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Old-fashioned chicken nuggets no more

March
4

One of the few things my youngest will eat in any form is chicken nuggets.

Or so I thought.

For years, her default meal at fast-food restaurants and our local fish place was chicken nuggets; when I do my weekly grocery shopping, I usually pick up a package of frozen nuggets to have in the house for after-school or those days my husband and I have things to do at dinner time and the kids are on their own.

This past Sunday, the usual nuggets I buy, which have a gluten-free coating, weren’t where I could find them, so I picked up a box of the old-fashioned nuggets we used when our youngest was still in single digits. That night, I had my usual baked/fried chicken meal, so the nuggets weren’t out of their box until lunch on Monday.

I made 6 of the old-fashioned nuggets. My youngest ate three of them, then stopped.

“These taste like fast-food nuggets,” she said.

“And?”

“Well, we had real chicken for dinner last night .. and we don’t usually get this kind any more … and I don’t like them.”

I believe she’s developing a palate.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at 11:14 am
Category: Uncategorized

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No need to hide broccoli in a brownie, just give it a new name.

March
2

Supercalafragilistic spinach. Mysterious mushrooms. Zany zucchini. This is how some scientists think kids will eat their vegetables, by renaming them.

A study recently published in Live Science showed that when veggies were given “cool” names, like X-Ray Vision Carrots kids preferred them to say, plain old carrots. Other studies found that adults were also easily swayed by the food name game.

I found this thinking similar to putting a bar of soap in a pretty package. It’s all in the presentation.

Check out the article here.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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Comfort in hominy

February
25

My daughter has this affinity for hominy. For those of you who don’t know what hominy is, it’s dried maize. You boil it and it pretty much tastes like a giant flavorless corn kernel.

My mother turned my daughter on to it. As my mother gets older, it seems to be her one comfort food. I think it reminds her of the corn she ate when she was younger in Peru. Peruvian corn is a lot different than the cobbed variety we’re used to here. It’s white, not sweet at all and the teeth are three times the size.

Personally, I think plain hominy is inedible. It could be good in a sauce but that’s not how my mom and daughter eat it. They share it as a snack, like popcorn, with a hunk of cheese almost every afternoon.

It’s funny when I think about this little tradition grandmother and granddaughter have. I know that I may think it’s disgusting now, but one day, hopefully way, way down the road, when my mother is no longer with us, I will cherish the memory.

Who knows maybe I’ll pass it along and eat hominy with my granddaughter some day—if I’m lucky.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 at 5:27 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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Everyday fancy dishes

February
24

I got a phone picture the other day from my oldest, who sent me a shot of two water classes with painted pheasants on them.

“These are to match the dishes,” she had messaged with the photo.

Shortly before she moved to her own place, she and I visited a consignment store looking for a couch, and found a set of hunt dishes in a cabinet with a price tag that I can’t remember, but with a pattern I can: half the plates had pictures of pheasants on them, the other half had, I believe, grouse.

We then discussed the use of special dishes for special occasions, with reference to the bone china set she inherited from her grandmother and which were too good for myself and my siblings to use when we lived at home, or when we came to visit after we grew up and had families of our own.

My oldest planned to use the china for her everyday dishes, but kept getting flack from everybody she mentioned it to: coworkers, friends and acquaintances. I was all for using the dishes. What good are dishes that nobody uses? She was waffling, but still planned to use them for important guests.

Probably the single reason why they’re still sitting in the hutch in her living room is because she, like other people in her state of life, doesn’t actually make food and sit down at a table and eat it.

I had suggested she get in the habit of making dinner a sit-down affair, even in her singlehood, as a sign of respect for herself. And by all means, she should use her fancy dishes.

We plan to visit on Sunday, after her new couch is delivered. I’m curious whether she’ll invite us for dinner, and whether her dad and I are important enough to bring out the good dishes.

Posted by Randi Weiner on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 4:49 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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The honey-coated cough

February
18

My daughter recently came down with a pretty nasty cough. It’s been going on for about a week and my wise old aunt told me to give her a mixture of 1 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp. lemon, heated together.

Being almost 2, it was her first taste of honey and she liked it. But what’s even better is that I think the concoction might be working, sorta.

