Izzy Eats: The art of raising a gourmand, one bite at a time

Stirring tales of eating, cooking and foraging in my never-ending quest to provide, great-tasting (local and organic whenever possible) EATS for me and my boy(s).

Friday, March 30, 2007

Day of the Dumpling

My boy is sick, again. This is now Izzy's fourth illness in the past five weeks. I took him to the doctor only to discover that he has what she called, "early pneumonia". This was clearly not a day for cooking, at least not for me. Besides, Izzy didn't seem to have much of an appetite, even though he kept claiming to be hungry.

It was well past lunchtime when we left the doctor's office, although Izzy didn't seem especially ravenous. On our way home from the appointment we had to pass Rickshaw Dumpling Bar on 23rd Street so I suggested a stop there. Decent, wholesome and fast food. These are my favorite type of dumpling, in that they have translucent wrappers. We had the vegetarian option (seasonal greens with a kick of wasabi) and the Peking duck with scallions. Izzy had a couple of bites of each, leaving me with far too many dumplings to consume. At least I completely forgot to order the chocolate dessert dumplings, which I definitely recommend.

Back at home, he took an ultra-late nap, waking at seven. He said he was hungry and wanted pierogi for snack. He usually snacks after nap and was confused because it was actually nearly time for dinner. I made him a plate of both cheese and potato pierogi. Once again, he ate a few bites and that was all. I took a bite of a cheese one and wondered how many dumpling-like foods could I eat in a day. Apparently many more.

At around 8:30, A. and I decided to order some Chinese food. I shared a wonton soup with Izzy, who once again, had only about two bites before announcing he was full. Wontons are in the dumpling family..I only ate two of those but did manage to eat some pea shoot/shrimp shumai, which fall into the dumpling category too.

I shouldn't have allowed it to happen and on any other day I wouldn't have. So for now let's just say, I'm temporarily done doing dumplings..I wonder how Izzy feels?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Apres Park Polenta

I love the warmer weather and the longer days but they usually mean less time cooking and more time playing. On most days we are out in Hamilton Park from late afternoon until seven and when I get home I have to come up with dinner in under an hour. On some occasions I am organized and I prep dinner pre-park. This past Monday I had only given dinner a passing thought.

On my way home my thoughts turned to other food-blogs for inspiration. Once in my kitchen, I had something new in mind. Inspired by the Head Hen, I invented my own creamy polenta concoction, using instant polenta, an extremely useful and delectable invention.

I enlisted Izzy as my sous-chef. He washed and chopped some broccoli rabe while I chopped garlic, "hen of the woods" mushrooms, shitaakes and parsley. This prep work enabled us to make the following dish:

Broccoli Rabe with Creamy Mushroom Polenta

Ingredients

(For broccoli rabe)
1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut and boiled about 5 minutes or until just tender
4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

1. Saute garlic in oil on low heat for a minute or 2..
2. Add broccoli rabe and stir.


(For Polenta)

1 cup or so of mushrooms (hen of the woods or other), cleaned and chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

1.Saute garlic a minute or two on low heat.
2. Add mushrooms and cook about 5-10 minutes
3. Stir in parsley and set aside.

1 cup polenta
3 cups of water
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.Bring water and salt to boil, add polenta and stir continually about 5 minutes.
2. Add milk and continue stirring until creamy.
3. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and mushrooms.
4. Serve with broccoli rabe.

Makes 3 large servings. Perfect with a salad on the side.







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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jersey City: A Culinary Destination?

Jersey City has been our home for almost three and a half years. We have watched sadly, as Izzy's first friends have come and gone. Some have moved so far away we have yet to see them again. Others, however, have found new homes in nearby suburbs. They are so close in fact, that the magnetic pull and allure of Jersey City's own local cuisine, lures them back, time and time again.

One friend, A., rhapsodizes over the fish tacos from Taqueria, while another, J., heeds the call of 2nd Street Deli, an old-time Italian joint serving mammoth sandwiches at tiny prices. Whatever it is they may crave, we rejoice for two reasons: 1. We get to see them more frequently than we might have imagined. 2. We still live here, amidst these culinary treasures.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Waffle Memories

The frozen waffle, more specifically the Eggo Waffle, played a starring role in my childhood culinary experiences. Waffles were one of the first foods I could prepare myself. I could pop one into the toaster oven, put it on a plate and pour Log Cabin syrup on it. Voila, a meal. I thought they were delightful.

My older brother E. relished them too and there was nothing I liked more than to prepare a plate of them for him when he arrived home with the late-night munchies. I ate them most often as an after school snack and sometimes for breakfast. Stepmother #1 always made sure to keep several boxes of them in the freezer.

I don't think that I tried any other waffle until the age of 17 when, on a trip to Hawaii I encountered a Belgian waffle in some small restaurant in Maui. It was an unforgettable revelation. It was so unlike the Eggo. It was high and light, rather than flat and crunchy. And it exuded a vanilla aroma that made it all the more tempting. I ate it along with a glass of guava juice. That one waffle spoiled me for most others and I remember afterwards being disappointed when I tried to order waffles elsewhere and they simple couldn't measure up. Once home, it was back to Eggos. But not for long.

Stepmother #1 and her cache of Eggos were gone by the time I turned 18 and as it turned out, L., on the road to becoming Stepmother #2, had her very own electric waffle iron. She had been raised on homemade waffles and made them on a regular basis. At the time, this seemed very exotic. I thank her heartily for introducing me to the joys of the homemade waffle and I haven't bitten into an Eggo since.

The recipe she uses was handed down from a friend of her mother's, F. I used it for many years, occasionally trying a new one, but usually going back to the tried and true. When I lived with L., she made them all of the time for my little sister, C. who is also a huge fan of them.

I couldn't wait until it was my turn to make them for Izzy, whose introduction to the waffle was far different from my own. Before I knew it, he was in charge of watching the egg whites whip up in the Kitchen Aid mixer. For him, making them seemed almost as much fun as eating them.

In the past year though, I discovered a waffle recipe in the New York Times that is not only easier to make than my standard one but may even rival it. The problem was, it had far too much butter and oil. I modified it and now make this recipe quite frequently.

