pegkerr: (Cooking for Ingrates)
Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner. This paragraph REALLY jumped out at me:
Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to provide diverse, home-cooked meals. The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts. “We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served,” the researchers write. Mothers who could afford to do so often wanted to try new recipes and diverse ingredients, but they knew that it would cause their families to reject the meals. “Instead, they continued to make what was tried and true, even if they didn’t like the food themselves.” The saddest part is that picky husbands and boyfriends were just as much, if not more, of a problem than fussy children.
Exactly. That has been EXACTLY my experience.

That's why have I have dozens and dozens of blog posts tagged Cooking for Ingrates.
pegkerr: (candle)
When I had moved out in my twenties, I needed a kitchen table. My Mom and Dad brought one to me at my apartment. I still remember them carrying it across that long parking lot on a hot summer's day. I'm not quite sure where they got it. Used, maybe, or perhaps from a relative. It was painted an ugly shade of thick brown paint.(Edited to add: Rob remembers that there was a thick coat of dark green OVER the dark brown.)

I spent weeks stripping and sanding that table down to the bare wood, working in the outdoor patio behind Rob's apartment (this was before we were married). It took so long because I had to dig into the crevices in the legs with the edge of a nail file to chase every last bit of brown paint out in the detailing of the lathe-turned grooves. You can still see tiny bits of the paint, like shadows, proof that I was not an expert used furniture refinisher by any means. I don't remember what the wood was, but I stained it a red maple color and covered it with a protective gloss. I remember how vexed I was by a stray hair that floated in on a breeze and caught in the gloss and affixed itself there, like an insect caught in amber.

We moved it to our first apartment together, and it became our first table. When we moved again, to our house where the girls were born, the table was put in the dining room. Rather too humble, aesthetically, for the space, but it fit perfectly, and when we covered it with a cloth, and put the best dishes on it, it suited us well. Two leaves could be pulled out from the ends to add length whenever we had guests.

Over the years, of course, there were scars. Delia the toddler banged her spoon incessantly, and so there is a patina of half-moon shaped scars on her side of the table. (We always sat at the same places.) Once, someone put a candlestick on the table, and some liquid spilled and soaked the felt cushion underneath, leaving a stain which marked the varnish. There is the smear of nail polish where Delia was experimenting, and I couldn't rub it off. I didn't want to try anything stronger that would take off the finish. I'll admit I wasn't always scrupulously quick about wiping away everyday stains.

It's used, battered, and hardly an heirloom. But we loved that table. We grew our family around it, and told our jokes, and traded our bon mots and cracked each other up. We had raging arguments, often about whether onions must be eaten or not. Fiona banged the back of her head against the back of her chair 1,346,234 times and never never remembered not to do it the next night. We ate our Christmas breakfasts and celebrated twelfth night there. We brought various hopeful Boys to join us. Fiona perfected her pterodactyl mating call there. We held hands around it and blessed our meals, and cried and screamed and raged and loved each other there.

We didn't have a hearth, so we used a table instead.

My mom is moving from the apartment she shared with Dad to a smaller senior complex. She had to downsize, and so she offered us her dining room table, the one I grew up with. It, too, has a rich family history, and many happy memories. It is bigger than ours: we will have to take leaves out and put the ends down, and we can't sit in the same configuration, because you can't put your feet under the drop leaf ends.

But. It, too, is the family table with a lot of lovely memories, and I hated to see it go to some strangers. Yes, we will take it, I said, and when the girls leave home, Rob and I can take all the leaves out, drop the sides, and it will work as a long narrow table for just the two of us. And then one of the girls can take our table when they leave to set up their own household.

Mom is going to be using the old oak table she had in her kitchen, the one she received from her mother-in-law (yet another generation's worth of memories).

So I have taken the legs off our table...

Dissassembling the table

We will have to do our Valentine boxes breakfast Japanese-style, on the floor, tomorrow morning,

Dissassembling the table

and then hustle it into the basement, so the dining room is clear when the truck brings Mom's old dining room table to our house.

And our old table will wait, patiently, in the basement, until either Fiona or Delia move out, painstakingly reassemble it, and gather friends and a new family around it to make a new generation of memories.
pegkerr: (Cooking for Ingrates)
because no one else in my family will eat it: Leek Blue Cheese soup. Really delicious.

