Monday, December 22, 2008

Children Deserve Better Than Chuck

A few weeks ago the Parade magazine insert in our Sunday paper showcased TV news anchor Brian Williams, who talked of his mother's famous goulash. A can of Spaghetti-Os and half a pound of ground chuck. Blech. Gag. Yuck. More ghoulish than goulash in my humble opinion. No disrespect, Mrs. Williams.

Why do so many people presume kids don't have taste buds? They are not predisposed to mushy, salty, saucy, rubbery, processed foods. It is our job as parents to hone those taste buds and help develop our children's palates.

Our culinary responsibility as parents does not consist of sustenance alone. General rule of thumb: if I won't eat it, neither will my kids. This is precisely why we skip most of the grocery store aisles (unlike the parents of two with a third on the way shopping alongside me yesterday - their cart had enough sodium content and high fructose corn syrup to drive a race horse to heart failure).

Needless to say, no ground chuck in my house. Last night for dinner we grilled some rib eye steaks. Natural beef with no additives. I find it interesting that we spend so much time and money protecting our kids from touching hot stove tops, tumbling down stairs, and staying warm on a winter day, but we pay little to no mind to what we put into their vulnerable little bodies.

So back to the rib eye and our very simple yet delectable dinner...

Grilled steak, cut into quite manageable pieces, was a lovely treat. I assure you that I didn't get such good cuts of meat on my plate until well into adulthood. I made a "kitchen sink" steak sauce that made the unadorned steak even better, and besides, condiments make everything better. My semi-homemade sauce was equal parts of black pepper sauce from the Asian market, sour cream, and molasses. I added a tablespoon of fresh horseradish, a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce, and a few drops of cream. Stir it all up and dip away. And in terms of budget, flank steak is a great affordable alternative. Just slice it pretty thinly against the grain, marinate, and grill. Takes just a few minutes on each side.

Our dinner was rounded out by a salad of quartered tiny tomatoes, seeded cucumber slices, sweet onions, and chopped Italian parsley. A few drops of olive oil and red wine vinegar, along with the requisite sea salt and pepper finished it off. We also had roasted fingerling potatoes that are quite buttery on their own and green beans quick roasted with slivers of fresh garlic. Some warm french bread helped up sop up all the juicy goodness on our plates. Giving kids the opportunity to "play" with their food makes meal time more fun.

And for dessert, fresh madelines (those cakey French cookies) from the Costco bakery, raspberries, blackberries, and home whipped cream with a touch of vanilla.

Clean plate club all around.

And just for kicks, we ate in the dining room. But no fine china. I'm no risk taker.

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%! I cook healthy meals for my kids, and they eat every bite. I can even ask them whether they'd prefer swiss chard, broccoli, or spinach on a given night, and get a thoughtful response. It's all in how you cook it.

Anonymous said...

I think that is the quickest way to creating a child that will try and eat anything. Life is to short to eat crap.