Entries from November 2010

Our Royal Family

November 30th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Rituals, Seafood

Phoebe was captivated by the the row of weeklies and their splashy covers on display at CVS last weekend. “Is that the new princess?” she asked. (I hoped she wasn’t referring to any of the half-dozen half-naked Kardashians.) I looked from Us Weekly to Star across to Hello. Yes! I said. That’s Kate Middleton. She’s the Salmon of Wales!

It took her a few seconds to get it. Oh, right! Salmon is the princess!

We’ve never been calorie counters in our house. The food pyramid — which I have a hard time even really trusting anymore — is not anything my children would ever recognize beyond a structure they might like to replicate with legos. There have been meals where we talk about our plates resembling rainbows, but in truth, our philosophy on teaching healthy eating habits has always been conveniently hands-off: If they are eating roughly what we are eating, they are probably doing OK*. Way early on, though, when we were just developing the dinner habit, and when they were just starting to recognize that the point of dinner was to eat the food, not chuck it, we came up with our own version of the food pyramid. The Royals (Disney and otherwise) had proven to be excellent bribery booty for toilet-training, so we decided to assign their venerable titles towards a few random superfoods we wanted the kids to eat and drink more of: Milk was the Prince. Broccoli, with its almighty supply of treasured vitamins and calcium, the King. Walnuts and eggs were the Queen and Queen Mother, since both of them, if you were to believe the headlines, contained enough omega-3s to triple our children’s chances of getting into Stanford. And salmon, pink and delicate: The Princess. I can’t call this strategy foolproof — as both Lady Phoebe and Lady Abby still recoil at the sight of an egg — but I do know that King Broccoli and Princess Salmon have remained in power ever since.

*Though I do lie awake worrying about our dessert habit.

Royal Salmon with Yogurt-Mustard Dill Sauce

Sprinkle a 1 1/4-pound salmon filet with salt and pepper. Roast in a foil-lined baking dish in 400°F oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the following in a small bowl: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 heaping teaspoons mustard (preferably Dijon), 1 tablespoon chopped dill, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Serve salmon with a dollop of sauce on the side. Serve with green beans and soba noodles. (See the “pea” page in Chapter 4 of Time for Dinner for a good noodle recipe.)

Or serve with broccoli, eggs, and walnuts and a tall glass of milk.

Yogurt-mustard dill sauce: Elevating our simple salmon dinners since 1998.

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Pork Chops with Kale

November 29th, 2010 · 18 Comments · Pork and Beef, Quick

Very few things make me happier than discovering a dinner that:

a) does not require every pot and pan in the kitchen.
b) runs no risk of instigating a whinefest at the table.
c) can be prepared in the same amount of time (or less) that it takes for my second and third graders to do their homework at the kitchen table.

I’m not sure this last point was what Giuliano Bugialli had in mind when he dreamed up the delicate braciole de maiale con cavolo nero (Pork Chops with Kale) in his 1977 classic Fine Art of Italian Cooking. Unless he was cooking for high schoolers who had a full load of AP courses — because his version takes over 60 minutes and this adaptation takes under 30. Is it as good as it would be if I made it the way he instructed? Of course not. Is it a sacrilege to subject the recipe from a master to my compulsive corner-cutting impulse? Definitely. Will I be corner-cutting this recipe again soon on a night when I must get something delicious on the table quickly? Absolutely.

Pork with Kale
Adapted from
Fine Art of Italian Cooking

Wash and cut 1 bunch of kale into 2-inch pieces. Boil for 15 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, heat a few glugs of olive oil in a deep skillet. Add 1 garlic clove and cook over low heat, just enough to flavor oil without burning, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add 4-6 pork chops (butterflied, or pounded thin) that have been salted, peppered, and sprinkled with a little fennel seed (optional) and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Using a metal measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of hot water from the kale pot and pour into a heatproof bowl. Whisk 1 tablespoon tomato paste in the hot water then add tomatoey liquid to the pork chops. Cover skillet and simmer until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. In final 5 minutes, add kale to skillet and let it drink in the liquid. Serve with brown rice if you need it. (The Trader Joe’s fully cooked kind to make life easier.)

