One day Maia had too much homework.
“Mom,” she said, “I have five math worksheets, forty spelling words, a map for social studies, and a science fair project. I’m up to my eyeballs!”
“Wow!” said Mom. “Fourth grade sure is tougher than it used to be. Want some help?”
“What I really want,” said Maia. “is a teacher who doesn’t give homework!”
Dad was cooking in the kitchen. Maia sat down at the table with her backpack and her folder and nibbled on a cookie. “What’s for dinner?” she asked.
Dad smiled and raised his eyebrows mysteriously. “A feast!” he said. “Want to help me cook?”
“Sure,” said Maia. “Anything’s better than homework.”
“Great. I’m working on stew right now. Read me the recipe.”
Maia walked over to the cookbook. “2 cups of potatoes, cubed” she read.
“Got ‘em,” said Dad.
“1 cup diced carrots,” read Maia.
“Yep,” said Dad.
“40 spelling words, finely chopped,” read Maia. “Hey, wait a minute!”
Dad opened the spice cupboard, then shook his head. “Nope, I’m fresh out. You wouldn’t by any chance have a few in that backpack, would you?”
“Dad! That’s not an ingredient!”
Dad looked innocent. “Isn’t it in the recipe?”
“Come one, then. Pick the juiciest ones.”
Maia took out her notebook and opened it to the spelling list.
“I guess I could let you have ‘lavender’,” she said. “And maybe ‘porcupine’ and ‘moccasin’.”
“Chop them up,” said Dad.
“With a knife?” asked Maia.
Dad snorted. “When words are chopped up, you get letters. Feed me the letters one at a time, and I’ll put them in the stew.”
Maia rolled her eyes, but she spelled the words out. Pretty soon a delicious aroma rose from the pot.
“That needs to simmer for a while,” said Dad cheerfully. “Let’s do biscuits.”
“Can we have honey and real butter on them?” Maia asked. She turned the pages of the cookbook.
“Sure. What’s first in the recipe?”
“4 times 2 minus 6 cups of flour,” read Maia. “Huh?”
“That’s a tough one,” said Dad. “Hope you’ve been listening in math class.”
“I don’t want to do math!” Maia protested. “I just want to cook.” Just then her stomach rumbled.
“What comes after the flour?” Dad said. “We have to get these in the oven quickly if we want time to make dessert.”
So Maia figured out that 16 divided by 4 made 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 3 times 5 minus 14 made 1 teaspoon of salt, and soon the biscuits were in the oven.
“Now what about dessert?” Maia asked. “It better not be a trick to get me to do more math!”
“You’ll like it, I promise,” said Dad. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll read the recipe this time.”
“It’s a deal,” said Maia. “What’s first?”
“A cup of Bavarian cream,” read Dad.
“Why do they call it Bavarian?” asked Maia as she opened the fridge.
“Bavaria is a region in southern Germany,” said Dad. “Next is eight ounces of Swiss chocolate.”
“Hold on,” said Maia. “Now we’re doing geography.”
Dad shrugged. “Do you want dessert or not?”
“Okay,” sighed Maia. “But after this I want to make juice my way. No recipe!”
“Fine,” said Dad. “Melt and drizzle on a Danish pastry…”
After they licked their fingers, Maia reached for pitcher while Dad started setting the table. The stew smelled delicious, and the biscuits were just coming out of the oven.
“I’m making lemonade,” she announced.
She sliced and squeezed fresh lemons and added water. “How much sugar do you think it needs?”
Dad looked thoughtful. “Probably depends on how strong the lemons are. You might just have to experiment.”
Maia added some sugar, stirred, sipped, added a little more, sipped again, and smacked her lips. “Ah, perfect. Just a little less than 1 cup. But I wish the water was colder. And it’d be nice if I could add some 7-up.”
“Maybe you could use some of the dry ice in the freezer,” Dad suggested. “I wonder how that would work?”
“There’s one way to find out,” responded Maia. She got a chunk of dry ice from the freezer and dropped it into the pitcher. The water started to boil and smoke. “Cool!” she said. “Looks like a witch’s potion.”
“Nice job with the chemistry,” said Dad. “Let’s eat.”
“Umm, I can hardly wait!” said Mom. “Whatever you’ve been concocting sure smells fabulous.”
“Well, it is quite a feast,” said Maia with a smile. “Even if the ingredients were suspicious.”
Then they ate and ate until everyone was stuffed.