This is a little late for “Giving Tuesday,” but the angst is fresh so I’m gonna use it. That’s what we writers do. Anyway, I stopped by my daughter’s school today to get an angel from the angel tree. I’ve never contributed to an angel tree and if you haven’t, here’s how it works. Kids and families are asked what they want for Christmas and those items are listed anonymously on a paper angel that gets hung on a tree. Donors pick an angel or two, buy the items, and return them to the tree coordinator, who distributes them.
My daughter’s school sent out a message last week saying it had a tree for students’ families. So I thought, great, I’ll go, pick out an angel, buy some stuff, and I’m done. I looked at that tree expecting to get a nice toy to put a smile on some kid’s face on Christmas morning.
I was not prepared for what I saw. So many of the angels said “socks” or “underwear” or “boots” or “jacket.” I had to look hard for one that asked for a toy. There were a few, but the majority asked for basic items that most of us take for granted. It gave me a knot in the pit of my stomach. These kids weren’t homeless or living in poor areas. They went to school with my daughter. They could’ve been her friends. And I didn’t know.
It came as a complete surprise. We were grilling steaks, I had baked potatoes but I needed a vegetable. The only fresh vegetables I had were baby carrots, celery and onions. I had kale in my freezer but after my daughter complained that I duped her on enchilada day, I didn’t want to chance it.
I sat down in front of my freezer, yanking stuff out of its vegetable drawer. I had a few slices of peppers, two bags of frozen celery, and then I pulled it out. A bag of cauliflower florets, just enough for one night. I grabbed the cauliflower, decided to get rid of the small bag of frozen celery and attempt a quick puree. I’d seen them all over Food Network, but never tried to make one, maybe because I don’t like cauliflower. But it was all I had. How hard could it be? I reasoned, and set out to cook.
I melted some butter in a saucepan, added the rough-chopped celery and cooked it until tender. Then I added the cauliflower, which in hindsight I could have added earlier. I thought it would cook fast. Didn’t really. But anyway, added some minced garlic, lots of salt, a bit of black pepper, put the top on the pan and let everything simmer until the cauliflower was soft. read more
Once upon a time, I thought I knew what I wanted. I wanted to put my kids to bed, tuck them in and go to sleep, serene and satisfied because my little darlings would fall asleep on their own. I wanted it but what I have is nowhere close to it.
For almost a year, we’ve been coddling the kids to sleep. It all started when we moved cross-country and the kids said they were scared at night in their new rooms. Okay, that made sense, so we stayed with them until they fell asleep. Temporarily, we told ourselves. Temporarily my ass. read more
This week I made spicy beef enchiladas with kale sauce. I was trying to recreate a dish I had at our favorite Mexican restaurant – chorizo enchiladas with spinach sauce. The spinach sauce was amazing;. it was bright green, rich and silky; so it inspired me to do it at home.
I’d bought a whole bunch of kale at the produce stand before it closed for the winter. It was wilted when I bought it, but I soaked it in cold water and I had a crapload of fresh kale. So I attempted to make the sauce with the kale instead of spinach. I sautéed the kale with onions and garlic and put it in the blender, adding some sour cream, olive oil and half and half. Well, kale is a bit sturdier than spinach, so my silky green sauce turned out looking more like creamed spinach.
That’s where I went wrong.
The enchiladas were fantastic, but the appearance of the sauce turned the kids off. My daughter tried a piece of enchilada to placate me, and she said it was good but she didn’t eat another bite of it. And then she got mad when she learned the sauce was kale, even though she loved sauteed kale two weeks ago. My son wouldn’t try the enchilada, but later, when we made him eat some dinner in order to get some popcorn, he just ate the sauce. So, not a total success but not a total failure either. I will try the recipe again with spinach and I’ll let you know what happens.
I’m introducing something new to this space. I’m writing a cookbook, and I’m starting here. I’ll still be posting the family stuff, but I’d like to add posts about food — specifically adventures in food with my kids. I’ll post experiments with new foods, their results, and for the best outcomes, I’ll post some recipes. The recipes will be corn-free and dye-free, to accommodate our allergies. I do have some recipes with corn pre-allergy and I may post one now and then. I hope you’ll enjoy the new posts. Please be vocal in the comments and let me know what you think, and if you like what you see, please tell your friends.
This week I’m experimenting with kale. My daughter likes sauteed kale, but this week I’m using it in an enchilada sauce to see if I can sell it to my son too. I’ll let you know how it goes.