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Some Winning Holiday Rituals

November 23rd, 2010 · 4 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Rituals

Let me just start out by saying there was some science behind figuring out the winner of DALS’ First Annual Holiday Ritual Contest. I poured through the 50+ submissions (thank you everyone!), selected my favorites, then read each finalist aloud to my daughters — separately, so they couldn’t influence each other. They were responsible for grading each submission, with A+ being roughly equal to “A Ritual I Really Really Want You To Start Right Away Mom, OK?” (See scorecard above.) I’m pleased to announce that this year, this honor is bestowed upon Carrie W. who, like many of us, makes a batch of gingerbread cookies every year, but goes the extra step and decorates them to look like the neighbors and family friends who will be receiving them. I think the idea of making a cookie version of Aunt Patty and Minty Pea Todd was too fun for my decidedly sweet-toothed panel to pass up. I do encourage you to read all the rituals that were submitted — the four runners-up below, as well as those in the comment fields and on the DALS facebook page. Just because they didn’t make the cut doesn’t mean they aren’t all in their own way kinda magical.

Carrie wins a $75 gift certificate to CSN stores and Christina, Katie, Randi, and J.J. take home my MDNW bumper sticker. Which — stocking stuffer alert!!! — will be on sale right here on DALS in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!


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I’m Thirsty!

November 22nd, 2010 · 4 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Drinks, Entertaining, Thanksgiving

Sometimes it feels like all I accomplish in a single day is quenching my childrens’ thirst. Is it like this in your house? Is it a national emergency when you forget a freshly filled Sigg bottle for the hour-long road trip? Do you find yourself filling and refilling sippy cups and drinking glasses and thermoses all day long to the earsplitting chorus of Mom! I’m Thirsty!? Unless it’s mealtime, at which point I always forget (always!) to set out the drinks or have one of the kids do it for us until the moment I collapse my tired body into a dinner table chair. My friend Lori, with whom I worked on the Real Simple Dinner Doula story, said that the single best piece of advice I ever gave her about family dinner was to get the kids’ drinks on the table before doing any cooking. The task was just annoying and afterthought-y enough to set the wrong tone for the meal she worked so hard to get on the table. I will take this so-stupid-it’s-smart tip one step further: When you are entertaining, fill the water glasses and sippy cups before the first doorbell ringing. Then you won’t have to root around matching lids to cups for the 2-year-old at the very moment the sauce is treading the fine line between deglazing and disappearing.

Speaking of thirsty guests. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a few wine suggestions for the grown-ups. These come from Andy, who doesn’t claim to know much about wine, but enjoys drinking it*. Probably best to go with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a hardier Rose — if you are serving traditional Thanksgiving fare. Prices are approximate and based mostly on current prices at wine.com and our local wine store.

Chardonnay
Louis Jadot ($15); La Crema ($19), Norton Ridge ($20), Simi ($22); Talley ($25-$30), Neyers ($25-$30); Off-the-Chain Options: Ramey ($40+), Kistler ($50+)

Pinot Noir
Castle Rock ($12), Norton Ridge ($19), Veranda ($15-$20); Bouchaine ($25-$30);
Off-the-Chain Option: Schoolhouse ($65+), Paul Hobbs ($75+)

Rose
Muga ($15-$20), Tavel Chateau De Trinquevedel ($18-20)

Illustration is by Jessica Zadnik, who also drew the cool pix for the cookbook, and the DALS’ official Picky Eater Taxonomy.

*Andy actually does know a lot about wine. He logged into this post when I wasn’t looking and added that sentence thinking I might not notice.

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The One Album

November 19th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Children's Books, Gifts, Culture, Kitchenlightenment, Posts by Andy, Rituals

In the console between the front seats of our family vee-hicle is a stack of the CDs we keep on hand to entertain the kids while driving. Most rotate through after a few months, or get thrown out, either because we – the parents – get so incredibly sick of them (see: ThrillerFree to Be), or because they – the kids – never quite warm up to the stuff we’re selling (see: Bettye LaVette and, god, it pains me to say it, Exile on Main Street). There’s one CD, though, that has been with us for four, maybe five, years. It’s all banged up now, and it skips like crazy, and I’m constantly having to breathe on it and buff it with my t-shirt to get it to play at all. It says “Storm King” in red Sharpie across the top, in honor of the beautiful Storm King sculpture garden about an hour north of us, in the Hudson Valley up near West Point, where I took the kids one cold fall morning just after burning this disc. “Storm King” is not a mix, though: this disc contains one album,The Children’s Album, recorded in 1975 by Johnny Cash. Here’s one of those rare records that we can all agree on, pretty much all the way through. We’ve listened to it on road trips, we’ve played it during birthday parties, I’ve even been known to put it when it’s just me, and the dog Iris, changing lightbulbs and emptying the dishwasher on a Saturday afternoon. It’s great, solid music and storytelling – performed by a variety-show-era, leather-jacketed Johnny Cash — and, seriously, what could ever be wrong with that?

