My children are – among other things – the light of my life, the apple of my eye, my heart of hearts … and I know few things better than seeing them tuck into something I made, and knowing they think I’m a master chef or at the very least the best cook they know. As sweet as that is, it’s of course not true. But I try, and I’d say I am a decent cook, and I also know that I can whip up meals for children in my sleep, no problem.
When I first began to cook, I learned from my dad, and after I lost him way too early at 15, I taught myself. I ate my way through many European countries, North America, Egypt, Brazil and Thailand (don’t even want to do the math of how much money I spent in restaurants in my life). I read cookbooks, studied them, really, and I have absorbed information on technique, methods, food stuffs and recipes for 4 decades, putting theory into practice every day since I moved out at 17.
It has been a gradual process for me that got me to the point of refusing to put up with bad food. It’s such an unnecessary waste of calories, and seeing how most of us could stand to lose a few, shouldn’t eating actually be pleasurable, and healthy too? I’m not even talking about (very occasional) cravings for a Big Mac, or a Falafel sandwich, or a Terrible Taco. It’s the convenience junk many people eat at their house when they think they’re cooking I’m more concerned about. You may believe you’re preparing a meal when instead all you do is re-heat the flavor-enhancer-laden gunk Monsanto or Kraft Foods want consumers to believe is actually nutritious. It’s bad, it makes us fat and it doesn’t even keep us happy.
Forgive my rant, this is actually not what I wanted to write about :-). Got sidetracked. What I did want to do is enumerate a few recipes I love but my brood do not. Yes, there most certainly are foods like that. And on occasion, I cook them, too. Let me show you.
First and foremost: polenta! I grew up on it in the Balkans, and I’ve never stopped loving it. In this picture, I topped it with baby artichokes dressed with a bit of garlic, lemon and arugula. Second of all: Risotto! For whatever reason the kids don’t like it (probably good for husband’s and my waistline), because we both do, a lot. Below, as you can see, it’s topped with green asparagus.Third, oddly, ratatouille. They will eat tomato sauce, they will eat peppers (zucchini not so much), but for some reason they will not touch this wonderful celebration of summery vegetables.Fourth, sadly, they won’t have anything to do with pumpkins. This was a dish I threw together for my son’s veggie ex girlfriend – a ginger and rosemary flavored cream sauce with cubed hokkaido and its summery cousin, courgettes. S. loved it, as did I, but my kids did not :-/.The next one, fifth, is a fifty-fifty miss. Son detests it, daughter enjoys it – lemon and garlic chicken thighs and vegetables baked in the oven. The sixth again unites the disdain of the youngsters: Leeks Quiche – husband and I think it’s wonderful, kids won’t even look at it. Leeks, ew! Quiche, how could you!The seventh is for me only, because there’s no love from the others at our house for the Tortilla Española.Eighth, Arabic fish in cumin flavored tomato sauce, with a handful of capers and bay leaf. It’s heavy on the garlic and absolutely yummy – thank you, habibati N., for sharing.
Okay, ninth is a broccoli or cauliflower casserole, gratinéed with a Bèchamel sauce and strong cheese. Lovely, but hated with a passion by the next generation.Tenth, astonishingly enough, is home made apple sauce. It’s what I have when the kiddos eat rice pudding ;-). The plate you see below contains both, but that’s just for show.Tastes change over the years – this is a status quo of a 17 year old’s and a ten years old’s least favorites. It may not be valid in the future.
Should anybody be interested in recipes for any of the above, please ask. This week is a good one for writing just for fun, so best take advantage of that.
And enjoy your food, whatever it is you will be cooking today. Of course, I’m also interested to know what that is. Let me know!