Edited to add: [livejournal.com profile] rufinia asked for the recipe, so here it is:

Leek and Blue Cheese Soup

Serves 6

3 large leeks
50g/ 2oz / 1/4 cup of butter
30ml / 2 TB oil
115g / 4oz Irish blue cheese, coarsely grated
15g / 1/2 oz / 2 TB plain all-purpose flour
15ml / 1 TB wholegrain Irish mustard, or to taste
1.5 litres / 2 1/2 pints / 6 1/4 cups chicken stock
ground black pepper
50g / 2 oz / 1/2 cup grated cheese and chopped chives or scallions, to garnish

1) Slice the leeks thinly. Heat the butter and oil together in a large heavy pan and gently cook the leeks in it, covered for 10-15 minutes, or until just softened but not brown.

2) Add the cheese to the pan, stirring over a low heat until it is melted. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, then add pepper and mustard to taste.

3) Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly and blending it in well, bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about fifteen minutes. Check the seasoning.

4) Serve garnished with the extra cheese and chopped chives or scallions.

(I also threw in some extra chopped ham I had hanging around in the refrigerator. Really good.)
pegkerr: (Cooking for Ingrates)
I tried this, and it was really surprisingly good: Vegan Fudge, made with no sugar, butter or milk. The secret? Black beans.

Naturally, no one else in my family will eat it. All the more for me, bwahahaha.
pegkerr: (Cooking for Ingrates)
I was pretty tired last night after we got back from my sister Betsy's house for Christmas Eve dinner (apparently, I haven't entirely recovered from this week's medical procedure, and the girls had been up late the previous night, too, so we ended the evening super early). We did have one tragedy as we were setting up for the Christmas breakfast this morning. Since I was so tired, I asked Fiona to set the table with our Christmas dishes. Unfortunately, the box which held her mug that she's had since she was a baby was put, inexplicably, in the cupboard upside down. It was a collectible Winnie the Pooh mug, with a Pooh figurine inside which endearingly poked his head out once the milk inside was drunk up. Poor Pooh crashed onto the kitchen counter, and the pieces flew everywhere.
Fiona was heartbroken and many tears were shed. It's funny how such a simple thing can assume such a vast importance. My heart ached for her, too. And how ironic that her child mug should be broken on the first year she has come back for Christmas from college. I looked on ebay and didn't see one like it. We will do some searching around to see if we can find something else that would be appropriate for her new adult status.

Here's poor Pooh: we decided to put him on the table to show he wasn't forgotten: )

Stockings were a big hit )

Then we had our Christmas breakfast )

Once the kitchen was cleaned up, we opened presents.

Delia got a big kick out of the fun socks Fiona found for her )

Fiona snuggled some more with her Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles lounging pants )

A highlight for me was a mysterious package which had been left on the porch earlier this week, signed 'Santa's Elves'. I was absolutely delighted with the contents, as you can see here )

But for me the most amazing gift of all, perhaps the best Christmas gift I've received EVAH came in two parts. When I opened the first part, I laughed so hard that tears came out of my eyes for about ten minutes.

It was a promotional poster for the cookbook I always said I'd write someday, Cooking for Ingrates )

I thought that nothing could delight me more than that poster. Yet my family did better than that. As if that wasn't special enough, they gave me the actual BOOK! Delia, that clever little creative person, had dreamed this fantastic idea up and designed the book herself more than a month ago.

Here's a video of me opening the best Christmas I've ever received in my entire life )

Here's the front cover of the book:
Cooking for Ingrates: Front Cover
and here's the back:
Cooking for Ingrates: Back cover


Such a happy Christmas (aside from the lamentable Pooh cup incident). I hope yours was as marvelous as ours.


(Everyone in my household aside from me is asleep now. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and the opportunity to catch up on your sleep)
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
"Would you like to take some of the carrot ginger soup I made last night for lunch today?"

Delia shook her head vigorously no.

I sighed. "Won't you at least try it?"

She ducked her head down like a turtle and said so earnestly that I had to laugh. "I respect it."

