When it came to cooking for four children, I was fortunate in that we miraculously managed to produce no really picky eaters. They weren't freaked out by foods touching each other and so were unfazed by casseroles1 and even tolerated, if not enjoyed, veggies of all kinds. They were easily bored, however, which resulted in many nights of "We're having this again?!"
There was one particularly memorable night when seven-year-old Son-One walked in on me assembling yet another shepherd's pie and groaned, "Aw, not that again."
"When you get bigger and get a job and buy your own food, you can decide what to have for dinner," I told him in my patient mommy voice.
To which my beloved son responded, "If you keep feeding me that crap, I'm never going to get bigger because I'm going to stop eating!"
My usual response when they did complain or refuse to eat "that crap" for the fifth time in a month was to allow them to make themselves a sandwich rather than to force the issue. For the most part, though, I tried to vary the menu as much as possible within our budget, which often meant subtle twists on all-too-familiar foods.
For instance, one night, right around the same time as the shepherd's pie incident, I was making dinner for some assortment of my own and Little Sister's kids. I wrapped generic hot dogs in refrigerated biscuit dough2 and baked them up. While they were baking, I got distracted and left them in maybe a little too long3--they were a few shades darker than golden brown when I pulled them out just as Son-One was walking through the kitchen.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Pigs in a blanket," I proclaimed. It's surprising how much of parenting turns out to be about branding and spin, isn't it?
"Mom," he said, "those are not pigs in a blanket. They're hot dogs in a burned-up biscuit."
Word spread and dinner was served to a chorus of "But I don't want hot dogs in a burned-up biscuit!" and "Mom, please never make hot dogs in a burned-up biscuit again." and "Do I really have to eat all this hot dog in a burned-up biscuit?"
Now, I know what you're thinking, but hot dogs in a burned-up biscuit is a time-honored family recipe, passed down from generation to generation.
I have to be honest, though, times are tight...I'd probably be willing to part with it for the right price.
B is for Burned-Up Biscuit
*I know, I know. They've scrapped the food pyramid. But food trapezoid or whatever they've come up with now just didn't have the same ring to it.
1. As someone who now plans menus for seventeen adult men, I can attest to the fact that children not being fazed by casseroles is a bigger deal than it might seem. I routinely deal with grown men who whine at the thought of their food being mixed together in one pan.
2. Nutrition Nazis in the audience should feel free to re-imagine this as veggie dogs wrapped in homemade, gluten-free, whole-grain biscuit dough.
3. We can all agree that timers are for amateurs, right?
42 minutes ago