While at the beach, staying inside to avoid the sweltering heat, I did a lot of things. One of those things was read the collection of cookbooks found on the kitchen counter. Flipping through the pages made me realize we have been so busy lately I've not made a full sit-down meal in a very long time. All of the meals I do make are "from scratch" but I've had to adjust so that meals can be portioned out and eaten on the run as our lives have us going from ball diamond to summer school to productions to visit with friends to everywhere and nowhere all at once. There have been too many sandwiches!
It's time to change all of that, inasmuch as our schedules allow.
A few recent discoveries:
The kids are old enough to enjoy "different" foods. My pickiest eater has always been Cole and I noticed on this past trip that he's been willing to experiment with foods he's avoided in the past: shrimp, lobster, roasted vegetables.
We don't eat nearly enough diverse foods. It's time to add in a few of my favourites: beets, green beans, spinach, squash and cauliflower. Amazingly, the kids enjoy roasted asparagus and garlic or parmesan broccoli, but really dislike carrots and green peppers.
Leave the past where it belongs. Cooking for four picky kids and a critical partner made for a spirit-sucking decade (and longer). It was me vs five opinionated eaters and I just gave up. I miss cooking and it's time for me to head back into the kitchen and enjoy it again - it wasn't lost on me that I lost my enthusiasm about the time most of these books were published in the mid-90s! I don't have to love every meal, but I do have to make a concerted effort to try new things and encourage my kids to do the same.
Meals do not have to be exotic, expensive or complicated to be good. I want to take the lessons of Canyon Ranch and marry them with the lessons of the Barefoot Contessa (and others) and see what I can come up with to fill my home with those things that go with the meal that have nothing to do with the food.
Meals don't have to be loaded with calories or chemicals to be good, either. All of the recipes I want to try will follow a few criteria:
- Ingredients can be pronounced
- Very little refined sugar will be used
- Remember "fat free" = more sugar. "less" = more sugar. "light" = more sugar. Do not use ingredients with hidden sugar.
- No trips will be made to special stores - that includes a local favourite, Whole Foods
- No cheddar. I'm violently allergic to the binding agent.
- Use no substitutes. Butter is butter. Sour cream is sour cream. Whole milk is whole milk. Bacon is bacon. Sugar is sugar.
- Portion control not deprivation of flavour or choice is the key.
To help keep me on track and motivated, I'm going to make this a creative process. You know, photos + words. I'll share my rediscoveries here on the blog - only those meals deemed fabulous - and then I'll turn those recipes into a cookbook that I can print and share with my kids.
In the meantime, as I plow through and choose recipes that meet my criteria, what are the favourite meals in your home?