Sunday, March 7, 2010

Success and Failure

I went crazy this week and tried two new things with Sam. First, pizza. I made neither the dough nor the spread this time, so I wasn't feeling so emotionally invested. I have shed more than one tear on more than one occasion when something I slaved over was roundly rejected. Anyway, I had a feeling that it would be successful because we had tried this very pizza at Trader Joe's and Sam liked it. I actually was glared at while going back for a second "sample." I guess TJs is very unlike Costco in that they frown upon people trying to make meals out of samples. I felt compelled to explain myself: "You see, I ate the first bite and merely gave my son here - see, isn't he cute? - a tiny bite. So this sample is for him. And now watch me lean over and grab a jar of the spread to show you just how interested and moved I am by your pizza making."

Sometimes I really am that 12-year-old who cares way too much what I think other people are thinking about me. I remember ... in the wise words of my mother: "Why do you think they are looking at you? No one is looking at you!"
So this is a plain dough with artichoke heart spread and a little mozzarella. Sam liked it quite a bit unless the piece was especially goopy with the artichoke heart spread. Then he would drop the piece, stare at the goop on his finger, and say, "Sticky."

Since the vogue seems to be to prepare kids as early as possible for college, I went ahead and let Sam eat his slice in front of the TV. I held - and drank - the beer; Sam just learned how to say "beer."

The second dish was an utter failure. I learned this recipe while participating in the National Outdoor Leadership School. This is fantastic backpacking food. Of course, we didn't take shrimp in our backpacks. When you prepare it outdoors, dried veggies and peanut butter that doesn't have to be refrigerated are employed. This is the backpacking version of the Indonesian dish Gado Gado. While in the great outdoors you have it over pasta, so that's what I did for Sam. I made some penne and put a tiny bit of the peanut butter sauce on it - no go. He did that thing where he takes the offensive material out of his mouth and interrogates it with his eyes: What ARE you? Why have you been served to ME?

When you have a child and you experiment with his meals, you have to be emotionally prepared to eat or toss your creation if it is rejected. Usually I am okay eating it; sometimes I am not and so I become irate (and sad) when I have to toss it. Think of the starving Armenians! This time, I had an exit strategy. See above photo.

Backpacking Gado Gado: 3T each of peanut butter, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar; 3/4 cup water. Throw it all in a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat to combine.

Obviously this is the most basic recipe that you can work with to your liking. Your questions would be What kind of oil? What kind of vinegar? etc. Use what you want. Since it's Asian, I use peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, and I add sriracha chili sauce. You can saute some aromatics with your stir fry that would also add to the flavor, like green onions, ginger, and garlic. You can also play with the amounts; I like a bit more peanut butter and a little less water. This last time I experimented with adding 1 tsp. cornstarch (after I pulled it out of the fridge the day after I made the sauce for Sam), then poured the sauce over the cooked veggies in the saute pan to thicken. Basic stir fry saucing method. It worked swimmingly.


  1. Get those frozen tater tots and fish sticks or chicken nuggets!! The visual you created of Sam looking at the offending food item is pretty darn funny. Mom

  2. We've already got the fish sticks and chicken nuggets. He has never been keen on potato items. Maybe tater tots are unlike real potato enough to work.