50 Things We’ve Learned About Feeding Kids


This photo was taken in spring of 2011. It ran alongside one of our first “Providers” for Bon Appetit — a column all about feeding a family and was shot by Peter van Agtmael, a Magnum photographer whose name is more commonly associated with war zones in the Middle East than with pork chops and market greens. I remember we all laughed recreating the thought process of the photo editor who assigned him — Hey, let’s send a war photographer to document what happens when you try to cook for young kids — before we got down to the serious business of shooting those vinegary chops you see in the foreground. Our daughters were seven and eight years old at the time, requiring stools to reach the stovetop; they spent a lot of time climbing on counters and furniture, and spent a good part of their days “talking” their Playmobil dolls. (If they were home right now, I’m sure they could give you the entire personal history of that horse-riding dude shown in the front left corner.)

I refuse to get too nostalgic here, but it’s hard. The current issue of Bon Appetit (March 2017) includes our final Providers column and I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks revisiting these early snapshots of our girls, who now cook their own meals, stream Scandal and Jane the Virgin on their laptops, and babysit for kids who are the ages they were in this photo. I’m not going to make you come along for my weepfest — my happy weepfest, of course  — but I did want to point you in the direction of our Providers swan song, a list of the hard-won kitchen wisdom we’ve collected over the past six years: The Top 50 Things We’ve Learned cooking for those little monkeys. Check it out and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts as always.

We still hope to contribute to BA now and then, but in the meantime, big shout-out to our editors — Adam Rapoport, Meryl Rothstein, Hugh Garvey, Carla Music — for the privilege of piggybacking on their shooting star. If there are any DALS readers who don’t subscribe, A) why not? and B) here you go.

P.S. One thing that has most definitely not changed: How often we eat those pork chops.

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17 Comments

Kim

These pictures have always been one of my favorite parts of the site. Thanks for letting us watch your girls grow up.

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Adele

Where is that fabulous step stool from in the photo? I have been searching for a great one for my kitchen obsessed toddler!

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Robin Tesoro

Jenny, this is wonderful! And beautifully written, as always. There is nothing more satisfying than when my kids try something new and love it after the toddler years when I tried so hard to introduce something only to be met with closed lips and ending up back with the same 3 foods. Chicken nuggets, pasta, hot dogs. I agree with all of these and they are great advice and I really love the fishmonger idea. I have to laugh because mine would be the 2 kids on earth that complain about m&m’s in their pancakes (and have. and remind me of it still) Cheers, Robin T

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Lane

Jenny, so sad to hear your alls column is coming to an end. I always looked forward to it. Will fill the void with your wonderful blog. Thank you for this great list– we’re in the toddler trenches right now and also very well acquainted with our DustBuster!

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Awads

Great list! We made that chicken potpie saturday night, and the polenta from “the playbook” sunday night. Your recipes and inspiration are in heavy rotation at my house! (my son is now 9, and i can’t foresee that day he makes his own lunch…but i’ll drink to that if it ever comes to pass!)

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Susie

Aw man, really???? I’ve loved your BA column so much- I actually got here (the blog) from there, and this is one of my go-to sites for feeding my kids. My littles are still very much in the talking Playmobil stage. I’ll miss you in my magazine but grateful to have found your voices here!

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Natalie

VERY bummed that BA is allowing your column to do a “swan song”….!!! Seriously??? I would love to know what the editors think will be “better” on that page. I wonder if they realize exactly who has been reading BA all these years….do they think it has only been “foodies” (hate that word frankly) – or do they think MAYBE it has been (and remains) people who love to cook, who love to feed people – especially themselves AND their families, which usually includes children of ALL ages…??? Remaining bummed….

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Jenny

Natalie – While this note is very nice of you, don’t worry. They will not disappoint on the family front. Many of the editors have kids and I get so many ideas for family fare from them all the time. It wasn’t a question of replacing our column with something “better.” Andy and I decided it was time to cede the floor to something new. No one fired us or anything! My sadness is rooted only in this being the end of an era, remembering how sweet and little my kids were when we started! 🙂

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Erika

I’ve been reading your blog for just a few months now, but I have to comment on how lovely your writing is and how lovely a family you seem to have. I am a good 6 years from even thinking about starting a family, but I’ve got a list full of family tradition MUSTS from your blog. So wonderful.
Thanks for adding value and love to the world. We need it and appreciate it.

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Nancy

Thank you Jenny! What a joy that list is! Growing up one of six kids, the family table was so important. My poor mother, though, I don’t know how she cooked every night for that many. With only two kids and a very hungry husband, I try my best to vary our meals and make that time a joy every day. By the way your grilled chicken recipe (with the greek yogurt, garlic and lemon juice) is a solid favorite right now and has been on the menu most weeks for months now. Also tried your chocolate chip loaf cake last week and it was outstanding! (kids loved it of course) Thanks again.

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Amy P

I have to confess – I had a one-year subscription to Bon Appetit a while back and your column was the only part I really enjoyed. Thanks for the bright spots!

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Linda Hiebert

Is that the same shirt you are wearing on the cover of your new book

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