What’s for supper? Vol. 62: So near, and yet so farro

I’m fat, it’s cold, my dreams are all tragic, and nothing ever gets done. Must be December. Come along with me, won’t you?



SATURDAY

Pizza, birthday cake 

Birthday party! Birthday girl asked for pizza after a Frozen-themed party. This was pretty easy to pull off, thanks to the Dollar Tree’s seasonal aisle. Decorations were blue table cloths, white tissue paper garlands and cotton balls strung on thread to make snow:

benny-and-ainslie

and some blue punch in my spectacular new $2 punch bowl from the Salivation Army.

I got a bunch of plastic and foam snowflakes, plus blue and white plastic gems, sparkly pipe cleaners, and a bunch of spools of ribbon, and the kids made snowflake wands.

wand-craft

I like doing a craft at the beginning of a party, to help break the ice and give the kids something to do while they’re waiting for everyone to show up. It’s also nice when your sister drives three+ hours to get to the party, and then you immediately hand her a hot glue gun.

Or, it gives you something to be haughty and suspicious about, depending on your mood.

corrie-frozen-party

Some of the guests had wheat allergies, so we made two cakes and decorated them with marshmallow creme, mini marshmallows, sparkly decorator’s sugar, and “broken glass” candy for ice.

So, marshmallow creme is very easy to use, and makes a lovely, smooth, alpine surface, very much like a heavy snow kissed by the wintery sun. The only catch is that it’s such a smooth surface, it tends to keep slowly flowing long after you’ve already achieved the effect you like.

cake-2

Bloop. This can be passed off as intentional when it’s just the top layer that’s in motion, but when the marshmallow is between layers, the top tier of cake may just migrate right off the plate and onto the floor, tra la la. So you may want to secure the the tiers in place with dowels or skewers or

cake-3

whatever you have on hand before you finish decorating it.

Here’s the other cake, which is chock full of splintery skewers and cussing:

cake-1

These cakes were supposed to have little Frozen figurines on top, but of course the only one we could find on party day was Sven, who happened to be headless. So we just shoved some candles in and sang louder. Kid loved it.

The broken glass candy is a pain in the neck to make (it’s not hard to make, but it takes forever to get up to the right temperature), but it’s useful for all kinds of things, like a campfire cake:

campfire-cake

or just a general angst cake:

broken-glass-cake

And actually that’s probably about it.

It’s really hard to get it to come out clear, so it’s best to plan to add food coloring. Now you know how I spend my evenings, besides drinking.


SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips

This is our standard “don’t worry about supper” meal from Mr. Husband when we’re super busy. Hamburgers are good.


MONDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, corn bread

I liked Pioneer Woman’s chicken tortilla soup very, very much, and was pleased to see that she has a slow cooker version. SO EASY. You throw the chicken breasts in raw and whole, along with everything else, and shred them up after the soup is done cooking. Just delicious. I skipped the adobo chipotle peppers, because the kids are getting sick of spicy food.

tortilla-soup-and-cornbread

I ran out of cumin, so I used a premixed packet of taco spice for one pot. The non-premade-spice pot was slightly nicer, but they were both good. I used two breasts per recipe, not the three she calls for, and it was plenty chickenfull.

This is the cornbread recipe I use. I run a pat of butter over the top when it comes out of the oven, to give it a pretty sheen.

Can I just? Spellcheck has no problem with “chickenfull.” Hey, fork yuo to, spellchick.


TUESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese pita pockets, salad, cheezy weezies

I love grilled pita pockets. So nice. I fried them in a little olive oil, and they get the thinnest little bit of crunch on the outside, but stay chewy on the inside. So nice.


WEDNESDAY
Cheesy chicken rice broccoli casserole

On the menu this week was chicken farro salad with beets and feta. I’m telling this so you will understand how well I do, considering I spend most of my days working around this long, deep, and wide streak of idiocy I have.

See, I know perfectly well that I’m the only one in the house who likes beets, and even I don’t like them very much. Plus, the recipe calls for you to include the beet greens, and you have to blanch them first. I want to go to my grave without ever having blanched anything.

