Last year I went to lunch with my friend and writer Lori at Sam’s, a Jewish Deli in the Garment District. At the time I was her editor at Cookie and the goal of the lunch was to come up with story ideas for the next few issues. She is that friend you just want to follow around with a pad of paper and pencil — she’s always reading or writing something interesting and I’m always the one on the other end of the conversation saying things like “…and it’s called ‘Stuff White People Like’ or ‘Things White People Like?’” or “…and you spell Safran Foer…how?” She is the friend who sends me the stories in obscure journals and websites that she knows I will love (and that everyone will be talking about). When she sat down at this lunch, though, she looked forlorn. After some small talk, her face turned slightly ashen, she leaned forward and whispered to me… (more…)
Entries Tagged as 'Picky Eating'
August 9th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef
August 6th, 2010 · 7 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating
So remember the request to see my MDNW bumper stickers in action? Joslyn T, the mastermind behind Raising Foodies sent this sweet photo to me and I liked it so much I sent her a free cookbook. Everyone who registered on DALS by the June 26 deadline should have received their free sticker by now — and for everyone else, don’t worry, there will be lots of opportunity to win one in the next few weeks. Your chances increase greatly when you send in happy family dinner photos…and in fact, they increase exponentially when you send in unhappy family dinner photos. (Remember, I am in the business of reality here.)
And…BREAKING NEWS! I’m pleased to report that after approximately 325 exposures to quinoa, the girls finally took their first bites a few nights ago without wincing. We think it had something to do with Andy’s money-back guarantee: “You can spit it out if you don’t like it.”
Happy weekend everyone. I think I’m going to make some version of this dinner on Sunday when my parents come over if you’d like to “join” us.
July 29th, 2010 · 17 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Grilling, Picky Eating
When it comes to family dinner, unanimity of approval is the dream. Over the past few years, we’ve developed a pretty solid rotation of meals – shrimp with feta, pork chops, grilled cheese — that achieve something close to 100% satisfaction around the table, that elicit not a squeak of protest when plate hits table. But that rotation, like the diamond-crusted roster of the New York Yankees, is in constant need of refurbishing and reinvention. Move forward or perish, right? We’re always trying to introduce new things that we can come back to again and again, things that taste a little better that what we ate last night, or are a little more heart healthy, or a little easier to make.
Here’s the problem with introducing something new: most of the time, at least one of the kids won’t touch it.
But that’s okay! We have a theory around our house: If we can achieve 75% happiness with a new meal – that is, if 3 of the 4 people at our table eat the meal without complaining, crying, or vomiting – then that meal is worth making again. And the more we make it, the more likely our li’l holdout will be to try it, and once she tries it, the more likely she will be to come around eventually to, you know, liking it. And in this way, our dinner rotation expands.
Take last Sunday, for example. It was hot and muggy and the back of my neck was getting both dirty and gritty. It felt like a burger night, only we’re trying not to eat as much beef these days and the thought of another dry, workman-like turkey burger, even dressed up with cheese, hurt my soul. So we got some ground chicken – white meat and dark — from the guy with the cooler full of farm-raised stuff at our farmer’s market, and went for something different: tandoori burgers with yogurt sauce, doctored up from an old Martha Stewart recipe. The verdict? 3 out of 4. – Andy
Tandoori Chicken Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and lots of pepper
Whole wheat hamburger buns
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
In large mixing bowl, combine chicken, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cover and put in refrigerator for 45 minutes (this lets it all marinate, and also makes it easier to handle). Form into patties and grill (or fry in pan) until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes a side. (Make sure to oil the grill beforehand, as the burgers will stick.) Serve on whole wheat buns, topped with lots of crunchy cucumber slices and yogurt sauce.
For yogurt sauce: Whisk together 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, couple pinches of sugar.
