As a part of GoMighty, I have partnered with Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation to sponsor this post as part of the Too Small to Fail campaign.

My two older sons are terrific eaters. I now realize this because their little brother is a err… ummm… how to put this delicately… more traditional toddler on the all-white-food diet.

I decided that it would be a great joy to teach these eaters to prepare food. As their mother, of course, it is my job. As a parent interested in educating their minds and bodies, it seems like a triple win. I imagined that we would carefully read the recipe (after choosing it together, naturally!), shop for ingredients (to practice our label-reading and math skills), assemble the components (patiently enjoying each other’s company), bake together, and enjoy the results of our shared labor all the while building an appreciation for literacy and the earth.

Wow. How do I continue with these delusions is beyond me.

Our starting point is this: there is a local maker of sweet potato pie batter that we LOVE: Mamie and Makhi’s sweet potato pie! We defrost the pre-made batter, pour it into a pre-formed pie shell, and practice our patience to bake then cool before devouring it. So I wanted to go a few steps further.

Attempt 1: Pumpkin pie from (almost) scratch!

I found this pumpkin with a recipe sticker and figured it was worth a try. I tried to get my pumpkin-pie-loving boys enthused to open, clean, and roast the raw gourd. No luck. After that first step, my oldest son helped me crack, measure, and mix the batter. He proudly presented it for baking. Yay! We are cooking and learning — I’m the best mom.

Until.

We tasted it. My kid thought it was gross. One of us cried about the tragedy of an afternoon wasted. Interestingly, my pumpkin-pie-hating husband liked the pie so maybe it was just a little too homemade. I liked it fine once it was smothered with whipped cream.

Attempt 2: Apple pie from (almost) scratch!

Not to be deterred, I read this amazing streusal apple pie recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks and thought the boys might have fun making it.

What worked: Using the apple peeler slicer corer that I got for a wedding gift was tons of fun. We peeled for the pie and made even more coils for snack.

What didn’t: Apparently, both my older boys decided they don’t eat cooked fruit so they wouldn’t even try it. But it was ridiculously great!

Next time, I’ll dial down the from-scratch and work with a can of pumpkin puree and the recipe on the back of the can. I vow to continue to try and teach, cook, eat, and love with my boys until we’ve all had our fill of pie and literacy!

Why is this seasonal celebration of pie also a celebration of literacy? I want to teach my children that vocabulary is all around us. Talking, singing, reading, and even eating can be teachable moments!