Thursday, February 7, 2013


Hey at least she's drawing fruit...
I think I'd like one of the sparkly avocado looking thingies that are second from the right. Too bad it costs $20. I'm trying to figure out what the pricing means--is it that she assumes that fruit is expensive since I push it so hard (as in don't waste that fruit because it cost me a mint)? Or is it just an acknowledgement that these look like some very rare fruits?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The lastest vegetable that my kids are willing to eat is plain, raw baby spinach. Nothing on it and god forbid that they have to eat cooked spinach, or that it get the least bit limp around the edges but I can get them to nibble their way through a decent sized bowl of the (fresh) stuff. Turns out that theory of iceberg being a "gateway" lettuce was not bad.

That is all.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mixed results...

I still don't have a long-term solution to the now-not-monthly Everyday Food magazine cooking project.  I tried a few other cooking magazines but either the format or the recipe type didn't click with the kids (or with me). But since the last two monthly issues of Everyday Food were "seasonal" it meant there wasn't much that interested the kids since they weren't responsible for pulling off Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. With those two issues a wash and no sense of when the next issue will come out, I decided to check out some old issues from the library (and I've requested the Everyday Food cookbook from the library which might prove a longer term solution).

Last night the girl critter led in making two recipes from the March 2012 issue: Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage and Maple-Oatmeal Cookies (and I made a salad).

The cooking went smoothly enough, but the eating wasn't so smooth. I thought the finished pasta dish was pretty good. It had minced anchovies and lots of lemon zest in the sauce which definitely upped the flavor profile while still keeping it in the accessible realm. The girl didn't eat much of it, despite picking out the recipe and doing the cooking, but that may have been because she ate a whole bowl of black beans with cheese at about 5 pm. The boy made a fuss about picking out the broccoli (which I told him he was welcome to do) because there were tiny green bits that permeated the whole dish. Eventually he got over it and ate some and even begrudgingly said it wasn't too bad, but I would still anticipate the same response if it were served again. So I'm on the fence about whether this is something I should make for dinner again.

 The cookies were fine--nothing special and certainly not enough maple flavor to merit the inclusion in the title. We made them a little healthier than the recipe called for by substituting in white whole wheat flour for the all purpose.
They ate them, but that isn't really a surprise. No problems getting my kids to eat cookies and the "healthy" part was just in the whole grains: there was still plenty of butter in the recipe.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

replacement kid-friendly food magazine

So since Everyday Food wrecked my cooking-with-kids plan, I've been on the lookout for a replacement and/or supplement to the now-quarterly-instead-of-monthly format for EF. I may have found a contender:

Chopchop: the fun cooking magazine for families

I've requested some issues from the library to see if they will fit the bill (or have anything in them that I would be willing to eat if my kids cook it). As it is only a quarterly publication, I could see using it and the now-quarterly status of Everyday Food together to advance our project.

There's also a series of chef skills on that I plan to go through with each kid. They are more open ended and fundamental skill based than following a recipe and so require a bit more planning on our part than simply opening up a magazine and following instructions. So I'm thinking it will be better to try and accomplish these during school breaks, rather than in the midst of the chaos of a school week.

I looked over four issues of Chopchop and it isn't going to cut it for my kids. It's more pitched toward a younger age group (say 5-8 year olds) and for kids who are far less suspicious of food than mine are. Even with engaging writing and nice step by step instructions you aren't going to convince my kids to make kale smoothies (hell, they won't eat a basic smoothie) or anchovy vinaigrette (since they won't eat that most basic substance: ranch dressing). The recipes lean towards the excessively healthy--always substituting greek yogurt for sour cream, hardly any salt used--and I wasn't convinced that some of their recipes would taste good (a bean soup so basic that it didn't look too appealing to me). It's probably terrific for a different audience (one of my son's friends, who loves food and cooking, would have probably really enjoyed the magazine when he was little), but I'm still on the lookout for another publication.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I'm feeling rather pissy. I just got a notice that they are stopping Everyday Food and turning it into a quarterly supplement for regular Martha Stewart Living. The monthly magazine was perfect for my kids-learning-to-cook project and MSL sure as hell won't be (talk about fussy....).

So, is there a similar monthly magazine that anyone can point me to? The recipes need to a) have a photo b) be relatively simple in the cooking technique department and c) be pretty short d) not be too adventurous in the flavor department (tasty, but not edgy or spicy).