"But I don't like ginger."
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
I spent a little over three hours making the following soup from scratch (the recipe was provided by my local co-op Seward Co-op):

Ingredients
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 TB Olive oil
6 cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade (I cheated and used vegetable bullion cubes)
1 cup cream
Salt, to taste (I ended up not adding any because the broth was already rather salty)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp group cumin
pinch cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
To garnish: 1/4 cup creme fraiche, handful chopped cilantro, 2 TB. toasted caraway seeds

Method
Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine the carrots, garlic and ginger in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 4 TB olive oil. Pour 2 cups of broth in the pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until the vegetables are very tender, approximately 2 hours.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large soup pot and add the sliced onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, and then add the coriander and cumin. Cook over low heat for about 6 minutes and allow spices to bloom. Add the roasted vegetables with broth to the onion and spice mixture along with the remaining 4 cups of broth. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Allow soup to cool, then puree until smooth, in batches in a blender or with a hand blender. Return the soup to the pot, adjust the seasonings if necessary, and add the cream. Serve each portion dolloped with a teaspoon of creme fraiche, sprinkled with cilantro and toasted caraway seeds.

Rob's verdict, when offered a taste: "Interesting. It's not gagworthy.

Yep. They don't deserve me.

Kale chips

Oct. 18th, 2011 02:29 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
Ladies and gentlemen, take a moment to place your hands over your hearts, please. I have done it. The impossible dream, the goal I've pursued tirelessly for years, despite scorn, derision, humiliating failures and countless setbacks.

I have actually found a way to serve kale that my family liked. Delia tried a chip and said in a tone of vast surprise, "That tastes GOOD!" She even took the leftovers for lunch today.

My child. Took kale to school for lunch.

It must be a sign of the apocalpse.

These are amazingly easy and guilt free. Highly recommended.



(Tip: I've seen other recipes that have suggested adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar along with the oil. May try that next).

Restless

Feb. 6th, 2011 06:04 pm
pegkerr: (Dark have been my dreams of late)
I have been wafting around the house today like a restless, irritable ghost.

I went to church today...and walked out again after ten minutes. I went down for the adult forum and saw the stuff on the board about the church's ministry committees, and I sat down and all the stuff Elinor Dashwood has been thinking about lately welled up and I just couldn't bring myself to stay. So I asked Fiona if Mitch would drive her home, and I split. I just don't do that sort of thing.

I went for coffee with [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer. I started three different books and can't get into any of them. I've been pacing around, between my computer nook, and downstairs in the kitchen, where I peer into cupboards and the refrigerator, trying to come up with something for dinner, without any success.

I want to go out for dinner. Frankly, I haven't wanted to cook for over a month. Maybe longer. Weariness with coping with my family's finicky demands, and the paucity of ingredients in our budget-constrained larder have made cooking a loathed chore rather than something relaxing I look forward to doing.

I don't know what to do tonight. This is extremely unusual behavior for me; I'm rarely ever bored, but I'm really not fit for anything tonight. There's no karate, I'm too restless to watch a movie or do much on [community profile] alternity, I'm sick of reading. I was in the bathtub for over four hours yesterday, and I figure if I did that again today, my skin would fall off in flakes.

I want to shut off my brain grutching at me.
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
Me (the woman who never learns): "Fiona, are you actually picking out every single bit of red pepper in that spaghetti sauce?"

Fiona (the indignant, self-righteous teenager): "No!"

Rob (the snickering onlooker): "Just all the ones she can find."
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
I stopped by the beautiful shiny new Seward Co-op on the way home from work, thinking I'd pick something up ready-made to feed the girls, since I didn't feel like cooking. Everything I saw looked incredibly delicious. I called up the girls on my cell phone and consulted. These were the various options I suggested, all of which were summarily rejected (reasons in parentheses).

From the grab and go cooler:
Turkey soup (black beans)
Tomato basil soup (cooked tomatoes, ick)
Broccoli cheese (broccoli)
Clam chowder (all seafood is verboten)
Borchst (beets)
Sushi (ha. You were kidding, right?)

From the hot bar:
Rotisserie chicken (it, uh, resembles something that was living once, which is icky)
Pizza (has mushrooms)
Spinach lasagna (spinach and onions)
Chickpea curry (chickpeas. And curry)

At this point, I lost my temper, told them that they could get their own damn dinner, bought the spinach lasagna and carmelized beets (I didn't even bother asking about those) and a carton of chocolate tofu mousse to smooth my ruffled feathers. Came home and ate it all, studiously, ignoring both girls. I feared I might say something unforgiveable if I spoke to them.