But in case my death-without-blanching doesn’t keep me busy enough, I’d also like, please, to spend a certain amount of time waiting for the hipster supermarket stock boy to decide that he’s ignored me for long enough, and now he can smirk stupidly and agree that, yup, it’s pretty hard to find farro, smirky smirk.

I left in a snit, cherishing the fantasy that, even though I couldn’t find farro on my three-hour, four-store shopping trip, I could probably just zip by Farro-B-Us and easily pick some up on the way home from school at some point.

Which I could not. Pasta, then! But we had no pasta. Fine, then rice will do.

Well, we are out of rice, aren’t we.

So I borrowed some rice from the Christmas box my daughter was planning to deliver to Vincent de Paul. Yes, I did. Then I took the overpriced beets out of the refrigerator, thought one last time about blanching, and threw them away. Vincent de Paul would have been so proud.

Then I cooked up a bunch of rice, poached a bunch of chicken, and mixed it together with some leftover steamed broccoli I found in the back of the fridge, and then searched around for the Cream of Anger soup I knew there must be in the back of the cabinet. There wasn’t. SO I WENT TO THE STORE ANYWAY, and bought two cans (one cream of chicken, one cream of mushroom, because apparently I can’t read), and also some more broccoli, because I noticed that the broccoli I had already mixed into this misbegotten casserole from hell had gone spoiled, making the entire kitchen smell like an olfactory illustration of my state of mind.

Then I shredded in some cheese, spread buttered panko crumbs on the top, and crammed it in the oven.

And guess what? It looked like this:

casserole-2

but it tasted exactly like this:

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-10-18-05-am

Everyone loved it, which made me feel even worse.

I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just mad, okay?


THURSDAY
Hot dogs, cookies

I already told you about Thursday.

Oh, the cookies my daughter made were these foolproof sugar cookies that you can roll and cut and which require no refrigeration. She put a thumbprint in each one and added a spoonful of jelly, but you can all kinds of things with these cookies. They don’t taste like much, but they make a great smooth canvas for decorating.

The original plan was to make stained glass cookies. You make standard sugar cookies with a cut-out in the middle, and bake them until they are set, but not browned. Then you carefully spoon crushed hard candies into the cut-out and finish baking for the last few minutes. The candy is supposed to melt and make a stained glass effect.

But it turned out we didn’t have parchment paper to line the pan, so I shut that down. Last time we made these, I thought tin foil would work. Which it does, as long as you like foily cookies that wake up your tooth nerves.

I had already crushed up the candy, though, so I funnelled it into a bowl for later use. This morning, I found Corrie sitting at the table with said bowl and a spoon, having a fine, crunchy breakfast for herself.


FRIDAY
Fish tacos; tortilla chips

Fish sticks, shredded cabbage, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, sour cream, and salsa on tortillas.

I just realized I forgot to buy avocados. Well, goodbye.

What’s for supper? Vol. 9: Tortellini Entropy and Bread Machine Challah

whats for supper

My mother used to eat leftovers for lunch, and sometimes for breakfast. Her method was to take whatever she could find, put it in a pot, douse it with the salsa that she bought by the half-gallon, and stir until it was all hot and horrible. You may think that she did this just so she wouldn’t have to share it with her eight locust children, but she actually liked it that way!  Although there is that disconcerting thing that happens to you when you’ve been a mother for a while, when you honestly can’t remember if you like something, or if you’ve just put up with it until it feels familiar, and that’s close enough.

Question of the week: Do you have a crazy food combination that only you think is delicious?

SATURDAY
OMELETTES; HASH BROWNS

Omelettes (mushroom, leftover ham from last week, and cheese) and frozen hash browns, served with a shining lake of ketchup.

There are really only a few times when I feel like we have a really big family. When I stand over the counter cracking 36 eggs into a bowl is one of those times.

food blog eggs

I always catch myself thinking, “Why don’t they sell giant bulk egg?” I know they sell bags of frozen egg product, but can’t someone just make chickens bigger, so I can just be like, “I’ll take one egg, please, 48-oz. size, and a hammer. And this lamp, and that’s all I need.”

