Experiments #15 and #16.
What’s happening right now is Rose is wondering if, “cats have a good rememory.” Col is adding data to the scientific record. Dan is painting a lot of gorgeous watercolor landscapes, which I’ve been put on notice NOT to grandstand in front of unsuspecting guests. I am playing Free To Be You and Me for the kids, wondering why we traded the notion of living in a land where the children are free for living in a land where children are over-scheduled and over-evaluated. (Beam me back to the 70’s, Marlo.)
Col’s new home away from home, or the tree fort he built behind our house.
Rose’s tree house, with all the necessities of living.
Also, I’m trying to populate our meals with vegetables. (I’m not the only one; Mark Bittman must be reading my blog again.) And it’s not that Col and Rose are veggie adverse; it’s just that I keep infiltrating our dinners with the same toothy chard bursting forth in our greenhouse, which is like insisting that if you live in Vegas you must see every Bee Gees reunion show.
I’ve tried to breed gustatory preference out of the children, parading my own austere and frugal banner at the dinner table, titled: if you’re hungry enough you’ll eat it. Meanwhile, the kids have become experts at mining their plates for goodies, leaving the tailings of kale and bok choi behind. So, I’m tuning in. Rose likes veggies crisp, raw and prettily sliced. Col likes homely cooked veggies mingling in a mosh-pit of elk-based stew. This can lead to slight variations on a dinner theme (Rose has a salad with her elk burger, Col has steamed broccoli), which really, is the least of my parenting problems.
Reference materials for parents.
There is still some downright vegetable prejudice in the house, which, like any other, is born of misconception, fear, and just a bit of inexplicable crazy-making. (Like when my friend Joy reports Rose didn’t eat the lunch I sent her with because she devoured three bowls of Joy’s chard soup. “But she never wants my chard soup,” I lament like some 50’s housewife).
Some of this is simply a branding issue; I remember my friend Caraway’s 3-year old son Noah referring earnestly to the kale on his plate as “wishing leaves,” before gobbling them down. Last night I served a five layer casserole (spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, elk sausage, cheese, tomato sauce) while deflecting my mom’s repeated question, “What’s in this?” The kids needed to successfully ford the cauliflower river before all was revealed. They loved it. (Hint: mash steamed cauliflower with ample butter).
Don’t fear the cauliflower. When this blog goes viral I’m hiring an in-house food stylist.
Chard will still make appearances, but I’m totally cool with artichoke leaves becoming the springboard for a dive into a butter pool; or serving frozen peas because the kids will forklift them into their mouths. I’m buying Cali-grown cucumbers and red peppers in February because Rose greets them like BFFs. I’m giving up a little of my inborn frugality, austerity and staunch locavorism, because indoctrinating the kids’ gut biomes with a diverse nation of microorganisms seems the least I can do to prepare them for adulthood.
Also, peanut sauce even makes chard taste good. It’s creamy and rich with deep flavors of cilantro, ginger and garlic.
Makes 2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
3/4 cup peanut butter (almond butter OK)
1/2 cup whole coconut milk
3 TBSP rice vinegar
1/4 cup (or more, taste for saltiness) tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
juice of 1 lime
1 TBSP hot chile oil/powder (optional)
Blend everything in food processor or blender. You’re done! Now that was easy.
This peanut sauce can be used as a dip for raw or steamed veggies, a drizzle over a stir-fry, mixed into rice noodles and veggies, or as a salad dressing. Or…what else?