Condiments are not a meal Julianne

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I have been receiving a lot of fun food related questions as of late.  Some of these questions are easy to answer.

What is your favorite ingredient in the spring?  Grapefruit

Where is your favorite place to go shopping?  HEB, I’m from Texas.

What are you seeing trend at weddings?  Sweet and Savory Crepe Action stations.

What is your favorite protein to cook?  It’s a toss up between pork and fish.  Both are versatile.

 

Some of the questions take a little more time to answer but do not cause pause in my thinking.

What is your least favorite cut of beef?  Tenderloin, it has no flavor because it has no fat, and it is overpriced for a piece of meat that will end up tasting like the fat you add to it.

We have a big parsley plant in our yard, what should we do with the extra parsley?  I like to hang it to dry, freeze dry it, or oven dry it. Here is a great link on how to do it. https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-sz-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=sz&p=how+to+dry+herbs#id=1&vid=46043933723d76e4a86e522abd4cfac9&action=click  (We love the Tungates)

Where is the best place to get fresh tortillas?  If I have time, I prefer to press my own. But I am not going to make it a daylong event so I use a mix and my trusty cast iron press.  Masa Brosa blue corn tortilla mix is my favorite; you only need to add water.  If I don’t have any time, then I prefer the tortillas from Central Market.  They are all natural and made fresh every hour.

 

Some questions about food are harder to answer.

Just last week I was asked, if being a chef gave me an upper hand in teaching my children about food and if it makes it easier for me to get them to eat a larger variety of food?

I don’t know.  

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie Chef where Jon Favreau who plays Chef Carl Casper is telling his son Percy played by Emjay Anthony that he could go with him to the farmers market.  But it was about Carl shopping and not about his son eating.  Cut scene, they are shopping at the market and Percy is asking about getting Kettle corn and Carl says no, how about this nice fruit.  An argument between them ensues, cut scene again and they are both eating Kettle corn.  This probably much more resembles my relationship with my children and our relationship with food than most people would assume.

I did learn from talking to some other parents that I can get my children to eat more things than other parents could and after analyzing our relationship I know why.  To my children (Grady and Julianne) I am Daddy, but I am also a Chef, that is the identity that they have built for me.  One Identity Chef Daddy, they are proud of this and when introducing me to other people this is how I am introduced.  This is my Dad he is a Chef.  On the surface it may seem like a small thing. To an outsider looking in it is natural for them to assume that my children eat how I do or how ever I want them to eat. 

Oh no, at our home we have the same issues you do.  We have one really picky eater and one vacuum cleaner of an eater. 

If I just give them whatever I want to eat my Son Grady will eat whatever I put out there.  Julianne isn’t going to try anything that is not in her wheel house.  Over time I have learned that if I take the time and have her prepare the meal with me that it is much less likely to result in awkward looks of distain and more willingness to try the food we put on the table.  It also is building a great relationship and bond between us; my children understand where my love of food comes from. As a family we purposely try to understand why we love the things we love and why we do the things that we do. We try and experience God in the same way with our children.  For us it is about spending quality time together.  

I wanted to test this bond, almost push there willingness to try things that we make together as far as I could.  I did this by making something that most children and many adults are not comfortable with.  

Don’t worry I didn’t make my children and wife cook and eat liver and onions, (even I can’t pull that off).  No, I tried to get them to eat Fish and Vegetables.  

Below are a few fun facts about our kiddos, the results over how they perceived the meal that they helped their Chef Daddy prepare and the recipe.

The meal: Texas Redfish with Chorizo, Grape Tomatoes, English Peas, and Fresh Corn.

 

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Julianne

Stats:

Recently turned 9 years old (we are now on our third week of celebrating).

Loves all things dog related especially dachshunds (Thanks Grammy!).

Adores her cousins.

Very adventurous, but only if Mommy and Daddy will try it with her.

Never stops asking questions (love that).

 

Julianne, what are your favorite meals to eat?

Julianne’s responses: “Peanut Butter and Fart Jelly.” (Welches Squeezable Grape Jelly, it makes a sound when she squeezes it).

