Food, Life, Parenting

Future Foodies Friday #1

I love the idea of adding some food posts to this blog.  It is a big part of the health and happiness of a family.  Alas, I am not a food professional or a fantastic photographer of food… so I don’t think I could do just a food blog.  I DO however, have many opinions about food, a love of cooking and eating and have a strong desire to teach my children how to appreciate (even if they don’t like) all foods.  So, I have decided to do Future Foodie Fridays… one or two posts a month talking about favorite recipes and rating the Family Friendliness of restaurants.  I would also like to say, these are the opinions I have for how MY OWN family eats, it is what we like and what works for us.  I don’t judge others for their own choices.

My sister would probably disagree, but food and how my children eat it is one of the few topics I am pretty openly opinionated about.  (notice I used the word “few” so that I won’t be called out in the future)  As stated in my About section, I am uncomfortable in extremes… this includes how we eat.  We will never be just a vegetarian, carnivore,  paleo or strictly local & organic.  I love it all and see the benefits in most.  What I feel strongly about is that our diet is diverse.  That my children know where it is from, and appreciate how we came to have it on our table.  It is also important to me that my children know what they like about food, why they don’t like a food, and how to eat foods that they don’t love.  Tall order right?

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t always eat “adult” gourmet and kale at home, far from it.  There is a time and place for mac and cheese, corn dogs and frozen pizza.  When we are at a restaurant or when everyone else is eating something else, is not it.  Often times, our lunches are “kid” food and they eat what we are eating at dinner time.  When we take them to restaurants with different ethnicities, I don’t want them eating $6 easy mac or a microwaved burger.  So, we don’t give them the option.  We are trying to teach them how to develop a palate for more.

I will never forget how embarrassed I was at myself the first time I ate with my mother in law.  She made a lovely Succatash but it had mushrooms… (my longtime foe)  I at age 19 told her that “I don’t like mushrooms.”  and proceeded to pick them all out (they were tiny)  and eat around them.  My mother in law being who she is, informed me that it was rude and her children were not picky.   Which was true on both accounts.  I started to learn that day that I needed to grow up taste wise and that what I had done was really insulting to her.  If someone honors you by sharing their meal with you… you eat the damn food.  That is why I would love for them to learn the skill of eating foods they don’t love and be thankful.  Plus, our palates are always changing and who knows, maybe someday I will actually LIKE eggplant… not just appreciate the preparation of  it.  I wouldn’t want to miss that occasion by never trying it again.

Okay, my food rant is done for today.  For Today.  On to my little future foodies.  Little Boy Loes (LBL) is my maybe vegetarian.  This kid will eat platefuls of raw veggies and rice, but meat is more of a struggle.  For some reason he prefers formed meats which is okay, just eating a little more snout to tail right?  He also LOVES asian foods and is happiest in a chinese or indian restaurant (if not eating american).  His favorite indian dish is malai kofta and he is a big fan of sesame chicken.

Littlest Loes (LL) is my carnivore.  For her birthday this past December she requested meat lollipops.  AKA Lamb chops.  Getting her to eat her veggies is our puzzle with her… although lately I have been finding that if it is juiced, she will drink it.  I think it is the magic word “juice”.  LL is more into American and Italian fare.  Her favorite foods are smoked fish, cheeseburgers, mac n cheese and pizza.  She also loves soup and chose this week’s recipe.

A couple of weeks ago my mother in law had a hip replaced so we are taking her some soup this weekend.  LL chose clam chowder.  She loves eating it and really loves going to the fish market!  We try to go to Coastal Seafoods usually.  She likes to see the pretty scales on the whole fish.  Today she was especially enthralled with a whole Atlantic Salmon and asked, do I eat that fish?  We then walked to the cut section and I showed her the salmon fillets.       She responded with oh, the pink one!  I love the pink one.  Awesome!  So we bought our 7 lbs of clams and were on our way.  We will scrub the clams this afternoon and make the soup tomorrow.   The recipe however, I will share today!  I especially love making soup.  There are lots of opportunities for the kidlets to help and it is such a  warm, rich, and delicious enjoyment when it is done, and soup, only gets better the next day.

(This recipe is from my FAVORITE soup cookbook.  The only thing that we change with it is we use a little less of the clam juice and substitute with chicken stock.  Using all clam juice made it a bit strong for the kids’ taste.   Also, the clams that we are able to get here are Countneck instead of Cherrystone.  Enjoy!)

countnecks_cropped

New England Clam Chowder

From Cook’s Illustrated. Published March 1, 1998.

Serves 6 (about 2 quarts).

During spring and summer, shellfish spawn, leaving them weak, perishable, and off-flavored. Although clams recover from their spawning phase more quickly than mussels and oysters, they should be avoided from late spring through midsummer.

Ingredients

7 pounds medium-size hard-shell clams , such as littleneck, topneck, or small cherrystone, washed and scrubbed clean
4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large Spanish onion , diced medium (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and diced medium
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Bring clams and 3 cups water to boil in large, covered soup kettle. Following illustration 1, below, steam until clams just open, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer clams to large bowl; cool slightly. Following illustrations 2 and 3, remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Next, sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Reserve meat in bowl and discarding shells. Mince clams; set aside. Pour clam broth into 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, holding back last few tablespoons broth in case of sediment; set clam broth aside. (Should have about 5 cups.) Rinse and dry kettle; return to burner.

2. Fry bacon in kettle over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion to bacon; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour; stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved clam juice. Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

Step-by-Step

Preparing the Steamed Clams

1. Steam clams until just open, at right, rather than completely open, as shown at left.

2. Open clams with a paring knife, holding over a bowl to catch juices.

3. Sever the muscle under the clam and remove it from the shell.

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