It's always fun when Grandma comes....

because Grandma lets you lick the beaters rather than keeping them all to herself like Momma does.

As a kid, whenever moms or grandmas made something, it was a treat to get to lick the beaters and the bowl. As an adult, I'll admit, I have made a whole bowl of cake batter and not baked any cake... on more than one occasion. Yes, I know there are raw eggs in there. Yes, I know that you aren't supposed to eat raw eggs. No, I do not care. Ah confession... it's good for the soul.

I know people who think this is tantamount to child abuse and recoil in shock and horror when they see my kids do this. I also remember well how my grandmother used to snarl, "Stop eating all that dough; you'll get worms," as she handed me another beater to lick. So the mixed message may not have had the desired effect. And... maybe to point out the obvious, but... worms?!? Really?!? I'll also note for the records that she often licked the beaters right along side of me. So clearly, even she knew her threat was slightly idle. Oh and by the way, neither I, my grandmother, nor anyone I know personally has ever gotten sick after eating cookie dough or cake batter.... yet.

The truth is, it's probably not the best practice:

Raw eggs may contain salmonella, a species of bacterium that can causes serious stomach sickness. It is the risk of salmonella that makes raw eggs and raw cookie dough potentially dangerous. When heated to a certain point, the salmonella bacteria are killed, rendering them harmless if they happened to have been present in the egg. During the baking process, for example, a potentially dangerous homemade raw cookie dough becomes a completely harmless, and delicious, homemade cookie. Pre-made raw cookie dough that one can buy at the store usually lacks uncooked eggs. In many cases, pre-made raw cookie dough might contain pasteurized eggs.

Pasteurized eggs are, in effect, uncooked. However, they have usually been heated or “flash cooked” to a temperature that is sufficient to kill any bacteria that can be dangerous to consumers. Uncooked egg is included in cookie dough as an emulsifier that is important in the baking process. The raw cookie dough found in ice cream, cake, or candy is not meant to be baked. For this reason it usually does not contain any egg.

But here's the thing. While I don't think I'd ever let my kids eat a bowl of cake batter (I'm willing to risk my own stomachache, but I cannot rationalize jeopardizing precious sleep to sit up in the middle of the night and hold a vomiting five-year-old's hair out of the toilet -- been there, done that), and I'm sure that the warning above has merit, I truly can't get excited about a little taste of cookie dough when the simple act of going to school exposes them to multitudinous other viruses and diseases. H1N1 anyone?

As to the other argument I often hear:

To date, there have been no reported cases of people bursting open due to cookie dough rising in their stomachs. And though no official studies have looked into the matter, Alan L. Buchman, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, says the acids and enzymes produced during the digestive process would break down the cookie dough before it ever had a chance to rise.

So pshaw. Because this is what you get when you do let them have it:

"It's good!" (clearly, she has no idea her life has just been endangered)

Maybe I'll just get some pasteurized eggs.

How about you all? To eat the cookie dough or not to eat? That is the question.