Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Aptly Named Dish

We hosted Christmas dinner over at my house this year so now we have lots and lots of leftovers! Let me say for the record that this was the first time I've ever bought a spiral-sliced ham, and it was AWESOME! Serving it was as easy as falling off a log, and I've been throwing ham into just about everything we've eaten since. But Mike grows weary of the ham, so tonight I decided to use some of the leftover turkey in a dish I like to euphemistically call "Stuff on a Shingle."

Now, I know what you're thinking: "That's not what it's called!" Well, before you tweet about what a know-nothing idiot I am, remember that I'm selling this stuff to a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. What you call it is your own business. I call it Stuff on a Shingle.

It's your basic recipe: white sauce, turkey, some frozen peas, a little salt and pepper and that's it. I purposely made it bland. I had made a loaf of whole wheat bread in the bread machine earlier today, so I toasted up some slices and poured that lovely concoction on top. Brilliant! Add a salad and you have a meal...

...that nobody liked. Jack actually stabbed himself when his fork skidded off the hard crust of the toast!

Come on, it's not like it was battery acid or anything. Take a look:

Mmmm, I've never seen anything so tasty looking!

Another triumph!

I'm having it on a baked potato tomorrow for dinner while the kids eat hamburgers.

Stuff on a Shingle
2 T butter
3 T flour
2 c. milk
Salt and Pepper
2 c. chopped meat (turkey, ham, beef, pork, etc.)
1 c. frozen peas

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and mix it in until it forms a roux, a sort of paste. Cook this for about a minute, then add the milk a little at a time, whisking after each addition to avoid lumps. After all the milk has been added, continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper, then add the meat and peas. As the peas thaw the temperature of the sauce will reduce so that you don't burn the roof of your mouth with your first bite.

Serve on toast or a baked potato. Bask in the praise of another magnificent meal.

I've Met The Only Kid Who Hates American Chop Suey

Last night a bunch of little kids ate over at my house. Naturally, I decided to serve the slam-dunk meal for kids: American Chop Suey. Word on the street was that two of the kids hated onions, so Mike, who was acting as the evening's prep cook, puréed the crap out of them until they were undetectable in the final product. Yay, Mike! When it was served, four of the five kids lay into it like starving jackals.

But there was this one kid--let's call him Max--who absolutely hated it. He literally spat his first bite back into the bowl right there at the table! There were extenuating circumstances--his mom had just left him in his aunt's care for a few days--so we decided to coddle him just a little bit. I did something I'm not proud of but that I will lay odds that every mother has done at least once in her lifetime: I rinsed it off.

Now, this is not the first time I've ever rinsed off food to placate a kid who just can't stomach all those darn flavors. This summer I sprayed the seasonings off of a perfectly good macaroni salad. Here's the photographic proof:

Before: Macaroni Salad. Yum yum!

After: "I can't believe I'm doing this."

So, I rinse off the American Chop Suey, right? Then I set it before Max, who stares at it uncomprehendingly. I asked him, "Would you like some ketchup?" He answered yes, so out came the King's Condiment, which he proceeded to load into the bowl. Well, if you rinse tomato soup concentrate from the American Chop Suey then add ketchup, you've basically replicated the recipe. Which Max discovered with the first bite.

His aunt's no dummy, so she asked him, "Max, how old are you?"

"Seven," answered Max.

"Then take seven big-boy bites." Ooo, snap!

Max took seven of the lamest bites that could have been characterized as "big boy," then was mercifully excused from the table.

Guess you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Obtaining Buy-In

My idea to create dinner table harmony worked like a voodoo charm! Here's what went down.

On Sunday, I called a family meeting to discuss all of the stress that's been visiting our dinner table lately. I told everybody how depressing it was to try night after night to feed them a wide variety of nutritious dinners only to have them gag and retch at the very thought of putting it into their mouths. I equated what I create (dinner) to things that the boys create (artwork, LEGO sculptures, etc.), and asked them how they would feel if I didn't even want to look at their drawing/LEGO/whatever because I'm sure I didn't like it even though I'd never seen it before I just knew that I'd hate it. I think it sunk in a little bit when I explained it like that.

After working on the emotions, I gave everybody an assignment. I spread out the cooking magazines and kid cookbooks all over the dining room table. Then I told everyone to pick three dinners they like to eat. The only restriction was that it couldn't be pizza or macaroni and cheese. Since all of the publications feature full-color photos of the food it allowed everyone, even pre-reader Jack, the opportunity to have his say.

I gotta tell you, it worked. Not only did we come up with a comprehensive list of non-gagworthy dinners, that night Henry himself helped cook the lasagna he'd found in one of his cookbooks! But it couldn't be a Foley dinner without a twist ending: Jack declared at the table that he hates lasagna. Of course you do, Jack, that's why four hours ago you said how much you love it.

Here's what we came up with and our success rate so far:

I'm going to convene this family meeting once a month from now on. The results speak for themselves!