21 January 2008


My M-I-L got me a cookbook for Christmas. My addiction to all literature of baking, cooking, entertaining etc is well-documented on this site. So I was thrilled. When I opened it, and noticed the subtitle (Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food) I raised an eyebrow; she quickly explained that she hadn't realized that it was aimed mostly at kid-friendly recipes.

"That's OK," I replied cheerfully. "Its a cookbook. I'll use it!"

"Told ya so!" DH exclaimed triumphantly from his corner. Apparently, they'd had a "discussion" (read that disagreement) over whether or not she ought take the book back.

I'd seen Jessica Seinfeld's book in bookstores during the holidays, but hadn't leafed through it after noticing that it was aimed at families with young children. Seeing as I don't have any and all.

There's some controversy and she's being sued over the book for supposedly taking the idea from someone else, but *shrug* I just don't really care about the hoopla.

I like the book. There are a few things that I don't like; she's hyper-focused on getting her kids to eat their vegetables, but there isn't much in there about organics or focusing on cutting down carbs, and too many places where she's using ingredients like margarine spreads that I think have no place in any kitchen, too many artificial ingredients. That's really me nit-picking, though...in this age of fast food for dinner all the time, the fact that she and Jerry actually cook a real dinner for their kids is commendable. And note the artificial flavoring (banana candy flavoring) I suggested that you use in my Banana Cake recently...I have all sorts of rationalizations for it (DH likes a stronger banana flavor, I spent a small fortune on the teeny-tiny bottle and might as well use it up, there's no sugar in the stuff...) so I've got no room to throw stones and I'm sure she's got her reasons for icky artificial margarine. No one said I had to use it.

So the premise of the book is this; rather than fight with your super-picky eater kids about "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, DAMMIT!" hide the veggies in things they like to eat by using pureed veggies in things like spaghetti sauce, chicken nuggets, sloppy joes, mac & cheese, and even burgers. Not a bad idea, really. I kind of had a V-8 moment when I started reading it...why the hell didn't *I* think of that?

Another thing I'm not crazy about is her assumption that she needs to teach you to cook from square 1; it comes off as condescending, in my ever-so-humble. I'm probably a better cook than you are, Miss Hollywood Wife, so let's skip the "what is a steamer" section, mmkay? Not that I'm egotistical about my culinary abilities, not at allllllllllllll. Where'd ya get that idea?

I don't usually cook vegetables; I like a green salad better than cooked broccoli any day, and eating cooked spinach rates right up there with a root canal as far as I'm concerned. Unless we're talking about spinach and artichoke dip, or a spin/artichoke appetizer I make that also has sour cream and creme cheese in it, so not good for you. There are some vegetables that I'd like to prepare (squash, among other things) that DH just turns his nose right up over, and aren't worth my irritation when he won't eat it.

DH will tell you that he's not a picky eater. I disagree. I'm adventurous when it comes to food, I'll try just about anything once. I have firm opinions about what I do and don't like, but something new? Sure, I'll give it a shot. I discovered sushi and curry, both of which I like, by saying, "sure, I'll have a bite of that, what is it?" I have tried reindeer, (didn't agree with my tummy) lutefisk (ugh) and a whole bunch of other oddities. When in Rome and all that. DH, on the other hand, is sort of a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. Nothing wrong with that. I just like a bit more variety.

I'm giving it a shot; I bought 2 bags of baby spinach, steamed them and pureed them, put them in 1/2 cup portions and tossed them in the freezer just like she suggests. I also steamed a whole head of cauliflower (add that to the list of things I'd rather eat raw) and roasted an entire butternut squash. The head of cauliflower yielded the most, a cup and a half of finished product.

The first thing I sneakily put veggies into was homemade mac & cheese, following MotherMe's recipe. (I did make a few changes; see below.) The book suggests cauliflower OR butternut squash for additions to mac & cheese. I had both purees, but since I was using Colby and cheddar with a hint of Monterey jack, the squash seemed more likely to blend in color-wise.

In the interest of the additional 23 pounds I still need to lose, I cut out the really yummy half & half and used skim instead of whole milk, along with a reduced-fat cheddar, after carefully reading the label to make sure there was nothing icky in it. I also added a whole onion, pureed and quickly browned in a skillet, with 2 cloves of garlic. Then for the protien additions; I added 12 strips of bacon, browned super-crisp and crumbled up, and two diced (pre-cooked) chicken breasts. I didn't need the additional liquid from the half & half, because the puree of squash was pretty liquid-y, and I popped it in the oven only long enough to brown the top.

The result? Good! It was a bit too sweet...I think using a sweet onion probably had a lot to do with that, and next time I'll use a regular old white onion. And the squash is kinda sweet too, so I'll give the cauliflower a shot the next time around. DH didn't love it; but he ate it without too much complaint. I didn't think it was necessary to inform him that there was both onion and butternut squash in his mac & cheese; he blamed the taste being "off" to him on a head cold he's suffering from. We had it again the next day for lunch, and in my ever-so-humble, it was better the next day.

There are a ton of things I can't wait to try in this book. She even manages to squeeze veggies into baked goods...it will be interesting to see how that works out. I could do without the parenting tips on every third page, too, but whatev.


John said...

Veggies in Mac and cheese! I'll definitely pass this on to my beloved. She keeps a few rugrats at the house and one in particular is anti-veggie but pro-mac and cheese. Nothing wrong with adults being sneaky with good food for kids!

Looking forward to getting back to "normal" with schedule. We've got a lot to civilly discuss with it being a political year and all...

As always, blessings!


Lucy Arin said...

I'd highly recommend this book for sneaky additions to many kid favorites....mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, burgers, pancakes, coffee cake...if you're reluctant to spend the $24.95 cover price, see if your local library can get it for you for a test drive.

The other book is "The Sneaky Chef" by Missy Chase Lapine; Reuters articles I've read suggest that the two are substantially similar.