When David was very little, he ate pretty much everything. Once upon a time, that is. Then he started being picky - he ditched milk, cheese, lunch meats, bacon, ham, he dropped certain fruits and vegetables. When we moved to Germany, he started refusing foods he always liked - rice, potatoes, meat sauce, meat balls... Staples, in other words. First, I was sympathetic to the big change in his life and his wish to control at least his food intake. I thought it would normalize after a while.
Which it didn't.
Now we are over a year later, and he's basically eating bread, pasta with Parmesan (no sauce of any kind), lentil soup and fish. Oh, and soft-boiled eggs. And sweets, of course.
My Dad got him hooked on potatoes again by presenting him "potato chips" - harshly browned home fries. From there we made our way to boiled potatoes, Pommes Duchesse, and croquettes. But other than that, he refused. He even tried to omit yogurt but in the meantime, I had wised up and put my foot down.
He still ate very unhealthily - and too little. There is not an ounce of fat on his body. Going out for dinner or lunch was a recipe for disaster. Especially staying with relatives or friends was painful. I gave him way too many sweets in order to up his calorie intake. Not a good path to wander down.
So Doug and I devised a new strategy. Our little sweet tooth was put on a diet - no more sweets, for any of the boys in fact.* The exception: you get a treat if you try something new to eat. You have to make a real effort, not just lick and refuse. You have to eat a little portion of something before you can make a decision. This can happen every day, but at least once a week.
And now, the results of the German jury:
- Tomato soup. "That's yucky!!!" He would not touch it. Since it's Alan and Doug's favorite soup, or food, we have tomato soup regularly. Last week, David finally tried it. He valiantly and with great drama tried three spoons. He thought very hard and long about whether he liked it, then he ate four bowls. FOUR!
- Meat balls. That one was a no-go. That's really funny because he used to love them. I will try this again at some later time.
- Lasagna. Oh, pasta with sauce! And, you know, Bechamel! That's milk! And CHEESE! It was unthinkable. But today, I got him in a good mood and he tried. He ate a sliver, and I made him finish it. I did scrape the melted cheese off the top but left meat sauce and Bechamel and herbs in there. He ate it (I fed him), although I had to remove one offensive oregano leaf that I had forgotten to chop into tiny bit. Then he ate three big spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese (his favorite). I thought he was done but then he asked for seconds! And this time, he wanted a big piece! And he ate it all up!
I'm loving it. It's like winning the lottery - he likes the lasagna again! Yeah! One more family dinner recipe rescued. About a thousand more to go but we're taking it one step at a time, and there is progress. That's so much more than we had during the last 18 months. I'm ridiculously happy.
*A freak coincedence put David into a harsh no-TV zone for a week for punishment at the same time and it worked so well, we're trying to keep it going for a while. They are allowed to watch weekends mornings but during the week, the TV mostly stays off. So far (it's summer), so good.
My Mom and I went strawberry harvesting on a farm this morning. (FB in-joke: on a real farm!) I came home with loads of strawberries. First, kids ate as much as they could, then I turned the rest into jam. As the husband says, the winter can come now!
The straggly survivors - but not for long!
Boil, jam, boil!
All ready to be filled.
Yum! Including stains on white shirt. Hm, Mommy, you didn't think that one through...
I grew up in the countryside. My husband is aghast that I would know things about cow insemination or that I eat berries off the bush (because I know what kind of berries they are). He marvels that I know at which time the elderberries are ripe (not now, husband) or that I can identify rapeseed by smell.
He, on the other hand, is very much a city boy. His mother taught him never to eat anything off a tree or a bush, and he's deeply suspicious of unprocessed foods. If it doesn't have a wrapper, it might be toxic.
Today, Alan's class went to visit a farm. Now, Fladungen is rural and that means the kids walked 200 yards down the street and stood in a cow stable. He had a grand time, taking photos with his new camera which have somehow a distinct 70s feel to them, and came home talking about cows.
Alan: "But I didn't drink the milk straight from the cow." Claudia: "Why not? That's the best milk, it's so good for you!" Douglas, in the background, muttering under his breath with utter horror: "Raw milk? Straight from the cow?" Alan: "Naw, I like my milk better from the supermarket."
1. Using Instant Wok Egg Noodles, some minute steaks, some veggies and soy sauce, I can whip up a nourishing, nutritious, yummy meal that all of my boys (small and big) devour to the last noodle, within 10 minutes, start to finish. Instant Wok Egg Noodles are my new love.
2. I've started using lime juice instead of vinegar in my salad dressing and I've never looked back. Very summery taste, very yummy. Very recommended.
3. Pairing home-grown lettuce, fresh ripe tomatoes, tuna, lots of homegrown herbs -- parsley, mint and lemon balm -- and the above lime dressing makes for a very delicious salad.
4. Eating dark purple cherries fresh off your own cherry tree is sheer bliss.
Sundays in (southern) Germany follow a certain... pattern.
