Yesterday I started a new mini-series, I guess you’d call it, here on the blog — I posted one of our family’s “greatest hits” recipes (Frog Slime Meatballs — don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), along with a recipe for something new-ish in our repertoire that looks as if it might become a standby favorite over time (Cinnamon Fruit Chips). In a timely twist of fate, I also got a request from a reader yesterday afternoon; she’d seen me discussing another recipe of ours on somebody else’s Facebook page, and wanted to know if I’d share. Top it all off with a new and genius 11th-hour inspiration for last night’s dessert, and without even trying, here I sit, armed with the recipes for a second day of greatest hits both old and new. Oh! And last night was also the second night in a row of lunchboxes being DONE prior to 8:30 p.m (so it was 8:29. So what? Still counts). I might actually be getting sort of good at this.
“Good,” of course, comes with some caveats, such as my confession that regardless of all the planning, there’s always some sort of menu failure — last night, it was P.’s refusal to eat a single bite of anything he was served, because he was too busy drowning his dinner with water from the open-mouthed cup he insists on having at the table. Water intently poured onto plate, washing out bites of turkey burger, whole-wheat bun, and potato salad; contents summarily removed in fistfuls, squeezed, examined, and archived somewhere in his lap and the surrounding seat of his chair for future generations to explore; water on plate studiously dumped into his lap, from whence it created an apparently fascinating falls effect, saturating his legs, shoes, and the carpet beneath him. Mommy, of course, sat torn between her zen-like inner repetitions of “it’s age-appropriate, it’s sensory exploration” and her desire to run screaming from the table like a lunatic, tortured by visions of what clean-up time would be like after this little science lesson. Sigh. But he’s teething, I think. And he’s 16 months old. And he’s terminally curious. So the sodden child, out of ammunition and tired of exploring, was removed from his chair and unleashed on the rest of the house while we finished our dinners. No harm done.
L., on the other hand, enjoyed his dinner for a full 45 minutes — he’s a relatively poky eater anyway, though a prodigious one, and the combination of those two things can mean that his mealtime drags on for what feels like days. The alternative is that we end up allowing him to have two chances at the food on his plate, because he wants to get down and play after 20 minutes at the table, but he hasn’t really managed to have enough to eat. I’ve also noticed that his pokiness, as well as his overall pickiness, get worse at times when he seems to either be bothered by the allergies I’ve long suspected in him (prolonged August and April sniffles each year, like clockwork — and here they come, right in line with the ragweed), or is about to make some major developmental leap. Since he’s both sniffling and itching his nose, and spontaneously coming out with complex rhyming games and sounding out the beginnings of words, I guess our food travails right now are just about right.
With these waxings and wanings of L.’s enthusiasm for food come some typically 4-year-old-ish behaviors, such as reflexively saying “no” to anything new, no matter what it is. Last night he capped off the marathon eating of the turkey burger (though he did nearly finish it, finally) with an adamant refusal of — FOR PETE’S SAKE — dessert. Of all things. But it was a new dessert. And it looked like maybe it might be slimy, I guess, because it had peach sauce on it. And he didn’t know what it was, so no matter what I said, he wasn’t buying what Mommy was selling last night. Sniffle. Sniffle. Itch nose. “H-O-E-E-E-E spells horse,” he proclaimed (L. often makes up the spellings of words, but he’s suddenly getting good at figuring out at least the first letter). This from the kid who, only the night before, was taste-testing various items to choose the contents of his lunchbox. Ah, child development, how you fascinate and thwart me.
The dessert, however, was a roaring success with J. and myself, and since it’s not too heinously dessert-y, J. slipped a little taste to P. when he woke up ravenous (surprise!) this morning and was too cranky to wait for his Cheerios without some other form of sustenance. P. approved wholeheartedly as well. L. did agree to let me put a slice in his lunchbox before he went to bed, so we’ll see if he touches it today, or if he’s going to talk himself out of it. “It,” by the way, is a Quick Ginger-Peach Upside Down cake. My atonement for the green cookies, which not even P. would touch now that they look so awful.
And speaking of green cookies. Sort of. I mentioned at the top of this post that someone had asked for a recipe — it happens to be the recipe for veggie nuggets, a concoction I whip up every couple of weeks and pop into the kids’ lunchboxes. L., true to form, sometimes eats them, and sometimes doesn’t. P., on the other hand, eats them, and would actually eat them to the exclusion of all other foods on earth if allowed. I once witnessed him eating six of them straight off the baking sheet. They may have to go on the menu for next week, now that I’ve been reminded of them — it has been a while. But anyway, they’re green, and they’re round, so they’re vaguely reminiscent of cookies, I guess — by which I mean, please pardon the rough segue I used to get here.
And finally. A word about direction. This blog is taking shape, sort of. As I’m in the midst of this mini-series on greatest hits, I’m inspired to continue by feedback from readers — most of which, oddly enough, comes through other message boards, Facebook pages, email, and the like. But I think a blog like this is most useful when it responds occasionally to the desires of its readers. So if there are foods you struggle with feeding your own children (or yourself), if you’re bored and looking for new ways to cook things, or if you have thoughts/ questions/concerns about Just Getting Everyone Fed, please feel free to post those in the Comments section, and I’ll happily address what I can. As a former co-worker of mine was fond of saying, “We’re all swimming in the soup together.” It might as well taste good.