It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Menu Monday

First course: broccoli and dip
Main Course: enchilada bake
Dessert: muffins

First course: roasted red pepper strips
Main Course: vegetarian lasagna
Dessert: bananas

First course: zucchini sticks and dip
Main Course: lentil soup and  naan
Dessert: papaya

First course: corn
Main Course: butter chicken and rice
Dessert: muffins

First course: garden salad
Main Course: peanut butter sandwiches
Dessert: cantaloupe


November 3, 2014 Posted by | food | , , | 1 Comment

Menu Monday, with a side of Modelling and Reverse Psychology

Monday: Pasta and assorted vegetables with peanut sauce

Tuesday: Rice and dahl, carrot salad

Wednesday: Beef stew, kale salad

Thursday: Potato fish cakes, cooked carrot sticks

Friday: Lentil-beet salad

One day last week, I sat with the children at lunch. It is only recently that I have begun to sit with them when they eat (more on this later in the week), but I do now. I can’t remember what the children were eating that day, but I know was eating something different. I hadn’t been sure that there would be enough for me as well as the children, so I dished out the fresh lunch for them, and hauled out some leftovers for myself.

Roasted asparagus and mushroom, reheated in the microwave for me! NOM. I looooove asparagus, but had never tried it roasted before, and it was delicious. I love mushrooms any way: raw, simmered in a stew, pickled, fried, roasted…

(Food memory: When I was teaching, oh, those many years ago, one of my favourite lunches was a bowl of sliced mushrooms, topped with a generous dollop of grated cheddar. When I got to the staff room at lunch time, I’d sploosh on a bit of water, top the bowl with a plate, and cook it in the microwave until the mushrooms were dark and limp and had released their juices. The result: a bowl of cheesy mushrooms in a terrific broth. Not enough broth to call it a soup, but something like that. Sooooo good, and so easy!)

So, roasted asparagus and mushrooms. My lunch. We all sit down and commence to chat. Soon, five pairs of eyes are rivetted on my fork.

“What is that, Mary?”

“Asparagus. I thought maybe there wasn’t enough of what you’re having for me. I wanted to make sure you guys got enough, so I’m having something different.”

Five pairs of eyes stare longingly at my fork. I thought I could get away with this! None of them like mushrooms, and, though I haven’t tried it with them this year yet, I figured asparagus would be suspect. The grass really is greener on the other side of the dining table, isn’t it?

But I don’t want to share!

And from that dawns A Plan. Or at least, an Idea. Wonder if it’ll work?

“You have your lunches. Eat, eat! Go on! This is mine.” But I pitch my voice carefully. This is not my “And I mean business!” voice, which they don’t generally argue with. This voice is more playful. Just serious enough, but not too serious.

And it works. They keep staring.

“Mmmm,” I look at my fork, chew blissfully, “this is good, good asparagus.” I am not aware of my audience. No, no, no. I am just musing to myself about the glorious yumminess that is asparagus. (Which is sincere, people. I love asparagus. And this roasted asparagus is goooood.) Then my eyes focus past my fork. I abruptly and dramatically become aware of my audience. Let my eyes pop open in surprise. Flap my hand at them, in a shoo, shoo motion. “Go on, you guys. Eat your lunch.” Big smile.

They chew, morosely. Staring at my food. Which is obviously much, much better than theirs.

“Oh, all right.” I sigh. “Do you want a taste?”


“Okay, but just one bite. There are FIVE of you! I don’t want you to eat ALL my lunch!”

Into each mouth goes one bite of asparagus. Four of five children eat with visible enthusiasm. I am quite sure that Jazz, Ms. Contrarian and Ms. Non-Eater who mostly lives on air, eats because she knows I don’t want to share. Mwah-ha.

I take another mouthful myself. Five pairs of eyes stare at me.

“Is that good, Mary?” Grace asks.

“Yes. And it’s mine. You had your taste.”

“But what is that?” Because, of course, I have made sure to fill this fork with mushrooms, not the asparagus they just had.

“It’s mine.” I don’t say ‘mushrooms’, because they KNOW they don’t like mushrooms. If they don’t recognize these dark, limp bits on my plate as mushrooms, I’m not telling.

Stare, stare, stare.

“Wait. You guys want a taste of this, too????” I let some playful incredulity slip into my voice. “But this is MY lunch!” They giggle.

“I want some!” Rory declares.
“Yeah! I want your lunch!” Jazz giggles.

“But what will I eat?”

“May I have some, PLEASE?” Sweet Grace softens me up by giving me the Full and Complete Polite Sentence, accompanied by the classic Grace sweeter-than-sweet full-bore beaming Smile of Adorability.

With a dramatic sigh, I pop a piece of mushroom — MUSHROOM! — into five waiting mouths. (Starting with Grace, who asked politely.)

“Okay, are we done? Can I eat my lunch now?”

“NO!” Jazz is totally, totally into this game. Jazz, who loathes mushrooms with a fiery passion. Who has been known to gag on mushrooms. “I want more!”

“But this is MY lunch!! What will I eat???”

And so it goes. One bite for me, one bite, over my loud and indignant protest, to each of them. Eventually Jazz realized that she didn’t really like those things. (Though she views all food but pasta, bread and crackers with suspicion, I think her dislike of mushrooms is neither a fad nor a power gambit, but quite, quite genuine. And yet she just ate about six in a row. Heh.) They ate nearly all my asparagus, too.

So they each had probably a quarter cup of asparagus and mushroom, all told. And then they ate their own lunches. (Don’t worry: Mary did not starve. There was more in the fridge, and there it stayed until the little beggars were safely tucked away for nap/quiet time.)

I think I’ve discovered a way to introduce new foods to these little monkeys… Devious for the win!!!

June 4, 2012 Posted by | food | , , , | 6 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Ratatouille with ground walnuts over noodles

Tuesday: Tofu-spinach curry on rice

Wednesday: Rice-lentil patties. Cabbage-beet salad.

Thursday: Chicken tortilla soup, biscuits

Friday: Spaghetti and meatballs (with a non-meat version for the vegetarian), salad

As ever, if you want a recipe, just ask!

April 23, 2012 Posted by | food | , , , | 4 Comments