Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Minor Miracle

While I have no pictures to accompany this, I had to post about it, because it’s just such a thrill to me. I had to share.

First I must start with a basic, albeit rather embarrassing fact: my children do not eat What Mom and Dad Are Eating. Or rather, they didn’t (but I’m getting to that).

When my oldest was a baby, I made a conscious decision. Alex and I both worked 45 minutes from our home (or more, depending on the traffic). Although we left work at 5 each day, we didn’t get home until around 6, which meant I had to choose: feed the baby “our” dinner, which might take as much as an hour to cook, or feed him something “fast” (read: frozen and microwaved) and get him into bed at a reasonable hour. It’s to be noted that we had (and still have) an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kinda kid. By 7 p.m. he was spent and ready for sleep. I felt that forcing him to eat then would be Just Plain Wrong.

Thus it was that my child (and his subsequent siblings) embarked on a diet of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and frozen pizza. What they lost on the nutrition front they made up for on the well-rested front. Parenting is about making choices.

Flash forward six years. Add to the image three more children, a commute that now involves a ferry ride (making for a very reliably-timed arrival home), and two parents who are tired of eating at 9 p.m. or later. Also, consider that over the past couple of weeks the two middle children have been coming downstairs for one reason or another after they’ve been tucked in and putting away the remains of what Mommy and Daddy ate very happily, including a chicken breast with anchovies and capers. Bells and alarms went off in my head quite loudly. This. Would. Change.

Yesterday was what I was calling the Dawn of a New Era in our household. My pediatrician told me awhile ago that by school age, children should be able to eat with the family and eat what the family eats (meaning, there’s no need to fret about undiscovered food allergies, or be excessively concerned about things like choking hazards). I have a good friend who is driven batty by my descriptions of what we had for dinner, and my comment that, Lord no the children did eat that; are you kidding me? The combination of the doctor, my friend, the willing consumption of seemingly non-kid food by half my children, and my own impatience with the situation all contrived to push me into this New Era.

As of last night, my children will eat what we eat. Sure, sure, I may modify it for them—the broccoli we’re having tonight will be steamed plain for them, while the plan is to snazz it up for us with things like soy sauce—but the general rule is: one meal for all. The oldest begins first grade tomorrow, so the time is right.

And last night was pretty successful. I sautéed chicken breasts in oil and a little butter, then made a pan sauce with some chicken broth, Dijon mustard, and a splash of heavy cream. I roasted potatoes in the oven, and glazed carrots for the grownups. The kids got raw carrots to dip in the dip of their choice, with the participants being evenly divided into the ketchup camp and the blue cheese dressing camp. Everyone tried what was new and weird, ate carrots and apples, and made pretty good inroads into the weird stuff.

Good times.

I am now planning meals with my kids in mind, which means nothing that requires two hours to cook on a weeknight, and looking for things that can be modified if necessary. Tonight we’re having roasted pork tenderloin with Asian flavors (said flavors have yet to be identified, but I predict hoisin sauce will play a significant role in the preparation), the aforementioned broccoli, and rice. Only the pork will be labeled as “weird” by my kids. Rice and broccoli are big favorites. We shall see how this goes.

And so, because I can’t leave you with no recipe at all, here’s the carrot recipe I used. Sorry there’s no picture.

Glazed Carrots
from Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d’Arabian

½ cup water
½ cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ lb carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into rounds
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Chopped parsley to garnish

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium skillet (water through cumin). Stir, and allow to come to a boil. Add in carrots, stir to coat, and cover pan. Allow carrots to steam, about 5 minutes or until tender. The original recipe says to reduce the sauce to a glaze with the carrots in it, but I thought they might get overdone, so I removed them to a bowl with a slotted spoon, cooked down the glaze, and returned them to the pan, stirring to coat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, add lemon juice and stir. Garnish with chopped parsley.


fast cooker said...

Do you think the parsley is necessary for this recipe?

TD said...

Probably not. Full disclosure: I was so busy getting my kids' plates served, I didn't put it on :) And I can assure you it tasted just fine without. It's more aesthetic than anything. I think you can safely skip it.