Sunday, January 17, 2010

books about food and children

In the fall, I was briefly on a kick of reading books about children & cooking. In an earlier post, pre-baby, I talked about Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, which involves making lots of purees and sneaking them into your children's food. I hoped I didn't have a child for whom I'd have to do this. And now that I actually have a 19-month old, that book seems incredibly fussy to me. Spend Sunday nights whipping up roasted butternut squash purees for the week, to be labeled and frozen in snack bags? I don't think so. I still make the effort to cook dinner most nights of the week, even if Sofia is clinging to my leg and demanding, "Up! Up!", which she does most of the time, particularly when she is hungry. But I'm not going to make special meals for her, unless I'm making something for us that is extremely spicy. However, I do recognize that childhood pickiness is a very real phenomenon, and I'm cringing as I wait for it to descend upon us. We may have seen signs of it in our winter trip to Japan. Sofia was extremely jet lagged for the first week, had a bad cold and then a stomach virus, and literally would not eat the entire time. I'm glad I brought a bag of O-shaped cereal with us for her to eat in our hotel room every morning, or otherwise she would have starved. We had tried making sushi, onigiri, teriyaki, you name it, prior to departing, which she seemed to enjoy, but faced with the actual food of Japan (and the fact she had her nights and days confused), she wasn't interested. Thankfully, now that we've returned, she's eating again.

During the fall I read two books that discuss children & food - one is Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater, by Matthew Amster-Burton, the other Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 mom, 4 kids, and 102 recipes, by Emily Franklin. Hungry Monkey was by far my favorite of the two, though neither parent seemed to have much success in getting their children to eat adventurously. However, Burton writes humorously and self-deprecatingly of his own adventures as a food writer and some of the quirky foods his daughter likes, and some of his recipes are terrific. Particularly one for cowboy beans and enchiladas. Too Many Cooks just annoyed me. Not only do the kids and the dad in this book not seem to eat much of anything, but the author keeps reminding us how she cooked on a yacht and writes smugly of how well she manages her large and chaotic family while also stealing upstairs to write numerous (published) young adult novels. Struggling to raise one baby (and unable to imagine how you handle four), I had a hard time picturing this kind of life, and I'm amazed at people who can do it. But I still tried several of her recipes, because she did write very enticingly about them. I liked one recipe for chowder, zucchini muffins could have doubled as baseballs, and everything else was kind of lackluster. Here's her recipe for comfort food: hamburger, frozen peas, salt, and elbow macaroni. No spice, no creaminess, no cheesiness, just that. Hmm.

Here, however, is Burton's awesome recipe for cowboy beans. I highly recommend the book, though, both for entertainment value and recipes.

Cowboy Beans

4 slices bacon, diced (I used turkey bacon -would be even more delicious with the real stuff)
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 can diced tomatoes (he recommends Muir-Glen fire roasted)
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, not drained
1 Tblsp. minced pickled jalapenos
2 Tblsp. finely chopped cilantro

Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, cook and stir 4 minutes. Add beans, simmer over low heat 15 minutes. Add peppers (if using), then cilantro and salt to taste. Beans will be soupy. Great with his whole enchilada recipe, or as a side dish or accompaniment to other Tex-mex fare...

1 comment:

sssferragens said...

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