All About Food

Alden has developed a quirky (gross) habit at the dinner table. Or rather, two habits that amount to the same thing. First is that if he doesn’t seem to consider himself fully committed to a bite of food until it’s swallowed. So, for example, imagine he’s eating a piece of cheese and you put a bean down in front of him. He will stop chewing while he contemplates the bean. If he decides the bean has more appeal than the cheese, he’ll sweep the cheese out of his mouth and put it back on his plate and then go for the bean. The second is new as of last night. I gave him some corkscrew pasta with pesto, which he loved. He loved the pesto so much that he would put a piece of pasta in his mouth, swish and suck until it was clean, and then daintily pluck the pasta out of his mouth and then go for the next piece. In both cases, he isn’t flinging and he isn’t spitting. He’s almost dainty about the whole process. So we’re working on “Food stays in your mouth.” but it’s kind of a hard concept for him. Particularly because I do let him spit out a new food if he doesn’t like it. It’s also a little bit funny to me to watch him line up sparkling clean pasta bits on his plate.

Tonight we’re having new friends over for dinner. They have two kids — two and six. We went to their house last weekend and they had a lovely lasagna for the grownups and cheese pizza with steamed veggies for the kids. I’m wondering what to make in return. I want to be easy and casual. I want to make sure the kids will like their dinner. I usually just feed Alden whatever we’re eating, so I don’t have much of a kiddie menu repetoire. Maybe I’ll make a mac and cheese and peas, or something along those lines. I asked their mom and she wrote back, “Make whatever you want. The kids can always eat bread and water!” which cracked me up and made me love her but didn’t bring me any closer to knowing what her kids will like. So I think, yes, mac and cheese and veggies. As for the grownups, who knows? But I’ve got a few hours and I’m not so worried about that one.

Sticking to my food theme, I’m about to dip my toe into cookie making that just inches beyond scooping ready-made dough. I’m a terrible baker. Terrible. I have no idea what I’m doing. I am imprecise and improvesational in the kitchen. I lack discipline. But these cookies are dark chocolate and peppermint and they looked so, so delicious. And since I haven’t seen them in the store, the only way I will to eat them is if I bake them. I’m invited to a wine party and cookie swap tomorrow so the goal is to make them in time to hit a bakery if they’re a failure.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. When I was little, I always wanted to eat what the grownups had. I have memories of guests at the table asking my mother, “she’s going to eat THAT?” when Mom popped a rouladen down on my plate.
    Those cookies sound amazingly yummy.
    I am also an improv cook. My husband is a precise cook. He measures. And measures. I sniff and add spice by tapping on the jar (and say “Oh shit” when I dump way too much chipotle powder into something, which happens a lot). But, in a strange act of fate, I am the better baker, while he, Mr. Measure, is at best indifferent. The moral of this story is–cookies are pretty forgiving, even for improv cooks (Bread, now, bread is a harsh mistress). It’s mostly about ratios of wet to dry to rising agents. Be precise on the baking powder or baking soda (or both, if it asks for them). You can generally cut back on sugar without hurting much (I have by at least half in some cases). Get close with the flour, make sure you have enough liquid, and it should work out okay.

    Reply

  2. When I was little, I always wanted to eat what the grownups had. I have memories of guests at the table asking my mother, “she’s going to eat THAT?” when Mom popped a rouladen down on my plate.
    Those cookies sound amazingly yummy.
    I am also an improv cook. My husband is a precise cook. He measures. And measures. I sniff and add spice by tapping on the jar (and say “Oh shit” when I dump way too much chipotle powder into something, which happens a lot). But, in a strange act of fate, I am the better baker, while he, Mr. Measure, is at best indifferent. The moral of this story is–cookies are pretty forgiving, even for improv cooks (Bread, now, bread is a harsh mistress). It’s mostly about ratios of wet to dry to rising agents. Be precise on the baking powder or baking soda (or both, if it asks for them). You can generally cut back on sugar without hurting much (I have by at least half in some cases). Get close with the flour, make sure you have enough liquid, and it should work out okay.

    Reply

    • Excellent advice, thank you! The cookies came out okay. I decided to make the chocolate thicker than strictly necessary, which made the cookie base a little soggy. But they still tasted pretty good to me.
      I hope Alden continues down the path to eat like you did. When I was a little kid we used to eat in restaurants all the time and my mom would always let me order a Diet Coke and a coffee, just like all the adults. I never drank them, but she never complained. I still think that was very cool of her.

      Reply

  3. Excellent advice, thank you! The cookies came out okay. I decided to make the chocolate thicker than strictly necessary, which made the cookie base a little soggy. But they still tasted pretty good to me.
    I hope Alden continues down the path to eat like you did. When I was a little kid we used to eat in restaurants all the time and my mom would always let me order a Diet Coke and a coffee, just like all the adults. I never drank them, but she never complained. I still think that was very cool of her.

    Reply

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