Try both and decide for yourself.


Recipe #1

F.'s Waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons. sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt

2 eggs separated
1 3/4 cup milk
3-4 Tablespoons. melted butter

1. Mix together dry ingredients.
2. Whip egg whites until stiff
3. Combine milk, yolks and butter
4. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients.
5. Fold in egg whites.
6. Pour batter by 1/4-1/3 cup in to waffle iron.


Recipe #2

Buttermilk and Brown Sugar Waffles

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons. brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1 3/4 cup butter milk
3 tablespoons. regular milk
4 tablespoons. melted butter

1. Whisk eggs until foamy and then add other wet ingredients.
2. Mix dry ingredients together.
3. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
4. Pour batter (about 1/4-1/3 cup) into hot waffle iron. Do not overcook.

Note: You can add blueberries to either one of these recipes.
Serve with REAL maple syrup, not Log Cabin!


Snack tip: Not only are they good for breakfast but they also make a great snack. I take the leftovers and put them in a waxed paper bag to carry around. I can't say that I prefer soggy cold waffles but kids seem to thoroughly enjoy them.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Can We Still Be Friends? Eating Chez Nos Amis

Izzy and I were on our own this week so we were invited over to dine with various friends on three occasions. There was lunch with H., dinner with R. and M. and dinner at P. and T.'s house. Now mind you, these are all wonderful people but they don't necessarily eat the way I do. After all, not everyone is gastronomically obsessed, no matter how much I would like them to be. So I tried my best to keep that in mind throughout the week.

First there was lunch with H. and the butter incident, along with some frozen soup from the supermarket. But hey, she has two young children and very high organizational standards .. So I ate what she offered and was grateful to be invited.

Then there was dinner at R. and M's house. This was a different story because R. is well-aware of my standards. She served us Farfalle with Vegetables and Feta, with a side of Greens and Goat Cheese Salad. These dishes were followed by my favorite cannoli for dessert. All of these dishes were fine. My main gripe is that R. only seems to eat specific types of food. This in part because she is semi-vegetarian and hasn't eaten butter in years. This must explain the triple dose of cheese in one meal. I appreciated the effort she put into the meal and ate everything. Izzy loved the pasta, though he wisely kept away from the mysterious chunks of eggplant ( I can't say I was too fond of them myself but ate them to set a good example).

Lastly, we were invited for a playdate at P. and T.'s house. When we arrived T. was finishing up a bowl of dreaded Doritos, a word that is not yet a part of Izzy's vocabulary and hopefully will not become one. Thankfully, P. was kind enough not to refill his bowl in our presence, as she surely realized I would have recoiled in horror.

As the late afternoon turned to evening, P. invited us for some impromptu Chinese food. Chinese food delivery on Friday night is always a good thing. Not much can go wrong with that. We were just happy to eat with friends and not be home alone. Perhaps one day we will rate a homemade meal from P., I have a sneaking suspicion that despite the fact that she serves Doritos, she is a mean cook.

So I suppose what this all means is that friends are friends no matter what they feed us. As my friend D. put it so succinctly, "If you hold all of your friends to your high culinary standards, you won't have any." I think she may have a point.

Picky Tales: I Don't Want A Pear...

Izzy's friend E. was visiting for lunch today. I was planning on making something but at the last moment, E.'s mom, A., decided to bring us a pizza from Franks (Mamma Mia), the best five dollar pizza around. Tastier than most of the local pizzas that are more than twice the price. But that is another story.

Izzy was so pleased with his pizza he ate two and a half slices, minus crust. E., on the other hand, only wanted the crust. In fact, at first she refused the pizza altogether. Yet A. did not suggest I offer anything else, nor did I plan to. She and I know that when children are hungry they will eat. Eventually E. wandered into the kitchen and had some crust and maybe a bit of the pizza.

After lunch, Izzy requested dessert, a pear. So I asked E. if she would like to have some too. She said yes. So I cut it up and gave each one a small plate.
Izzy started to gobble his while E. examined hers disdainfully.

"I don't want a pear. I want an apple."

I replied, "We are not serving apples."

Her mother added, "This pear looks juicy."

She hesitantly took a bite out of one slice, still insisting she didn't want pears. Suddenly, they were all gone and get this..she asked for more!!

What lesson is to be learned from this? Kids will often protest the foods that are offered to them, for a myriad of reasons. If you give in and offer substitutions they will begin to expect something else. They will be less inclined to eat what is put in front of them. And so a cycle begins.

It is best to establish eating rules early on. Children will realize they are not going to get anything else and they learn to eat and ENJOY what is put on the table.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sheep Lady On Hiatus

Last Saturday was the last day to catch Karen, "The Sheep Lady" of 3-Corner Field Farm at the Union Square Market. For the next few months she will be at the farm tending to the newborn lambs. She won't be back at the market until June so it was imperative that we stop by and pick up a good supply of cheese.

I worried that the stormy weather would prevent her from driving all the way into NYC. What would I do all those months without her Brebis Blanche, a slightly tart and creamy cheese? I hoped that I wouldn't have to find out.

We had to go into the city anyway to see the ballet, Carnival of the Animals. Afterwards, we hurried downtown in the slush to the market. It was a long morning for Izzy and by the time we arrived at her stand (Yes! She had indeed made it!) he had fallen asleep in the stroller.

Everyone knew it was her last day so there was a line of sheep fans, stocking up on their favorites. One woman seemed to be purchasing several months worth of lamb bones for her pets and others were buying up whatever they could carry.

I managed to procure several containers of Brebis Blanche and some merguez. I hope those will last until then. Otherwise I may be compelled to drive out and visit the farm. I know Izzy would be delighted to pet the lambs and so would I.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It Tastes Like Butter But...

First if you can finish that sentence, you must be about as old as I am. Second, it doesn't taste like butter at all and neither does Olivio, an odd butter substitute which I encountered at my friend H.'s house today. She claimed they ate it for health reasons and when I turned up my nose, offered me some real butter. I had already spread the offensive substance on my bread and was interested to see if it was at all edible. Conclusion, not really, at least not for me. It was too salty and seemed to have a fake flavor. You may think me a butter snob but it wasn't always that way.

