Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One day my kids will thank me (Right? Right?!!!)

Last night I made a lovely Tunisian Vegetable Stew (from Moosewood's fast and easy recipes book). I love that stuff. I top it with goat cheese and pistachios rather than almonds and feta.

Trying to please all the people all the time is just impossible. I was looking through my recipe books and found notes about certain dishes I'd written to myself:

"Omit figs next time"
"Girls and I loved; DH gagged"
"Girl 1 and I liked; DH said pretty good; Girl 2 cried"

I don't have the mental capacity to cook one meatless meal, and one not. The whole point is to cook less meat throughout the week (we average about 3-4 nights meatless--the others are never red meat-usually chicken and turkey and I'm trying to get my kids to like fish).

I am always and forever trying new things. But I think I should just give up, and turn into my mother--cook the same 5-7 things that everyone likes, for the next 20 years.
On some nights that sounds like absolute heaven--the nights in which someone is crying because they can't stand Chakchouka. On other days, it sounds like my personal version of hell.
I'm not a mean mom. I do try to cook a few things every week that everyone likes. But, on the nights it's something new, or particularly funky, why am I surprised when my six year old has tears running down her face? Am I asking too much of small children?


Elizabeth-W said...

My friend Lisa sent me this comment--for some reason she couldn't post it to the blog:

I cook a lot of new things, too, and sometimes I want to turn into my mom, too! In fact, I think I said that just last week! I don't think I will ever stop trying things. Today I bought my first Leek. I think trying new things is awesome, but I try to save it for days that aren't as crazy and keep the stand-bys for the crazy nights. Happy medium. I'm not sure if the kids will thank you. I made maple-walnut chicken the other night (I've made it several times), it's really good, and my daughter wanted a pb&j (or whatever). She's almost 13 and she still doesn't eat everything. Don't give up! ~Lisa"

Wheezy said...

My oldest (now 17) stopped eating meat when she was 4. We made this work often by making something like, say, fried rice for dinner with lots of vegetables and scrambled eggs in it, and then having crispy fried pork bits on the side for the rest of us to mix in. Or having black beans and rice, with Italian sausages on the side for the us. Sometimes she just ate side dishes if we were having a roast or something. Now my youngest is also a vegetarian, and our meals have gone completely vegetarian. I only get meat at lunch unless we're eating out. Oh well, it's healthier and cheaper!

Johnna said...

Being the everyday cook is hard and thankless work. It seems when I make someone happy, two others are not. It really gets me down.

Yet sticking to 5-7 "safe" dishes is depressing in other ways.

I think anyone cooking for a family everyday faces this problem; eating meat doesn't make it go away.

One strategy I have is to serve some kind of bread like rolls or cornbread with the new or funky dishes. The rule in our house is you have to have two bites of everything. If my 10-year-old with sensory issues makes bread the rest of his meal, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make so I can eat Chakchouka.

And I've read that most kids/people need to eat a food 10 times before they can like it. So I braved my way through lots of 2-biters, with lowered expectations for that night and hope for the future.

Four years ago I made a weekly chart, that was a helpful strategy for about two years. It was something like:
--Monday was traditional food,
--Tuesday was pasta,
--Wednesday was Mex or Thai,
--Thursday was Soup (but Salad in the Summer),
--Friday was Pizza.
While it lasted, it really did seem to help the unhappy to know when something they really liked would be coming around. And though I can't commit to a specific menu schedule over a month, I can commit to categories just fine.

It ended because Pasta Girl took up a campaign against it. I plot to secretly reinstate.

"Traditional Food" really meant my day to experiment, to make a well-rounded meal of the type I thought was beautiful. Pasta night was to please the one un-please-able child; on other days when she was unhappy I could remind her that Tuesday was pasta again. Pizza was for sensory boy. The vegetarian was happy everyday because she's like that; and the youngest ate a lot of bread when necessary, especially on Mondays.

That said, I've noticed since I started posting my menus here, I repeat the favorites more than I realized.

Elizabeth-W said...

Wheezy, thanks for commenting. When I was a strict veg, I spent a lot of time eating side dishes, and it really was just fine most of the time.
Johnna, your point is right on--vegetarian or not, trying to please all the people all the time is an issue.
I was looking at my list for this week, and it is definitely high on the meat side this time. Last night we had chicken biryani (a crowd pleaser). We'll also have a pasta dish with spicy turkey sausage. And, I bought lamb in an attempt to show love to my husband by making a greek dish. This is the first time I've ever bought lamb. It may be the last.
I like your schedule--in thinking about it, I probably do something pretty similar. I also ask for requests. If you don't place an order for the week, you aren't allowed to fuss. :)