Whenever I have a little free time â€” you know, all those vast hours of uninterrupted space and time afforded mothers of small children everywhere â€” one of my favorite things to do is check in with a few of my favorite food blogs.Â
I’ve come across a great new bookmark â€”Â Chocolate and ZucchiniÂ by French foodie, blogger and author Clotilde Dusoulier.
It has nothing to do with helping you feed your kids or getting a healthy meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. It’s just pure enjoyment of food and leisure.Â I haven’t even tried a recipe yet â€” I’m still stuck on the gorgeous pictures from her trip to Croatia. Here’s a photo diary from the trip. Amazing.
You can almost imagine what it’s like to be a 29-year-old impossibly chic Parisian food writer (aren’t they all?) lazing about for a week or two on the shores of the Adriatic.
A few months ago, we embarked on our most ambitious summer project yet.
An organic vegetable garden in our backyard! We planted tomatoes, zucchini, green chilies, basil, cilantro, peppermint, cucumbers and bell peppers.
To our delight, most (R.I.P cucumbers) of the vegetables survived our less-than-perfect tending. And we had our first harvest last week!
The kids enjoyed getting their hands dirty and watching the veggies “being born.” But the best part, they say, was popping the cherry tomatoes into their mouths, soon after harvesting them.
The project allowed the kids to make the farm-to-table connection, and they’ve grown a special fondness for yellow bell peppers. Bonus!
<P>Colleague and foodie extraordinaire Liz Johnson has aÂ great reader-submitted recipeÂ for zucchini pesto on her blog,Â Small Bites.Â It looks like a slam dunk for veggie-averse kids â€” go Montebello mom Daniela Sepulveda!Â </P><P>I’m going to try it this week and report back.Â And since we’ve been talking so much about eating cheaply and locally, this could be a hit on both fronts. My local farmer’s market is overflowing with zucchini right now.Â </P><P>(And I already know the baby will love it — she was the only one to appreciate the fried zucchini “cakes” I made a few weeks ago and devours anything with basil pesto. I guess one out of three isn’t bad!)</P>Â <P>(Poughkeepsie Journal file photo)<P>Â Â
It happened. My darling, little butterball, who until a few days ago ate whatever was put in front of her, has suddenly decided to shake her head and purse her lips in protestation. It started the other day when Zyla, who recently turned one, refused a spoonful of homemade mashed sweet potatoesâ€”the orange spuds she had no problem finishing off from the baby jarâ€”and then this morning with her oatmeal mixed with bananas.
She wouldn’t even try the sweet potatoes, difficult for me since I’m of the mind that you should try something at least once before rejecting it. I find her newfound resolve amusing, but know it won’t be long before frustration sets in. I was inventive though last night when she wanted the penne but not the zucchini and sweet peppers mixed in with it. I wound up hiding the veggies, stuffing them inside the pasta. She fell for it. Score one for sneaky mom, I thought.
As I reflected on that small victory, I realized that there will be countless times I will be called upon to be creative in my daughter’s life. It’s bittersweet for me to witness her budding independence. But I guess that’s motherhood and as she grows, I grow too.
It seems a long time ago, but when my oldest son was going through his “I hate vegetables” phase, my husband decided to allow him one enemy vegetable. It’s good to give in once in a while, he said.
That is, until Billi decided he would change his enemy vegetable every day, depending on what was on the menu.
His aversion to vegetables changed when we started going to a Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. The menu included a broccoli appetizer that had sauteed garlic sprinkled over it. Boy! Did he inhale that plate! Soon it was a staple when we ate at the resturant, along with Peking Duck.
Billi’s appetite for vegetables changed after that. His favorites are now spinach sauteed with garlic and dried red chilli peppers, grilled zucchini, and green peas with cilantro and ginger, all of which I happily cook at home.
That makes me wonder if our kids don’t like vegetables because we present them in such an uninteresting way. My theory is that in the West vegetables are an afterthought; something we throw in after we’ve decided what the main menu is. We eat it because its good for us. As adults we understand that, but do kids?
In many eastern cultures, vegetables are a big part of the diet. In India, where I come from, many people are vegetarians and therefore work to make vegetables interesting. We should, too. Maybe kids will then eat vegetables.
Wishful thinking, you say? Give it a try.
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse / The Journal News / LoHud.com