Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I Want My Zucchini

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 by Cori

As I placed Sara’s dinner plate in front of her the other day, I realized that earlier in the day I had told her dinner would be fish with tomato and zucchini. We’re lucky – that is one of Sara’s favorite meals. But in the midst of school pick up and ballet I had forgotten this promise and when it came time to cook, warmed up some spinach with garlic instead. It was easier, and she is a big fan. Usually.

But I had said zucchini and she was NOT happy with a substitute green veg, even one she normally loves.

“Where is my zucchini and tomato?” she looked at me with pleading eyes.

“Sorry sweet, I forgot. I’ll make it for you tomorrow.” I tried the casual, apologetic route.

“But you SAID zucchini” her voice more accusatory.

“ I WANT ZUCCHINI.”

“Honey, I’m really sorry, but we don’t have time to make zucchini now, you’ll have to have the spinach. Or just eat the fish”

By now, the tears are there full force, and my husband has come home in the middle of this zucchini-driven spectacle.

“I WANT ZUCCHINI.”

Things deteriorated from there, to a full-blown foot stomping, face turning red tantrum. She’s three and a half, it happens. And I know it wasn’t really about the zucchini, but about my saying one thing and doing another.  But I have to say, if she has to have a tantrum about something … the fact that it is over her desire for a green vegetable does make it a little easier to take.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I did make the zucchini the following night.

As A Parent, Doing Something Right

Posted on: March 7th, 2011 by Cori

Yesterday we had some friends over for lunch. Well not so much as our friends, but friends of Sara’s – twins- and their parents. We’ve met the parents several times, but only in big group settings like birthday parties, and thought it would be nice to get to know them a little better, and for the kids to have a play date. All three take a gym class together on Sunday mornings, so the timing worked too.

While Gary took Sara to gym, I finished getting the lunch ready, and at the last minute decided to make some chips from a bunch of kale in the fridge. Not only did I want to use it before it went bad, but I figured it would take the edge off everyone’s hunger before we sat down to lunch. They came out of the oven just as the crew was coming in the door.

“Kale chips!” exclaimed Sara, running to grab some from the bowl. The twins did the same, and within seconds all three had kale crumbs strewn about their faces and shirts. You would have thought I had offered ice cream. When we sat, I deigned to put the bowl in the middle of the table. “No,” said Sara, “that is for the kids, put it down here.”

Now, they were just as excited by the cookies that were proffered as dessert, but I have to say, all of the adults definitely had a moment of sheer pride. We must be doing something right, if all of our kids not only ate kale chips, but were excited about it!

What’s next  -brussell sprouts? turnips? Oh wait, she loves those too.

The Cooking Monster

Posted on: February 18th, 2011 by Cori

I love to cook, have for years. I’d choose cooking over eating at a restaurant almost all of the time, and would cook (and shop, and grow vegetables) every day if there was nothing else getting in the way (i.e. work, laundry, the need to catch up on past episodes of Friday Night Lights!). But I live in the real world and that means there are nights I am too busy to cook. Gary gets it; sometimes we order in, sometimes we just scrounge among the leftovers. Sara on the other hand, is too young to grasp this concept. So she comes bounding in every afternoon telling me she wants to cook with me. Insisting on it, actually.

This is great if it is one of the nights I am indeed cooking for her. We’ve tried really hard to instill a love of cooking in her, and it is definitely working. She loves her play kitchen and enjoys cooking classes when we take her, but most of all, she likes to help us cook. Every Sunday we make eggs, and she is the designated whisker. She destems mushrooms, breaks asparagus, and tears lettuce and kale. She brushes olive oil or marinades on anything and loves to work the food processor (with adult supervision, of course). She even has her own mini, functional blender. When we used to ask who she was in the kitchen, her response was “sous chef,” but recently she promoted herself to chef. All in all we’ve created a monster – a cooking monster.

Whisking Eggs

I have no complaints at all about this …. except for those nights when all I am planning to do is reheat something from the night before, or throw some chicken fingers in the oven. Saying to a nearly three year old there is nothing to “cook” just doesn’t cut it. Not only do I worry (too much I’m sure) that this will squelch her budding interest in all things culinary, but I also feel doubly guilty that I am giving her nuggets or leftovers and not something fresh (I know, we all do it and there is NOTHING wrong with it, but I still feel guilty).

Sometimes, even though I won’t be cooking for her, I will be cooking for Gary and I so there will be some tasks she can help with for that meal, but sometimes there is just nothing child friendly for her to do. And her having a meltdown because THERE IS NOTHING TO COOK seems well, seems ridiculous.