As a child, margarine was the spread of choice. My family used it because we were semi-kosher and also because they thought it was healthy. I happily spread the stuff on matzoh and corn muffins, even waffles. I actually enjoyed the taste. We all know now what a mistake that was and thankfully as I grew older and discovered the pleasures of real butter, I lost my taste for margarine.

Izzy has never encountered margarine or any other butter substitute for that matter. He is an unabashed butter hound. When I leave the butter dish on the table he will inevitably stick his fingers straight into a stick and rush off with a glob in hand, gleefully announcing, "I grabbed the butter." Often when I give him buttered toast, he will try to lick off the butter before it melts.

We usually keep several sticks of Organic Valley butter around the house, for both eating and baking. I have to wonder why anyone would choose a butter substitute for health reasons, especially after the whole margarine/transfat debacle. Processed foods of that nature are simply not healthy.

It is my hope that Izzy is so accustomed to butter, he wouldn't be able to stomach anything else. Would he be just as eager to dip his fingers into a tub of Olivio? What about Chiffon? Does it still exist?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Who Needs A Pound of Dried Mint?

Why am I pondering this you ask? Well, for the second day in a row, D. has provided some blog fodder. It started last night when she kindly offered to pick up any herbs or spices I might need because she was going to be near a shop that sells them in bulk. It is called Kalustyan's. I have never been there myself but it certainly does sound wonderful and I may need to check it out soon.

I asked her to find some dried mint and cayenne pepper. This morning I forgot about the request and went about my business as usual. I burst out laughing when I received the following voicemail message from D. "I am in Kalustyan's and they have a one pound bag of mint for $14.99. Should I buy that for you? Maybe I will see if they have something smaller."

What, pray tell, did she think I was going to do with all of that mint? It would surely take a long time to use it all. Hmmmm. Well, I suppose Izzy is quite fond of mint tea.


nb:She found a smaller bag of dried mint.

Clinking Glasses: Wine Juice and More

I don't drink much alcohol but do enjoy wine with dinner and an extremely occasional cocktail. When we eat as a family, or with friends we almost always clink glasses and make a toast, no matter how small. So since Izzy was old enough to hold up his sippy cup, he has been clinking his glass along with us.

Whenever he saw us drinking wine he would request some in a glass. So whether at home, or in restaurants, he would get his own wine glass with water and a pinky dropful of wine splashed in. We called it "Wine juice." He delighted in joining us for a toast.

Tonight, when we were at Mama Mexico in Englewood Cliffs, the grown-ups ordered cocktails. He was given a cup of water with a lid and straw. When Grandpa Joe and Grandma Laurie went to make a toast Izzy said forlornly, " I only have water in my cup." It was as if the water wasn't toast-worthy. So we explained that any beverage would be fine for toasting and he seemed satisfied. Though I must say, it saddened me and I wondered if he needed his own virgin mojito.. Maybe next time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pre-Cut Apples: An abomination in the fruit department

It started out innocently enough. Two friends on a morning excursion to Trader Joe's, while our boys were at school. Now granted we are two friends who shop quite differently, yet nevertheless we both share the love for T.J's in general.

So there we were, on the fruit aisle when D. picked up a bag of pre-sliced apples. I thought it was a joke. Perhaps she was inspecting the bag with the same disgust that I would have, curious about the contents. But no, she was examining the bag for purchase. I had all to do to keep myself from running away, shrieking. Instead I thought I might get inside the mind of a person who thinks nothing of buying such an item. Had she lost all of her knives (or marbles)? Her reply was, "They come sprayed with lemon juice. So I don't have to do this myself."

HOW CAN YOU TEACH A CHILD TO APPRECIATE WONDERFULLY CRUNCHY APPLES IF YOU SERVE THEM THESE??? How can they possibly be at all palatable? Would you want to eat those apples? The Green Market is two blocks away...All these thoughts went racing through my mind but I tried to maintain my composure. After all, D. is my friend (opposites attract?) and a good one at that. So I just said something like, "Well, I suppose that's what makes the world go round."

Now D. has been responsible for introducing me to some T.J's prepared foods that I ordinarily eschew. In this instance, I hope to sway her to seeing things my way. A good apple is something of wonderful purity. A soggy, pre-sliced one cannot at all compare. Send your child some other fruit at lunchtime and serve apples fresh, at home!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Saigon Cafe: Restaurant Comfort Food

After a long day of birthday partying with the six and under set, Izzy and I were in need of a soothing, quiet dinner. He chose, yes, you guessed it, Vietnamese. When we got off the Path we headed straight for Saigon Cafe, a small, family-run restaurant on Newark Avenue.

We have been eating there since we moved to Jersey City almost three and a half years ago and the food is consistently good. Mind you, it is not dazzling, just simply prepared and homey. It was there that Izzy learned to eat Vietnamese spring rolls - wrapped in lettuce with pickled carrots, cucumbers and mint. It was there that he also sampled Peppercorn Squid and Chicken and Mint Salad with Peanuts, both dishes that we order quite frequently.

Of late, Izzy and I have grown fond of the Tofu and Cabbage Soup made with a ginger-chicken broth. Today it was especially fragrant, full of gingery tidbits and what appeared to be fried shallots. We also shared a homey dish of Tofu and Chicken with mixed vegetables on a bed of soft noodles. We have been eating that dish for about a year now and I think it helped Izzy develop a taste for mushrooms and water chestnuts.

The best part of this place is that we are regulars, and this always adds to the dining experience. The entire staff is friendly and welcoming, not to mention extremely kid-friendly.

Oh, and did I mention the desserts? Try the Banana-Tapioca pudding or the Three Yam dessert for a warm comforting ending to your meal.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hot Dogs: Facing the Inevitable

As a child, I was fed Hebrew National , all-beef kosher hot dogs. They showed up at barbecues and also in green split pea soup. Occasionally they were served with baked beans. I was never especially fond of them though I did not dislike them either. They were just there.

What I remember most vividly is my grandmother describing how hot dogs were made from the discarded tidbits of meat; those that were not intended for more noble purposes such as roasts, meat loaves or stews. Although she still served them to us, she certainly let me know that they weren't healthy. Hence my childhood image of hot dogs made out of ground tongues, ears and offal, lingers on, despite the fact that offal in other guises is quite fine.