July 23rd, 2010 · 6 Comments · Organizing, Strategizing, Planning, Picky Eating, Vegetarian
We were up in the Berkshires last weekend visiting contemporary art mecca Mass MoCA and while we were there stopped in the museum’s “KidSpace” to check out an exhibit called “You Are What You Eat.” We didn’t stay long — the kids weren’t with us, we were away alone for the first time in three years — but we stayed long enough to catch a few works by Luisa Caldwell, a Brooklyn-based artist who turns fruit labels into these cool looking collages (like the one above). If I remember correctly, it was some sort of commentary on food marketing but the three concepts that swirled in my head for the days that followed — Stickers, Fruit, Kids — joined forces to form another idea altogether. For parents who are having trouble getting their kids to eat fruits and vegetables — how about using those labels for a new kind of star chart? Every time they eat a piece of fruit, they get to add the label to their column. Once they hit a certain number, they get to pick out a book or a toy at the toy store. Or, for my Northeastern bretheren, they get to go to Mass MoCA!
I faked this chart just to show you how I’d do it if my kids weren’t complete angels who need no incentive to down their five USDA-required daily servings of fruits and vegetables. And anyway there are no fruit labels in my house because everything we eat comes fresh from the farmer’s market or picked right from our backyard organic garden. The garden to the left of our Shetland pony stable and behind the servants’ quarters.
PS: If you are headed to the Berkshires this summer, don’t go without first checking the area’s must-read website, Rural Intelligence. I used it to plan my entire weekend. It covers the goings-on in Berkshire, Columbia, Litchfield and Duchess counties.
July 19th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Rituals, Vegetarian
1. Because it’s arguably easier and faster than cooking up another pot of Annie’s Mac & Cheese.
2. Because the afternoon birthday party served pizza at 4:00. (What is up with these parties? Will someone please enlighten?)
3. Because the clock is ticking and the kids won’t be awake by the time your dreamy white wine sauce has reduced.
4. Because you live in Dallas, I mean New York, where the hot-and-humid and over-90 degree heat has been oppressive for two weeks straight. Nothing appeals to you – least of all the act of turning on an oven.
5. Because you’re going away for the weekend, there are only scraps in the fridge, and you can’t deal with breaking out pots and pans and baking dishes.
6. Because you’re back from your weekend away, there are only scraps in the fridge, and you can’t deal with breaking out pots and pans and baking dishes.
7. Because you have lettuce that is about to liquefy, beautiful fresh summer zucchini that sits there taunting your lack of culinary imagination, and a loaf of bread that will be mistaken for your son’s baseball bat if you don’t rescue it soon.
8. Because the house was just cleaned and you would like to freeze the kitchen in its rare state of cleanliness for as long as possible.
9. Because it’s an easy-to-assemble, legitimate dinner that can be customized for a wide range of picky palates and a wide range of unpredictable schedules, i.e. if one parent is coming home later than the kid’s dinnertime, the serve-yourself toppings will save the cook from another round of cooking.
10. Because it’s Monday…Why the hell not? (more…)
July 16th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
When her daughters were little, my friend Frances somehow convinced them that green beans were related to French fries. She called them Green Fries. I was so jealous — my kids had been to too many restaurants with Kidz menus by that point to be suckered by what seemed like unbelievably JV kitchen trickery to me. If my kids (and most kids I imagine) were going to eat a healthy vegetable disguised as a French fry, the recipe would have to be kicked up to varsity levels. These crispy, golden Zucchini fries fit the bill.
One thing: I advise making them on the weekend or on a weeknight where you’re not up against the clock. (Stop laughing.) I don’t mind the laborious dredging-and-dipping process on a weeknight if it’s for the main part of the meal (like chicken fingers, for instance). But I find it kind of a drag for just a side dish. You might feel differently, in which case ignore.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut and slice 3 zucchinis into sticks as shown. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, a dash of cayenne, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place 1 cup flour in another medium bowl and 2 beaten eggs in a smaller bowl. Dip the zucchini sticks first in the flour until lightly coated, then in the eggs. Roll them in the bread-crumb mixture until well covered. Transfer the zucchini pieces to a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until they look crispy and golden, about 20 minutes. (Sometimes I give them a quick shot of cooking spray at the end if they aren’t browning to my liking) Serve with ketchup.