Her cough is kept at bay completely during the day, but at night—and only when she lays down to bed—is a whole different story. She hacks for a good half-hour in  her sleep. It’s painful just too watch. I rub this special Baby Vapo Rub on her that appears to give her some relief. But the rest of the night she’s restless and whimpers.

Anyone have any other natural cough remedies?

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 3:46 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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How many cookbooks?

February
16

Although she’s now in her own place, my oldest dropped by the homestead this weekend for a visit and a trip to our local massive food warehouse.

One of our favorite aisles is the book aisle, and we like to cruise through the cookbook offerings, of which there are many.

I asked her if she needed any new books — she’s a fan of the Barefoot Contessa — which she declined. She has a half-dozen books, most purchased for her by her grandmothers, which are heavy on Rachel Ray. I don’t think she’s opened even one since she got them, but she likes to look at the pictures. Don’t we all.

She’s much more practical than I am. She only wants to have a half-dozen cookbooks on her shelf, one of which is Betty Crocker’s, the one she learned much of her cooking technique from.

I, on the other hand, probably have 45 cookbooks, most of which collect dust. I probably use one or two routinely, and am thinking of thinning the herd.

Any thoughts on which two or three cookbooks ought to be in every kitchen?

Posted by Randi Weiner on Monday, February 16th, 2009 at 5:02 pm
Category: cookbook, cookbooks

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A full refrigerator and nothing to eat

February
9

Maybe it’s just the male equivalent of the full-but-boring-closet, but my son will open the refrigerator door, take a look at all the stuff in there, and say there’s nothing to eat.

The refrigerator has juice, cider and milk; there’s leftover pasta from dinner three nights ago, leftover chicken from last night and something from a while back that has turned various colors and is unrecognizable but still hanging around in the back regardless. There are packages of wraps, rolls and hotdogs, too. Not to mention peanut butter and jam.

There is some leftover Chinese food, a leftover half sandwich from my dinner last night and there is bread in the bread bin along with a half loaf of wheat ciabatta in the microwave. There’s frozen pizza, frozen crab cakes, frozen buffalo chicken nuggets, frozen meat and poultry and ice cream in the freezer.

Apparently this isn’t food.

I believe what he wants are cold cuts. I’m not a big fan. I am a realist, though, when it comes to kids and food. I wonder if he’ll consider low-sodium turkey acceptable?

Posted by Randi Weiner on Monday, February 9th, 2009 at 3:15 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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Grilled goodness

February
9

For brunch last Saturday, I put together an old favorite–  grilled sandwiches with a spicy potato spread. It turned out to be a huge hit with my kids, and left me wondering how I had forgotten all about this childhood staple for so long?

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS for the spread

3 tablespoons Canola or other vegetable oil.
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 green chilies (minced)
4 large potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

PREPARATION

Heat oil in a frying pan, and saute onions, garlic and chilies, stirring till it turns golden brown. Add chilly powder, coriander powder, and salt to taste.
Now add the mashed potatoes and mix well. Let cook for 5 minutes, turning the mixture over constantly.
Remove from heat and transfer the mixture into a bowl.
Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
Make a sandwich with a generously thick layer of the mixture.
Place a cast iron grill pan over high heat, and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter. Reduce heat to low and add sandwich. Cook until browned and crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a platter and cut in half and serve.

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Monday, February 9th, 2009 at 1:17 pm
Category: grilled cheese, potato, potatoes, sandwich, sandwiches
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The 2 percent question

February
8

Most parents know about the recommendation to switch kids to 2 percent milk after the age of 2, the idea being that they get the same amount of nutrition with less fat and cholesterol. Many pediatricians further recommend going to 1 percent or fat-free milk after the age of 5. 

Given the country’s obesity epidemic it makes perfect sense.

We never made the switch with our skinny and picky firstborn, simply because getting lots of fat into his rapidly lengthening frame seemed like a great idea.

Then as our family grew and his two sisters went from baby to toddler, it seemed easier to just buy the same gallon for everyone.

Now the youngest is 2 and not terribly picky, (I should say, wasn’t before the terrible twos hit!) it’s probably time to revisit the milk question.

