Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dear Earth,

I apologize
for the air conditioners.
We were too damn hot.

Family dynamics
suffer; Mama whines; Daddy
is today's hero.

Up from the basement,
three nice air conditioners
cleaned, installed, operating.

I promise I will
reduce, reuse, recycle.
Repeat. Forgive me.

Cooler than plums in
the icebox, cool, breezy air
holds us together.

"No Way, Jose": Zucchini Muffins Deemed Failure by Small Fry

The zucchini muffins have been declared inedible by the youngest of our pack. Even though he had already eaten two on previous days, Duncan narrowly avoided a major breakfast meltdown this morning. First, I slathered the muffin with butter and apple butter. "Mama, I don't LIKE this muffin." I convinced him to take a bite. Taking a bite moved some of the apple butter so that more muffin was exposed. I was implored to apply more apple butter. Then followed "I have to eat it upside down so I can taste the apple butter, but if I turn it upside down the apple butter falls off." So I cut it into pieces and encouraged him to eat bites upside down (the bites, not Duncan) with a fork. No. At that point, I have to admit that I became testy and sensitive, pitched the muffin in the trash, and handed him a cheese stick. Our entire Mama/Duncan breakfast bonding time derailed by a zucchini muffin.

It's a good thing I like those muffins because there are 10 more where this one came from. Back to the drawing board with sweet potatoes in the queue. I am now accepting new auditions for the role of "zucchini muffin recipe." Thanks for nothing, Epicurious.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Zucchini Muffins

Ever since I made the carrot muffins, Duncan has insisted on eating one every morning for breakfast, with his daily, hard boiled egg. I feel much about what happens at lunch time knowing that he's already had a serving of vegetables when he leaves the house in the morning. I've baked two batches now, and he helped me bake the last batch so he knows about the carrots now. "I don't care, Mama. I like those muffins." Good strategy:  hit them with a tasty baked good; letter admit to the presence of a vegetable. This weekend, I tried zucchini muffins with cranberries. Much to my surprise, I think they could use a little MORE sugar, but I gave one to Duncan at dinner, and he wolfed it down. So far, so good. Next in the baking queue are sweet potato muffins, but my friend Lisamarie just gave me a recipe for frittata muffins, which could be a pretty flexible way to chow down some vegetables and protein. Duncan started asking for Captain Crunch this weekend (though I choose to pretend he has it confused with Pirate's Booty) so I'd better act fast!

(Lunch time follow up:  We found out that Miss Anne, the preschool director, has been making Duncan sit with her at lunch several days a week so she can monitor his eating. If he has a few good days, she lets him try sitting with his friends again. She also discovered the strategy of giving him only one food at a time so he doesn't become overwhelmed. Though it left us whacking ourselves in the forehead and saying "duh," it was nice to know that Anne had identified the problem and worked on a solution before we even had a chance to bring up our concern).

Let Us Eat Lettuce

You might not have guessed this from my previous few posts, but Duncan is actually a pretty good eater. He eats more vegetables than most adults I know. While his favorites remain the basics (green beans, peas, corn, tomatoes), he has been willing to try almost any vegetable we have plated for him. Among others he has eaten willingly are:  broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, raw carrots, celery (with peanut butter), fennel, snow peas, radishes, celeriac, beets, broccoli raab, eggplant, arugula, and turnips). He's not fond of red or green pepper or those mini corns that come in cans. He was wise enough not to touch swiss chard, spinach, or any of the other greens that made their way into our lives last summer, but I can live with that. To my chagrin, the vegetable he adamantly refused to eat, however, was lettuce. Considering the number of salads we made with our Chubby Bunny yield last summer, it was frustrating. Any time we made salad, we had to come up with another vegetable for him. Because lettuce is a key ingredient in salad, he wouldn't try any other kind of salad; no egg salad, no tuna salad, no potato salad. Lettuce, for goodness sake. Who doesn't eat lettuce?

