Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Baker’s Man;
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Pat it and shape it and mark it with “B”,
And there will be enough for baby and me.
I knew they were coming, but wasn’t sure if the terrible twos, were destined to be as terrible as everyone says they are. Two seems to be this magical age of discontent. Many of my friends have said three-year-olds are more of a handful, but two-year-olds seem to get the spotlight. I’m finding that the truth is, tantrums and struggles for independence can occur for a variety of reasons and can strike at any age.
So why do two-year-olds get the bad rap? It’s actually an old fashioned idea that’s not supported by any research. Apparently the term was coined in the 1950s, perhaps because there was a lot of pressure for families to be perfect, like those portrayed on television commercials at the time. So when a child grew out of the compliant stage of infancy, often around the age of two, parents may have felt a mixture of frustration, embarrassment and anger—we’ve all seen and heard two-year-olds dissolve into a screaming puddle of misery at the grocery store. Yep, meltdown! Any parent knows that the howling tantrum of a small child is the ultimate test of human patience.
As a mother of a two-year-old, I can say there’s a bit of truth to the cliché. Two-year-olds ARE a handful. They’re often opinionated, stubborn, irrational, and slaves to their moods (hungry, tired, cranky), but I actually don’t think they’re so terrible. Despite the challenges sometimes, I LOVE this age because there are so many other wonderful developmental changes that also occur at this stage. Besides the fact that two-year-olds are just so stinking cute, at two they also begin to be aware that they are growing and they try to emulate adults. I often find my little one shuffling around in my shoes, trying to wear my husband’s ties or fiddling with our hats, trying to adjust them on his head. He also really wants to help with household chores like folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, unpacking groceries, and preparing meals in kitchen. Of course it slows us down a bit, but it’s so worth the time.
Pretend play, a great example of imitation, also starts around this age and can show their ability to empathize: little rabbit has a boo-boo, I’ll kiss it to make it all better. They begin to really soak in things in their environment that we often take for granted. Their curiosity and joy in discovering the world around them is not only refreshing, but also infectious. Depending on the child, some start to communicate much more clearly and share lots of interesting thoughts going on in their growing brains. They soak up so much. Their eagerness to learn also means they’re into everything, and setting firm boundaries (turning the stovetop knobs and crossing the street without holding an adult’s hand are not acceptable) is imperative. I believe most parents would agree—every child is different, and every year and stage presents its own new joys and challenges. The key is finding effective techniques to maintain discipline—and your sanity.
For those of you who have toddlers (or interact with adults) who throw tantrums every once in a while, here are a couple of sites with tips and advice. Kidspot and Janet Lansbury – Elevating Child Care. For those of you who have any advice on effectively dealing with challenging toddler behavior, please share!
My toddler and I have been enjoying these savory little patty-cakes the past week. Making grain cakes (or burgers) is a great way to use leftovers if you get tired of reheating the grain from yesterday’s lunch or dinner. Although I love kale and usually use it in soups, salads, and stir-frys, I never tried adding it into a whole-grain pattie/cake. Kale and quinoa make a delicious pair! And why not? The earthy-flavored kale pairs well with quinoa’s delicate flavor. My version here is actually made with an Andean grain blend. I combined amaranth and red, white, and black quinoa. This mix is sometimes called a “supergrain mix”.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, amaranth is also packed with dietary fiber and is a great plant-based source of protein. Like quinoa, it’s a pseudo-grain and has a central seed and an outer germ that uncurls when cooked. Unlike quinoa, when it is cooked, it releases a starch and develops a semi-sticky texture so it’s often combined with other grains like quinoa, brown rice or millet.
If you can’t find amaranth or the different colors of quinoa, no worries, using only white quinoa will work equally well in this recipe. Serve these little whole-grain patty-cakes with a simple green salad for lunch or a light dinner. They also can be formed into bite-sized balls (quinoa bites), terrific for a for a party buffet or appetizer.
These patty-cakes beg for a new variation* each time I make them so I’m sure you’ll also come up with your own versions. Have fun experimenting. They’re so flavorful and also so easy to make. Enjoy!
Kale and Quinoa Patty-Cakes
Inspired and adapted from Yummy Supper’s Quinoa and Kale Patties
Makes 16-18 patties
¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
¼ cup amaranth
1 cup kale, chopped finely
½ red onion, chopped finely (about ½ cup)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup cottage cheese
¼ cup aged cheddar, coarsely grated
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1-2 red chiles, seeded and minced (optional)
¾-1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons basil, chopped finely (or 2 teaspoons crushed)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons ground)
1 tablespoon sage, chopped finely (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped finely
oil for frying
lemon wedges (optional)
In a medium sized saucepan, bring about 3 cups of salted water to boil. Add quinoa and amaranth and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, drain. Rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside until dry.
Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add cooked and dry Andean blend (quinoa and amaranth) and stir well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Shape mixture into small patty-cakes, each about 2-inches wide and ¾-inch thick. They should be formed into thick and flat cakes (similar to a car tire) that are even in thickness all around.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry about 3 or 4 patty-cakes at a time until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Add oil as needed and be careful when flipping them over to the other side. Serve warm or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice and/or Greek yogurt and sprinkle of herbs.
Notes: If time allows, make your grains the night before if you’re not using leftover grains. Chilling hardens the starch in the grain and makes it easier to shape them into patty-cakes.
If you prefer, you can bake your patty-cakes in a preheated oven set to 400F. Place patty-cakes on an oiled baking sheet, leaving some space in between each. Bake until bottoms are nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Carefully turn them over and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes.
*In other variations I’ve tried different cheeses with different herbs. Some examples are Havarti cheese with dill and parsley; feta cheese with parsley and oregano; and aged cheddar with cilantro. All are terrific combinations. They next time I think I’ll make a Middle Eastern inspired patty-cake, using za’atar and perhaps serving with a dollop of labné, a thick Middle Eastern yogurt. Yum! I hope you love these patty-cakes as much as we do!