Growing up, there were no toy kitchens that I knew of. No one I knew had a child-sized kitchen. No one ever heard of the Easybake toy ovens that were apparently around in the 1960s and 1970s, although I’d have adored one. (And probably still would!)
In the 80s, every day at 5pm, 5-10 year old children in Malaysia would stream out of their terrace houses onto the nearest playground, drawn as if by an invisible giant bell. For a time, we lived on one of the four priveleged streets: the four precious streets that made up the sizes of a large playground-cum-football-field. Young men would come out to play football and children would swarm the playground equipment.
My little motley group of playmates would play masak-masak (literal translation of the Malay language was cook-cook). Masak-masak for us meant make mud pies and play with strings of frog eggs. We’d keep plastic knives and forks and have mud pie tea parties with pond water tea. We’d catch tadpoles and pop them into large glass jars of pond water. After they grew into tiny frogs, we’d release them back into the playgrounds. Sometimes, we’d bear the mosquito bites so we could watch jars of fireflies light up in the early twilight, before running home to dinners and showers.
Nearly 30-40 years on, playground shenanigans are very tame. Children go with parents, play under supervision and then hope into cars and return home. We have homes with large backyards, and it is now super common to have playground equipment and swings and trampoline in one’s own backyard; so it is sad that the playground-community feel no longer exists in many neighbourhoods of the 21st century modern world.
So no more masak-masak at the playground.
These days, my children’s generations have access to very elaborate and beautifully made toy kitchens. Little Tikes, Step 2, Kidkraft all produce beautiful versions of plastic and wooden toy kitchens.
When my oldest little daughter was young (about 7 years ago), these toy kitchens were around the $500 mark.
We made do:
It was beautifully whimsical in its own right. My daughter truly enjoyed making pretend coffee in her Gaggia toy coffee machine, handing out to her parents and grandparents little plates of pretend treats and displaying little tea sets on the sweet little vintage toy kitchen dresser that was her father’s and aunts’. She loved pretending she was Miss Teashop Lady.
When my youngest turned two (almost six years later), I decided it was time for a decent toy kitchen. When a used-but-in-pristine-condition one was listed on Gumtree for $100, I jumped. This Kidkraft toy kitchen came with a bundle of quality wooden food and kitchenware. The only things it didn’t have was a toy coffee machine and a toy cake mixer (both of which my children already owned).
She truly enjoyed it. It moved fro the corner above to next to my kitchen; which meant she could mimic what I was doing whilst cooking. Train them early, right?
Earlier this year, Jasmine-Anita wanted to have a toy her cousin had:
We already had some toy ice creams amongst our kitchen food so didn’t need a new toy ice cream shop at AUD$88!
So I made one!
I realised that the upside down of an egg carton had these useful grooves that could hold ICE CREAM CONES!
I was very excited. My brain gears turned all night.
Next morning, I got an idea.
1. Tape the egg carton shut with paper masking tape.
2. Spray paint the entire thing totally.
3. Let dry!
4. Ice cream cones fit perfectly in the grooves.
We are go!
My egg carton ice cream holder!
Oh! And I also have a dozen wooden eggs to store… where else? In a used egg carton!