 

SUNDAY
HAMBURGERS; CHIPS; ICE CREAM SUNDAES

Hamburgers! Chips! Ice cream sundaes! I’m the best mother ever. Also I let them eat donuts

food blog donuts

 

and ice off the wading pool

 

food blog ice

 

MONDAY
SPINACH TOMATO TORTELLINI SOUP; QUICK GARLIC CHEESE BREAD

This meal had such promise. The soup (recipe from Damn Delicious) was very fast to throw together, but it would have tasted much better if we had eaten it right away. But I made it in the morning and let it simmer all day, out of soup habit, and by the time we ate it, tortellini entropy had set in, and the spinach was not a pleasant color. I’ll make this recipe again, but I won’t overcook it.

And next time I won’t BURN IT *sob*. So depressing. I kept telling myself I couldn’t really taste the burn, but people who can’t taste burn don’t have to say things like that to themselves.

Does this look burnt? WELL, IT IS.

Does this look burnt? WELL, IT IS.

 

The quick garlic cheese bread was quick, and it was bread. I know it was also garlic and cheese because I put those ingredients in with my own two paws, but you sure couldn’t taste either garlic or cheese. It’s good to know there is a quick bread that doesn’t taste like dessert, but I’ll keep looking for a different recipe.  And someday, oh someday, I will master the art of Mixing Batter All the Way Down, so I don’t get Surprise Flour.

 

food blog cheese bread

So these are my new silicone pans! They were $2.99 at Aldi. All my loaf pans are rusty and gross, so I thought this would be a good time to find out if silicone is really so great. So far so good! The loaves popped right out, no trouble. My hope is that some kind of horrible petrochemical leeches into our food and we all turn into monstrous hybrids, half human, half Aldi loaf pan.

TUESDAY 
AMAZING SQUASH PORK FOOD

Either I invented something amazing, or I was very, very hungry on Tuesday.

Acorn squash mashed with butter and brown sugar,
topped with raw red onions,
topped with pulled pork,
topped with barbeque sauce,
shoved into my face with unseemly groaning noises.

Yeah, I was probably just hungry.

 

WEDNESDAY
NACHOS; RICE

According to local son Moe Fisher, “They were so good! I ate until I almost puked!” No picture was available at publication.

 

THURSDAY
PIZZA

We tried Aldi pizza dough for the first time. It stretched pretty well, and it tasted okay.  Kind of tough, but I never know if that’s a bad thing, or just a style of pizza dough. Anyway, it was cheap! I know you can make your own pizza dough, but I don’t feel like it. We make four extra large pizzas.

Oh, that reminds me, I saw an unspeakable thing at Hannaford (which is where I usually buy pizza dough) in the pizza ingredients section:

Bacon Dust Vegetarian Pizza Dough.

Yes. That is what it said. With those words together in one line on the label, like they actually meant something edible.

I tried to find a picture of it, but the closest I could come was this:

bacon dust vegetarian pizza dough

Does it make me a jerk that I didn’t blank out the guy’s name? It’s only because I think he’s a hero, that’s all.

 

FRIDAY
SHAKSHUKA; CHALLAH; SWEET PEPPERS and HUMMUS

 

NYT:

Shakshuka may be at the apex of eggs-for-dinner recipes, though in Israel it is breakfast food, a bright, spicy start to the day with a pile of pita or challah served on the side. (It also makes excellent brunch or lunch food.) It’s a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked in a tomato-red pepper sauce spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne. First you make that sauce, which comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove, then you gently crack each of the eggs into the pan, nestling them into the sauce. The pan is moved into the oven to finish. Shakshuka originated in North Africa, and like many great dishes there are as many versions as there are cooks who have embraced it. This one strays from more traditional renditions by adding crumbled feta cheese, which softens into creamy nuggets in the oven’s heat.

I’ve never made shakshuka before, but I’ve been assured it’s delicious, especially if you are drunk. Does it count if I wish I were? Here is the recipe we’re going to use.

Since some of the kids have the day off school, we’re going to seize the opportunity of actually being home, and make some challas to go with it. Here is a recipe for making the dough in your bread machine. (I don’t think that your bread machine will braid it for you, though, so you should do that part yourself.)

In the bucket of the bread machine, in this order, put:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

6 cups flour (I used bread flour – not sure how important that is)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

Make a dent in the top and put in

1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

 

Set it to knead the dough.  Watch the dough ball — it should be smooth and elastic and not stick to the sides.  Add water or flour if necessary.