You go to church, in your Sunday finery. Then often the men will go to the Frühschoppen into the Kneipe, and the women will go home to prepare the big Sunday feast - usually a big roast of some sort. After the very heavy meal, the family will go out for a Sunday walk. After the walk, it's back home for coffee and cake.
I used to hate Sundays like that. Truth to tell, our Sundays were often a bit different, but never mind that at the moment. I didn't like the big meal (which with us usually was something like venison or wild boar, yum!), not because I didn't like the food - far from it! No, I didn't like the cleaning up afterwards. Call me lazy.
But I've always loved, loved, loved the Sunday afternoon coffee hour. I love it especially when I'm at my parents' and I can sit with my Mom.(Soon!) But I can make do on my own too. As a student, I would go to the local bakery and get some sort of pastry. Now, that I'm an adult and have my own family, I bake.
We had guests for dinner - Doug's boss from DC, and his (Doug's) local component manager.
Now, the boss keeps sort-of-kosher, mostly vegetarian on travels. I decided to go for Indian food and made these suggestions from Smitten Kitchen. Of course, I could not get black-eyed peas, so I made the dish with kidney and butter beans. And I couldn't get yellow split peas, so I used green split peas (when you cook them long enough, they sort of turn yellowish). Then I also made the Indian spiced potatoes and cauliflower and some Raita, and added my fig-peach chutney from this summer. It was yummy.
We also had a lot of red wine to drink which is why this post is short.
Oh, and the dessert was my new favorite maple-nutmeg-cream pie which sort of fell apart a bit because the electricity cut out when the pie was in the oven but it tasted very yummy.
This morning, Jacob had his usual snack. This snack consists often of a yoghurt, some fruit (tangerines are a favorite at the moment), and whatever else the fridge contains that day. He's a very good eater.
Our nanny speaks Armenian with Jacob (and a mixture of Armenian, Russian and English to the others). I usually don't pay much attention, although I have this strange gift of understanding the meaning of languages even though I don't speak them. I can't for the life of me reproduce what I hear, nor tell what the individual words mean. It also doesn't make learning a language any easier. But it's unusual enough that I often get baffled reactions like "but you understand, so you speak Armenian!" No, I don't. But I can decipher according to situation, references and non-verbal cues really, really well. Anyway.
This morning, I overheard Karine asking Jacob whether he wanted some "zeytun". And that word I recognized instantly. I turned around, and against better knowledge, said delightedly, "Oh, but that's a Turkish word!"
I do that, again and again, even though I know it annoys the hell out of her. As she put it one day, it makes her heart rip. I'm really sorry for that, but having grown up in Turkey, it's a real treat for me to hear Turkish words. To my ear, they just sound so beautiful. And it is the exact same word in Turkish. Zeytun. Olive.
Karine protested, of course, that it was an Armenian word, and that the Turks must have stolen it. I was dubious about that – not because I normally defend the Turks in every which way (only sometimes) but my inner linguist didn't think it sounded Armenian at all. Not really Turkish either. I said to her, placating, that it must be an Arabic word. She was somewhat mollified. Arabs aren't nearly as bad as Turks.
Olive is a loan from Latin oliva "olive; olive tree", which itself was loaned from Greek (eláa or elaía, from older elaíva "olive; olive tree"; furthermore élaion "olive oil"). The word's ultimate origin is probably an Eastern Mediterranean language not known today.
In the languages of the Iberic peninsula, the Latin name was superseded by an Arabic loan: Spanish aceituna and Portuguese azeitona both come from Arabic al-zeytun "the olive"; in Spanisch, oliva refers to the tree, not to the fruit. See also capers for more examples of Arabic loans in Iberic languages.
The Arabic term is cognate to Hebrew zayith "olive" and might derive from a Common Semitic root signifying "to be prominent".
Due to the enormous importance of olives for both the Greek and the Roman cultures, their name entered nearly every European language via Latin oleum "oil" as generic word for liquid fats.
I'm so smitten. If you are one to enjoy food, if you are always looking for a special recipe but don't subscribe to Gourmet magazine, if you want to have fail-proof step-by-step directions with gorgeous pictures, then let me introduce you to Smitten Kitchen. Oh, my goodness. The photography alone is wont to make me jealous that someone can be so talented. And the recipes are just delicious.
Now, I can't reproduce one tenth of what Deb is writing about – partly for lack of time, partly for lack of eaters (kids can be so picky), partly for lack of ingredients. Some things can be hard to get in Armenia.
Of course, we will also have the traditional turkey that is slowly thawing in the fridge and that will – diverting from tradition here – not be prepared a la Martha but a la Contessa this year. Mashed potatoes, of course, and some green bean dish that I haven't quite decided on yet. (I can't abide Green Bean casserole, I find this one of the yuckiest things ever!) Peas and French fries for the boys who hate both green beans and mashed potatoes, goodness knows why. Those kids do not have my eating genes.
Anyway. Check out Deb's site. I will go now and check on that cheesecake.
Jelly, plums in red wine, chutney, figs in port... Generally speaking, canning the bounty of our backyard, that was mine. Oh, and being alone with three little boys as the husband is away for a conference in Chişinău.