“Bean and cheese burritos, the kind from Rosa’s dad, they are the best.  Not the ones that you make.” (That hurts)

“Dill Pickles, Sweet Pickles, Bread and Butter Pickles, Olives, Red Peppers (Jarred and Roasted), Ketchup, Salsa, Queso, and some types of mustard.”

This is where I paused and said, “So wait, you mean condiments?”.  To which Julianne responds, “Yes dad, you asked me what my favorite things to eat are!”

Me, “Condiments are not a meal Julianne.”

 

Is there any meals or food that you don’t like to eat?

Julianne’s response: “Pizza and Dads food (the stuff I make at work), it touches, I like food that doesn’t touch each other, you know simple food, Grandma Food.”

 

Clearly, I like most of you have a very picky eater on my hands.  There is not some type of gene that says that my children are going to like everything because I am a Chef.  Even if I wish that there were.  Sometimes I just want to eat the way I cook at work at home.  I usually end up making something that I know she will eat if we don’t have the time for us to prepare a meal together.  Tomato Soup, Chili, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Hamburgers, Hotdogs, and Sandwiches are easy to pull off without getting a dirty look and no arguments from Julianne.

 

Grady is a completely different story

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Grady 

Stats:

11 years old

Loves all things video games. (No Grady you can not stay up on a school night for the new Fortnite download.)

Is protective of his friends, especially the ones who are smaller than him.

Genuinely wants everyone to be happy. (We love that about him.)

His Great Aunt (Neena) is his favorite person ever.

 

Grady, what are your favorite meals to eat?

Grady’s responses: “Pizza from Cane Russo, it is simple real pizza and taste really good.”

“I really like tacos from R Taco. (Rusty Taco)”

“I really like Dad’s steak and Chicken, so basically when you grill stuff.”

 

Is there any meals or food that you don’t like?

Grady’s response:

“Not really, I like everything except onions.”

“So basically, I like everything except onions, and I like Rosa’s, I just don’t like that we go there a lot.”

 

Grady is unique, not in that he is a growing boy and will eat anything I put in front of him.  What makes Grady unique is that he is not that adventurous when it comes to life. We took them both to Disney World last year and he didn’t want to ride any of the rides. Grady doesn’t take risk. Grady is afraid to ride his bike because he thinks he may fall and hurt himself.  He must have the same routine at home going to bed or he won’t go to sleep. It is not a brush your teeth and go to be.  It is a brush your teeth, go to bed, Mom must come tuck him in and say good night first. Then Dad must come say good night, turn all the lights off and crack the door ever so slightly.  If he doesn’t get what he wants he will yell while lying in bed until we come into his room and do what he needs in the order he needs so he feels comfortable enough to go to bed.  Grady simply doesn’t take risk and he doesn’t like change, but he will eat anything.  Anything, Octopus, Oysters, Sushi, Venison, Veal, Jack fruit, Lenqua, and Oxtail, anything. He is my culinary adventurist. Grady also has a really refined palate and can tell you when a meal is better than normal easily.  It sticks out in his mind.

 

Two completely different children when it comes to eating.

 

The results:

I had them help me plate our meal as I would if I had plated it for paying customers. I also gave them a little direction.  

“Ok guys, I want you to try and eat all of the food together.  The fat from the Chorizo is going to give the fish a ton of flavor and the Citrus from the lemon is going to round off the entire meal.  Try and tell me what you think after we have our meal.”

Julianne was not as reluctant to try the fish as I thought she would be. I kind of thought because we plated our meal with everything touching that there would be no way that she would try the fish.  If she did try the fish and didn’t like it, I assumed she wouldn’t like anything under it. 

I was wrong and right.

Julianne had three big bites of the fish.  The first bite was very exploratory.  Slow to go into the mouth.  Slow to chew, slower to swallow.  She swallowed as if it was painful.  The second bite was quick almost as if she realized that she wasn’t dead, so it would be ok to eat a little more.  She chewed it quickly and gave a half hearted non, as if she was telling herself, “Ok this isn’t too bad, I’m hungry enough to eat this.”  The third bite was quick and the largest. She put the fish in her mouth as if she loved it and then it all changed for her.  She had too much in her mouth and I could tell that as she was chewing it she didn’t like the mouth feel of the massive bite of fish.