When the dough is done, divide it into four pieces.  Roll three pieces into snakes and braid them together, pinching it together at the ends.  Take the fourth piece, divide it into three, and braid it, too — then lay the smaller braid on top of the larger one.

Grease a baking pan and sprinkle it with corn meal.  Lay the loaf in the pan, cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place until it’s almost double in size.

Beat 2-3 egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the loaf.  Sprinkle it with poppy seeds.

Bake uncovered in 350 oven for 20 minutes until the loaf is a deep golden brown.

You can slice it or tear it into hunks.

***

Okay, I probably wouldn’t have chosen a new recipe and homemade bread for Friday if I had remembered that we’re having a Hobbit birthday party on Saturday, but there it is. We are using a few ideas from An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.

unexpected cookbook

You know I’ll let you know how it comes out, whether you care or not.

***

Last week, I skipped the InLinkz button, because it was giving me grief, and I didn’t think there was much demand for it anyway; but I’d be happy to put it back if people want. What do you guys think?  I’ll keep up the Friday food posts either way.

Don’t forget the question of the week!

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 8: The Fanciest Soup Picture I Have Ever Taken

whats for supper

Question of the week:
What childhood meal are you always trying to recreate?

For me, it’s beef stroganoff. I’ve used lots of different recipes, many fancier than the one my mother used, but I haven’t been able to get it to taste quite as good. Maybe the missing ingredient is walking home from school, trudging up the hill in the snow (we really did live on top of a big hill!), slogging up the porch steps, opening the front door, and stepping into a warm cloud of stroganoff aroma. Mmmmmmmmm.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, potato chips

Like I said, grilled ham and cheese, potato chips. We did some prep work for the Sunday meal: I made the risotto for the suppli, and Damien prepped the pork roast so it could sit overnight.

 

SUNDAY
Columbus Day Feast!

Porchetta Pork  I had my doubts about this recipe, because I don’t like that licorice smell of fennel; but by the time it came out of the oven, it had melded together with a symphony of other smells and flavors, and it was

food blog roast pork 2
it was

 

was

 

wa

oh, sorry, I fell into a short coma thinking about how this pork tasted.

Suppli. I made 28. They looked great, because I didn’t crowd them in the pan for once;

food blog suppli frying
but I was so determined to prevent them from falling apart in the pan that I chilled the risotto too long, and the cheese in the middle didn’t melt completely, even after I put them in the oven after frying. Kind of sad. Still delicious.

Caprese Salad (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper)

food blog caprese salad
(this photo is blurry because my eyes glazed over with desire)

and Bruschetta with two kinds of pesto (from jars) and marinated artichokes.
Not the most coherent combination of foods, and it was funny to have an Italian meal without any pasta, but it was all good stuff.

Dessert:

Lemon and strawberry ices.
We were supposed to have cannoli, but no one in town had cannoli shells. I did findthis list of 22 things to do with cannoli filling, but didn’t have time. I would gladly devour any of these.

 

MONDAY
French Toast Casserole, Cantaloupe, Leftovers

Last time I shared  a French toast casserole recipe, I shared the wrong one. I like this one better. I also recommend not using rye bread or tortillas. Bleh.

Cantaloupe: I have recently discovered that it’s faster to take the fruit off the peel than vice versa. So you cut the cantaloupe into quarters, scoop out the seeds, and then slice a grid into the fruit, making sure you go all the way down to the rind. Then you just slide the knife in the end and make the final cut to separate all the chunks from the rind.


Making sure, of course, to be careful where you point your knife.

Seppuku-2

“Seppuku-2″ by signed Kunikazu Utagawa (歌川 国員), pupil of Kunisada – scan of photograph of ukiyoe woodblock print now in my possession, original work by artist kunikazu utagawa. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – 

TUESDAY 
Ham and mashed potatoes

And the dog said, “O fair and mighty goddess of ham, I abase myself before thee! Ohhh, do I abase myself!”

food blog boomer ham
P.S. Can I start a Gofundme for a new kitchen floor? Echh.

