It’s been a bit of a zoo around here lately. Mr. Little Sis has been CRAZY busy, and as all of you who’ve ever been in a partnership, particularly one with dependents know, one half being crazy busy means both halves are crazy busy. The garden has needed quite a bit of hands on tending right now to save the progress I’ve made from high insect season (I am excited to have gotten this far. This reformed over-waterer will NEVER go back.) The busy-ness has led to a series of weird Mommy meals (often involving leftovers reconfigured in some fashion to decrease recognizability, or demonstrating complete surrender in an effort to attain peace for some portion of the day). The living continues to be tasty despite the hodge-podginess. I think my continued culinary sanity and pleasure (and the kids’ relatively reasonable attitude towards these seemingly mish mosh meals) has to do with a few simple strategies that I employ when pressed. I thought I’d share them as you are undoubtedly busy as well…
1) Employ leftovers as they were if they were a big hit; if response was moderate, ask for input: “Hey guys, I think this would taste good cold, but would you like yours warmed up instead?” Notice that I’ve not offered a choice about what they are eating, but the temperature. I have also been know to offer a sauce, or to serve something as a sandwich that wasn’t the first time around. They’re happy because they think they’re choosing something. I know, it’s deeply manipulative.
2) Offer a choice if there really can be one. “Guys, I’m a bit pressed for time, so rice is out. Would you rather have quinoa or bulgur?” The answer, if you’re wondering, is consistently a grudging quinoa. They don’t know the name of lentil-bulgur mix, and we’ll be leaving it that way for the foreseeable future.
3) Fresh raw vegetables and fruit. When I’m really pressing my luck in the kitchen (running late, poorly planned, they’re extra hungry) I will cut the freshest veggies I have (or the ones we most need to use to avoid waste) and place them in a bowl on the table while I’m cooking. Kids can munch more or less at will. I get more peace for cooking AND they eat veggies of all kinds because they’re in that 30 minutes before dinner red zone. They get double veggies and I don’t get nagged. Pretty sweet, eh? When the veggie intake starts early and strong, I’ll also offer a little fruit with dinner, which makes the troops quite happy.
4) Flexibility. A story from the weekend fits nicely here. I was making some tilapia, planning to steam rice as well when I discovered that the rice jar (which was sealed, by the way) had gone buggy. (Big Sis is probably chuckling a little right now because she knows that despite my being reasonably “tough” about many things, moths, and in particular pantry moths and their spawn put me over the edge.) So the kids are losing it and I’m trying not to puke as I watch a jar full of crawlies. I mercilessly filled the jar with water so they would drown before I put them in the compost. Yeah, I’m hardcore like that. Turned to the fridge. Leftover pasta abounded. Lovely. Change of plan; leftover pasta next to tilapia seemed infinitely better than buggy rice.
5) Be nice to yourself. Same said buggy meal (at the end of a particularly trying mother of twins kind of day) led mommy to desire serious comfort food….. enter avocado cream sauce. Oh yes, that’s what I said, heart healthy cream sauce for pasta. I kind of giggle just writing that.
Basil Avocado Cream – inspired by this avocado pasta sauce dish.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 cloves garlic
- handful fresh basil leaves
- pinch of salt
- juice of one lemon
- twist of the pepper grinder
You know what’s coming, right? Put it all in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Mix with pasta – this recipe would likely adequately cream up pasta for a few people. A little goes a long way. Top with pine nuts, or chopped nuts that you love. So incredibly awesome, and just the thing while you’re watching your children scarf down their dinner, which does not include the suspicious green cream sauce. That’s okay. I didn’t want to share that night anyway. De-lish.