Tag Archives: cooking

I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me. (alternate title: photo of the week)

I call this photo: “I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me.”

Yes, he has THREE pacifiers in his mouth.

This was a failed attempt at going sans high chair.  He took one look at his plate, hopped up to get his pacifiers, then staged this little sit in. Of course, it was so cute that I couldn’t be too upset.  (His mama is a softie, after all!)

Two additional notes:

(1) We are back in the high chair now.  No more hopping up to get pacifiers at dinner.

and

(2) This is with ham, mashed potatoes, and bananas in front of him…all things he will supposedly tolerate.  You should have seen what happened when I added a green vegetable to his plate!

Love you, T.  Even when you spew half chewed peas onto my dinner : )

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Some-kind-of-unidentifiable-soup for the soul

Another post I wrote a few weeks ago and never published…

I mentioned recently that S has a new fascination with cooking.  It manifests itself in a variety of ways.  Here she is helping me puree food for T.

In this photo, she’s peeling the leaves off cauliflower.

I do the primary cutting (i.e. I slice the squash and zucchini into medallions), and she uses her plastic knife to cut the medallions in half before I steam them.  She also uses a plastic knife to cut cooked carrots.  No, her cutting is not necessary to the process of making pureed food.  But it is absolutely necessary to the more important processes of (1) encouraging her current area of interest –  cooking, (2) contributing to the family in a way that makes her feel proud – you should see her showing T all the food she’s helped make for him, and (3) creating what I consider to be “quality time” in the kitchen…chatting while we both chop vegetables.  I’d love to still have her – or any of the kids – asking to work in there with me in 10 years.

My girl is mighty proud in this picture, and I am proud of her. These are some of our most fun days together. She likes pushing the buttons on the blender too.

As a side note, T is almost 2 and I should have him eating regular veggies now, instead of pureed.  We do encourage that.  He gets offered regular veggies at every meal.  But he doesn’t eat many, and he will take his morning oatmeal with all those veggies you see on the counter blended in.  I mean the kid goes through a bag of brussel sprouts, a head of cauliflower, a bunch of broccoli, etc. every month. Honestly, I wish I could get myself or the rest of the family to eat that much good stuff!  Still, I know we need to get him to eat a real green bean at some point (or even a pea or corn niblet, for goodness sake…) Any advice is greatly appreciated…

S also helps me make bread (which her dad loves…she is so proud to tell him on the days we make it).  And on days when there is no cooking to help with, she often asks if she can make us soup and salad for dinner.  She picks “salad” (grass!) out of the yard, washes and spins it in the salad spinner, and puts it aside as dad’s “late night” snack (i.e. he tosses the grass back out into the yard after everyone is asleep, and then of course wakes up raving about how yummy everything was…did I marry the right guy or what?!).

The soup she makes is basically water and anything else I have lying around the kitchen that she can get creative with (I let her put water into a big tupperware, and she adds a few scoops of flour, tears the heel of our bread into the bowl, adds a random fruit or veggie that has gotten over-ripe, puts in the unused parts of foods we’ve had that day (i.e. the green tops of strawberries) and dumps any breakfast leftovers in (whatever eggs E left on her plate and whatever cheerios T didn’t eat).

Check out the disgusting (but creative!) finished product, (which dad chucks into the yard discretely, along with the salad, after all the kids have gone to bed).

Oh wait… the soup is not the finished product…  this smile is what we’ve really been working on all morning…  check out my girl, so happy with her soup…

E loves the kitchen too, and is extremely eager to participate in the veggie chopping, etc.  (i.e. she is absolutely part of the fun!)  But S is currently the one who – when given free choice, anything you want with mom time – will ask to plant a garden, chop veggies, make soup, and pick salad.  (It actually started in our “school” time, where she would ignore every other activity in favor of the bowl of measuring items that she was allowed to take to the bathroom sink…she would play for half-an-hour with a few measuring cups, some funnels, an eyedropper, a set of measuring spoons and a baster.)

