Today marks the first day of our local Disc Golf league, meaning that my wonderful husband is out enjoying his own social life at the moment, leaving the children and I to fend for our own food. For those of you who don’t know me personally or who haven’t been following the blog for long, I’m a terrible cook at best. (Er.. I mean… I’m blessed to have a husband that is willing to do all the food preparation in our home.) In general, if it’s my rare night to cook, we either have to order pizza (which we did over the weekend when it was my turn to cook), or we have hotdogs and macaroni and cheese. (If I’m feeling sophisticated, I’ll do baked beans straight from the can as well. I know, right? Classy!) Lucky for me, the boys don’t seem to mind this lack of innovation too much.
On this particular day, I decided to indulge Ben’s love of science and we did a cooking science experiment. Today’s macaroni and cheese was a character variety, that being Phineas and Ferb, to be exact. (For those not in the know, this is a Disney cartoon that is a lot like the slapstick humor of Spongebob. Click the link to learn more. I must admit, it’s a very silly show, but I do enjoy it with the boys.) Our science “experiment” was more of an observation, actually. I took one of each of the characters out of the dry noodles, and set them aside. Once the macaroni was boiling away, Ben and sat and thought about what would happen to the dry noodles when they were cooking. I asked Ben two questions:
1. Would the noodle get harder or softer when they cooked?
2. Would the noodles get smaller or bigger after they cooked?
Ben hypothesized that the noodles would get softer, because when we eat macaroni, it is soft as opposed to crunchy. (Which was a fantastic observation!!!) He also speculated that the size of the noodles would shrink. I couldn’t get a clear distinction on why he thought this would happen. I think it was pretty much a guess, which is just fine, also. It turns out, he was half right. Of course the noodles softened, but, unlike meat and many other things we cook, noodles grow when they are boiled. He was quick to pick this up when I set the cooked noodles on his plate. We formed a theory of why these events would happen to our noodles. We (I) decided that cooking noodles would cook out the starch in them, making them softer and allowing water to penetrate the more porous surface and expanding the macaroni structure. (Also, just a guess on my behalf. I didn’t study culinary education or macaroni science 101 in college.) I am still Googling to validate this theory through similar published studies or sound scientific explanations, or to find alternative theories, but I have yet to find a real informative article on such business. Click here to see what I learned. (Though my search was limited because of the remaining aspects of the story.)
What happened next surprised me a bit. As I was cleaning up the table, Ben was using his imagination and having a very fun adventure with the Phineas and Ferb macaroni cast. And, in the absence of real action figures, they worked great. I grabbed a piece of paper, and we sat down and made drawings which served as a back drop for their adventure.
What an amazing time we had. Ben learned about macaroni, I practiced cooking, and I learned that even noodles can be action figures if you try hard enough! Bon Appetite!