It’s also the perfect Thanksgiving playlist. Good for kids, good for parents, good for grandparents, nice and mellow and funny and happy, just the thing to have on in the car on the way there or in the kitchen while you cook and the kids mill about, just the thing to mask the sounds of bickering cousins or cursing cooks or plastic dump trucks being dragged across hardwood floors. I can listen to Johnny Cash any time, and I do, but that voice is particularly suited to fall afternoons, big, messy gatherings, glasses of bourbon, football on the tv. Once your kids are fully on board – do me a favor and play them “Tiger Whitehead” or “Call of the Wild” and tell me they aren’t in love – you can move on to this. — Andy

Related: Graphic novels for kids.

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Thanksgiving Roll-Out: Starter Stuffing

November 17th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Dinner, Thanksgiving

Growing up, the stuffing of choice at our Thanksgiving table was always Stovetop. I remember looking at a forkful of it when I was in high school and wondering “What is stuffing? What is in there?” But it tasted so salty and herby, that I certainly didn’t question it for more than a second. (Plus, this is the 80s we’re talking about here, so in general no one was really questioning anything about the food they were putting in their mouths — at least not in my corner of the world.) But once I was a grown-up and responsible for things like mortgage payments and Thanksgiving side dishes, it occurred to me that stuffing was maybe something I could try to make from scratch, so I went in search of a recipe that could deliver on my (admittedly modest) Stovetop-ian expectations. I found it two Thanksgivings ago with this Martha Stewart recipe. It was the perfect Starter Stuffing. Basic, easy, nothing fancy, seemingly begging for personalizing and riffing. I am throwing apples and sausage in it this year and hoping for the best.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat half a stick of butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add 2 small onions (chopped), 6 stalks celery (chopped), salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add 1 pound assorted mushrooms (quartered). Cover and cook until they release their liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and cook another 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. While it cools, cook 2 links sweet Italian sausage (casings removed) in the same skillet over medium heat, breaking up meat with a fork.

Once meat is cooked, add to the onion mixture in the bowl, along with 2 loaves of Italian bread (in pieces, about 12-16 cups total), a 15-ounce can of chicken or vegetable broth, 1 bunch parsely (chopped), 3 eggs (lightly beaten), and 1 apple (peeled, chopped into chunks). Add mixture to a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 20 more minutes.

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Delighted! Honored! Amazed!

November 17th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

Time for Dinner cracks Bon Appetit’s Favorite Cookbooks of 2010 list! And as if that’s not already exciting enough, they put us right next to Paul Greenberg and a few doors down from Allegra Goodman.

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Thanksgiving Roll-Out: Greens

November 15th, 2010 · 19 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Sides, Salads, Soup, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian

On Saturday afternoon — a gorgeous, unseasonably warm one in New York — I was sitting with some moms on the sideline of Phoebe’s last soccer game of the season. In a conversation interrupted every two minutes with a cheer for whichever formidable 8-year-old was rocketing down the field with the ball, we discussed the merits of our coach’s European-style alignment (only one forward!), we discussed grand plans for our soon-to-be soccer-free weekends, and, of course, we discussed Thanksgiving sides. Technically I had been having the Thanksgiving-side conversation with one of the moms for three straight weeks. It seemed like every time we ran into each other –at the farmer’s market, at the away game in Chappaqua (where we crushed, btw), and on the night she and her husband cooked the happiest, market-freshy-est dinner for my family — she was plotting a dish that would be substantial enough for her vegetarian Thanksgiving guests. The pressure was on because she had gone ahead and killed the year before — some sort of baked polenta with mushrooms — a fatal error because now that she realized she had to top herself. It was so delicious, she kept telling me. So special!

“So why not just make it again?” I asked her the night at their house.

“Yeah,” she said. “I guess I could.” But I could tell she thought this idea was uninspired. Lazy. Total loser move.

