Eat this now

These Make My Day

Nothing made me happier as a child than seeing a box of Count Chocula cereal in our kitchen cabinet. They were so good I’d inhale the box, barely chewing, shredding the roof of my mouth in the process, but I didn’t care. They were chocolate and they were for breakfast. Win, win.

Now they only make an appearance around Halloween. When I see them stacked high at the grocery store my heart still skips a beat. A relic from my childhood, here to be enjoyed again and passed down to the next eager generation. I’m not a huge fan of sugary cereal for breakfast, but for these I make an exception. If you love your kids, you will too.

I’m Married To the Chef

I don’t usually follow NaBloPoMo’s prompts, but this one is particularly close to my heart. Would you ever want a personal chef, or do you enjoy cooking your own meals? I just so happen to be married to a chef. You could even say I married my personal chef. He used to cook for me when we were dating. He’d bring home the best scalloped potatoes on the planet and I would devour every cheesy bite. We happily gained weight together before we got engaged, we connected over food. When I got pregnant he graced me with lobster saltimbocca and rich chocolate pots de cremes. I was in heaven. Life was good. By the time the third baby came along, my lobster and chocolate handouts were never to be seen again. Life gets in the way of the best intentions sometimes.

Delicious food is sensual, sharing a good meal together can be a very intimate thing. I’m not talking Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks kind of intimate. That’s an entirely different blog post! But I will say we bonded over food, trying new flavors and cuisines has always been part of our adventure and if we had more money and time we’d hit every restaurant in the city just because we could. It’s our thing. It’s us.

So to answer the prompt question, yes, I love having a personal chef. Unfortunately, my personal chef also works for other people who really like to eat his food, so I’m forced to share. I always laugh when people ask the same questions when they find out I’m married to a chef. “Does he cook for you all the time?” “You never have to cook? How lucky!” Well, not really. The truth is he has given me a quiet confidence in the kitchen I didn’t know I had. Most weeks we take turns cooking, because honestly who wants to come home from work after cooking all day and do it all over again at home?

People wonder if I’m intimidated cooking for him; he’s been featured on the local news and teaches cooking classes, he caters events, he consults with large, well-known companies, he’s a very talented chef. And I used to be very intimidated, but not anymore. At the end of the day he is still my husband. He never complains about a meal and always gives me honest feedback when I ask for it. He has made me a better cook just by being near me. I watch and learn from him. And yes, I’m very lucky. I married my personal chef. Maybe when the kids are grown and out of the house I’ll find some lobster saltimbocca and chocolate pots de creme waiting for me…

Magic In Every Box

Cereal is my weakness. I hide boxes of my favorites in the pantry behind the healthy stuff so the kids won’t find it. I want the entire box to myself. I don’t want to share or pass the milk or talk. I like to eat alone and I read the box, but only once because after that it gets boring. Neon colored cereals taste the best; Fruity Pebbles are on par with crack. I can’t stop at one bowl or three. I eat until I feel like I’m going to explode and then, well, I do have some milk left, just a little bit more.

Cap’n Crunch shreds the roof of your mouth. We all know it and even though we are all rational, level-headed adults, we eat them until our mouths go numb from the pain, they are just so good. I know I’m not the only crazy person who does this with cereal.  I’ve talked to friends. I’ve verified.  We all do it.

I just finished a few delicious servings of Cocoa Pebbles, the kind that turns your milk into chocolate magic. It’s a double treat really; you get to eat the cereal, then enjoy cereal flavored milk. Heaven.  If you’ve never heard of Christina Tosi from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York, get yourself to a library pronto and check out her cookbook.  Then make everything in it and recover on the couch for the next week.  Her treats are intense. That woman is a genius.  A couple of my favorites are the Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake, crack pie (seriously) and her famous cereal milk.  You can visit their website for sample recipes from the book here.

am momofuku cake

Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake, Photo by omgponies2

But if your itching for some cereal inspired fare, here’s Christina’s recipe for Cereal Milk. Yum.