I have no idea what they had for dinner. Maybe cardboard, for all I know.
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
From Easy Vegetarian Dinners

Start to finish: 30 minutes. Serves 4-6

nonstick cooking spray
1 small onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
12 ounces acorn, butternut or turban squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks (about 2 cups)
8 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (about 2 cups)
1 14-oz can vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine or apple juice (I used hard cider)
2 TB snipped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage, crushed
1 TB snipped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 medium tart apple, cored and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup) OR 6 dried apricots, quartered
1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 TB sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 TB honey
salt
ground black pepper

Lightly coat an unheated 4-quart Dutch Oven with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to Dutch oven; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add fennel, squash, Brussels sprouts, broth, wine or apple juice, sage and rosemary. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Add apple or apricots. Cover and cook about 3 minutes more or just until sprouts are tender. Add beans, vinegar, and honey; heat through. Season to taste with pepper and salt.

To serve, ladle into bowls.

Per serving: 201 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 690 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
I was not in the mood to pander to my family's tender sensibilities about what foods they will or will not eat.

So: dinner. An experiment. A winter stew made with onions (yes, gasp! onions! although I cut the amount in half) brussel sprouts, fennel, butternut squash, tenderly simmered in a mixture of broth and hard cider. Add in kidney beans and apples, balsamic vinegar and honey near the end, and when they are heated through, serve. Did my family eat it? Ha! I laugh you to scorn. Of course they did not. It was fearfully healthy, and quite delicious so why on earth should they eat it? It will doubtless be my lunch for the rest of the week.

Edited to add: Recipe is here, for the people who asked.
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
I am so fed up with trying to feed my family.

Fiona left for a meeting at the library, eating a plain white bagel before she left. Yes, this is what Fiona eats; white pasta, white bagels, buttermilk waffles. That would be all she would eat, if the universe was ordered to her specifications.

For the rest of us, I suggested chicken waldorf. No, Delia will not eat chicken.

I suggested vegetarian chili over potatoes. No, we are all out of Amy's vegetarian chili.

Rob suggested the little 4 oz. steaks we have in the freezer. No, Delia will not eat steak.

I suggested ham and cheese over potatoes. No, Delia will not eat ham.

At this point, I just want to throw in the frickin' towel and say, "screw you, I'm going out to buy my own dinner. Find some way to feed yourself, because I won't."

Except that I can't afford to eat out.

No, I am absolutely positively not asking for advice. Any attempt at advice will be met with the business end of a howitzer. I am just venting. You have been warned.

I hope that [livejournal.com profile] nmalfoy won't mind if I hot-link to one of her icons:



edited to add: Aaaaaand that's another frickin' pizza in the frickin' oven. What, that's like nine or so in the last month?
pegkerr: (All we have to decide is what to do with)
What with the 100 pushup challenge, I've been thinking about the goals I have in my life, and the progress I'm making toward them. I'm a Myers-Briggs ENFJ, and the "J" means that I'm into goals, schedules, structures (unlike my husband, who in contrast is a "P" go-with-the-flow sort of guy. A frequent source of, shall we say, not seeing eye-to-eye on things in our marriage).

I like setting goals for myself. I respond well to them, for the most part. Sometimes, however, I get frustrated with myself because I am not making the progress I would like. Sometimes that is due to the goal I have in mind isn't very realistic; sometimes I sabotage myself--mildly. Sometimes real life gets in the way (i.e., Rob's job loss has been a set back in a number of different areas).

Money Goals )

Fitness Goals )

Other goals )

What are some of your goals?
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
Well, Delia has said that she wanted to try more foods with different grains. So I thought maybe she'd go for it, since it had rye flour. Unfortunately, no. Delia proved surprisingly reluctant to actually help me make it, and then the whole family turned their noses up at what was put on their plates. I couldn't believe it. I mean, how many times do I have to try to come up with something new and interesting?

Maybe I had the proportions wrong or something. I knew I should have stopped and picked up the cloves since I was out. I certainly used enough sugar.

I mean, really. What's not to like?
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
I may have pointed to this article before, which describes my life pretty well. The great comfort for me here is the included report of a study that found that food pickiness is mostly genetic:
...For parents who worry that their children will never eat anything but chocolate milk, Gummi vitamins and the occasional grape, a new study offers some relief. Researchers examined the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twins between 8 and 11 years old and found children’s aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited.

The message to parents: It’s not your cooking, it’s your genes.

The study, led by Dr. Lucy Cooke of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. Dr. Cooke and others in the field believe it is the first to use a standard scale to investigate the contribution of genetics and environment to childhood neophobia.

