Tag Archives: children

When Kidlandia meets Foodlandia – Part 2: the Princess and the pea (& ham)

Peas and prosciutto side dishPeas… such a kid-friendly shape veggie and still I have yet to hear a kid say “I love peas!” Who can blame them after all? Have you noticed how these little green fellas are generally served to those innocent tummies? Boiled, maybe with some butter if they get lucky… totally tasteless! I wouldn’t eat them unless I found myself starving on a desert island, so why should children?

What are you saying? Ah! Your kid is a picky eater! Well, let me tell you what I think about picky eaters and please, please don’t take it personally because it’s just my opinion and not the truth about the Holy Grail’s whereabouts. I tend to believe that picky eaters do not really exist: oftentimes it is the parents who do not try hard enough. Ouch, I know!!! Why do I think that? But because I was one of those parents (shame on me)!

During the first three years in my daughter’sĀ life, her majesty didn’t eat anything but milk and fruit. I was feeding her kid’s food (including the contents of those bland, tasteless baby food jars), without putting much effort into it, and she simply refused to swallow it. Every meal was a fight. Every meal was a defeat! Oh gosh! I used to hate meal time!

Then, one day, it just struck me: maybe she wanted something else, maybe she was ready for real, grown-up food. Next thing I remember is me holding a pen and a notepad and calling my mother for my first cooking class ever. That’s how I started, that’s how everything started. šŸ™‚

The recipe I’m sharing today is a classic side dish of the Italian cuisine. Every Italian family has their own recipe. This is how it goes in my house.

Ingredients:

A quarter of a small onion
4 small (or 2 large) slices of ham
1 1/2 Tbsp, butter
1 Tsp, extravirgin olive oil
1/2 pound, peas
1 cup, beef broth
salt

Directions:

Peas and prosciutto side dishChop the onion. Cut the ham into slices and cut the slices into cubes.

In a medium non-stick pot, put 1 Tbsp of butter and pour the oil. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes on a very low heat. Add the ham cubes and keep cooking, stirring often, until the onion cubes soften.

Add the peas, some salt (to taste) and the broth. Keep cooking, stirring often, until the broth completely evaporates and the peas are tender (if the peas are not completely cooked yet after the evaporation of the broth, add some water until the peas get tender).

If you want to make the dish extra moist, once the peas are ready, add a 1/2 Tbsp of butter, toss to coat and serve.

Extra Tip: Although this dish was born as a side dish, sometimes I serve it to her majesty with some pasta. When the peas are almost ready, put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. When the water is boiling add some pasta (I usually use butterflies) and cook it until al dente. Drain the pasta, put it in the pot with the peas and toss to coat. If you want, you can even dust the top of the dish with some grated parmigiano cheese.

Just give it a try. Who knows? Maybe your picky eater will like this. šŸ™‚

We have a couple of rules that we developed with our daughter during the years that – I think – are worth sharing.

First, we taste a dish at least twice before putting it in the “I don’t like it” category.

Second, since her majesty was able to articulate her thoughts, I have been asking her to explain to me why she doesn’t like a particular dish so that I can change the recipe accordingly. And it usually works!

Of course, these rules are not carved in stone… just a little bit of mom-kid experience that I would like to share out there. Quoting Sid from Ice Age: “Worth a shot”! šŸ˜‰

When Kidlandia meets Foodlandia – Part 1: Chicken bits and potatoes

Chicken bits with potatoes2 Servings

How do we get our kids to eat right? This is a billion dollar question. Well, let me tell you what I think: the secret lies in the parents’ cooking skills.

When it comes to food, Italian kids belong to a very fortunate category of human beings. I’m not talking about the quality/freshness of the products because it is indisputable that when God created my country, he was in a great mood. šŸ˜‰ I’m talking about the care and, sometimes, the financial sacrifice with which most Italian families feed their kids.

Food and culinary tradition run in our veins and many Italians pride themselves in educating their kids’ palates pretty much since they can start eating solidsĀ so they can have a balanced and healthy diet. After all, we teach them to walk, read, write, function as decent human beings, don’t we? Well, eating is not any different and many Italian families (parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts) dedicate a lot of time to grocery shop and cook meals for their little ones.