July 8th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Picky Eating
Riddle: It’s summer. Fourth of July weekend to be specific. You’re assigned dessert. What do you bring to a party to feed seven grown-ups and seven kids, one of whom has a dairy allergy?
In my mind, only one answer: Cobbler.
But wait: Butter + Dairy Allergy = Not the Nicest Thing to Do
And: Cobbler – Butter = Not Much of a Cobbler.
Still, not an option. My mother-in-law has been making fruit cobblers on the Fourth for the last ten years and celebrating the holiday without one would be like foregoing the flags and fireworks. A little scouring of this cool Internet thing turned up a bunch of vegan takes on the classic. This blackberry-peach version is a composite of a bunch — almond milk stands in for the regular milk and oil stands in for the butter.
I like doing all the fruit and sugar tossing right in the baking dish instead of in a separate bowl. It makes for one less big-ticket item to wash. (more…)
July 1st, 2010 · 9 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Deconstructing Dinner, Dinner, Grilling, Picky Eating
There was a photo in one of the last issues of Gourmet that haunts me to this day. In a good way. (What is the word for haunting in a good way? Word people…help, please.) You know how much I love the concept of Deconstructed Dinner? The idea of leveraging the “no-touching!” decree regularly issued by toddlers into a beautiful salad where everything is separated into individually delicious elements? Well the Gourmet photo showed a rustic platter holding about eight or nine different “stripes” of food — grilled chicken, grilled mushrooms, chick peas, radishes, greens. In other words, the most glorious Deconstructed Dinner ever constructed. I lost the issue and have had no luck finding the recipe on epicurious, but finally, a year later, Andy and I replicated the platter in our kitchen. That’s it up there. A veritable celebration of farmer’s market fabulousness. Shredded romaine, “campfire potatoes”, fresh garden peas, tiny spring onions, asparagus, chicken, and some homemade pesto drizzled on top. (Storebought will do, too.)
The only “stripe” on the platter that wasn’t prepared on the grill was the one made of orange-thyme roasted carrots — which is a big fave with the girls. I think this is probably because the recipe only really works with the small, tender, sweet carrots from the farmer’s market that resemble the kind Bugs Bunny walks around with. (Try saying “What’s up Doc?” while holding a nubby little baby carrot. So incredibly depressing.) To make: Chop off most of the carrot stems, rinse slightly (no need to peel if you rinse well), and slice them horizontally as shown. Toss with olive oil and some fresh thyme leaves and roast in a baking dish in a 425°F oven for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Halve an orange and roast alongside the carrots. (This concentrates its juices.) When the carrots are finished, squeeze about a tablespoon of orange juice all over them. (more…)
June 28th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Vegetarian
You wouldn’t think that a gooey, melty grilled cheese would be too hard a sell on a kid, right? You also wouldn’t think that a grilled cheese is nutritious enough to warrant Kasparov-ian strategizing from that kid’s parents. But the Phoebe-wants-this-Abby-wants-that routine can wear on me (have I mentioned that each daughter requires her own brand of salsa when served with chips?) especially during something as supposedly simple as a weekend lunch. Why does Abby have to have a peanut butter sandwich and Phoebe have to have a grilled cheese? Why can’t both of them have a grilled cheese? It’s lunch! Why can’t I just make the same thing for both of them? Why? Why? Why?