Cereal Milk™

makes 2 and 1/2 cups, serves 4

100 g (2 3/4 cups) cornflakes
825 g (3 3/4 cups) cold milk
30 g (2 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 tsp) kosher salt

1. Heat the oven to 300°F.

2. Spread the cornflakes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool completely. Toasting the cornflakes before steeping them deepens the flavor of the milk. Taste your cereal milk™ after you make it. If you want it a little sweeter, don’t be shy; add a little more brown sugar. If you want a more mellow cereal milk™, add a splash of fresh milk and a pinch of salt.

3. Transfer the cooled cornflakes to a large pitcher. Pour the milk into the pitcher and stir vigorously. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature.

4. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a medium bowl. The milk will drain off quickly at first, then become thicker and starchy toward the end of the straining process. Using the back of a ladle (or your hand), wring the milk out of the cornflakes, but do not force the mushy cornflakes through the sieve.

5. Whisk the brown sugar and salt into the milk until fully dissolved. Store in a clean pitcher or glass milk jug, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Now go hide from your friends and family and enjoy. You’re welcome.

Eat Your Cookie

The great thing about kids is they will call you on your bullshit. Take this evening for instance. The whole family was getting ready to go outside to start a fire and make s’mores; peaceful, relaxing time to enjoy one another’s company. My husband and I were in the kitchen talking and I was eating a chocolate chip cookie my mother made. The girls came in, saw me eating a cookie and immediately starting pleading for one. “No way! We are going outside to make s’mores!” I had barely swallowed my last bite before I hear, “Well, why do you get to eat one then?”

I had no recourse. I gave them each a cookie. They smiled and happily left the kitchen.

Girls – 1   Mom – 0

Chopsticks Make Everything Better

When the girls were younger I could get them to eat anything; brussel sprouts, prunes and asparagus were happily eaten at mealtimes with no complaining. Fast forward a few years and all that has changed. Now they will only eat a certain kind of orange. You read that right, a certain kind of orange. Clementines are gobbled up like candy around here, but I had six large Valencia oranges leftover from our produce bin. No-one would touch them. So after spending the day helping at preschool learning about the Chinese New Year, we came home with our very own set of chopsticks. I decided to put them to good use. Luckily we had a few extra sets of learning chopsticks lying around to use as well.

I challenged the girls to a relay race at lunch. Whoever could carry their orange segments across the kitchen, back to their seat at the kitchen table and eat them without dropping them was the winner. Those oranges disappeared faster than I could say “Gong Hey Fat Choy.” Giggling and excitement filled the kitchen as slice after slice of orange vanished. I was the real winner here.

This works amazingly well for other questionable fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, aka little trees, can be easily picked up with chopsticks. Cauliflower, aka snowy trees, also love to be devoured with chopsticks. The more difficult to pick up, the better. It keeps the kids busy longer and even more determined to eat whatever is evading them.

And if all else fails, throw your hair in a messy bun and shove two chopsticks in it. Fabulous hair, done. At least the effort wasn’t a total loss.

Food Culture

I found a great cookbook called The Fresh 20. I’m always looking for new ways to serve healthier fare and chicken, Mexican and pasta are big winners in our house, but eating the same foods week after week gets old fast. Melissa Lanz serves up some fabulous looking dishes made simply that I think even the pickiest kids will love.  And her pictures are gorgeous.

Throughout the book she interviews various families and surveys them on their family food culture. I loved the idea right away and thought I would share our family food culture.

Our Family Food Culture

Special or Restricted diet: None

Who Cooks Most Meals: My husband is the real chef, but I cook most meals

Favorite Family Meal:  anything Mexican

Least Favorite Family Meal: Salmon

Strict Rule: No Soda

Indulgence: Homemade cookies and banana bread

Best Advice For Health: Treat yourself to everything, just use moderation.  Eat REAL food!

Hardest Treat To Give Up: Biscoff Spread and Nutella straight from the jar

On The No-Eat List: Cucumbers and persimmons

Think about your own food culture and what it says about your family.  Sit down tonight with the kids, discuss the questions and you just might learn something about each other.  If nothing else, it gets everyone talking about food.  What could be better than that?

(I am in no way affiliated or being paid for this post.  I’m just a fan of the book.  To learn more, click the image above to visit her website.)