It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Recipe swap! An edible meme.

I hate meal-planning. Hate it with a fiery passion. I sit with pen in hand to make up a menu, and my mind is suddenly and completely filled with the most impenetrable … nothing. Not a single idea percolates to the surface. There is nothing like the blankness of my mind when confronted with the need to plan a week’s list of meals. I grow restless at the very thought, the old fight or flight takes over, and I just want to drop that pen and run.

Darn these kids who surround me who constantly want to ingest things. What IS it with all this incessant eating, anyway? Jeez.

(Which is why I am so very, very grateful to be married to a man who plans the dinners. He was not so grateful to discover, shortly after he moved in, that he’d managed to find a woman who frequently forgets to eat… (“What? You want to eat again? Didn’t we just do that? Damn.”) But since he’s neither bossy nor passive, he didn’t rant and rave, or even stew with resentment. Nope, he just saw a niche and he filled it.

We now have a menu posted on the fridge, a dinner listed for every day of the week, meals for which he does the shopping. Oh, how I love this orderly, methodical, hypoglycemic man.)

In my last post, Amanda commented on the mention I’d made of sub-standard caregivers who feed their charges KD and hot dogs. Let me clarify here: I meant people who feed their children this stuff routinely. Though there are some who never, ever feed their children such nutritionally vacant foods (and bless your virtuous, self-disciplined, inspirational souls!), the vast majority of us cave in to convenience once in a while.

That means that yes, the tots at MaryP’s house get Kraft Dinner on occasion. Even baloney sandwiches, which, to me, are the ultimate in Bad Kid Food, and “food” only if you’re inclined to be generous with your definitions… Still, while it’s not 100% nutritional purity around here, they don’t get much junk, either.

Nor do they get much in the way of the North American idea of “kid-friendly” foods, so much of which is over-processed, high-sodium, high-fat dreck. Junk, by any other name.

They do eat a lot of leftovers. Yes, leftovers. At least once a week. I have never understood why people revile leftovers. Leftovers are efficient! And thrifty! Leftovers are time-savers! And most of all — leftovers are creative. Really. Take one meal, tweak it a bit to make a different one; that’s creative, and creative is interesting!

I do, of course, make lunches from scratch. As you’re probably all really curious to know what goes down well with the tots, I’ll share a couple of our favourites — and then, because I LOATHE planning meals and am always on the lookout for easy, nutritous meals (who isn’t?), I’m going to ask for your input.

We’re going to have a recipe swap — or share, more like.

I’ll post two of my favourite daycare recipes, nutritional food that can be put together in 20 minutes or less. Then it’ll be your turn.

1. Post one or two recipes on your blog,
2. link to this post, and
3. let us know in the comments where to find your terrific ideas!

Let’s stick to healthy recipes. Recipes that use the bare minimum of processed foods. (Frozen fruit or vegetables are fine; canned items, too, if they’re low sodium. Avoid processed, heat-and-serve or pre-fried elements.)

THEN, next Wednesday, I’ll post a list of all the recipes, linking back to your original post. Bookmark the page, and it’ll be your very own virtual recipe book of tried-and-true kid-friendly recipes!

Is that not a brilliant idea? Thanks, Amanda, for the inspiration!

My recipes:

1. Farmer’s Omelette
(Requires cast-iron frying pan, or at least, pan that can go from stovetop to oven)

-one egg per child
-one slice of bread per four eggs, torn or cut into half-inch bits. Absolutely no reason to cut off crusts — in fact, I’ll often use the end slice for this.
-vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Preheat cast iron pan on a medium burner, with about a tablespoon of oil in it.

2. Drop bread bits into a smallish bowl. Pour in sufficient milk to soak the bread. You want the bread nice and soggy, but you’d like to avoid leftover milk, which would be wasteful. (Unless one of the kids will drink it, bread crumbs and all!)

3. In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs, just long enough to mix them well. Pour the bread and milk mix into the eggs. Stir.

4. Pour the egg/bread mix into the heated pan. Cook until brown at the edges, with lots of tiny bubbles coming up all around the outside. (Takes, um… 5 minutes?)

5. Cover the surface of the omelette with grated cheese. I grate directly onto the eggs, and stop when there’s decent-sized heap.

6. Put into the oven for 15 minutes.

7. Cut into slices and serve.

This can be served hot or cold. My teenage kids always liked having a slice in their lunch. I serve it with cucumber slices, cooked carrots, or whatever vegetables we have on hand.

Easy Tacos

This one assumes you had some kind of beans for dinner the night before. Baked beans, lentils, chick peas, it doesn’t really matter. Or you can just use a tin of beans — black beans, kidney beans, whatever. (If you’re using tinned baked beans, do make sure it’s low sodium.)

soft tortilla shells
beans (leftovers!)
salad (leftovers!)
salsa (most kids prefer mild, but some love spice. Don’t assume you can’t serve spicey stuff to little ones. Give them the chance to experience it — but make sure you do it separate from a particular meal, because you don’t want them thinking they hate ALL tacos just because of the too-hot salsa!)
whatever other fillings you like

1. Put one tortilla in front of each child. (Or half of a tortilla, depending on the child and/or the size of the tortilla.)

2. Mash the beans in a bowl. Smear a couple of tablespoons of bean goop onto the middle third of each tortilla with the back of a spoon.

3. Help the children to sprinkle the tortilla with their choice of other foods: thinly sliced lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomato chunks, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, whatever. Keep the food to the centre third of the tortilla, otherwise you’ll quickly have too much in there to make a tidy roll — the poor tykes won’t even be able to get their mouths round it! This is a recipe where the making of it is so much fun that it’s very easy to go overboard.

4. Fold up the bottom third of the tortilla, then roll from one side to the other to enclose the beans and vegetables. (The folded bottom holds the stuff in.)

Because they get to choose what goes in there, this is a great favourite. My only rule is that they must have at least one protein (I go for the beans) and one vegetable in there.

July 30, 2008 Posted by | food, memes and quizzes | , , , | 21 Comments