According to the report, 78 percent is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental.
The genetics, I'm pretty sure, are probably Rob's. He was a really picky eater as a kid; I was not. (If you're not registered for the New York Times, you can go to Bug Me Not and get a password there to use to read the article.
pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
Report to the Timbale Quality Testing Team:

Delia reports that she sorta kinda likes quinoa. The texture was acceptable. It tasted okay. It looked okay. It smelled okay.

Does this mean that she ate the three timbales I gave her for dinner? Hah, foolish friends list, of course it does not. One was disemboweled into bits on her plate, and the other two were banished back to the refrigerator. The problem? It was the dried apricots I had minced VERY finely and mixed with the quinoa. "So dissect it," I said. "Eat the quinoa and leave the apricot bits on your plate."

Alas, the sad fact remained that parts of dried apricot had TOUCHED the surface of the quinoa. Quel horror! This was enough to render the entire timbale Taboo and Unacceptable and therefore Destined Only for Banishment To The Garbage.

All the rest of the timbales in this batch are mine.

Delia suggested hopefully that perhaps a future timbale, mixed with, say, cheese instead of the Dreadful Apricot, might be acceptable.

However, I have been led by the nose down this primrose path before of "Well, I might eat it if you'd only . . . " before and I remain deeply skeptical.

I remain,
your ob'dt servant,

(Ms.) Peg Kerr
Chief Cook and
Director, Timbale Testing Team
pegkerr: (Delia)
Delia has always been the much more domestic of our two girls. I mean, this is a girl who within one week of getting her iPod had discovered and downloaded all the Cook's Illustrated podcasts and soon was seriously discussing the relative merits of various brands of cookware. She loves to make cakes and bread (which reminds me: she's been complaining again that OMIGOD she is out of YEAST, which is a CATASTROPHE and if I know what's good for me I'll make sure we get that on the next grocery shopping list). She has been busily exploring all my various linens I got for my wedding and even the linens I inherited from my grandmother, and frequently over the past month I've come home to find that she has nicely set the table with a whole other set of place mats and matching napkins and plates that it hadn't occurred to me to use for ten years. Or she'll have the table set for tea, using my Nana's tea set.

She is sewing all sorts of things. She is making beautiful jewelry. She is knitting. One of her birthday presents for her sister was a knitted cell phone case which was just so cute I just about exploded.

Cooking, other than baking, is rather problematic. She is extremely interested in cooking, and goes through and marks up all sorts of cookbooks--but her tastes are whimsical when it comes right down to making things. One of the side effects of some medication she is taking, I think, is that things sometimes taste weird, and her appetite is unpredictable. She is, as we have previously noted, a supertaster, and she is also extremely sensitive to textures, and she'll reject something if it feels "weird" in her mouth.

She is leaning, again, to wanting to be a vegetarian. Her reasons are mostly philosophical (loves animals, doesn't want to eat them) and her revulsion for the texture of meat is growing. Except she still ALSO has revulsion for many cooked vegetables. We are having a great deal of trouble identifying protein sources which she will deign to eat, which has meant (esp. since she's as skinny as a rail) that she's been troubled a great deal by hypoglycemic incidents this spring, especially after intense karate classes.

Does any one know of a, say a cooking class locally (not too expensive) to suggest for say, parents of kids, when the kid wants to become a vegetarian? I know a lot, more than most parents about vegetarianism, but I must admit, I'm somewhat stymied by Delia's endlessly changing reactions to tastes and textures--trying to keep her nutrition adequate on a vegetarian diet that she will EAT is like trying to hit a swiftly moving target. Or does anyone know any skilled vegetarian cooks who might be willing to tutor an eager-to-learn kid who is, really, quite a good cook already, but just needs to be shown the ropes on vegetarian cooking?

I just found Compassionate Cooks podcast, a vegetarian podcast, and told her about it, and she's gone ahead and subscribed to it on iTunes. Other thoughts, anyone?





pegkerr: (You'll eat it and like it)
[livejournal.com profile] cakmpls and [livejournal.com profile] mizzlaurajean and I got into a series of comments on my earlier post about Cooking for Ingrates, and I thought I'd marshall my thoughts in a new post.