I eventually became old enough and concerned enough about what I was eating to actually read the labels on the hot dog packages and discovered that grandma was right. Hot dogs are certainly not the healthiest food to eat. Not only were they made of ground tidbits but they also contained all manner of unhealthy additives. So since I didn't have a weakness for them, they never became a staple of my diet. I will, nonetheless, admit to eating the occasional hot dog for old time's sake and I have also actually delighted in the Niman Ranch hot dogs served at Westville.

So my life went on and hot dogs did not register very high on my food radar. Then Izzy was born and I started to think about the things I would feed him. It was clear that I would not allow him to be one of those, "my child will only eat hot dogs and cheez whiz" sorts. However, it never occurred to me that he might simply become an occasional hot dog eater. Instead I thought, " I don't buy hot dogs, so he won't eat them." I failed to consider a couple of important factors that could easily shape a boy's tastes.

1. His dad is the occasional hot dog eater and, since we bought a grill, started to request them. 2. Many of his peers eat hot dogs.

I had to admit that it would only be a matter of time before he made the great hot dog discovery. Adding to my hot dog woes was the fact that they are a choking hazard for kids under age four (if not cut up into sufficiently small pieces).

So what was I supposed to do? I decided to face my hot dog fears head on. I would find deliciously, healthy organic hot dogs and we could eat them at home. I called them "wienies" to start with because I just couldn't deal with the hot dog moniker.

I began this foray into the world of hot dogs, last summer after Izzy had turned three. I started by looking for Niman Ranch hot dogs but was unsuccessful so instead I opted for a brand I found at Whole Foods which I can no longer recollect. They may have been Applegate Farms organic hot dogs, the old version. They were "Eh", I said, though Izzy didn't seem to mind them.

I vowed to keep on searching for better. Meanwhile we ate too much grilled kielbasa (in the hot dog family, right?) which are certainly made with all manner of snouts, fat, nitrates and such but are somehow (in my mind) a better food since they are made locally.

Later on in the summer I tried Applegate Farms Great Organic Hot Dogs..now these I could live with. We all deemed them tasty and for me they were a decidedly acceptable foodstuff. Yet hot dog tastings were far from over. Fast forward to tonight.

Izzy noted an old package of wienies at the bottom of the freezer, left over from a barbecue last summer. He said he wanted them for dinner. I said we needed to find some better ones. Those were Hebrew National and I thought we could do better. So today I went to the Hawthorne Valley Farms stand at the Union Square Green market. I love them for their dairy products, especially the yogurts, quark and Bianca cheese but had never tried the meat. I knew that they carried organic, biodynamic hot dogs because last summer they were always sold out when I tried to purchase them. Today I managed to buy a bag of them..$9.10 for 8 hot dogs..seemed pricey but worth it if they were good. I brought the prize home and proudly boiled them up. Izzy asked for mashed potatoes to go with so we made those first.

Though sorely lacking for greens, I was still excited to serve up our meat and potatoes meal; hot dogs on squishy Pepperidge Farm buns with a side of mashed potatoes. Well I am sorry to report that we were both horribly disappointed. These hot dogs were not what I had imagined. The gray-brown color was the first unappealing aspect and the insipid flavor was the clincher. Izzy barely ate a a quarter of his and I tried valiantly to finish mine. I don't understand how this could be. I had read that they were wonderful and they consistently sell out. Did I buy a bad batch? Should they be grilled instead of boiled?

I will not give up. I read a great article in the New York Times about this and will seek some of the brands mentioned. Meanwhile I will continue to buy the Applegate Farms Best Organic Hot Dogs and find a source for the Niman Ranch ones. And I suppose that I will also resign myself to the fact that, while I am not watching (and even when I am) Izzy may consume a mediocre hot dog.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Egg Salad Sandwiches On a Snowy Day

Once again, the cupboard is almost bare and the fridge is under stuffed. I am continually faced with the challenge of figuring out what to prepare for three meals a day. Not only have I not seen the Greenmarket or Whole Foods in well over a week but I haven't ventured out of the house in about five days since the boy fell ill and we are hibernating from this latest onslaught of nasty wintry weather.

One of the things that has kept me from despair are the baguettes from GO. The other is the ample supply of Greenmarket eggs I like to keep on hand. I especially like the ones from Tello's Green Farm in Red Hook, N.Y. They sell at the Union Square Market usually Mondays and Fridays but of late they have been there on Wednesdays. I try to pick up two dozen at a time so that I am rarely without. Just looking at the pictures of their happy hens thrills me.

I was grateful to have them today when lunchtime rolled around. What to make? Egg salad: simple, homey and the boy likes it.. so much so that last year he requested it for his birthday lunch. The preparation is always exciting for him too. Cracking and peeling hard boiled eggs is more fun than you might imagine.

Today it was egg salad with finely minced shallots, celery, mayo and salt and pepper. I don't usually add the shallots or celery but that was a nod to my great friend L's egg salad recipe which is a true delight. Mine is generally a plainer sort, with the addition of dill. Since we didn't have any, I chose the shallot route.

Our version was also served topped with avocado and spread on a baguette. When Izzy saw me preparing the sandwiches he said he wanted his egg salad on a plate with the rest on the side. As long as he eats all the components, the deconstructed version is fine with me.


Simplest Egg Salad

1) Place two eggs per person in pot with cold water, bring to a boil an turn off. Let sit for 13 minutes. Rinse in cold water.

2) Chop by hand or in food processor.

3) Add one dollop of mayo and sour cream per two eggs.

4) Salt and Pepper to taste

5) Freshly cut dill

6) Sprinkle paprika on top.

7) To spruce it up further saute a bit of minced celery and sweet onion in butter and add to the mixture.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Entertainingly Edible Green Snacks

Before Izzy, edamame were reserved for my Japanese restaurant experiences. For some reason, it never occurred to me to buy them and eat them at home. But then I discovered this.

Edamame are the perfect toddler snack. They are easy to keep on hand because you can always store a bag or two in the freezer. They can be prepared in five minutes and are portable too. Just stick them in a baggie or container and go.