I know there are plenty of kid-friendly cookbooks out there, but the novelty of the subscription arriving was really part of the appeal to the kids and I liked that, unlike web sites with recipes (which I actually prefer over cookbooks these days), the kids could spend time looking over the offerings and making a choice. They wouldn't have the patience to do that online.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


I don't want to curse this but the kids picking a recipe from Everyday Food and taking the lead in cooking it for a family dinner is actually working. Tonight Ian (with assistance) made this:
Turkey Sloppy Joes with Kale Chips

And here's the best part that you might not be able to see in the photo: the sloppy joes have a whole minced sweet potato in them and both kids ate it without complaint. Kale and sweet potatoes are two vegetables I would be *thrilled* to get into their diet regularly and I'm still feeling a little stunned that this successful consumption came via a kid-selected recipe. I was sure that when Ian actually read the recipe and saw the sweet potato that he'd reject it, but it didn't phase him one bit (though he was annoyed at how hard sweet potatoes are to cut into a small dice). I don't know if Fiona even knew that they were in there. And they both ate a ton of the kale chips.

We made a couple of changes to the sloppy joe recipe: tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes since it makes it a little saucier and because Fiona is a tomato-phobe who may have rejected whole pieces of tomato in her food, whole wheat buns instead of potato buns, and 20 oz of ground turkey instead of 16 oz (because that's how much there was in the package).

Last month Fiona made this garlic lemon pork dish and it was good so we made it again a couple of weeks later (and she helped again). And Ian made some pretty basic tacos but was willing to make some pico de gallo for Brian and I to add to ours which made them a little more interesting. I found it pretty satisfying to see him learn that dicing a tomato is very different from chopping cilantro.

The kids still have a way to go when it comes to cooking independence and confidence and Ian has a tendency to stir things so vigorously that they wind up spread across the stove top (Brian is doing the dishes and just reported that the kettle "took one for the team.") But maybe in a couple of years, if we keep up this practice, they'll be able to make a whole healthy dinner, start to finish, on their own.

Oh yeah, and eat it too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Diversification and control

I've been trying to find simple recipes that my kids can cook (with assistance) that will serve the dual purpose of diversifying what they will eat and increasing their cooking skills. I've printed out recipes from blogs, checked out kids' cookbooks from the library and asked if there are any favorite recipes that I make that they want to learn how to cook.

It didn't really take off. They certainly didn't feel motivated to do research to pick out new recipes (it doesn't help that most of my cookbooks are in storage while we are doing our house construction) and on the few times they did, the cooking skills required were too complicated or dangerous. I'm not ready for them to be hauling homemade pizza out of a 500 degree oven (they do help roll out dough and top it) and they don't have the patience to slowly stir a white sauce until it thickens enough to add cheese. So it was a struggle and they weren't participating fully. Not a winner of a combination.

But I've found what I think will be the perfect tool for both diversification, kid-selection (very important for these two who need to feel like they've chosen a recipe instead of having it imposed upon them) and simple enough cooking skills:

I got a free subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (through a program called Recycle Bank that my town has just recently discontinued. I found out that you can use your Recycle Bank points to get free magazine subscriptions and this was one of them.)

This is the perfect magazine for food-suspicious kids with limited patience and cooking skills. Every recipe has a photo. Every recipe is short (none more than one page). And pretty much every recipe requires only basic cooking skills--no complicated techniques, no obscure equipment or ingredients.

I got the first issue, explained to the kids that they each had to pick out one "real food" recipe (no snacks or desserts) that they thought they could make with my help for a family dinner. They turned the pages of the magazine warily at first, but then they were squabbling about who got to hold it and my hopes lifted.  The girl picked out a recipe for garlic lemon pork. The boy picked out a basic ground meat taco recipe.

The boy even marked two additional recipes (one for a snack and one for a dessert) that he wants to help make and I am thrilled that he is voluntarily suggesting more cooking because even the unhealthy recipes expand his limited cooking skills. Hell, I first got motivated in the kitchen making cookies, brownies, pancakes, etc. I sure didn't start with the motivation of making spinach quinoa pilaf...

I'm hoping that since the magazine will be delivered to us every month it will keep us consistent with this project: every month I'll hand over the magazine and every month they'll pick out some new stuff to try and cook. I'll report back.