Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinner Psychology 101

One of my favorite uses for leftover roasts is hash. But when I tried to get the kids to eat it they just turned their noses up at it. Maybe they didn't like the sound of it: Haaaaaasssssshhhhh. The word itself conjures up images of a mixed up mess, a naughty body noise, a melange of leftovers and nameless flavors forced upon little kids that defies description because it's different every time it's made.

So what's a marketer to do? Put a new spin on it of course.

"Hey, kids, tonight we're having Roast Beef Scramble!"


Originally it was going to be Ham Scramble, but I'd mislabled some meat in the freezer so roast beef it was. Good thing, too, because Henry reaffirmed his hatred of all things ham after nibbling on a bit of it as a before-dinner snack.

In addition to my hash coup, I also got them on board with the green beans using a tip I learned from the new Gastrokid cook book. Instead of just roasting the beans myself, which is waaay different from my usual steaming method and which results in icky (to a kid) brown spots on the beans, I enlisted their help in drying the beans off thoroughly to avoid steaming the beans rather than roasting them. They took turns pouring olive oil on the beans, then Henry swirled them around in the roasting pan to coat them. After Jack administered a quick sprinkling of salt, I popped them in the oven. When Jack balked at eating the beans later at dinner, I reminded him of how much he helped and that he should at least give them a try. He declared them "great."

So, two negatives turned into a positive at one meal. Plus they ate everything up. Score one for Mom!

Roast Beef Scramble
1 onion, diced
6 small red potatoes, diced
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 t garlic powder
2 c cooked roast beef, diced

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onion and potatoes. Cover the pan so that the potatoes steam. Every once in a while stir everything up, but not too often because you want to build up the brown cooked spots on the potatoes and onions.

When the potatoes are soft, sprinkle the garlic powder over everything, add the beef, and mix well. Keep the pan on the stove until the meat is heated through. Serve with the king's condiment, ketchup.

Roasted Green Beans
1-2 lbs. green beans
olive oil
fresh lime or lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 400°. Trim, wash, and thoroughly dry the green beans. Dump them into a shallow roasting pan or cookie sheet large enough to hold the beans in one layer. Pour enough olive oil over the beans to cover them and include a little extra to keep the beans from sticking to the pan. With your hands, turn the beans over and over until they're coated with oil, then spread them out in a single layer. Sprinkle salt over the beans, then roast for about 18 minutes, checking on them periodically and shaking the pan. They're done when they've started to become slightly brownish. Serve with lemon or lime wedges on the side so that everyone can control how much juice they get. It'd be a pity to ruin all that preparation with somebody complaining about the taste of the lemon/lime juice. Pick your battles.

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