The best part about them is that they are snack and entertainment in one. Kids delight in trying to open the pods and pry out each bean. A sprinkling of salt only adds to the experience.

The first time the boy tried them, we were at the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle with his friend E.. They were both almost two at the time. We had gone to the salad bar and selected a variety of items. E.'s mama, A. brought back a container of edamame. I watched in amazement as E. concentrated upon opening the pods and eating them. Izzy followed suit (I probably thought they were a choking hazard but let him eat them anyway) and they have since become a dietary staple. Perfect for a snack or side dish. All that and healthy too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not My Grandma's Chicken Soup: Comfort Food (Part III)


Though I do love my grandma's chicken soup dearly, I have become a devotee of Oliver's Chicken Stew. I discovered this recipe several years ago on the Food Network. Jody Adams, a chef, named it after her son and it provides a sneaky shortcut to chicken soup goodness when you need that fix in a hurry, which was the case yesterday.

When I am under the weather there is nothing like a bowl of chicken soup to send me on the road to recovery. And since Izzy was able to talk, he has asked for chicken soup too when he isn't feeling well. So I had no choice yesterday morning but to run out to ShopRite (yuck) and find an organic chicken and some veggies to go with it.
When I returned from my excursion I promised Izzy that after his nap he could help prepare the soup. I prepped the veggies and then later on he added them to the soup, stirring it while it simmered. His greatest wish though, was to assist in the cutting of the chicken. When I placed the steaming chicken, straight from the pot onto a plate, he dashed to the table, immediately wielding a knife. I explained that we needed to allow it to cool before removing the skin and tearing it to pieces. As he contemplated the fowl before him, the following conversation ensued (and not for the first time, I might add).

"Mama, what is chicken made of?"
"It is a chicken, an animal."
"Where does it come from?"
"Well, it is raised on a farm, hopefully humanely, allowed to roam around."
"And then what happens?"
"The farmer feeds it and takes care of it until it is a certain size. Then he sends it out to be killed so we can eat it."
"That's not very nice."
"Some people think that it isn't very nice to kill animals and eat them. They are vegetarians. But Mama and Papa believe that it is okay to eat animals if they are raised properly and given a decent life. We like to eat chicken. Do you?"
"Yes"

Then, right beside me, he set down to the business of removing the skin
and bones. He even stopped to nibble while he worked. I rewarded his efforts with a chicken oyster, something I rarely share.
Later on, I watched happily as he spooned up chunks of carrots and chicken, relishing every bite of the meal we had created together. Apparently, the provenance of the chicken plagued him no further...


Oliver's Chicken Stew

1 3 ½ - to 4-pound chicken, rinsed
8 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 medium carrots, thickly sliced
4 medium leeks, tender white part only, thickly sliced
4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
½ cup stellini (tiny star pasta)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 slices toasted Italian bread
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
1. Place the chicken in a 6-quart pot breast side down. Add the stock, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, skimming often. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and parsley and simmer. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken and cook for 25 minutes more. Remove the chicken and let cool.
2. Strain the vegetables, discarding the bay leaf and parsley. Return the stock to the pot; simmer until reduced by half. Pull the chicken meat off the bones. Add the pasta to the stock and cook for 3 minutes, then whisk in the butter, lemon juice, tarragon and parsley. Add the chicken and vegetables; heat through.
3. To serve, place a piece of toast in the bottom of each of 6 bowls, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Top with stew. Serves 6. Adapted from "In the Hands of a Chef," by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Simple Comfort Food (Part II)

Despite Izzy's continuing fever, he awoke demanding food. "I want breakfast in bed." There has to be some compensation for being home sick, right.. "What would you like?" I asked. "I would like some toast with butter and jam. And a glass of orange juice...please."

Lucky for us, while Izzy was still asleep, his papa went out and bought a sourdough baguette from GO. I went down to prepare it and I brought it up on a tray with the butter dish and a jar of T.J's organic raspberry jam. Yum.. what a simple, delightful breakfast. We sat on the bed and I slathered the bread with butter and jam. Then the phone rang..well one phone call later..I was left with a bed full of crumbs and nothing to eat. At least the boy was left feeling a bit better.

Nighttime Comfort Food (Part I)

Last night, poor Izzy was stricken with a high fever, along with a boogery nose and cough. Now it may come as no surprise that a sleepy, feverish, almost four-year old has trouble expressing what ails him. I ask him what is wrong and the answer is a heart wrenching sob. I offer him water; he won't take it. So I do what I know best. I offer him my boobs. The easiest way to soothe and comfort him is with "boobie" nature's comfort food. People may recoil in horror..why on earth are you still nursing an almost four-year old?

For so many reasons, though I won't go into them here. Nor will I launch into the myriad benefits of nursing in general, especially as it relates to the developing palate, for that is surely worthy of its own post.

What I will say is that most mothers are willing to do what they believe is best for their children. I do not suggest that every mother must nurse for as long as I do. Every mother and child duo is different. Instead I will say that when my child is sick, I want him to be cured. I would surely prepare any concoction that would help him but I know that breast milk has more curative properties than any other food I can give him.

Well past the age of two my boy was afflicted with stomach viruses and he was unable to eat or drink anything else. Being able to nurse him comforted me through my worries because I knew that he was receiving sufficient nutrients and would be less likely to become dehydrated. I could not imagine that the pediatrician-recommended artificially flavored and colored medicinal beverage would be better for him. Izzy didn't like the taste and neither did I. In fact, he spat it out. He only wanted boobie. For about five days, that was his sole source of comfort and sustenance.

Sadly, the time will come when he will no longer want to be comforted with "boobie". As a Nervous Nellie mama, I can't fathom what I will do to replace it. Though I have a hunch that chicken soup might become a worthy substitute..

Monday, March 12, 2007

Odd But Easy Lunchfare


Uh oh..it was Sunday night and I was looking at an empty fridge. What was I going to pack in Izzy's lunch bag? Look to the freezer..oh joy, one frozen sliced bagel from the city..saved. I took it out to defrost overnight. A seed had been planted.