Here’s the thing: Repeat dishes are only uninspired and lazy if they’re not good. Repeat dishes that are so memorable you’re still talking about them a year later in a tone usually reserved for George Clooney, are the opposite of that: They are Signature Dishes. This is what the holiday family table is about. I don’t know about you, but in 10 years I want to get that call from Phoebe when she’s in college (playing midfield for UNC, natch) begging me to make her favorite confetti brussels sprout dish when she returns home for break…because what kind of Thanksgiving would it be without that on the table?

Anyway, I think I convinced my friend while we cheered on our girls. (Final Score: 3-0; the good guys.) I’ll find out for sure and report back to you — and try to nail down the polenta recipe for you, too.

Confetti Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Serves about 8
To make this vegetarian, just skip the bacon and add a few more more glugs of olive oil before you saute the brussels.

Using a food processor fitted with the shredding disk, slice 1 1/2 pounds of brussels sprouts. Meanwhile, fry 3 pieces of thick-cut bacon in a large skillet. Remove bacon and chop into small pieces. Using a paper towel, soak up some of the bacon fat from the pan and add a little olive oil. Add 1 clove garlic (minced), 1/2 medium onion or 1 small shallot (chopped), salt and pepper. Add brussels sprouts and saute about 1 minute until coated with oil and slightly wilted. Add 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth and cook another 5 minutes. Remove brussels to serving platter and sprinkle with bacon pieces.

What to do ahead of time: Shred brussels (up to one day in advance)

Arugula Salad with Butternut Squash, Lentils, Candied Pecans, & Feta
Serves about 8

On a cookie sheet, toss 1 small butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and chopped into small pieces as shown below) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a teaspoon or two of fresh thyme leaves. Roast at 425°F for 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss about 8 cups baby arugula, 1 cup cooked beluga lentils (you can buy these precooked at Trader Joe’s), a handful of crumbled feta, and a handful of storebought candied pecans. Make dressing: Whisk together 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, snipped chives. When squash is ready and has cooled, add to the salad and toss with vinaigrette right before serving.

What to do ahead of time: Make dressing, wash greens, chop up squash.

More adventurous than my family? Here’s what I’d check out:

Brussels Sprouts with Thai Chili Pepper Sauce (The New York Times)
David Chang’s Crazy Delicious Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Spicy Greens (101cookbooks)
Bright, Beautiful Creamy Shredded Beet-Carrot-Celeriac Salad (devil & egg)
Beet and Orange Barley Salad (p. 53, Time for Dinner)
Raw Lemony Brussels Sprout Slaw (The New York Times)
Beets in Lime Cream (food52)

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Printing Reminder

November 15th, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Just wanted to remind you that there is a “Print” function under each post that allows you to print the posts and recipes without the photos. So you don’t have to look at pictures of my kid playing soccer when all  you want in the world is to know how to mash the potatoes.

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Thanksgiving Two Ways

November 12th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Dinner, Rituals, Sides, Salads, Soup, Thanksgiving

Last Wednesday morning, I was on the 8:43 train reading Sam Sifton’s story Thanksgiving tips from NYC restaurant chefs, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture of Fatty Cue’s Brussels Sprouts. They were roasted and drizzled with a bright red sauce made from Thai bird chilis, crushed coriander seeds, and maple syrup, among other things. I showed the photo to Andy, who was busy reading about some new Yankees catching prospect.

“We should make these next time someone comes over to dinner,” I said.

He did a quick scan of the story. “Why not make them for Thanksgiving?” he replied. (more…)

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Start Here

November 11th, 2010 · 7 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Quick

I got the nicest email from a reader this week. His name is Marc and he just discovered DALS. This is what he wrote:

So much happens at the Dinner Table. I came out to my parents at the dinner table, my brother and his girlfriend told our family they were engaged at our dinner table. Normally I eat in front of the TV, but last night I decided to have a proper dinner at the table with my boyfriend, which I am going to try to do at least twice a week, because your blog inspired me. So thank you for that.

My favorite thing about this note…well I have a lot of favorite things about this note. I love that he capitalized Dinner Table. Like it’s a proper noun, a destination, an official movement. And obviously, I love how he remembers the Dinner Table as the place where the big moments happen. But mostly, I love that he got inspired, figured out a realistic game plan (twice a week!) and then got started on that game plan immediately. I don’t have any idea what he cooked that night, but since it was a Monday, my guess is that it wasn’t Osso Bucco or ricotta gnocchi with a quail egg cooked sous vide. It doesn’t have to be gourmet to be special. And it doesn’t have to be every night to be family dinner.

