Do As We Say, Not As We Eat

April 1st, 2013 · 13 Comments · Baking and Sweets

We wish we could tell you we raised our kids to think of dessert the way one is supposed to think of dessert: as a “treat” in the true definition of the word; as something you get rarely, if you’re lucky; as part of a celebration – say, an ice cream cone after a hard-fought soccer game, a slice of cake at a birthday party, or some cookies, dipped in milk, on a Friday night. But the sad truth is, our kids consider dessert – like water, shelter, allowance — their birthright. It’s gotten to the point where Phoebe, will finish her dinner, rise from her chair, and begin plunking packages down on the table: Dark chocolate peanut butter cups, a box of shortbread cookies, a bowl of leftover Easter or Halloween or Christmas candy. The question she asks is not: “Can I have dessert?” It’s: “How many can I have tonight?”

We tell ourselves we’re only partly to blame. Back when the girls were toddlers and we were mired in an extended picky eating phase, we had no choice but to ignore all the expert advice and go primal. We were desperate, don’t you see, forced to leverage dinner with something sweet – If you don’t eat that chicken, no dessert tonight. If we’re honest, though, the more likely root of the problem is the fact that we, the supposed grown-ups, are chronic violators of the cardinal rule of parenting: Do as I do, not as I say. The only reason the kids think it’s normal to celebrate “No Cavities!” with a bowl of pudding or finish lunch with a chocolate chip cookie is because we — the Providers, the champions of kale, quinoa and omega-three-rich fish — are guilty of the exact same behavior.

We want to stop eating so much dessert, but those chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joes are so good. You know the ones with the fleur de sel? We would stop, if we could. And these slice-and-bake oatmeal raisin cookies are our first attempt to establish some limits. The idea is to control the portion size on the front end — to slice and bake only as many cookies as there are mouths to feed – then into the toaster oven they go. As soon as dinner is over, four cookies are warm and ready to be savored with a cold glass of milk. Or crumbled atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But that’s all. We swear.

This is our Provider’s column for the April issue of Bon Appetit. Head over to their site for the Slice-and-bake Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie recipe. Photo by Brian W. Ferry for Bon Appetit.

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My Life as a Man

June 3rd, 2011 · 37 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Domestic Affairs, Posts by Andy

It was late Saturday morning, Memorial Day weekend, and we were at all home, puttering. The kids were upstairs doing their thing, and Jenny was at the kitchen table, her face buried in her MacBook. I opened the refrigerator, and then the freezer.

“We have any butter?” I asked.

Jenny looked up. “Why?”

“I think I’m gonna make some snickerdoodles with the girls,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” she said.

“Why?”

“You can’t make snickerdoodles,” she said. She actually looked serious about this. ”And you definitely can’t write about it.”

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Snickerdoodles?” God, just the way she pronounced the word: chilling. “I just can’t let you do that. Too emasculating.”

I’m not going to get too deep into the subtext here, or any latent impressions Jenny may or may not have about men who bake — let alone bake snickerdoodles – but let’s just say it felt a little like the person I love very much and with whom I have had two children, was calling my sh#t out. Like, seriously? A guy wants to do something fun with the kids on a sleepy Saturday morning, and he gets hazed by his wife? The thing is, there’s a lot you do as a parent — or, okay, as a father of two daughters — that carries an unmistakable whiff of the surrender-monkey to it. Printing out and memorizing the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s new single: that would definitely be one of those things. Enduring Ryan Seacrest in silence: yup. Nursing a lifelong grudge against musical theater and yet pretending, without complaint, to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music when it is called for*. Getting a (small, cute) dog and naming it Iris. Applying toenail polish (no smudges!) in rainbow colors on one tiny foot, and then doing the other tiny foot in the opposite color progression. Over the past several years, I’ve done all those things and so, so much worse and — apologies in advance to all the bros out there who may be reading this — the truth is, I never really gave any of it a second thought. Don’t you kind of check your manly bona fides at the door when you have kids? I mean, isn’t that part of the point?

Given all this, was making a batch of cookies so bad?

“Yeah, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think I can be married to a guy who makes snickerdoodles.”

She is now married to a guy who makes snickerdoodles. (more…)

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