Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Good Book: Pretend Soup

I have been a fan of Mollie Katzen since high school. She is the author of the acclaimed Moosewood cookbooks, and her original Moosewood cookbook was the first cookbook I used in my early days of cooking. A year or two ago, I heard a radio interview with Mollie Katzen, during all the 'sneaky food' hype, when everyone was sneaking cauliflower and spinach in their chicken nuggets. Although I definitely understand why parents do this, I guess my philosophy is a little different. I never really liked vegetables growing up, mostly because they weren't prepared in the most pallatable way (sorry mom!). Once I tasted fresh vegetables in season that were cooked well, I gladly loaded my plate with veggies. I guess I feel like if I'm sneaking food in, and wow, I can't even taste it, well, it's kind of a diss to all the poor veggies and their spectacular flavors, colors, and textures. In the interview, Mollie Katzen suggested incorperating veggies in all of the main dishes that we make for our kids. Instead of having a portion of the plate dedicated to canned corn and hovering over our children to eat it, maybe we could chop up some fresh peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes and cook them up into an omelet or soup or pasta sauce. Not only do our children learn about a variety of beautiful veggies, but they get used to a variety of flavors, tending to be less picky about the good stuff. As I've tried to incorporate this philosophy in my own cooking for Pete, I've been amazed at our little gourmand! He doesn't eat everything (asparagus: no, broccoli: no, mushrooms: no), but he will try most things and really loves many of my favorite veggies--red peppers, green beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes...and as time passes, and he has more encounters with different dishes, he likes those veggies formerly on the hate list more and more.

Anyway, how'd I get on this food diatribe again? Ah, yes, Mollie Katzen. Well, at the end of her interview, she talked about the importance of including kids in the cooking process and she mentioned that she had written a few cookbooks just for young kids. I was ecstatic! At the time, Pete was too young for these books, but he is now the perfect age for her first cookbook, Pretend Soup. We got it from the library, and Pete loves this book so much, that he reads it every day while eating his breakfast. Pretty cute. Anyway, we tried out the bagel faces and they were a sensation:

Pete's impersonation of the bagel faces.

In the future, I might try flavored cream cheese, as Pete wasn't too crazy about the plain stuff. One exciting thing about this book is it has great lunch ideas--finally! Something beyond the current three lunches that I have been making for so long! We're excited to try them all!


Deanna said...

I agree with this philosophy as well. I've never tried to hide healthy foods or veggies from my kids and I've never made dishes especially for them that didn't include it. I make food just the way I normally would and we have never really given our kids the option of even being "picky". Over the years there have been some things that my kids will eventually say that they don't like all that well, but we try to always taste it again and again just to make sure that is still the case. I'm not going to make them eat everything (because I, myself, don't like everything), but for the most part our kids are pretty open-minded and will eat or try almost anything. And more often than not - they will LIKE it. They have a much broader pallette of foods than I ever did growing up and I hope that will stick with them.

Those books sounds really cool. I will definitely have to check into getting some.

Jill said...

Love the bagel faces! We miss you guys! I've got to get that book. I need to call you soon, but it looks like we are moving to California!