Split Screen Dinners

From the Mail Bag! Reader Robin writes:

I don’t know if you get tired of people telling you stories about your site, but I had to share this one with you:

I made the Belgian Beef Stew tonight.  As I was finishing it up the girls came in to the kitchen and were grumbling things like,  “GROSS…I AM NOT GOING TO EAT THAT! That looks disgusting! Why didn’t you ask me what I wanted for dinner?” etc, etc.

So I said, “I actually made this dinner because the woman that wrote the recipe made it for her 7 & 8 year old daughters. And they loved it. There is a grown-up version and a kid’s version.  I showed them the picture of the two plates from your post.

It worked like a charm. We happily all ate dinner without one complaint!

Couple things about this one. For starters, I never ever ever ever get tired of people telling me stories like this! Ever! So please send yours. Next, it reminded me of my friend Sue telling me a while back how much comfort she got from seeing our dinner plates laid out split-screen style, which is to say, laid out truthfully. Lastly, it reminded the old point-and-cook strategy — showing kids what a new meal is going to look like before springing it on them — and how most of the time it really works. So follow Robin’s lead and show them the beef stew — or this one, a super simple pot roasty number that is just right for a winter weekend.

Pot Roast
When braising this particular cut, it’s better to use a smaller pot than a Dutch Oven, so the meat is more fully immersed in the liquid.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom pan, brown a 2-pound beef bottom roast in olive oil and one pat of butter on all sides. Add 1 onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (smashed), 1 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup chopped celery, a handful of mushrooms 1/2 bottle of red wine, salt and pepper. Cover and place in a 350°F oven for about 3 hours, flipping every hour or so. Remove meat from liquid and slice as shown. Spoon sauce and vegetables on top.

We served with roast potatoes and a basic green salad. But the girls only wanted the tomatoes. And, we called it “steak” instead of pot roast.

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I love this idea. But i don’t need help with getting the kids to eat beef. It’s the salad part that seems hopeless.


I long for the rationality that split-screen eaters offer. Can you offer any tips to the toddler-feeding crowd? My current approach is to offer yogurt as a condiment at almost every dinner, and even so, sometimes it’s dry cereal that wins out (fortunately fortified with all kinds of non-food nutrients!).


I made this pot roast over the weekend. Yum! My husband was transported to the Sunday dinners of his childhood, and my 13 year old son said, “Let me tell you one thing. You WILL make this again.”


this roast is so good! i tossed in about double the mushrooms, but otherwise didn’t change a thing. the whole family, and our dinner guests, loved it! may have to serve this on new years eve.