And for those who are curious, no…NONE of this has made her more interested in eating anything.  She is just as picky as ever.  In fact, although she is very interested in making dinner for everyone else, her absolute favorite treat – the one thing she asks for repeatedly – is to eat out, even though we do that maybe one time (Chick-Fil-A kids night!) during a regular month.  My goodness, she was on cloud 9 when Nana visited last week and took her out on several lunch dates and treated us to some fun dinners.  (And she comes by it honest…I was on cloud 9 too…thanks, Nana!)

(update: since I wrote this Grammy and Grandpa have also visited and treated all of us to some fun meals…so thank you too, Grammy and Grandpa!  More on that visit soon!)

This post has gotten longer than I expected, but there you have one additional thing we were doing last month…making lots and lots of inedible salad and soup!

Updates and photos from last month (part 1!)

So I’ve been AWOL (life has been busy!) and have been promising an update…

Here’s the short version: we’ve been having fun, which has involved a spring break “staycation”, a week recovering from that staycation (hello, laundry), a wonderful Easter, and then a great visit from Nana!

And here’s the longer version: updates and photos from our last month (part 1)…

Each girl got to pick one special “must do” for the week of spring break.  To my surprise (why did I think they would stay in my comfort zone?) E picked “make a dress for our dolls” and S picked “plant a garden”.  Holy moly.  I have no experience in either of those things.  (It did make me glad I asked however, since there is no way I would have put either one on a list of plans, and obviously they are unexplored areas of interest!)  Anyway, here we are at the fabric store…

fuzzy cell phone photo

After a “looking loop” around the store, each girl was allowed to pick out one yard of any fabric they wanted, and one foot of any ribbon they wanted.  E & S surprised me by both selecting the same fabric and ribbons.  (They wanted their dolls to match, I guess!)  T got a piece of fabric with cars on it that I hoped would become his new lovey, but alas that role was filled by the racecar and Toby train the Easter Bunny brought him.  Not conducive to sleeping – rolling over onto those loveys (especially Toby, who says “full steam ahead!” everytime T bumps him in the crib).  Oh well.  He loves them!

Anyway, here’s the dolls in their dresses.  Since I don’t know how to sew, these are more like glittery sackcloths, but they made the girls happy!

E said, “Her dress looks a little like a bathrobe, but I like it!”

Thanks to Nana who did an actual sewing lesson with the girls when she visited a few weeks after this (with a real sewing machine).  I keep a few cloths around the house for various things, and one now has random, festive stitches all over it.  An easy way to have the kids feel like they were “really sewing important things” (at least until the machine stopped working…anyone have a spare manual for a JC Penney sewing machine purchased in the mid 1980s?)  Here’s one of my new decorative cloths below.

Just look at that stitching! She’s a natural, I say! : )

We’re hoping to complete the set after (1) we figure out what’s going on with the sewing machine, and (2) Nana comes back to teach me how to thread and use it.

S’ project was the garden.  I am not a gardener, but we headed over to Home Depot (with their optimistic “You can do it.  We can help.” motto).  S & E picked out three things to plant (1) marigolds: the only flowers the deer won’t eat, (2) carrots: the only vegetable S will eat, and (3) basil: because the man who helped us said there was almost no way I could mess it up.

After hours and hours of shoveling, weeding, removing rocks, adding topsoil, planting, and lots of muddy shoes and jeans piling up on the porch, we have the smallest garden ever.  It is impressive only to me and the children.  (I promise, we truly have spent countless hours on it, but it is really only a 4 x 6 patch of ground with 12 flowers and some tiny sprouts that are either carrots or weeds…I honestly don’t know how to tell them apart, so I have no idea if I’m weeding, or ruining our only crop.  I am not kidding about this.)

The two big rocks on the left that we used to mark the rows of carrots and basil kind of look like gravemarkers for our struggling-to-survive garden. Seriously, is anything going to grow in that red clay? We added two huge bags of topsoil, but honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

And in the interest of internet input, can someone please click on this photo to enlarge it and tell me if any of the green things sticking out of the ground look like the beginning of a carrot-top?