Today’s recipe is my aunt Pia’s creation. A while ago, my daughter was making a fuss about eating some grilled chicken breast because, according to “her majesty”, it was too dry notwithstanding the dressing sauce on top of it. Now, I know children loooooove fried chicken and my daughter is not any different, but fried food can be unhealthy in the long run. So my aunt, wearing her superhero apron, came to the rescue and shared the following recipe with me. My daughter loves it and Stefano is always eager to eat any leftover. šŸ™‚

Ingredients:

2 Chicken breasts
2 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
4 potatoes
2 cups, broth
salt

Directions:

Cut the chicken breasts and the potatoes into small bits. In a large non-stick skillet, pour the olive oil. Add the chicken bits and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are seared. Add the potato bits, some salt (to taste) and the broth. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until the broth evaporates and the chicken and potatoes are cooked and moist.

PS: When I happen to cook this dish for grown ups or older kids, I like to add a little twist. When the chicken bits are seared, I pour about 1/3 cup of dry white wine and I keep cooking the bits until the wine completely evaporates. Afterwards, I add the potatoes, the salt and the broth.

PPS: I’m trying to educate my daughter’s palate but… you know the saying “careful what you wish for”? She is becoming my most ferocious food critic, ready to “chop” me for the slightest of mistakes. I think I’m creating a monster!!! šŸ˜‰

What happened to fairy tales? A review of "The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm"

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers GrimmReading has been one of my greatest passions my entire life. I love everything about books. To be completely honest, I do have a sort of fetish obsession with books as objects. I love their shapes and the shivering feeling that certain covers can give me. I look forward to starting a new book waiting, with trepidation, to find out what kind of world that particular book is going to unveil to me. If I see a damaged book or whose pages have been torn orĀ dogeared, I feel a physical pain and I end up wondering what kind of human being is capable to “treat” a book like that.Ā šŸ˜‰ I have the utmost respect for books and I think they should be treated as very precious items.

As a parent, I think it is my duty and my privilege to teach my daughter the importance and the beauty of reading and how books make youĀ learn and understand many things and, therefore, ultimately make you a better person. Fortunately, my daughter loves reading and readingĀ has become an integralĀ part of our daily routineĀ – plus,Ā I do not recall a time when I said no to my daughter asking me to buy her a book.

Having said that, you can now understand my happiness when I came across “The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm”. The purple cover along with the lovely illustration of Sleeping Beauty can by themselves give you a taste of the magic and the beauty that the book contains: it is an amazing collection of twenty-seven of the most enchanting Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales brought together to celebrate their 200th anniversary. There are the most famous fairy tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, all “restored” to their original version, as well as lesser-known but, certainly, not less magical tales such as The Golden Goose and The Fisherman and His Wife.

The tales are accompanied by superb vintage illustrations made by important visual artistsĀ from the 1820s all the way up to the 1950s. They are so beautiful and unique –Ā the kind of artwork that any mother dreams to decorate her daughter’s bedroom with.

From The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: Snow WhiteDuring the last few years, we have been watching adaptations of The Prince Frog and Rapunzel that went so far from the original version that I’m pretty sure the poor Brothers Grimm could not help but turn in their graves. The female heroines are pictured as some sort of warriors who want to be always in control and believe they know everything but have nothing of the grace and the magic of the original princesses. They are so strong-willed and stubborn that they would emasculate the strongest of the princes!

Do not get me wrong: I do think that women should be strong, independent and self-sufficient, but I am a firm believer that, at least in fairy tales, it is the prince that should fight the dragon and the princess the one who must be rescued. After all, deep inside, isn’t that what every woman dreams of when she is a little girl and, maybe, even afterwards? I really thought it was time to find the flavor of the ancient tales once again and that’s exactly what this book will do for a little girl: open the door to a lost yet enchanting world whose memories will accompany her during the life journey.

Stuff We Like!This is a perfect book for your daughter, niece, granddaughter, your best friend’s child and for any other girl who is willing to dream. However, be mindful that the fairy tales in the book are the original version that was written by the Brothers Grimm, which departs from the milderĀ “Disney-format” adaptations that we are all used to and may therefore make them more suitable for older children who have the maturity to elaborate their contents and put them into context.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as my daughter and I are!

Have a wonderful week.