Hi Y’all! On this page you can read about FOOD, FAMILY and FUN! I’m going to tell my stories and give my favorite tips – I hope you will too. Everything is so much nicer when it is shared with a friend. Let me know if there is is anything you’d like me to write about, I’ll be happy to oblige. Every so often I’ll be here, opening my heart and home to you. Please enjoy!
Here is the latest from my fun and fabulous friend, Mississippi Mama!!! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. She is sweeter than Mississippi tea!
I have always prided myself on not having picky children. They eat all manner of vegetables, tofu, vegetable lasagnas and red beans and rice. They eat bean stews and carrot cake and love soy milk. There’s not a restaurant I can think of where there wouldn’t be something they’d like to eat. HOWEVER. Not too long ago, one of my darlings was headed out to spend the night at a friend’s house. The mother reported to me that they’d be grilling burgers and having coleslaw and baked pork and beans. Delicious, right?! But, my first thought? “My child’s not going to eat THAT!” She doesn’t care for big-fat burgers. She likes her meat as disguised as possible and would really rather not eat it at all most days. The coleslaw? Too mayonnaisey. The baked beans were a possibility, but I knew she’d pick through to get the unidentifiable meat out of her beans. I knew she’d know what to do and she did. She accepted everything she wanted and said, “No thank you” to what she didn’t and politely asked for just cheese on her bun and built a cheese sandwich, which suited her just fine. And she ate the pork and beans and actually loved them. I have similar stories about my other two. It’s time to accept the fact. My children may be …picky.
My three children are picky in totally different ways. One hates peanut sauce, which would make me question his parentage if it weren’t for the fact that he and I look exactly alike. One hates all seafood, across the board and makes exception for neither fried shrimp nor salmon. Again with the questionable parentage, as far as I’m concerned. All three hate tomatoes. Two dislike big chunks of meat, but can deal with ground beef and turkey. One hates salad.
I’ve fed a lot of children in my time and I’m convinced that most of you have a similar story to mine because I’ve probably fed your kid and had to scramble a minute when I found out that your child didn’t like homemade pizza. Or watermelon. Or sandwiches, for crying out loud. Or ham. All completely normal foods as far as our family is concerned. But for whatever reason your child doesn’t “do” them. Maybe no one in your house likes it. Maybe you don’t know how to cook it or pick it out from the produce section. Maybe everyone loves it and your child just doesn’t have a taste for it for whatever reason. I’m not offended. When my child came to your house, I’m sure we threw you for a loop when they didn’t dive into the crab legs everyone else was mad to get in to. Or wouldn’t eat potato salad or anything spicy or roast beef. And please don’t ask them how they want their steak cooked. They don’t know how they like their steak cooked and even the 12 year old might ask you to cut it for her because I don’t cook the stuff. It’s out of my lane. I love it, I just know how to stay in my lane when it comes to food preparation and steak is way, way out of it. Just cook it medium for them and they’ll eat it once they figure out what to do with it.
I had a mother remark to me once at a girls night out that she might like cooking more if it weren’t so stressful. That no one ever liked what she made or turned out not to be hungry or wished they had something else that night. My heart broke for her. What a wonderful, pleasurable thing it should be for a mother to feed her family! I feel pretty clueless about most things in my life, but this one I do have figured out. I knew exactly how I would handle her sitation. It’s the same thing I do every week to some extent. I put those suckers to work.
That’s right. Get the children to play a role in the kitchen work for the week. It’s hard for someone to claim they don’t like dinner when they’ve planned the meal. Is this is a newsflash or is this done all over? I’m not sure, but it seems like a no brainer to me.
Assuming this isn’t something that you are doing already (and if you are, let’s e-mail about it because this is a system that can be TWEAKED!), here’s how I do it. On Sundays, I (we) plan our meals. I get out a big stack of cook books and my recipe book and we eat breakfast (or sometimes lunch) together and talk food. Everyone has some input. I have one child who will request a baked potato bar Every Single Week. Sometimes we do it, sometimes we don’t. Another one has a variation of macaroni and cheese they want every week. Sometimes I can do it and sometimes I just don’t have it in me to make another pan of the stuff. . My husband would like to request lettuce wraps and/or sushi bowls 9 weeks out of 10 but doesn’t in order to preserve my sanity. Sweet man. But, everyone suggests and requests until we have our meals down. We include what vegetables/sides folks are in the mood for and some suggestions for easy, fast breakfasts we’d like to eat, too. The children know the nutritional and time parameters they need to stay in. Meals cannot be too elaborate or expensive or made of junk. Everyone knows this. We bargain (“OK- how about I’ll do the mac and cheese, but I fix it with a side of collard greens and everyone just eats them up without complaining?”). The fun part is looking through the cookbooks to get new, fresh ideas and my recipe collection reminds folks of favorites they haven’t had in awhile. Sometimes someone suggests something I’ve never made before and we shrug our shoulders and agree to give it a try. It’s a family experiment! “Can Mom pull off decent shrimp scampi?! Who knows?! Let’s find out! Someone get on Food Network and find a good recipe for it. Better suggest a really good side dish , though, just in case… “
We’ve done this on the way back from soccer tournaments and sitting at restaurants after church and even on the fly during commercials while we watch a family show together. But, we do it at some point every weekend. Everyone gets some input. No one is going to get their favorite meal every night, but SOMEONE is going to be thrilled with dinner each night of the week, and YOU, sister, will feel like a rock star, which is as it should be.