Want to launch the ritual tonight? This is a good recipe to start with.

Roast Chicken with Baby Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss baby brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to a baking dish. Coat drumsticks with mustard and then coat them in breadcrumbs. Add chicken to another lightly oiled baking dish. Bake both dishes for 25 minutes, turning chicken once and tossing brussels once halfway.

We served it with a salad made from butter lettuce, grape tomatoes, snipped chives, and the buttermilk dressing from our favorite soybean and cherry tomato salad.

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Salad Pizza

November 9th, 2010 · 19 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

Was it Michael Moss’ terrifying article on cheese in Sunday’s Times? Was it the passing mention of Sal’s, my favorite pizzeria from childhood? The only place I ever ordered Dr. Pepper and the only place I had ever heard of that served cheese-less, salad pizza. Whatever the reason, salad pizza was on my brain all day yesterday — even during a fancy midtown lunch that included lobster — so that’s what was on the dinner table at 7:00. Or at least, that was what was on mom’s and dad’s plate at 7:00. The kids couldn’t make the leap, so just had their salad on the side. (more…)

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Great Grandma Turano’s Meatballs

November 8th, 2010 · 30 Comments · Dinner, Pasta, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy, Rituals

Once upon a time, Brooklyn, New York was not a cool place to live. Back in those days – the late seventies, actually — in an unhip and unironically aluminum-sided neighborhood known as Borough Park, in the windowless basement of a plain row house with a concrete yard and a Madonna in the living room, a 95-year-old Sicilian woman named Vitina Turano toiled at a stove, four burners blazing. She was my great grandmother. Four and a half feet tall, clad in house dress, slippers, and homemade apron, bent of spine and hairy of chin, Great Grandma Turano was busy making meatballs.

A horde of us were gathered, as we did once or twice a year, at an enormous table covered in floral-print oilcloth that ran the length of an entire wall, a long wooden bench on one side, a humming furnace at the end. My parents and brother, my Aunt Patty and Uncle Julian, a few of my mom’s cousins and second cousins, none of whom I ever really got to know but all of whom had names like John and Sal and Paul and Mary and Anthony and Tony and… Anthony and Tony. (There was even a girl named Toni, no joke.) The men would all sit, drinking Gallo from a green jug, as the li’l matriarch did her thing, with an assist from the younger Turano women, until it was time to eat – at which point, steaming platters of food would magically appear before us, exist for a few perfect moments, and then be devoured.

Great Grandma Turano died when I was seven years old, so my memories of her, and of these epic dinners, live on now only in glimmers and shards: her heavily accented English, utterly baffling to my untrained ears; her basement lair; her folding lawn chair out back, where she would sit and motion for me to come over – “cuh me-uh,” she’d say, curling a crooked finger at me, “cuh me-uh” — so she could hug and kiss me, which in retrospect was a small thing I should have happily given in to, but in the moment felt kind of scary and to be resisted at all costs, despite my mother’s prodding.

And her meatballs. I do remember those meatballs. Though it’s hard, this far on, to say whether I remember the ones she made specifically, or the ones my mother made for us – using Great Grandma Turano’s recipe, of course, which she had been forced by her family to commit to paper before she passed away – pretty much once every couple weeks for the first eighteen years of my life. Talk about a staple of your youth: This was mine. Pasta and meatballs with a green salad and some crusty bread? Damn. I can picture those nights perfectly now, the pot of extras simmering on the stove, waiting to be pillaged for seconds. We’ve managed to keep the tradition going strong in our house, too, busting these badboys out on Sunday nights in the fall and winter for the past almost twenty years. Hell, they even made it onto our recipe door. The kids have gotten into the act lately, too — Phoebe performed half the work on the batch you see here, rolling the balls by hand, and helping to brown them. Five generations and counting…

Grandma Turano’s Meatballs Recipe (more…)

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What’s Next? A Giveaway!