 

WEDNESDAY
Frozen chicken burgers, cheez puffs or something, and salad

See that? Salad!

applause sign

Image by darkuncle (license)

THURSDAY
Chicken Tortilla Soup and Cornbread Muffins

Tortilla soup:

I wouldn’t say I followed this recipe from Pioneer Woman, so much as I skulked around in its general vicinity. I skipped a few ingredients, made a few substitutions, eyeballed measurements, and more or less just chucked everything in together at once. It was DELICIOUS. We put sour cream on top. Just fantastic.

I like how she says

Cut the tortillas into uniform 2- to 3-inch strips. Stir most of them into the soup just before serving. This is what makes tortilla soup tortilla soup!

This is why she’s the expert and you’re just an idiot.

But check out this picture I took! It is easily the fanciest soup picture I have ever taken:

food blog tortilla soup
Corn muffins:

Clara made the corn bread muffins from the recipe on the side of the Quaker container . What do you call a cylindrical cardboard container, anyway? I feel like there is a word.

I tried to take a photo of her holding the fruits of her labor, so of course Irene shoved in and gave the corn muffins bunny ears, because CAMERA.

food blog clara corn muffins(1)

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with jarred sauce, salad

Just resting on my homemade soup laurels.

***

There you have it. Don’t forget the question of the week! And if you link up, please do link back to this post. Happy weekend!

What’s for supper? Vol. 5: Shut up, bouillon cubes. You don’t know me.

whats for supper

First, I just wanted to check in with you guys, because I worry.

The last thing I wanted to do was make one more place on the internet where women go to feel bad. That’s not what these posts are, are they? It was just supposed to be a place to talk about food: the triumphs, the tragedies, the baloney sandwiches. Not a place to feel bad!

If you don’t feel like listing/aren’t capable of remembering/are too ashamed to admit what you ate this week, here’s a quick way to participate, without even going into your weekly menu:

 

FOOD QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What is the kitchen task you absolutely hate, whether there’s a good reason or not?

Me? I hate unwrapping bouillon cubes. Maybe it’s because if I’m making some kind of meal that requires broth, I feel like it should be quick and easy because I’m cheating by using bouillon cubes; but it’s impossible to unwrap ten bitsy little cubes quickly, and I resent every last second of it.

The solution is, of course, to buy powdered bouillon, but I don’t want to, okay?
The other solution is . . . BENNY!

food blog bouillon
Benny loves to unwrap bouillon cubes. I recommend getting a Benny of your own. In other news, this is the week I finally started going to therapy, because I’ve decided that forty years of getting overwhelmed by things like unwrapping bouillon cubes is about enough. (Probably doesn’t help that my mug says “Looks like it’s time to hang it up!” Shut up, mug. You don’t know me.)

And now, onto the weekly menu.

 

SATURDAY
CHICKEN SHAWARMA; FRIED EGGPLANT WITH YOGURT SAUCE; ROOT BEER FLOATS

When Iron Man says, “I don’t know what shawarma is, but I’ve always wanted to try it,” I thought, “Me, neither. And ME TOO!”

Most days, I’m the lady in black tights mopping up (except that I never mop), but this Saturday, we all got to be the Avengers.

Oh, the shawarma. You guys, it was easy to make, and it was one of those foods that makes you feel like your head is going to fall off because it just can’t handle this level of deliciousness, but you pull yourself together because you made ten pounds of it but it’s going fast.

food blog shawarma

I was so disappointed in how this picture turned out. It just looks like food lying on a plate. The reality was . . . so much more.

I used this recipe from the New York Times Cooking page: Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma. True shawarma is meat roasted on a spit, but it’s hard to imagine it tasting any better than this. I didn’t have any tumeric, but the internet tells me you can live without tumeric, and so we did.

The recipe for fried eggplant, it turns out, is basically this: Take some eggplant, and fry it. For a few more details, here’s the recipe I used, from “Almost Turkish Recipes.”
The sauce for the eggplant, which was also great on the shawarma, was plain yogurt with some mayonnaise mixed in, plus fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I had to restrain myself from buying anything that looked delicious and vaguely middle eastern, but I settled for several kinds of olives, chopped cucumbers, triangles of pita, and a hummus party tray from Aldi. It really could have used some feta cheese, and something with tomatoes to go with all the spicy, savory and creamy stuff. Either just tomatoes, or a tomato-based sauce.