That’s where the waffle iron came in. As soon as we discovered this neat little trick (from the “Sandwiches for Dinner” chapter in Time for Dinner) where the iron plays the role of panini maker, Abby was finally willing to eat a grilled cheese. Sorry, I mean Abby was finally willing to eat a “Waffle Sandwich.” (more…)
June 21st, 2010 · 6 Comments · Pasta, Picky Eating, Quick, Vegetarian
Just want to clear one thing up: My family does not all sit down to the same dish every single night. We do most nights. But like every house that is inhabited by humans born in the 21st century, there is the constant chorus of requests (an awfully nice way to put it) from the royal diners. I want spaghetti not meatballs, I want meatballs not spaghetti. I want ketchup with my hamburger. I won’t eat my fish without soyaki. I don’t have to go on. I know you know.
There are also nights when it’s just not a realistic proposition for me to forego, say, the pasta with yogurt and caramelized onions that I’ve been craving all week…just because two of the four people at my table will wrinkle their noses in protest when they see it. On those nights, when we all eat together but eat wildly different things, I am not cooking elaborate Plan-B type meals. I won’t make anything more complicated than peanut butter sandwiches and Annie’s Mac & Cheese if they’re not going along with what’s on the menu. I’ve never felt bad about the PB — it’s a wholesome meal as far as I’m concerned…all-natural peanuts on whole wheat bread. But the Mac & Cheese? Well, it’s organic, but is it nutritious? I stopped feeling guilty about it when my friend Claudia told me a trick she learned from her mother-in-law. Like all brilliant ideas, it’s so simple it’s genius. She makes Annie’s Mac & Cheese with quinoa. Yes, quinoa, the complete protein that you usually see in the same sentence as the word “superfood.” She mixes an Annie’s cheese pack into a big batch of the stuff and her kids call it Quack and Cheese. My kids still won’t eat quinoa (I feel it, though, they’re getting close) so I thought I’d do a halfway-house version using elbow-shaped quinoa pasta, which you can find at most health and specialty stores. It’s appealingly yellow color made it an easy sell and even though Abby noticed its slightly chewier texture, this didn’t appear to be a deal-breaker.
June 9th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Quick, Sides, Salads, Soup
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been doing a lot of eating in my house lately — and while we always try to keep it relatively artery-friendly, we frequently hit stretches where this is impossible. This past week, for instance, there was the burgers-and-dogs barbecue at a friend’s house, there was the baked-good bacchanalia during the ballet recital intermission, there was Andy’s business dinner at a downtown restaurant that proved to be a five-course ode to butter and cream. This is usually the time we break out our Detox Soup, made in a blender from all things green, and perfect for a warm summer night when you don’t want to turn on the stove.
The kids don’t love the soup as much as we do so we present them with a mini serving and provide cucumber slices and mini whole wheat pitas (no spoon) so they think of it more as a dip than as a soup. (more…)
June 3rd, 2010 · 15 Comments · Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
Where: The Kitchen
When: Weeknight, Dinnertime
Who: Mother (in untucked work clothes and flip flops, loose pony-tail); Her 8-year-old daughter doing homework at kitchen table
8-Year-Old: Mom? What’s for dinner?
Mom: Bean cakes.
8YO: Mo-om! What’s a bean cake? [Pause.] I’m not eating a bean cake.
[Critical juncture: Does Mom engage? It would be SO fun to engage, she thinks. Does she use logic? i.e. You love beans, you love cake! You'll love bean cakes! Mom does neither.]
Mom: Ok, you don’t have to eat them. [Blase, casual.] You know there is always something on the table that you’ll like.
8YO: [Somewhat taken aback by lack of engagement.] OK.
8YO: Do I have to eat a bean cake, Mom?
Mom: No, I said you didn’t have to. [Flipping a hot one in front of 8YO's counter-high nose.]
8YO: Maybe I’ll try a bite. But only a bite.
8YO: Fine. I will only have two whole bean cakes if I can have sour cream on them.
May 12th, 2010 · 18 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Pasta, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef, Rituals, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup, Time for Dinner: The Cookbook
…And, perhaps even more exciting, we also finally have an amazon link where you can pre-order our Time for Dinner cookbook. OK…how cool is that cover? I can call my own number here because I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Lia Ronnen at Melcher Media and Bonnie Siegler at Number 17 are the creative forces behind the design — as well as the 75 other cover tries that I am convinced, if decoupaged into shelf-liner, could make someone somewhere a million bucks. (Thanks, guys.)
