Category Archives: the reluctant chef

cooking as an afterthought

Last night I was sitting with Ike in our living room in our usual downstairs nursing spot. He had been nursing for just a second when he stopped, looked at me and said, “Noo?” Since we decided to do baby led weaning, we don’t force Ike to eat solids. I fix/offer him multiple meals and snacks in a day and anytime he wants solid food I try to respond quickly. So when he asked for noodles I jumped up and played short order cook. Ike took one bite and then played with the rest and fed some to our dogs.

While Ike entertained himself in the highchair, I cut up broccoli and zucchini so I would have something I could feed him quickly during the week. While those were steaming I decided to cook tofu for myself. I chose coconut oil to fry the Tacoma Tofu in and hoped it would turn out well. I put in about 5 cloves of garlic and then remembered I had carrots and ginger that would make a nice addition. I got the carrots and ginger sliced and added and then realized there was green onion I could add!

Except, I didn’t have green onion after all. What I DID have was baby bok choy. I LOVE baby bok choy and am always trying to get Z to make it for me. I’d never cooked with them before and was afraid I’d ruin them but they needed to be cooked so I decided I’d do my best and eat whatever my results were.

Evidently, it is more successful to have a thought out cooking plan than to cook on a whim. Since I had only thought I was going to fry up tofu, I was using my large cast iron skillet. I put in half of the tofu, the garlic, carrots, and ginger. And then I was out of room. I grabbed a ceramic bowl to place the cooked items so I would have room for the other half of the tofu and the baby bok choy. My very large wok would have been much better to use but there was no way I was going to dirty another large, hand-wash item.

Ike decided he was done in the highchair so I let him down to play. He promptly went to the snack cabinet, grabbed an opened bag of rice puffs and started shaking it as he walked into the kitchen. Rice puffs went everywhere!He then proceeded to play on the floor with a small cast iron skillet, spatula and the rice puffs.

My cast iron stir fry was finally ready. The taste was wonderful even though I overcooked the carrots and the baby bok choy a little. I finished my dinner and got Ike to bed while prayinh that Z wouldn’t get home before I cleaned the rice puffs off the floor. Just in case, I texted a picture of the mess so he could be prepared.

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“Noo, noo!” (rhymes with moo)

My husband cooks the most amazing foods and is single handedly responsible for keeping me from living on a diet of fried eggs, nachos, and orange juice. This year, however, he has started a Masters in Education/Administrative Credential program. He is putting in many hours of work in an internship on top of his teaching duties. This leaves him little time for cooking so instead of being treated to wonderful meals most nights of the week, I only get to enjoy his culinary skills a few times a week.

Yes, I know, I’ve been spoiled.

It would be so easy to fall back on my 5 minute meals but the days of fending for myself are over!  When our toddler, Ike, was exclusively nursing. I discovered he had food intolerances (eggs, wheat, dairy, nuts) and had to completely change my diet. Thankfully his sensitivities are milder and I only have to refrain from nuts but cooking for him requires creativity. I’m learning how to cook a variety of healthy gluten/egg/dairy/nut free meals; thankfully he likes fruits and vegetables and isn’t the pickiest eater.

Last night I made some rice noodles for us. He likes to eat them plain but I wanted to put something on top of mine. We didn’t have any sauce (husband makes his from scratch) so I decided to wilt some spinach in a little olive oil and garlic to put on my noodles. As I was preparing to throw the spinach in the pan I noticed the 2 lbs of roma tomatoes from our farm share box. I thought they might be good with the spinach so I chopped up two and threw them into the cast iron skillet with the spinach, oil and garlic. I let it simmer while the noodles cooked and about 15 minutes after I started preheating my pans, dinner was done!

I held Ike while I pulled the noodles out of the pan and he pointed to them and said, “NOO! NOO!” The kid LOVES his NOOdles. He is usually super happy with his plain noodles (sometimes I add broccoli and ham) but this time he kept pointing at my plate. I gave him a small bite of my noodles with spinach and tomatoes and he ate it. His reaction was nearly instantaneous; he nodded his head and said, “mmm, mmm” while smacking his lips. I had to stir his noodles in with mine and feed him off of my plate to keep him happy. It was gratifying to feed him something nutritious and easy. Cleaning was a cinch since it was one cast iron skillet, one pot, one cutting board, a knife, plate, bowl and 2 forks.

The main problem I have now? We ate all the “noo” and have to stock up before we can make this again.

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Filed under the reluctant chef