We were a little baffled about dessert. Something authentic would probably have involved dates or sesame seeds, and no one was too enthusiastic about that. So we went with root beer floats. Perfect.

This is definitely going on the rotation. It’s fairly time-consuming (especially since I had ten pounds of chicken thighs to skin, bone, and trim), and you need to plan ahead to marinate everything, and the side dishes got pricey in large quantities; but everyone loved it, and in would be fantastic for a dinner party. We ate every last scrap.

 

SUNDAY
MEATBALL SUBS WITH FRIED ONIONS; SALAD; ICE CREAM

Saturday was one of those “I’m glued to the steering wheel” days, so I threw theFannie Farmer meatball recipe at my 14-year-old daughter and her friend, and they did a great job turning five pounds of meat into 80 meatballs, which we served on rolls with jarred sauce and fried onions. Fried green peppers would have been good, too, but we ran out of time.

food blog meatballs and onions

Rather than frying up the meatballs, I put them on broiler pans and cook them at 400. It’s much easier and faster if you’re making a lot, and the grease drains off, and you don’t fill the kitchen with smoke. They also keep their round shape, which is important to me for some reason.

food blog meatballs

If you are feeling ambitious, the greatest meatball recipe in all the world is from Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Damien makes these sometimes, and they are heavenly, assuming heaven involves meatballs, which it does.

 

MONDAY
HAM; MASHED POTATOES; STRING BEANS

Great make-ahead dinner. Already-cooked ham was 89 cents a pound, so I bought a big one and sliced it up ahead of time and put it in a casserole dish to be reheated. Made about eight pounds of mashed potatoes and put that in another casserole dish to be reheated. Two bags of frozen string beans, and you have a dinner that looks like dinner is supposed to look, even though I was on the radio at dinner hour.

A nice way to cook string beans is to steam them, then toss with pepper, lemon juice, and sliced almonds. Easy and delicious.

 

TUESDAY
CHICKEN BURGERS, CHIPS, SALAD

This is a “You guys go eat, Mama’s going to go lie down and let the baby hit me in the face for a while” meal. Does the trick.

mama and corrie are tired

 

WEDNESDAY
BEEF BARLEY SOUP; BEER BREAD

Because it’s fall, so we can have soup! 87 degrees, but still, fall!

I make soup all wrong, but I don’t care. Also, I used steak instead of stew meat, because it was cheaper. To satisfy my thrill-seeking gene, I play fast and loose with rules about cuts of meat.

Basic beef barley soup recipe:

2 lbs beef
two carrots
one large onion
six cloves of garlic
two small cans of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup wine
eight cups of beef broth
red wine
about a pound of mushrooms
2/3 cup uncooked barley

I diced the meat and threw it in a heavy pan with some olive oil, diced onions, diced carrots, and crushed garlic.
When the meat was almost done, I put it in a pot, and added a bunch of beef broth, some water, two cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and a few glugs of wine, plus sliced mushrooms, then let it simmer all day.
About 40 minutes before dinner, I added the barley, then seasoned it before serving.

Remember, barley isn’t like rice or pasta — it needs extra time to get tender. This soup is also great with farro, or you could add small pasta, like orzo, or even rice.
This does NOT need extra salt, because the broth is salty; but lots of pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes are nice. You could also add celery, string beans, or whatever vegetables you have lurking about.

food blog beer bread

Here’s the recipe for beer bread. This turns out great every single time. I mixed the dry ingredients ahead of time, and added the beer right before it was time to put in the oven, so it felt like it took no time at all to make.

Benny saw me pour a half cup of butter over the batter, and said, “Oh, dat is beautiful.” Dat’s my girl.

 

THURSDAY
TERIYAKI PORK STIR FRY OF GUILT; RICE

Another “Mama’s dying; here’s some meat” day. This time, one of my other teenage daughters saved the day.
Slice up a bunch of pork, saute it, drain the juice, steam a bunch of frozen veggies, mix them together with some bottled teriyaki sauce, and serve with white rice.

food blog stir fry

She took this picture. Is it just me, or do those fancy-cut carrots look like they’re looking down on me? Shut up, carrots. You don’t know me.