Last weekend we were out in the yard, and Duncan discovered a "volunteer" lettuce growing in our as-yet-unseeded vegetable patch. "Is this lettuce, Mama?" he asked. "I want to try some." I ripped off a piece, blew off the dust, and handed it to him. "I LIKE lettuce!" he exclaimed. For the first time, Duncan ate salad last night when we were at Four Brothers, and he had another tonight with dinner. Periodically, he comes into the kitchen and asks "Can I have a lettuce?" Or even cuter, "Can Daddy and I split a lettuce?" I can't argue with a kid who wants to eat lettuce right out of the refrigerator.  Or the ground, for that matter.

Various statistics say a child may need to be offered a new food 10, 15, or even as many as 20 times before he will eat it. If you have a finicky kid, or a passion for a less-than-everyday vegetable, or a CSA membership that sends you home weekly with unfamiliar produce, keep trying. You just never know if today might be the day that your child will eat kohlrabi.  Or lettuce.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Vegetable Randomness

Okay, as a follow up to Sneaky Vegetables, I skimmed my two CSA cookbooks in search of baking recipes that include vegetables. I'll do a more extensive search on the web later when I have more time. I'm also thinking that I could probably get Duncan to eat something like mini-quiche for breakfast, and I could load them with vegetables. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued by the whole idea of sneaking vegetables into baked goods. As my friend Courtney would say, no need to read...just really publishing this to the world so that I'll hold myself to investigating these things.

Vegetables to bake:

beets (in chocolate cake...who knew)
sweet potatoes
winter squash

Welcoming suggestions from the vegetable intrepid.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Last week, for obvious reasons, the theme at preschool was "All About Moms." Among other activities, the kids practiced tracing, writing, and coloring the letters in "Mom." Imagine my glee (as a teacher of reading, writing, and spelling) by Wednesday when Duncan could not only read but also spell Mom!  Since he's pretty good with the alphabet and letter sounds, we also taught him Dad. Now he can spell three things: Mom, Dad, and Duncan! If he could only sit still for five minutes, I could probably teach him how to read.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sneaky Vegetables

There's a long post to come...all about how we were forced to switch Duncan's preschool in the middle of the year and how he appears to be at risk for AD/HD. We all went through a lot between the age of three and four, and my need to write about it before moving on is at the heart of my writer's block.

But anyway, what you need to know is that Duncan can't concentrate for long enough to eat his lunch when he's at school.

We have always had a difficult time feeding him. In fact, we fed him for longer than we really should have because we were so frustrated with watching him NOT feed himself that we always wound up shoveling food into him. It hasn't become much better though hopefully we're becoming more patient. Duncan can usually get through dinner, given time, nagging, and cajoling, but sometimes he needs one of us to sneak bites into his mouth when he's not paying attention. Lunch at home is similar. It goes without saying, though, that a preschool does not have manpower enough to sit with him and monitor what goes into his mouth. As a result, Duncan has been returning home with at least 3/4 of his lunch uneaten. I'm not sure why, but it's extremely disheartening and frustrating for Jamie and I to pack lunches each day that return home untouched. On the positive side, Duncan has become a voracious eater at breakfast. He's hungry enough at 6:00 a.m. that he eats steadily, without shenanigans, until he is full. Most days, he eats twice as much as I do. On a good day, he eats a hard boiled egg, a piece of toast, and a bowl of cereal. Jamie and I find consolation in the fact that he is eating two decent meals at home, and his weight is average.

Still, I worry about the nutrients he doesn't eat at lunch. He takes an embarrassingly healthy lunch to school, and we're pretty conscious about representing the major food groups at each meal. Of course, most days it is the fruits and vegetables that return, lonely, in his lunchbox. I've been trying to think creatively about how to get those items into him at breakfast, quickly and efficiently, since we don't have time to cook in the morning. Having seen few recipes for "breakfast cookies," I started thinking about muffins, carrot muffins, in particular. Yesterday I tried out this recipe, and I was pretty happy. They have a healthy balance of whole and white flour, 7 or 8 carrots (for 12 muffins), and pineapple. This morning, they were a big hit. Duncan would like me to add nuts and raisins next time, and those additions would add increase the nutritional content nicely. If he still likes them by the end of the week, I'll try zucchini next. That's about my repertoire of baked goods containing vegetables so I'm on the lookout for more if you have any great ideas.

Shhhh! Carrots? If no one asks, no one needs to tell.