And in the morning, a lunch was born.
Bagel with cream cheese, capers, grape tomatoes and olive paste.

The inspiration comes from a snack that R. prepared the other day: mini-bread slices with cream cheese and capers. Since my boy spoons up capers by the mouthful, I knew this lunch would be a hit.


And do note his nifty, eco-friendly lunch bag from Mimi the Sardine. Bugs sure beat t.v. characters in my book.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

From Truck to Taqueria to Times

Another Jersey City venue makes the New York Times. Yippee for Taqueria. We have been lusting for its tacos since its inception. This taco joint is no Taco Bell and we can all be thankful for that. It is a great spot to bring kids for it is both cheap and casual. Go for the pork tacos..one heaping portion of flavorful shredded pork stuffed into a double taco for only $2.50. Stick around to try the other varieties, including salted beef, fish and lamb. There are a host of other things to choose from on the menu like Pozole (hominy and pork stew).

I had to go tonight, after reading the review in today's paper. I told Izzy, "Tonight we are going to Taqueria." Reply? "I want Vietnamese." "Sorry, we had Vietnamese last time. This time Mama and Papa get to pick." "I don't want to go out." Hmmm..."Well we are going." "Okay, can I have the rice and beans?" "Of course you can.." To myself..Just let me have my pork taco and you can have whatever you'd like!!

p.s. He ate rice and beans, sampled the pork tacos and shared some flan for dessert.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ruth Reichl Says It All

I have been an avid reader of Gourmet Magazine for over 20 years now. I just recently, for no good reason but laziness, allowed my subscription to lapse. Thankfully B. sent me this and I am going to rush off to renew my subscription. Reading this reminded me of why I love the magazine so much. It also speaks volumes about raising children to love food.

Letter From the Editor - Ruth Reichl of Gourmet Magazine - March 2007
Teach Your Children Well
"Be warned: This is a rant. If you don't want to listen, turn the page. But I recently read a laudatory article about the opening of a new shop in New York City dedicated to children's food, and the very notion drives me so crazy that I simply can't keep quiet.On the surface it seemed a rather charming idea: a shop dedicated to food that children will eat. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to feel that this epitomizes everything that's wrong with the way we eat today.
For starters, the notion that children are a separate species who require a different diet from the rest of us pretty much does away with the concept of the family meal. The point of eating together, it seems to me, is not just that we all sit down around the same table but also that we share the food. The same food.
Children study their parents--that is their primary job in life--and one of the things they absorb is the way the grown-ups eat. "Oh look, Mommy loves salad and Daddy thinks spaghetti alla bolognese is swell" is one lesson learned at the family table. The message is that these are delicious and desirable foods, and the obvious conclusion is "I'll probably like them, too." But if little Suzy and Sam get applesauce instead of salad and naked pasta in place of meat sauce, the lesson is quite different. What we are really telling our children is "You won't like what we are eating."
And yet we know that what children like is mostly learned. Japanese children are not born thinking that rice, fish, and seaweed are breakfast foods any more than American children are born with an innate preference for cereal. We tell them what they like, even if we don't say it in words.
No thinking person would force a child to eat food he didn't want. That turns the dinner table into a battleground and ultimately makes everyone miserable. It's just plain stupid. But by the same token, no conscious parent would really want to tell his children, night after night, that they are going to dislike the food that the grown-ups are eating.
The great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss did groundbreaking work when he observed that in turning the raw into the cooked we transform nature into culture; in other words, cooking is one of the ways in which we define ourselves as civilized creatures. Through our cooking, and our eating habits, we tell ourselves who we are. When we offer our children a different menu, we are telling them that they are different from us. And being different, that we also have different expectations of them. Why, then, should we be surprised that many modern children have such poor table manners? In giving them children's food, we are essentially telling them that they are not expected to behave like adults when they are at the table.
We're supposed to be the grown-ups, and when we ask children to choose their own food, we're offering them choices they would probably rather not make. And if we are incapable of making the easy decisions about what's for dinner, why should they trust us to make the harder ones? Offering children a special menu may make life momentarily more comfortable, but in the long run it's a cop-out, a way of walking away from one of the responsibilities of being a parent.
But there's an even more important reason for us to be dismayed by special menus aimed at pleasing your young palates. When we feed children the old familiar grilled cheese sandwiches and vanilla ice cream, we are teaching them to stick with the tried-and-true instead of encouraging them to dare to taste the new.
Sitting down to dinner, at any age, should be an invitation to the fabulous banquet that is life. The most important lesson we learn at the table is that great rewards await those who take chances. Do we really want to be telling our children, "Just eat your nice chicken nuggets"? It would make so much more sense to say, "Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is endlessly delicious."

Strudel Mania: Revisiting an old haunt

Nostalgic for my old NYC neighborhood, we stopped in at Poseidon Bakery on Ninth Avenue (45th Street). How could I have stayed away for so long?

The apricot-cheese strudel, my particular favorite, was warm from the oven. I had to have that but also couldn't resist the savory pies - Spanokopita and their Kreatopita (meat pie with leeks), both encased in their perfectly flaky phyllo dough. The owner also persuaded me to buy some type of custard-filled phyllo creation which was also warm from the oven. By the time I walked out the door, my bag was full. We sampled the custard treat in the car (sorry for the mess, R.) and I deemed it to be too sweet, though Izzy didn't seem to mind.

When we got home I broke open the box and served up the savory pies. Izzy ate about half of the Spanikopita, a few bites of the Kreatopita and then announced that he was done with lunch. I hesitated a moment before finishing his and mine, forgetting that sometimes he comes back for more.

Boy did I feel awfully gluttonous when, an hour or so later, he came around pouting, "Where is the pie with the green stuff? I want to finish it." I replied, "I thought you were done with lunch. You can have the dessert strudel." "What about the meat pie?" "Uh, I ate that too and put one in the freezer." "I'll take some of the apricot-cheese then". And so he did, but he seemed forever interested in finding more Spanikopita.