I bet y’all know what’s coming next, and you’d be right. Someone has to cook all those recipes and I can promise it’s not just going to be me. I love to cook, but even more than that, I love to work myself right out of this God-given and joyful job I’ve been blessed with. And if I don’t teach them to feed themselves, at the very least, then I’m not done with my job. I think there’s a spiritual parallel here, don’t you?
We’ll talk more about that later. Do you have picky eaters? How do you manage to feed the family with them in mind? Do you already do what I do at home? How’s it working? Do you have any tips I, or others, could use? Weigh in!
Until next time,
Most of you don’t know me.
If you did, you’d know that what I really wanted to say there was, “Y’all don’t know me.” You would also know that I love to cook, talk about, think about and even sometimes write about, food.
I may, or may not, also be a little bit of a stickler for nutrition…but we won’t talk about that quite yet, for fear it could ruin my street cred. I’ll try to tone THAT down until you know me a bit better. We’ll just say that, while I do have a certain fondness for all things in the “-ito” family of foods (Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, etc.), I can also do things with a block of tofu that previously existed only in your dreams (OK…no one ever dreams of tofu…but I think you know what I’m getting at).
If you knew me, you’d also know that I was thrilled to be asked to collaborate on this blog by writing (when I feel like it) on food, nutrition, kids, etc, etc, etc. Jesus AND food?! Put together?! Be still my heart.
The truth is, Jesus and food have just about everything to do with one another and you don’t have to be an English major to connect real-deal, melt-in-your-mouth, explode-0n-your-taste buds and fill-your-stomach-FOOD with Spiritual Food.
Besides, God created us to DINE, not just FEED (despite what a recent incident between myself and a box of Cheez-Its may indicate). DINING implies fellowship. Community. Camaraderie. Don’t you agree? Experiencing a peaceful meal, around a beautiful table, filled with soul-satisfying laughter and conversation and body-nourishing food reminds us of how we were meant to feed ourselves.
If you know me, you know that the last sentence in no way describes meals in my own home. I felt like a big fraud just writing it. Meals in my home aren’t peaceful. In fact, they are rowdy affairs and sometimes on the run. They are loud and sometimes the “conversation” sounds suspiciously similar to bickering between siblings. It is also possible that said meals occasionally include chicken nuggets and tater tots (but I’ll never tell). Sometimes no one, the cook included, likes what has been prepared. There are nights (and mornings, for that matter), when the meal doesn’t even take place around the table. More than once, the meal has ended with someone being sent to their room. We sometimes forget to bless the food…and it seems there may be a genetic disposition among the children we’ve created to be less then reverential during table blessings, at least in their toddler years.
But, you know what? Sometimes we get it right.
Sometimes, we bless the food beautifully and it tastes better for the sound of sweet preschool voices lifted up to Him around the table (or kitchen counter?). Even if they do mess up the words or shout “HURRAY!” at the end instead of “Amen.” Sometimes, I get it right and make a meal that satisfies the nutrition cop inside me AND satisfies the immature palettes of our three children. Sometimes I budget the time just right and pull off homemade dessert. Sometimes we laugh and cut up and reminisce about our day and desire to stay at the table for way too long. Sometimes we have so many extra faces around the table that no one remembers to bicker. Don’t get me wrong. These “get it right” meals are still rowdy, but they are also still soul satisfying and body-nourishing in the same way that I imagine a peaceful meal alone with my husband or a friend might be, someday.
I used to be obsessed with getting mealtime “right.” This is probably because I felt I got it wrong so much of the time. Most of us have had the experience of spending hours preparing a meal, only to have it devoured in minutes or eaten with bitter words spilled over it. Many of us have eaten a meal we’ve prepared in solitude because the schedule just didn’t work out the way we envisioned it would. I, for one, have spent a few meals counting down the minutes until bedtime.
However, (and listen up here, because this is where I’m going to bring it home) the people we’re eating with are similar to Jesus in their desire around our table. They appreciate the fluff: the desserts, the beautiful presentation, the Food Network worthy recipes, the sincere and even heartwarming prayers. Those are all great, and they certainly speak of our devotion to those we did it for. But really?
They want YOU.
Let that soak in for a second.
Or a minute.
The people you dine with want YOU more than anything that’s on the table. It’s as simple and as incredibly, mind-bogglingly difficult as that.
They want YOUR company, whether it’s over pizza or chicken nuggets or homemade lasagna or leftover sub sandwiches. I know this to be true when it comes to my family, and I know it to be true when it comes to dining with friends. I have a lot to say about this. I have a lot of cautionary tales, because I’ve gotten this sort of thing WRONG a huge number of times.
But, I’m getting better, and better, at getting it right and nourishing my family and friends in a way that also feeds souls and allows me to give them what they want most from my table, and I have a lot to say about this too.
I’m so looking forward to sharing some of these tales and tricks and tips and recipes with you, and hopefully getting some tips and tricks and recipes back from you as comments. So, be thinking of your best slowcooker recipes, entertainment horror stories and tales of meals gone RIGHT. If you knew me, you’d know I still need all the help I can get.
Smooches until next time,