Wednesday, July 12, 2006


When I was younger, I thought that Kid Cuisines and going to McDonald's was top cuisine. I also loved "make your own dinner" night at our house, when Momma didn't feel like cooking. Bring on the ramen noodles!

When I became a mother, it was a cross between balanced food and convenience foods. Prepackaged this or that, like juiceboxes or fruit snacks. Whatever was portable was king.

After my second child was born I had a pretty set menu of meals in my repertoire, few of which required much cooking. Still a lot of prepackaged cooking.

Then came the Food Network, and I think it can be divided into 2 time frames. At first, it was exotic food that no one would want to eat, like Suid Ink ice cream a la Iron Chef, or meals that look pretty and the chef can make, but when you try it's a horrible flop.

The second time frame was more realistic food, easier to cook, with fewer ingredients that are unfamiliar to the average cook. Or else they just made us more familiar with seemingly odd ingredients. That carries on now.

I became more aware of the food we were eating and how we were expecting garbage to fuel our bodies. Juice boxes usually contain only a percentage of real juice. They are mostly sugar. Fruit snacks are glorified candy.

Just eat fruit. I tried to implement this after the birth of my second child, and she eats fruit more readily as a snack than her brother does. But she is more familiar with the concept of fruit as a snack than her brohter is. I got her brainwashed young, ha ha. Jonathan is more recalcitrant. He might eat the occasional apple or grapes and he claims to love bananas. But every day at 10 and 3 when the kids say they're hungry for a snack, I offer fruit and Katie pounces on it while Jonathan balks.

So food has been a journey lately. I have replaced white rice with brown and am currently phasing out white pasta for wheat pasta. It has a nice flavor.

I frequently go looking for vegetarian recipes to introduce us to new vegetables and to show the kids that you don't have to eat meat every night.

I also feed the kids 30 minutes later on "new food" nights. Hunger makes anything taste good.

I made tacos recently and I cooked up some firm tofu with the taco meat. Everyone ate them, no one noticed anyting, but still my husband gagged when I told him about the tofu. I was hesitant myself to try tofu. It just seems synonymous with the word "yuck." When raw, it does smell like stinky feet, but the flavor is, well it has no flavor. It truly does taste like whatever you cook it with. I tried it raw and cooked. But it wasn't bad, it caused no digestive ills either, and so I will probably try it again in another dish.

I am not saying we can't eat some good old fashioned crap every once in a while. I get the urge to hit the drive through, or to eat a donut, mmm refined flour and sugar and no nutritive value whatsoever. The kids also come grocery shopping with me and get to pick out their own snacks, subject to approval. Right now they like YoGos, and I think letting them eat a little bit of measured-out junk food will make it seem less like taboo or forbidden fruit.

This food odyssey has caused no small amount of ill will from my friend Cynthia. She threatens me with reports to CPS. My poor kids, she says, having to eat the slop I feed them. Well tonight's dinner would have set her off. The reason I even made the recipe is because I could not say the name of the recipe without laughing.

Brown rice, Broccoli and Walnut Surprise. It reminds me of cafeteria food, where the word "surprise" would be randomly tacked on to jazz up the menu. I decided to make it to see if it was any good.

Fresh broccoli, steamed in my new steamer basket, brown rice, baked in the oven to prevent scorching since it takes so long to cook, and walnuts, 1/2 cup, toasted in the microwave. A few herbs & spices, top with cheese, and yum, a simple savory meal. Katie had 3rds, and Jonathan currently is still working on his broccoli. Sigh. He looked me straight in the face when I was dishing up and informed me that he would not be eating the broccoli. This is fresh broccoli, steamed, nice and tender-crisp, not soggy, and he has maybe 8 bite-sized florets. No tree trunks or anything. Give me a break.

I need to close for now, but one more thing: my own mom says I am cruel to make my family eat lima beans. This from the woman who made my brother eat a whole can of peas because he said he wouldn't eat them, or didn't like them, or something. I remember Ernie scooping spoonfuls in his mouth and swallowing them whole like pills, with a big glass of water. He didn't like the mush.

Anyway. That's it for now, about food.

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