How could I have been so remiss? I thought for sure he would want the dessert strudels. I didn't mean to gobble up his lunch and most of his dessert. Did I mention that I ate up all of the apricot-cheese too? Next time I will save some. I promise.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cool Plates: Daddy Knows Best




Daddytypes, that is. My friend J sent over a link to these wonderful plates . What a great way to entice kids to come to the table! Too bad they are only available in Europe at the moment. In the meantime you can console yourselves with our other favorites, the Trebimbi cutlery featured on Cocoa Crayon.

Plain Pasta? Not on the Menu...

Well, at least not at our house. Why is it that so many restaurants offer that on their kiddie menus? Is there something fundamentally wrong with sauce? Why is sauceless pasta ever an option? Why do people want their children to become accustomed to plain foods? I say, banish the bland and bring on the flavors. And what better place to start than pasta.

Pasta is easy to fiddle with and you can alter the ingredients according to your whim. Some recipes may be more elaborate than others but a few basic ones to fall back on include: Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and parsley, Gemelli with garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive paste and a bit of hot pepper, Penne with olive oil, garlic and broccoli rabe. Start with those and build on them. Make sure to keep some freshly grated Parmesan or a small block of it around for sprinkling on top.

We eat pasta at least once a week because it is one of those quick, cupboard meals. So simple and nourishing, just add salad and you have dinner in under an hour.

Which reminds me that we had pasta tonight and what brought on this rant were these words which popped from Izzy's mouth: "I don't want any sauce." My eyes widened in amazement and I looked at him and said.. "Who ever heard of pasta without sauce. We don't eat that in our house." Then I served him a plate of spaghetti with tomatoes,onions,garlic, and olive paste and watched as he slurped up the strands..PHEW!

Pineapple: Direct From the Source

Izzy: One of my schoolmates, N., was away getting pineapple for us..

Me:Really, where did she get it, Hawaii?

Izzy: No, she got it from somewhere far away.

Me: Hawaii is very far away.

Izzy: She got it from Maui.

Me: Oh. Maui is part of Hawaii.

Izzy: You can take a plane or a ship to get there.

Me: How did she get there?

Izzy: She took a plane.

Me: Was the pineapple good?

Izzy: Yes, I took the ripest, juiciest pieces.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Little Fella Loves Nigella..

Or at least her recipes. Perhaps it is because I devoured Nigella Bites when I was pregnant or maybe he just has good taste. Back then it was my weeknight bible, since the recipes are generally quick and foolproof. One of my favorites, then and now, is her Salmon with Greens and Shitake mushrooms. Bok choy figured amongst the first greens I fed the boy when he started eating non-pureed foods. They were a hit then and still are.

Tonight was the first time I had made the recipe in a while. Nigella always recommends tweaking her recipes to suit your tastes and I took her advice. I marinated the salmon first and threw in some additional ingredients. I served it with a side of Basmatic Rice pilaf made with onions (thank you K. and J. for bequeathing that giant bag to us upon your departure from J.C.) I think that the slightly fruity soy flavors are especially appealing to kids. I know Izzy would definitely recommend it as a good introduction to salmon as it melts in the mouth.



Salmon with Baby Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms (my version)
(3 generous servings)

3 salmon fillets
3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 clove whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 lb. shitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 lb. bok choy (chopped keeping leaves and stalks separate)
4-6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons tamari
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tspns. sesame oil
1 small knob of ginger

1. Marinate salmon with tamari, grated ginger (microplane zester), orange juice, grated garlic (microplane zester) for 30-60 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450 (in summer grill). Roast salmon on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes.

3. While salmon is roasting, saute minced garlic in olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. When you start to smell the aroma, add mushrooms and bok choy stems. Cook about 10 minutes, until tender. Then add bok choy leaves, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook about 5 minutes more, or until sufficiently wilted.


Serve with a side of rice.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Merguez:It's better than sausage...

Our greenmarket obsession for the past several months has been what Izzy refers to as, "the sheep lady", 3-Corner Field Farm. One miracle this farm produces is a wonderfully spicy lamb sausage, otherwise known as merguez. It is prominent in North African cookery and her particular version is superior to many I have tasted here.

Now I have been eating merguez for years, since I discovered it in Paris. It often plays a role in couscous or can be found grilled. The sheep lady, however, introduced us to an unlikely use for merguez, as a component in "Libyan Soup." In fact, she had a sample of the soup at her stand a few months ago and Izzy and both gave it the thumbs up. She happily passed on the recipe to us (she seems to keep a file there for customers). I have been making it ever since. As a result, merguez has become a staple in our freezer, since the soup can be made in the shake of a lamb's tail.

Take note: I substituted merguez for the meat and omitted the spices..you can adjust accordingly.

Libyan Soup Time: 1 1/2 hours

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 pound boneless lamb shoulder or dark chicken meat, finely chopped
4 medium-size ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 can (3 ounces) tomato paste
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or harissa, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup orzo, fine pearl barley or couscous 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained (canned are fine)
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 tablespoon dried mint.

1. Heat oil in a four-quart casserole or saucepan. Add onion and lamb or chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne or harissa, saffron and salt and pepper. Stir, then add 8 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
2. Add orzo and chickpeas and cook 15 minutes, until orzo is tender. Add cilantro and parsley. Taste and adjust salt and cayenne or harissa. Add dried mint. Cook for 5 minutes, then serve.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

On peas...

This evening, Izzy exclaimed, "These peas are juicy, mama. They are as juicy as pears." He then continuing spooning them up, unadorned and just simply delicious.

Could there possibly be a better reason for always keeping a package or two of frozen organic peas in the freezer? They always come through in a pinch. Nothing for dinner? Not to worry. You can always whip up something with frozen peas. Pasta with peas, corn and goat cheese....tuna casserole...rice and peas. You get the idea.

Plain or gussied up, peas make a great side dish too. The best part is, they are healthy, always available and cook up in a jiffy.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Rice or Wrong?

I grew up thinking that rice was something that was generally boiled in a bag in a minute (stepmother #1 was not from the great cooks). As you can imagine, not the tastiest type of rice. Of course I now cringe at the thought of that sodden mess, never mind the idea of heated plastic.

Maybe as a result of this awful initiation into the world of rice, I would say I am still not the savviest in that department; though I do prepare it quite often. Usually I just make it pilaf style with garlic, olive oil and a bit of salt. Rice to broth or water in a 1:2 ratio. I have made brown rice, wild rice, jasmine and mixtures but for most every day things, white seems to go best.