Last night I brought her home a cooking with kids cookbook, and of course, she started flipping right through wanting to cook. This process is especially interesting when the chef can barely identify all the letters of the alphabet let alone read the names, descriptions  or instructions. It took her all of five minutes to point to the popsicle recipe. Luckily I had the ingredients on hand, and it was only a fifteen minute, no cooking involved endeavor. But what happens when she looks the next time and points to tortellini or chinese chicken salad?

So I am trying to come up with some evergreen recipes/projects/tasks. Things that I can whip out at the drop of a hat, knowing I have the proper ingredients AND the time to make them before her “real,” reheated/chicken nugget/frozen pizza dinner is ready to eat.

Please, anyone with suggestions, send them along. Now that we’ve created this cooking monster, we’ve got to continue to “feed the beast!”

The Preschool Breakfast Dance

Posted on: February 7th, 2011 by Cori

We have a pretty good morning routine. Sara typically wakes up between 7 and 7:30, we bring her up to our room where she drinks some milk, reads and plays while we take turns showering and getting ready. Whoever showers first gets her dressed, and we all reconvene in the kitchen around 8:30. Coffee gets made, our sitter arrives, Gary leaves, and at some point between 8:45 and 9:15 Sara has breakfast.

Sometimes.

If she’s hungry.

I don’t force it, and if she doesn’t eat much I don’t stress, since I know she’s not going to waste away from skipping one meal. And the rest of the time, Sara is a great eater. Plus, she can always have a snack mid-morning. I myself am not a big breakfast eater, and am not often hungry first thing, so I get where she’s coming from.

But since September she’s been going to school two mornings a week, and on those days I find myself trying desperately to get something, anything in her belly lest she faint from hunger right in the middle of circle time. Rationally, I know that will not happen. I know they have a snack mid-day. I know intellectually that maybe if one morning she does indeed become ravenous at a time when she can’t demand a snack that she will then consent to breakfast the following day.

Knowing and doing of course, are not the same. So I find myself trying all sorts of “tricks” to get her to eat. First I experimented with different foods. Smoothies – let’s drink our breakfast! Special muffins! Sitting at the island instead of the table! These things worked, occasionally, but not consistently. Enter the iphone. (I know, cue the dark dramatic music). IF she is checking out one of her apps on the iphone, sitting at the counter, I can usually put a plate of something next to her and she will eat it.

Is this wrong? It’s not like she’s watching Real Toddlers of Beverly Hills: it’s either an educational game or PBS’s Sprout. But I know it’s a slippery slope that I’ve started down, all in the interest of getting a few cups of sustenance inside of her. Is it worth it? Anyone have any other ideas?

The Leftovers Conundrum AKA Who Gets the “Fresh” meal

Posted on: December 13th, 2010 by Cori

One of the perks of a work from home arrangement, at least for me, is that I can start dinner during the “work day”, bringing my laptop to the kitchen as I alternately chop, simmer and send emails. This only works of course if I am organized enough to multitask and if neither the work task or recipe requires more than 65% focus! But it still doesn’t solve the problem of my making two dinners every evening.

For the most part, Sara eats everything, and we are lucky that she is as excited about vegetables as she is about cookies, well maybe not as excited, but she does like vegetables very much, so I know we have that going for us. But she eats around 6:00, and we dine at 8:30 after she has gone to bed. This means that from 5:00 – 8:30 I am doing my dinner scramble: making something for her that is – hopefully- not pasta or chicken nuggets for a second or third day in a row, feeding her, prepping our dinner while Gary plays with her, then when she is down, rushing to cook our meal so we can have a moment to sit, relax and be adults. It’s tiring! Not to mention, it can be tricky- how do I make us something interesting that can be prepped before bath time, but then sit for a bit and be prepaerd in 30 minutes or less when we are ready to cook?

And more importantly, short of us eating at 6, how do I only make ONE meal? Do I make it so it’s fresh for Sara, and then we reheat it later? Do I make something fresh for us, then she eats the leftovers the next day? Are there things I can prep once and then cook twice – once for her and then later for us (ie a piece of fish). A few weeks ago, I found a recipe that looked interesting and easy – chicken marinated in a mild yogurt/curry mixture then roasted on top of some squash and brussel sprouts and served with nan and yogurt.I decided to give it a whirl, and let Sara be the recipient of the fresh from the oven version.

She gobbled it up (yes, I know, I am very thankful for a child who greedily stuffs brussel sprouts in her mouth and then asks for more!). Later that evening I rewarmed it for Gary and I, and it was just as good. So good that we gobbled it up. So good that the next night we gobbled up the leftovers eagerly, which is something I rarely do. So good I could not wait to make it again.

I was thrilled – a delicious, healthy, easy recipe that I made once but served twice without the person getting the “seconds” eating something that tasted reheated. This is any parents dream meal, not just one who works from home. This could easily be partially prepped in the morning and then finished/cooked after work with minimal effort. Find the recipe here and see for yourself.