Specifically, [livejournal.com profile] mizzlaurajean responded to my comment "I hate cooking for my ungrateful family" by asking, quite reasonably, "Then why do it?" I replied:
Because I love cooking (or I would if anyone would appreciate it). Because Rob, comparatively is a much worse cook than me, and if it were up to him, they would eat very badly indeed. Because these are the prime years for them to lay down the calcium in their bones that they will need when they are old to prevent hip fractures. Because Delia is rather underweight and I'm worried about her growing properly. Because if they don't get breakfast, they do badly in school. Because when Delia becomes hypoglycemic her mood becomes so monstrous that the whole family suffers for it. Because if no one tries to teach them how to eat right, how will they learn about how to read labels, and what foods have the vitamins they need, and why they should eat multigrains and avoid trans fats?

Because I'm genetically programmed to look after them and nurture them and care for them.

Because I love them, and preparing food for them is a way of showing love. Which, I suppose, is why it bothers me so much when they refuse it.
Rob added that there's another practical reason: according to household rules, if I cook, I don't have to do the dishes.

[livejournal.com profile] cakmpls commented:
Sure, we want to do right by our kids, but there's a limit. Having now lived though two cycles of family (that is, the one in which I was the child and the one in which I was the parent), I am absolutely convinced that food is an area where families have huge control issues, and that's 100% bad. In the long run, I think that people have far worse problems with the fallout/aftermath of the control struggle than with any bad diet whatsoever.

The fact that preparing food is a way you show love is possibly a large part of the problem here. I bet that you are far more "invested" in food that the rest of them. When they refuse your food, they are not refusing your love; to them, food is just food, and they like it or they don't.
This is something I've actually given a lot of thought over the years during all the angst about food in our family. I have consciously told myself repeatedly, "Remember that if they reject the food, they are not rejecting you. Don't take it personally." I know this, but it still hurts when they do refuse what I make. So what is going on? Well, what you know consciously and what you experience emotionally are two different things.

I think, upon further thought, that there is also one other aspect here: food is just such a huge source of pleasure in my life. I love tastes and textures, and I love to share what gives me pleasure. Haven't you ever experienced this? You love a book, or a movie, and you recommend it to someone else, and you're so thrilled when they respond, "Wow, I'm so glad you told me about it. Now I love it, too!" I had an argument with my sister Cindy years ago that really sticks in my memory. I was asking her opinions about various films, and she was extremely disparaging about just about any one I praised. At one point of the conversation, she said to me in total seriousness: "I don't like the kind of films you like, Peg. I like good movies." Upon thinking it over, I realized that our sibling relationship growing up was rather fraught: perhaps because we were so close in age we often battled each other. In the course of the following conversation I challenged us both to step outside of the pattern we seemed to have unconsciously fallen into, to define ourselves in opposition to each other: if you like this, that means that I can't. It was a sort of a power struggle between us that until that day I hadn't even realized was going on. "When I find something I like," I told her, "I really want to share it with people I love, like you. When I see you enjoying something I like, that doubles my own pleasure. When you refuse to like it on the grounds that I like it, that's immensely frustrating to me."

I can imagine [livejournal.com profile] cakmpls replying with something she has often said in comments before: don't apply the Golden Rule according to what you want. It should be applied according to what the other person wants. If Fiona gets pleasure in white pasta sprinkled with parmesan cheese, shouldn't that be enough for me, as long as I make sure she gets a vitamin pill, too? Well, I also happen to like white pasta sprinkled with parmesan cheese, personally. But I also like cold melon soup, and spicy Thai food, and baked halibut topped with fresh mango salsa.

It's as if I'm taking the kids through an art museum, and they refuse to look at any painting that has any but three specific colors in it: black, beige and white. "But what about Picasso?" I cry. "What about Monet, what about El Greco, what about Rembrandt? You're missing so much!" It doesn't really convince me to tell me that they'll get all they need to know about art by looking only at line drawings and ink woodcuts. I'm still sad about what they're missing, even if they are perfectly happy. Not just because of the power struggle, but because it feels so lonely when I have no one with whom to share my enthusiasm about Picasso and Monet and El Greco and Rembrandt. Not to mention how much it cost me to get into the damn museum in the first place.

(Oh: and I should have said on the last entry: thank you so much, but I'm not looking for advice. These food entries seem to attract more advice than any other type of entry I write. Unless they're the entries about housekeeping. But I'm simply thinking out loud.)

(And now I'm off to go eat leftover taco pie and winter squash for lunch.)

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