Recently my friend R. was visiting for dinner. The rice still wasn't prepared so she offered to help. She was shocked to learn my rice to liquid ratio. She said it should always be 1:1, otherwise the rice would be too soggy. Apparently her Cuban heritage gives her license to claim superiority on the rice front, yet I was still doubtful. Why do most rice packages give directions using the 1:2 ratio? Did I have rice all wrong all these years? That night, we ended up using my ratio and she promised that when we had dinner at her place she would cook it her way.

Since I couldn't wait that long, I decided to experiment tonight. Instead of the 1:2 ratio I tried 1:1.5 The rice was drier and had a nice texture..maybe she is on to something. It was a fine accompaniment to our platter of black beans, avocado and soft tacos. Another pantry dinner for the lazy.

Pancakes, Pancakes

We read the book by Eric Carle last night and made them for breakfast this morning. How convenient that my food blog meanderings were in sync with Izzy's breakfast desires, both of us inspired by the words of others.

Last night I read on one food blog or another about someone who claimed to always be dissatisfied when ordering pancakes in restaurants. Yes, it is true they often sound better than they taste and nearly always leave you feeling unpleasantly stuffed. Pancakes made at home are an entirely different story.

Some of my earliest memories are of helping my grandma make "silver dollar" pancakes. I would stand on a stool by her counter as she prepared the Aunt Jemima mix. Some days, she even allowed me to pour the batter into the skillet. To me they were delicious and I couldn't get enough of them.

I have since experimented with many a pancake recipe, all the while searching for the one that would take me back to Aunt Jemima. Why not use the box? Well I did one day and I was sorely disappointed. Either my tastes have changed or the box has..

My search ended a few years back when I came across a great recipe in the NY Times. It has become my standard pancake recipe. The author was looking for a recipe that was quick enough to make on hectic weekday mornings. Lucky for me, he found it. He calls them, "Mississipi Pancakes". I have altered the recipe a bit to make them slightly healthier. Rest assured this does not compromise their appeal. Best part is, you can have these on the table within 20 minutes.

2 eggs
1 1/8 cups of milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tspns. baking powder
3 tspns. brown or white sugar
1/2 tspn. salt

1) Beat eggs until frothy.
2) Add milk and butter, beat some more.
3) Mix dry ingredients in another bowl
4) Add dry ingredients to wet
5) Heat some butter in skillet
Pour batter into skillet (sized according to preference), flip when bubbles arise.

Broccoli Soup Redux

Since the mediocre broccoli and pasta soup was a hit I figured I would try to make another version of broccoli soup, one for which there actually was a recipe. I chose the recipe for Creamy Dreamy Broccoli soup from another kid food blog I discovered. Not only was it already kid-tested but it was simple to make and looked yummy. It would be a perfect addition to a spinach with goat cheese salad dinner. Or so I thought.

I should have known that when I had to coax Izzy into helping chop the broccoli (he usually jumps at the chance) that things might not go my way tonight. I prepared the rest of the ingredients, sauteeing the onion etc, and then simmering the soup. I then whizzed it in the blender 'til smooth. Indeed, it was creamy and delicious. I set it aside and went off to do other things.

I knew it was time for dinner after the fourth, "I'm hungry bungry," out of Izzy's mouth. We went down to the kitchen and I cut up some bread and served him a bowl of soup. Well he barely touched it. I on the other hand had sampled so much I couldn't eat any more so I nibbled some bread, as did he. When I asked why he wasn't eating it, he replied, "It doesn't have pasta in it." Then he said he was finished and left the table, after having eaten about one teaspoonful of soup and a slice of bread. Odd? YES.

Back in the kitchen about 10 minutes later he started to request dessert. I said (just as my grandmother must have said before me), "No dessert unless you eat your soup." "I don't want any soup." "Okay well then you must not be very hungry." He comes back to the kitchen and plays a game. After he puts it away, he returns to the kitchen. So then I try again. "Would you like some soup now?" "Yes."
He finally sat down and had a cup of soup. He said it was yummy and he didn't even eat dessert.

If at first you don't succeed...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Chinese Food Cure

Feeling ill or on the mend? You can bet Chinese food is on the menu chez nous. If I have a terrible cold, I often crave wonton soup, simply because that is what my stepmother fed me when I was sick. She was not the cooking sort, so I suppose she thought it was better than serving me something from a can. Which I guess it was. Of course I would certainly prefer grandma's chicken soup but if nobody is around to make it I'll have to settle for something else.

My husband, too, has a fondness for Chinese when either ill or recovering from an ailment. He longs for hot and sour soup and greasy sesame chicken. Not surprisingly then, that we have passed on this penchant to our child.

Last night, Izzy was suffering from a stomach ailment, as was I. This morning he was nibbling at some bread, same for lunch. By dinnertime, though, he was ready. "I want to order Chinese for dinner, from the regular old Chinese." "Not the new Chinese?" "No, the regular one, I like it better."
How depressing because the new one is healthier. His taste for the old is my own fault entirely. Kids become accustomed to what they know. It is up to me to change it now. So I persist and order from the new.. eventually the new will become old and all will be well...

Some background:

Jersey City is not one of those places where you might look around and say, "I bet the Chinese food here is terrible." Yet in fact it is mediocre at best. For awhile we had been ordering from D.J. Gardens on a regular basis, not a place where you would really want to dine-in. Run of the mill greasy Chinese food. Why I ate it on a regular basis? The only reason I can think of was because my husband likes it. And why that is, I can't say.

So it is only recently that I discovered a couple of other options, one of which is an "Asian bistro" called Confucius. The restaurant itself is large and of the Ruby Foo ilk. The food is decent slightly more inspired than ordinary but nothing earth-shattering. Somehow it seems to be a healthier option than D.J. Gardens. It is certainly not as greasy. So I started to order from there instead because I just couldn't justify feeding my family greasy food on a regular basis.

My husband doesn't understand and sometimes insists on getting his own fix on his way home while Izzy continues to request "the regular old Chinese." What am I supposed to do?