I know there is not one right answer, and that I will constantly be changing things up so that none of us is always eating the leftovers, but I consider it a small victory when I find something that works!

Do you have any favorite cook once serve twice recipes?

Giving Thanks

Posted on: December 7th, 2010 by Cori

I know that Thanksgiving was more than a week ago, so this post is a bit tardy, but I hope you’ll indulge me anyway under the theory that Thanksgiving is really the the start of a “season” of holiday and cheer and celebration, and not just one day.

When Gary and I were dating, and it came time for Thanksgiving, instead of choosing which family to spend it with we decided that we would host ourselves. It’s usually the only time of year that both our families are together, and the guest count ranges from 8-16 family and friends depending on who has what going on.  I love Thanksgiving – it’s a holiday all about food so how could I not – but usually it’s also a stressful time. The grocery shopping, the prep work, the logistics of getting everything in and out of the oven on time and ensuring it is still hot when we eat: it’s a bit of a challenge even for an experienced host and entertainer like myself.

The year I was pregnant, morning sickness was in full bloom and Gary came down with a 24 hour stomach bug Thanksgiving morning. He stayed in bed most of the day, emerged for the guests and had to carve with rubber gloves! The next year, we thought we hit the lottery when our six month old who was famous for mini naps, took a marathon three hour one just when we needed to prep and cook the most. Turns out, she was teething and had explosive diarrhea the rest of day. Last year she was more mobile, and needed more supervision, so we basically took turns cooking and playing with her, which of course caused everything to take twice as long to finish.

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Kumquats, no Bananas

Posted on: November 17th, 2010 by Cori

Occasionally in the mornings we give Sara a treat and let her watch Elmo’s World, especially if either Gary or I have left early and the other one needs to occupy her so they can get dressed. Today was one of those mornings, and after snuggling with her for a few minutes listening to Elmo impart the joys of water, I slid out from under the sheets and in to the bathroom, not giving Elmo or the rest of the Sesame Street gang another thought.

Four hours later Sara bursts through the front door after a morning at the park, and starts rambling something I can’t quite grasp. Sara speaks extremely well for a two year old, but there are definitely times she resorts so “Sarese” and it takes a few tries to figure it out. As I’m listening, it slowly dawns on me that she is saying “kumquats.” Yes, kumquats. A word I have probably uttered out loud less than five times in my life, and certainly never in the time that Sara has been alive. I mean, I’ve had them before, but never gave them any thought, never bought them, never anything with them.

But here is my daughter bouncing around the kitchen laughing saying “kumquats, no, bananas.” I ask where she heard about kumquats.

“Telly on Elmo. Kumquats, no bananas.” Cue hysterical laughter.

I rack my brain, but am still coming up empty, an so push it a little further. “What color are kumquats?” I ask.

“”Yellow” she says, without a second’s hesitation.

“Kumquats mommy, kumquats, buy me kumquats. I NEED kumquats.”

Usually she “needs” things like ice cream and cookies, so I definitely wanted to encourage this new found -albeit likely temporary – obsession with a small little obscure fruit. So off we go to the local store, with me still trying to figure out how kumquats made a cameo on Sesame Street, but also with me quite concerned that we might not find any once we got there. Is it kumquat season? Is there a kumquat season? And how exactly do you eat one – I had only had them in dishes, never on their own.

After much searching in the produce aisle we did, thankfully, find a box of yellowy orange oval kumquats. At home Sara took a bite, and pronounced it good, but tart, very tart.

And as she proceeded to take about one bite from several of these tiny fruits, I did finally solve the mystery of where this kumquat knowledge originated. On Sesame Street, just before the closing credits, they sometimes have Telly talking with a girl about eating fruit. She is deaf, so is using her hands to tell him which one she wants. He mistakenly thinks she is asking for kumquat, but no, her peeling motion really shows she wants a banana!
So I guess it’s hats off to Sesame Street for introducing Sara to the kumquat. Now, I just need to figure out what I am going to do with the rest of the box ….

Grill Baby Grill

Posted on: August 9th, 2010 by Cori

Image from the 2005 Chrysler Hemi Grill Contest

There are 2 areas of my life where I had complete control before I met Gary and now I have none: wine buying and grilling. I don’t know how the wine thing happened, since I love wine and we even got married in Napa, but over the years it did, and as long as there is a bottle ready for the drinking, I’ve realized that I don’t miss having to actually choose and buy it. Occasionally I do worry that he’ll be on a business trip and, in looking for something to pair with my leftovers, I’ll open a $25 or $30 bottle of wine, but hey – I’m worth it! (more…)