November 5th, 2010 · 12 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Rituals

Abby is her mother’s daughter. She keeps very detailed notes about her days in a Boston Terrier-themed calendar which hangs on the back of her bedroom door. It gives me such deep pleasure to look at her elaborate system of chronicling. Days are circled, numbers x’d out, playdates and soccer games all recorded in advance. She never ever misses a day and when the month turns, she insists the whole family weigh in on the latest Boston Terrier photo and how much or how little it resembles our own (truly bonkers) BT, Iris. Earlier this week, when she flipped from October to November she took a quick scan of the grid and asked, “So what’s next, Mom?” I wasn’t sure what she meant. “You know, how we just celebrated Halloween and my birthday? And so what’s next to celebrate? Thanksgiving?” She found the little note on November 25 and confirmed the answer for herself. I could see her doing what I do, hooking a mental bungee cord to the top of the November mountain and start working her way towards her reward. I love how kids always need something to look forward to, how their little optimistic spirits naturally crave it.

Lucky for parents, the calendar does the heavy lifting on providing the events, so all we have to do is come up with an overlay of richness, a concept more commonly known as Rituals. We have lots of holiday rituals in our house, and you’ll be hearing about them soon, but for now I want to hear about yours. The ones you’ve done on every Thanksgiving or Hannukah or Christmas or Christmas Eve your whole life, or the ones you’ve just recently started with your kids, the ones you haven’t started but want to steal. Because something tells me DALS readers might want to steal them, too.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to brave the contest waters. Submit your ritual to jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com or, preferably, via Dinner: A Love Story’s facebook page by Thursday, November 18. Readers can vote/”like” their favorites if they choose, but ultimately a team of experts (me, Abby, Phoebe, Iris) will decide on a winner who will be announced Tuesday, November 23. And how’s this for cool: The winner will walk away with a $75 gift certificate to the amazing CSN, which is comprised of over 200 online stores that sell everything from kitchen counter stools to Le Creuset Dutch ovens. In addition to the CSN giveaway, I will also, of course, be handing out a bunch of “Make Dinner Not War” bumper stickers to runners-up.

Can’t wait to hear from you.

Illustration is by Donald Chaffin and taken from Andy’s childhood copy of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Abby’s current obsession (both the book and the movie).

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Counter-Operation Kale

November 4th, 2010 · 12 Comments · Quick, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

OK, so it’s Thursday, aka Halloween + 96 hours. If you followed my prescription for the candy roll-out, your kids have consumed over of dozen Crunch/Mounds/Snickers bars, and you are likely checking in with DALS today to curse my name or to call up some magical recipe that might exorcise a sugar demon or two. I don’t blame you. Times like this call for either a Detox Soup or a big batch of something so healthy, so virtuous, so green, that it is capable of eliminating all traces of junk from little-person bodies, and all traces of guilt from big-person psyches. In other words, send in the kale!

Truth be told, I was terrified of kale until recently. Sure, I’d wilt it into minestrone every now and then, but I never figured out a way to introduce it to the family table in a way that didn’t feel like homework. Kale is so ridiculously good for us: Just a small mound of it has the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, and I may be imagining this, but as soon as I eat it, and as soon as my kids eat it, I feel smarter and stronger and have a sudden urge to start an Olympics for Parents and enter myself in every event.

There are two recipes that convinced us that kale could be enjoyed as opposed to endured. The first was Andy’s: Kale with Avocado and Pickled Onions. It’s all about the parboiling here, which renders the leaves silky smooth and tender. Mixed with avocado and set off by the bright, flavorful onions…it was pretty much the only thing I could talk about at the dinner table that Sunday night. (This in spite of a combined 2 assists and 1 goal involving a breakaway only a few hours earlier.) The other recipe is for kale chips which I found in Kim O’Donnel’s fun new Meat Lovers Meatless Cookbook. It takes about as long to make these as it would to go to the pantry and open up a bag of potato chips. They are simultaneously delicate and crispy and melt in your mouth in a way that almost reminds me of cotton candy. Phoebe wouldn’t quite give me that one, but she ate up the chips anyway. And then begged me for Skittles. (more…)

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The Candy Roll-Out

November 1st, 2010 · 16 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Rituals

Halloween Night: Eat until face falls off
Lunch next day: Two candies
After dinner: Four candies
Tuesday lunch: One
Tuesday after dinner : Three
Wednesday after dinner: Two
Thursday after dinner: Two
Friday after dinner: One
Saturday at any point: One
Sunday: Done*

*Parents should find ways to surreptitiously either eat a good portion of the candy themselves, or throw it away in a manner that does not raise suspicion.

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