Things are rough at our house right now. I struck out three times in one week, people. Three. Times. At this point, the next smug mom who tells me to try hiding veggies is going to get beaned by a copy of Deceptively Delicious.
Failure #1: I thought I had a sure winner with the butternut squash macaroni and cheese. My son loves cheese. Sure, he’s not the biggest fan of anything that might be called macaroni, but I thought I’d circumvent the problem by serving the cheese sauce over spaghetti, which he loves. (No, I’m not sure why he won’t touch elbow pasta but will devour bowl after bowl of spaghetti. Must be a toddler thing.)
I suppose I went wrong in a number of places, though. The butternut squash didn’t quite “disappear” into the cheese the way I’d hoped. Probably should have pureed it first, but I was short on time that day. Also, the sauce was so thick and heavy that the eventual dish just didn’t resemble spaghetti or a delicious, creamy macaroni and cheese. Probably this was due partly to the recipe itself not being so great, and partly due to the fact that I rushed through making dinner because I chose to cook this meal on a night when my husband wasn’t home and my son and I were working on potty training (another subject on which I could write a few unpleasant blog posts but one series of failures, at a time, I guess).
Yeah. I wasn’t that excited about eating a dish that looked like this, either.
I’m sure there’s a hidden-veggie-cheese sauce out there somewhere that my son and I will both like, but after that experience I’m going to need a break from hidden-veggie-cheese sauces for a while.
Failure #2: In an attempt to bolster my spirits, I decided to tackle a recipe from a mom on Facebook for a sort of homemade goldfish cracker. I’ll go ahead and post the recipe here because it’s the only one of the three you won’t be able to google:
1 sweet potato. Cooked.
A handful of organic shredded cheese (I skipped the organic part)
Directions: Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Put in a plastic food storage bag, and cut a small hole in the corner. Squeeze little dots onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until browned.
Simple as this recipe is, it took a long time. I baked the sweet potatoes (I only had small ones so I used three). I grated the cheese by hand, adding more and more to the mixture until it masked the sweet potato (which I knew would be a turn off). I also added a pinch of salt. Finally, I painstakingly squeezed out those stupid little dots onto two cookie sheets:
And when all was said and done, I had a pleasing little plate of cracker-like things. Note for anyone who might try making these: they are a little soft, but otherwise pretty darn tasty:
My son ate a handful of them. I patted myself on the back, prepared to write a post entitled “Victory!” But then, the next day, I sent these as a snack to preschool and they all came back uneaten. I realized that “Victory!” would be bending the truth a bit.
Failure #3: This morning I made pumpkin pancakes. My son has happily eaten pancakes before and is usually enthusiastic about anything labeled “cake.” Well, except for spinach muffins, of course, but I thought we’d be in the clear because these pumpkin pancakes wouldn’t be green. Anyway, I measured the dry ingredients the night before, then got up extra early to put it all together. And I have to say, I was feeling pretty proud of myself:
I mean, look at the beautiful golden-brown pancake on the right. Once again, I started mentally crafting a “Victory!” post.
But then my son came to the table. He poked the pancakes carefully, took a tiny bite, and requested cereal.
Why even write about these three dismal failures, you may be asking. I’m asking that, too. Maybe there’s a parent out there going through something similar (can’t just be me, can it?) who might take some comfort in solidarity. Or maybe I just need to make something out of all the time and energy I wasted preparing all this food. You know, because if I can squeeze a blog post out of it, at least there’s some good to be had.
But even now I’m struggling to come up with some kind of overall theme or message from all this. Something other than, “Feeding kids is hard.” You know that already.
I really wanted those pumpkin pancakes to work. The narrative would have been perfect. It even incorporated the Rule of Three. Failure number one, failure number two, and then one bright, invigorating, veggie-hiding win. That was the post I really wanted to write. Instead, I’m here trying to scrape something together. Like, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” But I didn’t come up with that myself…
Okay, here’s one good reason to write about all this. Someday, when my kid is a more adventurous eater–and I still believe he will be–I’ll want to have some written evidence of our long, hard journey in my back pocket. A lot of folks I’ve talked to seem to be under the impression that parents have absolutely no control over how well kids eat. Some kids, they say, are born willing to try anything; others are picky and difficult and that’s just the way things go. While I do agree that there’s some truth to all that, I still believe that parents can have a big impact over their children’s eating habits.
I still believe that I will have an impact.
Now, thanks to this blog, when people eventually tell me, “You’re just lucky that your kid eats so well,” I can point to this post and say, “No. I worked for this, you jerk.”
Meanwhile, in a lame attempt to end on a positive note, let me just say that I found out this week that my son likes oranges.
So: Victory! I guess…