I thought for sure, she is done.  She wasn’t, instead she pushed the fish off her vegetables and chorizo and ate without saying anything.  Julianne ate until she was more than halfway done with her portion and she had in her mind endured enough.

Grady true to form ate all his fish.  His first bite was exactly what I had envisioned a perfect bite would be. He cut through his redfish with the side of his fork and scooped it towards himself until he had a little of all the components on his fork and down the hatch it went.  He moved the items around in his mouth as he chewed, and he grew a quick smile.  He swallowed, but before he had swallowed had another portion already waiting at his mouth to be quickly and efficiently eaten.  He finished his portion before myself and my wife could and was already plating himself another portion.  Like I said, my culinary adventurist.  He finished two portions and seemed very satisfied with what had conspired in our kitchen on this Thursday night.

 

I waited until they were both done to ask them what they thought of our meal.

Julianne said, “Dad, I really liked the corn and chorizo, but I just didn’t like the fish.”

Me, “What was it about the fish that you didn’t like?”

Julianne, “It fells weird in my mouth, but I did try it Daddy.”

Me, “Yes, you did but do you think that you would like it more if you ate smaller bites and mixed it with the rest of the food.”

Julianne very abrasively, “Dad I don’t like peas and you know I don’t want my food to touch!”

Me, “Would you eat it again?”

Julianne, “I would maybe try it if it was a different kind of fish and there were no peas.”

 

Grady said, “Dad I liked it more that I thought I would.”

Me, “What do you mean, you didn’t think you would like it?”

Grady, “I really like chorizo, but I love eating it with eggs and cheese. I didn’t think it would taste good because there was no cheese.”

Me, “Well was there anything about it that you didn’t like?”

Grady, “You squeezed too much lemon on my first plate, the second plate that I made was better.”

 

My conclusion.  

I may have a slight advantage in getting my children to try and eat new things, but it is that, slight.  My daughter is clearly an extremely picky and hard headed eater, (An hour later she made herself a Peanut Butter and Fart Jelly Sandwich).  But she tried to eat a dish that most children would never try and eat.  That was not because she likes fish, she doesn’t, she doesn’t even like fish sticks. It was because we took the time to prepare a meal together.  We bonded, we laughed, I taught, they learned, Julianne danced, Grady teased, I awkwardly danced and they both made fun of me.  We had a good time.  Grady even had issues with the dish that he had to over come to enjoy it.  He associates an ingredient with what he loves about Sunday mornings.  Chorizo, Egg, and cheese tacos.  He assumed that Chorizo could never be paired with anything else and it taste as good as it normally does.  Children can be difficult to feed, especially the right way but I know that when you take the time to prepare a meal with them a bond is created.  Even if the food doesn’t turn out great you all now have an experience that you have shared.

From our family to yours we encourage you all to prepare as many meals together as possible.

Share your table, share your meals, share your love.

 

The recipe:

Texas Redfish with Chorizo, Grape Tomatoes, English Peas, and Fresh Corn.

Ingredients:                Serves: 4                 Time: 15 minuets                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

4 Filets of Texas Redfish (can be substituted with any white flaky fish)

12oz Spanish Chorizo

1 cup of steamed English Peas

2 ears of steamed Corn

2 cups of Grape Tomatoes

2 Lemons (Zested and Juiced)

1 TBSP of Cracked Black Pepper

1 tsp of Kosher Salt

 

Procedure:

1.     In a Seasoned Pan cook Chorizo until cooked all the way through.  Strain the Chorizo, retain the fat and hold the chorizo in an oven at 180 to stay warm.

2.    Season fish with half of the salt and pepper. In the same pan over, medium high heat add the retained fat back into the pan and cook the fish around a minute a side.

3.    Cut the grape tomatoes in half, cut the corn off the ears and toss the three vegetables with the remaining salt, pepper, and lemon zest.

4.    In the middle of a plate place Chorizo followed by vegetables and top with a filet of fish and a tsp of lemon juice over each plate.

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Recipe and Blog by Chef Coby Baumann