It’s certainly easy enough to buy a gallon of this and a gallon of that, but I’ve also read some arguments that absent obesity concerns, full-fat might actually be best beyond the age of 2.

Parents, what did you do?

(Journal News file photo)

Posted by Katie Ryan O'Connor on Sunday, February 8th, 2009 at 11:57 am
Category: "Eat This, adventurous eaters, calories, kitchens, milk, williams-sonoma, wonton soup, yogurt, you-pick

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The yogurt ritual

February
4

One of the highlights of my daughter’s day is her 10:30 a.m. YoBaby Yogurt fix. Not a day has gone by in the past 10 months where she hasn’t had this creamy concoction.

She loves her yogurt that she pronounces yo-gooo-t. I guess what gravitated me toward this brand was its YoBaby name. It just seemed to scream from the aisles…”come get me, I’m tailor-made for your baby.” As far as I can tell, there is no other yogurt brand specifically for little ones.

So I did an Internet search and found that the folks over at Stonyfield Farm are pretty crafty when it comes to reaching out to their consumers. They have a blog, Baby Babble and recently had a Who Loves YoBaby? video contest on YouTube. Participants were asked to submit videos of their kids eating the yogurt and the winners received a $2,000 college bond. I wish I would have known about it.

Check out the winners and other submissions here. They’re really cute.

Posted by Marcela Rojas on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 4:48 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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About this blog
You make it, they eat it, right?

As most parents soon discover, feeding a family is rarely that easy, whether its nursing a fussy newborn or trying to get a hot meal into a squirming toddler (or attempting both at the same time.) And that's not even the days when work runs late, the main course burns, or your adventurous little sushi eater announces from now on she will only eat food that is pink.

As parents ourselves, we've been there, done that, even learned a few tricks along the way. And we're pretty sure so have you. Maybe together we can make eating together as a family -- gulp! -- fun again.

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!

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About the authors
Hema Easley Hema Easley has been a reporter for The Journal News since July 2002, first covering municipal government and then nonprofit agencies, women's issues and the South Asian and Muslim community in the Lower Hudson Valley. In her previous job, Hema was a correspondent for the Associated Press in South Asia. She lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County.
KatieKatie Ryan O'Connor, a Journal News editor and 35-year-old mother of three, never quite appreciated the work that went into feeding kids until she had to do it herself as a mother. If she had a food-and-kids philosophy it would be something like this: try your best to offer as much healthy food as possible, but sometimes fruits just have to be counted as vegetables and there are far worse things than chicken and spaghetti. Again.
TraceyTracey Princiotta, a 37-year-old mother of one, loves to cook, bake and eat, and is relieved that her son appears to be equally willing to chow down -- even if it's baby food and formula right now. Despite her husband's intense aversion to vegetables, she has high hopes of nurturing a true chowhound who will try everything at least once. And if all else fails, she's not above sneaking veggies into other foods.
Marcela Rojas Marcela Rojas has been a municipal reporter with The Journal News since January 2003. She is a native of Putnam County and grew up eating Peruvian food. She didn't realize until she was 13 that rice did not come with everyone's meal. After several years of living in Los Angeles -- where she grew a fondness for Thai food -- she returned to Putnam County where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Zyla (rhymes with Lilah) just turned 1 in March and, so far (her mother is pleased to note), loves to eat everything.
Swapna Venugopal Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, a Journal News reporter, started her career as a journalist in 1999 after graduating with a master's degree from New York University. Before joining the paper in 2006, Swapna worked as a municipal reporter for the Home News Tribune in New Jersey, and took a baby sabbatical to care for her two children, now ages 7 and 5. She has currently outsourced feeding her children and husband to her mother, who is visiting from India. Her friend and colleague Katie O'Connor, informs Swapna that she wouldn't mind being fed Indian food by her mother, too.
Randi Weiner Randi Weiner has been a reporter with The Journal News since 1989, having covered police, government and schools in Westchester and in Rockland. An Ohio native and 1976 graduate of Bowling Green State University, she worked for daily newspapers in Ohio and Michigan before moving east. She has tended bar and danced in a beledi troup and sat on the boards of two community theaters. She plays mandolin with the Shamrogues, Connecticuts largest Irish band. Randi lives in Connecticut with her husband and has three children.

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