 

FRIDAY
TUNA BURGERS, CHIPS or FROZEN FRIED; ONE VERY TIRED SALAD

This is what’s on the menu today.

Tuna burger recipe:
One can of tuna, drained, plus half a cup of bread crumbs and one beaten egg.
Mix together, form into two patties, fry in a little oil.

Dense and serviceable; suitable as bachelor chow. I’m sure you can fancy this up in some way with chives or what have you, but I’ll let you figure that out.

***
I noticed that last week, the InLinz link-up didn’t include thumbnails, and you had to click through to see other links. That’s what I get for not reading the fine print. Should be fixed now! Thanks to everyone who forged ahead and left a link anyway. I am really enjoying these windows into other people’s kitchens. Because I like to look into other people’s windows. Shut up, you don’t know me!

Leave a comment or a link, and don’t forget to link back here! And don’t let the bouillon cubes get you down. They don’t know you.

I refuse to worry about what my kids eat for dinner.

boy eating beet for some reason

If you were a better mom, this would be your kid.

Today, I’m making Zuppa Toscana. When I share recipes I’m trying, people often ask, “Will your kids really eat that?” The answer is: some of them, yeah. Some of them, no way. A few of them, maybe. And I am fine with that. I have two goals when I serve a meal: at least half the family should eat it, and mealtimes should be reasonably pleasant.

My policy is: I decide what to cook, and they decide whether or not to eat it.

We don’t have food battles (or food cold wars). We don’t save plates of untasted food and keep serving them, meal after meal, until the child consents to take just one bite. I know that other parents have done some variation of this, in hopes that a child will eventually begin to develop a taste for some nutritious or delicious food. But I’ve found that learning to eat new foods is a lot like learning to read or learning to use the toilet: you can either teach the kid when he’s ready, or you can teach and teach and teach and teach a kid until he’s ready — but either way, it ain’t gonna happen if he’s not ready.

I guess it’s possible that an especially serene parent would be able to patiently, consistently insist that a child try some despised food ten thousand times; but I do not possess that serenity, and things would get ugly fast. I’m already warping my kids enough over other issues. I don’t need to add “But WHY don’t you like kale?” to the list. The table is no place for guilt trips or power struggles.

So, I bring a dish to the table, and I ask each kid individually if he wants some. They have to say either “yes, please” or “no, thank you” — no retching noises or horrible faces allowed. If they want it, great. If they don’t want it, I just move along. With this approach, and with the passive peer pressure of older kids visibly enjoying different foods, I’ve had kids refuse a dish fifty times, and then gradually develop a taste for it, with no prodding or nagging from me.

If they don’t want what I’m serving, they are allowed to fill up on side dishes or fix themselves toast, eggs, a sandwich, cereal, or leftovers.  A child as young as four or five can get himself a simple meal.

Wait, wait! Don’t I want them to be healthy? And don’t I want to avoid wasting time and money on cooking foods that no one will eat?  Sure. This is why I aim for meals that at least some of them will eat. But I don’t worry about each kid having a balanced meal three times a day. I don’t even worry about having a balanced diet each day. I take the week-long view: as long as they have a reasonably nourishing, balanced diet over the course of the week, that is good enough.

And sometimes kids will just eat one food for a long, long time. This is common, and it is fine. Just keep offering a variety of foods and not making a big deal out of it. Give your kids daily vitamins to make up whatever deficits are in their diet, and don’t keep a lot of complete crap in the house for them to fill up on.  They will survive, and there will be peace in your house. As long as your kids have energy and are growing normally, there is nothing to worry about.

There is (probably) something beyond picky eating called Selective Eating Disorder, where adults not only won’t but can’t get themselves to eat more than a few, bland, nutritionally questionable foods; but I’m 99% sure your kid is not developing this disorder. Keep this in mind: the eating disorder researcher in the article says “Kids are at greater risk of becoming picky adults ‘anytime the food environment is coercive or tense.’” So avoiding that situation should be your first focus if your child is a picky eater.

To sum up: offer variety. Don’t cater to them too much. Don’t make a big stinking deal out of it. Take the nutritional long view. And if they don’t like the tasty soup you made? More for you!