OK, so if you can fight the impulse to tell me we should have added more topsoil and removed more rocks (I promise, we were removing rocks for hours…), tell me instead which of these green leaves is a carrot sprouting, and which is a weed. Carrot at the top of the photo? Weed at the bottom? All weeds? Egads. I think I’m going to go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of fully grown carrots and plant them one night after the kids go to bed and then take everybody outside to harvest them the next morning. In case you think I’m kidding with this plan, I have already done my research. Apparently, they sell carrots at Whole Foods that still have the green leafy parts on top. Score!

Anyway, the kids love watering the flowers; it has been a fun adventure, and I give us an “A” for effort.  My grandma J, who – God rest her soul – (1) won all sorts of yard and neighborhood beautification awards, (2) was in charge of all the flowers for our church for decades and (3) grew the rose petals that lined the aisle of my wedding, would applaud our efforts too.  She would appreciate that at this stage of life, we are certainly process (as opposed to product) oriented!

My grandmother would also likely laugh at the fact that the flowers we are trying to grow are in a battle to survive, while the part of our yard that received no TLC and is “supposed” to be grassy is covered in the most lush display of flowery “weeds” you can imagine.  I mean, check out the photo below.

Yes, I love them. But honestly, “My kingdom for a carrot!”

The brick wall marks the property line between our house and the neighbors.  It’s like the weeds magically stop there (much to the delight of the girls, and to the dismay of my husband).

It is uncanny. I will say that these flowers provide hours of entertainment for the children, because they are determined that none of them be chopped by the lawn mower. Every time my husband says he’s going to mow the lawn, they sprint outside to pick all the flowers and cover my kitchen in bouquets. I will miss this stage so much when they grow out of it…sigh…at least then I will know that I really did try to enjoy it all in the moment.  Bring on the bouquets, girls!

Finally, since I mentioned the racecar and train that appeared in T’s Easter basket, let me include a few photos of the holiday.  We tried to capture the meaning of the season – telling the kids an age-appropriate version of the crucifixion and resurrection (when S heard Jesus died and came back to life, she said, “Hmm.  I think that’s what I’ll do too”, then let out that little breath that almost made it sound like “Well then, that’s one less thing to worry about.  What’s for dinner?”  It was a good opportunity to tell her we can all come back to life, and live forever in heaven.  (Happy belated Easter, everyone!)

Then there were the secular celebrations.  Here we are dyeing Easter eggs

T got a plastic egg and a cup of water, and was absolutely a part of it at the age of 1!

I know you can see the plastic egg in the photo…can you also see the clear plastic cup of water he dunked this egg into for half an hour? He kept yelling out random colors while he did it, mimicking the words his sisters were saying as they dyed their eggs. I remember taking this photo. He shoved the egg right at the camera and yelled “purple!” So we have the spirit of the activity covered…we’ll work on colors next year : )

S at our church egg hunt

Hunting eggs in our house Easter morning

E & S hunting eggs on Easter morning. Note that it is still pitch black outside the windows. The kids were so excited that they woke up insanely early. Also…note to self: ask the Easter Bunny to make a quick list of where the eggs are hidden. There was one we couldn’t find for a few days, and of course it was one of the real, hard boiled eggs. Fortunately, we did find it before the smell found us! I was like Kirk in that episode of Gilmore Girls, looking for the egg…anyone else remember that episode?!

We also enjoyed spending part of the weekend with cousins and the other part with friends.  Beautiful company, beautiful weather, beautiful time.  Love all y’all!

In the “less than beautiful” category…My deviled eggs didn’t turn out exactly right…

I had promised deviled eggs, then learned that I couldn’t use the boiled Easter eggs that were hidden overnight at room temperature (health risk, apparently), so I only had the two eggs left in the fridge to work with. Me in the kitchen + no spare ingredients = no room for error/recipe for disaster. My mother-in-law gave me this awesome tray to hold deviled eggs in, and I am embarrassed to say that these eggs were so misshapen they wouldn’t even fit in the tray. Oh well. This is why no one complains when I bring pre-packaged cookies to potluck gatherings.

