up. More sweets and soups! And Vivian was the most intrigued with the iron stove. Her father had cooked on one!
The Dough Moves On
The next day I took the same stuff to the Quilt Kids at the Shelter. They were giddy about trying out the egg beater and the potato masher. They rolled out the wrinkles in the quilt with the rolling pin.
In fact they were more than giddy. Must be the end of the school-year energy!
Just as I'd hoped, the rolling and molding and kneading was calming to the kids. They made star sandwiches and snakes. They blended the different colors of dough and held up their creations for approval.
What I learned: Most people young and old, love talking about food. I guess I knew that. But dough, even when it doesn't have sugar and eggs and butter, can still be pretty satisfying! I loved seeing the different groups approach the dough. Some with great gusto and some slowly. But ALL seemed satisfied in the end!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.