In honor of this milestone, I’m giving you a recipe (tweaked a bit) that comes from one of my favorite chapters of the book. The chapter is a “starter kit” on feeding the baby called “What’s in it for me?” where we show how to prepare basic fresh baby purees (avocado, sweet potato, bananas, etc.), then give instructions for how to take those purees and use them as the base for grown-up dishes. (So an avocado mash turns into taco topping, a peach puree is stirred into a Harry’s-style Bellini, you get the idea.) When we batted around ideas for grown-up-izing baby’s pureed sweet potato, Alanna, who wrote the section, suggested mixing in a miso butter with scallions. Apparently people knew about this combination? I did not, but let me just tell you, it’s a revelation — a revelation that my kids have come to like more than a plain sweet potato.
Sweet Potatoes with Miso Butter and Scallions (adapted from Time For Dinner)
2 whole sweet potatoes or yams
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons miso (white)
2 tablespoons chives or chopped scallions
Roast whole sweet potatoes at 450°F for 40 minutes. While they are roasting, mix together remaining ingredients. When potatoes are ready, slit them in half lengthwise, scoop out some flesh for the baby and mash with a fork. Top the rest with miso butter. (For Abby, I scooped the flesh out of the skin and tossed it for her in a special bowl. Seemed to do the trick.)
April 5th, 2010 · No Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Deconstructing Dinner, Dinner, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup
I am ashamed to say that it has never been hard for me to throw away my childrens’ artwork. Not all of it, of course. My general rule is that it must be either a) truly technically astounding or b) depict a family member. Everything else: into the recycling bin. (Poor Abby is still recoveirng from seeing her rattlesnake watercolor being heaved into a truck by a mustachioed sanitation worker.) But I must admit, it’s pure joy being able to sacrifice an artfully decorated Easter egg at the altar of dinner. This motley dozen (do take note of the Michael-Jackson themed “Beat it” one) was the inspiration for a family favorite: Cobb Salad. The recipe is sort of Stone-Soupish — a hard-boiled egg is a nice starting point, but with bacon to fry and greens to wash and chop, it is indeed only a starting point — but it’s one of those recipes that seems to work no matter what you have in the fridge. Deconstruct it for happier results with the kids, and eliminate all evidence of egg shells down the garbage disposal. Click to the jump for the recipe.
April 1st, 2010 · 4 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Uncategorized, Vegetarian
I called Jenny on the way home from work tonight:
“I’m running for the 6:23 train, yeah, be home by seven, work was fine, need me to pick anything up? And oh, what do you feel like for dinner.”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Let me look–hold on–Girls, turn DOWN the Michael Jackson!”
I could hear her open the freezer, rifle around. “We have some chicken.”
Nah, not feeling chicken. Sick of chicken.
“We could do pasta.” I had pasta for lunch.
“Wait,” she said, “There’s a Jim Lahey pizza crust in here!” Pizza sounded good. “Okay, what should we have on it?” she asked. For some reason, I wanted potatoes…and cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. She raised no objections. I told her I’d make it, if she would defrost the crust and slice up some potatoes.
Forty-five minutes later, I got home to a crust on a baking sheet, a bowl of sliced red potatoes (about 1/4 inch thick, skins still on), and a preheated oven. The kids were upstairs in the bath. The dog did not appear to need walking. I went to work.
We didn’t have much in the refrigerator, pizza-wise, so I grabbed some olive oil, salt, fresh thyme, chives, an onion, and Trader Joe’s Mexican blend of shredded cheese. I boiled the potatoes in salted water for about eight minutes to soften them up and sauteed a sliced onion while I got the rest of my ingredients ready. “Do you think the kids will eat this?” I asked as I was assembling. “Probably not,” she said. The girls were now in the kitchen in their bathrobes. Hungry. “Why don’t you make them a regular cheese pizza?” We had no mozzarella, but we did have a few sticks of string cheese, which I diced up and sprinkled over some marinara. I did a half cheese, half potato, and put it in the oven for about fifteen minutes at 500°F. As usual, the pizza crust came out exactly the way it always does (perfect, and infinitely better than a storebought crust), and thirty minutes after walking in the door, dinner was ready.