Between the flowers and the eggs, my grandmother would finally have to admit that I inherited absolutely none of her talents…but my admiration for those talents is ever increasing grandma!  This gardening and cooking is tricky stuff!

More updates on S’ new obsession with cooking in the next post…  Here’s hoping she has inherited my grandma’s skill as well as her interest, and that she can take over the kitchen soon!  S is actually so into cooking right now that I’m thinking of arranging an apprenticeship with my Mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook and maybe planning to visit soon.  Are you up for it Grammy?!

I’ll leave you with a photo of the laundry that accumulated while we were doing all this other stuff.  The laundry problem was exacerbated by the fact that the week after spring break was unseasonably cold, which meant I could just shove all the dirty warm weather stuff deeper into the hamper and pull out all the winter things I had just put away.  End result?  Well, check out laundry day…

There are no people in the photo because we were all basically walking around in towels by this point.

My husband, never one to complain, actually looked at the growing pile shortly after spring break, sighed, and went out and bought himself new boxers.  True story.

(And lest that be misinterpreted, know that he is actually great about helping out with the laundry and everything else around the house, but in his infinite marital wisdom realized that buying a few new boxers was probably the best investment in overall domestic contentment.  And his wife says, “amen to that”.  I don’t need a six-week retreat in Fiji.  But occasionally, I do need a week of blissfully ignoring the laundry : )

So that’s part I of our update…to be continued with part II later.  Hope everyone else is enjoying spring too!

Happy Chinese New Year, indeed

E’s class celebrated the Chinese New Year recently by learning about Chinese culture and eating a Chinese lunch.   Dessert was a fortune cookie for each child.

So tell me…

…if your oldest (and one of the beneficiaries on your life insurance policy) came home with this fortune in her backpack, wouldn’t you be just the slightest bit disturbed?

In case you have trouble seeing the image, it says "You will inherit a large sum of money" and has creepy smiley faces on it.

(At first I was comforted by the fact that we don’t actually have “a large sum of money” for her to inherit, but then I remembered about the life insurance and was reminded that to E, “a large sum of money” is anything more than a penny.  Ah, the joys of being 5 and alive.)

Happy Chinese New Year, indeed.

The world through the eyes (and in the words) of S

S, who is used to seeing spinach salad, today looked at a head of iceberg lettuce that her grandpa was using to garnish his sandwich and said, “Look.  It’s a ball of salad.”

I do love the way that kid sees the world.

Hypothetical Himalayas

So let’s say, hypothetically, that while trying to cook dinner last week I accidentally turned on the front right burner (instead of the burner that held our meal).

And let’s say that during the 10 minutes it took me to realize my mistake, that front right burner heated a dirty breakfast pan (that might have been sitting there for 10+ hours…what’s your point?…anyway…as I was saying…) that (hypothetical) front right burner heated a dirty breakfast pan and cooked the plastic spatula sitting in it.

Now let’s imagine that the spatula melted . . . covering my wonderful, used-everyday, dishwasher-safe, non-stick, very large, wedding-gift-much-nicer-than-we-would-buy-for-ourselves, fabulous frying pan in melty, spatula plastic.

Now let’s imagine (without judgment) that I reflexively took the pan and ran it under cold water, making the melty plastic solidify into a miniature replica of the Himalayas on my pan.

Does anyone know how I would get the now hard plastic off the pan without ruining its non-stick or dishwasher-safe (i.e. won’t rust) nature?

In case you were planning to suggest, “just ignore the Himalayan replica and cook in the pan as usual”, I already tried that.  It doesn’t work, since tiny bits of the plastic miniature mountain range erode into the food as I’m cooking (and after converting all of our sippy cups to BPA free models last year, I can’t quite bring myself to feed the children eggs laced with melted plastic…call me over-protective.)

Thoughts?

Or did my Christmas list just condense itself into three words: “new frying pan”?