The kids did try the potato version, by the way. (We sold it to them as french fry pizza.) It appears they will allow us to move it into our rotation.
March 30th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Picky Eating
The girls flipped when I made these mini chicken pot pies for them a few weeks ago. The lettering was purely by accident — I had leftover scraps of dough, so I rolled the trimmings into a little worm, then scripted initials and words out of it. It just so happened I was making chicken pot pies from leftover roast chicken but I imagine the technique would work on any recipe that requires a pie crust.
March 26th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Posts by Andy, Seafood
It didn’t take us long to figure out that, when it comes to rolling out a new product at the family table, so much depends upon the marketing campaign. I doubt our kids would have gone within a mile of cauliflower had we not first introduced it to them as “white broccoli.” They wouldn’t have sniffed brussels sprouts had we not sold them relentlessly as “baby lettuces.” Same goes for baked beans (“sweet beans”), bell peppers (“rainbow peppers”), dried cranberries (“red raisins”), and on and on. It’s the oldest trick in advertising and that’s not by accident.
Our latest venture in rebranding involved the kind of intimidating-sounding fish en papillote, which is just a fancy way of saying fish steamed in parchment paper. Neither description had a chance of flying with our kids. So we came up with something a little more intriguing. (Notice I did not say misleading.) Fish Presents, is what we decided on. Tonight we’re having fish presents! “Presents?” they asked. I gave them no further information.
The best thing about this meal is that you can chop everything ahead of time and then have the kids help you assemble and “wrap” the presents. So I sliced up 1 lemon and 1/2 a medium red onion, nice and thin, and 1 cup of shitake mushrooms. I boiled about 10 baby bok choy in salted water for two minutes, strained, and set aside. I poured 1/4 cup of olive oil into a small bowl and added a few red pepper flakes. Then the kids grabbed their stools, and we started the assembly line. Here’s how it goes:
March 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian
Last year during a routine physical check-up I told my doctor I was worried about my brain — I couldn’t remember anything anymore. I was telling the same stories to the same people. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t pull up the name of that Terence Stamp movie I talked about throughout the year 1999. I forgot it was Store Day in second grade…again.
My doctor asked me if I had ever forgotten to pick up my kids at the bus stop.
No, thank goodness.
Your brain is fine. You’re just not paying attention. When you forget something important, then come talk to me.
I’ve come up with strategies to combat the forgetfulness and noticed that I’m good at remembering things in threes. When I leave the house: Keys-Wallet-Phone. When I go to bed: Face-Teeth-Contacts. When I am the one in charge of school bag-packing: Lunch-Homework-Library Book.
And lately, to make a memorable salad? Fruit-Nut-Cheese. The combos below work when tossed with bibb, arugula, or mesclun and a simple vinaigrette. (You will also never hear me object to the addition of something in the onion family — snipped chives, scallions, or a finely chopped shallot). Bonus: These salads also provide an instantly Deconstructible Dinner for the kids.
Oh, and it was The Limey. The Terence Stamp movie was The Limey.
Threesome of Threesomes
1) Walnuts-Feta-Dried Cherries
Trader Joe’s sells the most delicious tart Montmorency cherries — for a much better price than the ones you get at Whole Foods.
2) Pecan-Pear-Blue Cheese
Try to buy candied pecans if you can. And if you have time, sautee the pear pieces briefly in butter.
3) Almonds-Manchego-Oranges (or even mandarins)
I prefer sliced almonds in salads. They integrate better with the leaves and have the most satisfyingly soft crunch.