May 27, 2009
You’ve heard us talk about it before—food feeds the body AND mind. You know about the body part. About nutrition and how healthy foods create healthy bodies. But eating is about more than that. It’s also a way to learn about society, practice being open minded, foster a sense of independence, initiate environmental responsibility, and connect with community—something we (and, I bet, many of you) did a lot of this weekend.
It’s so easy for us to fall into talking (and thinking) about food in terms of feeding. What recipes can I make quickly and easily? What new healthy products might be useful shortcuts? How do I get my kid to eat better? Consume vegetables? Stop throwing food? Feeding becomes a practical matter with to-do’s to cross off and short cuts to master. So much so that we forget how mealtime, if approached with love and as a family or community, feeds the soul. Even if all the food ends up on the floor and not a single vegetable is consumed.
This weekend was a reminder of that. We had a picnic in the park one night and went to a friend’s BBQ another. (Sadly, we had to skip a second BBQ because a no-nap/runny nose/funny weather combo that threw our plans off!) Everyone contributed something to both meals—a lovely thing. We had such fun eating outside, picking on this and that, asking who made what, and breaking the ice with questions about recipes and trading tips on what to try next.
Isaac had a blast. He saw friends he hadn’t seen in a while, played like crazy, and felt empowered walking up to the smorgasbord and choosing dinner on his own. I also got to meet new folks and see friends I haven’t seen in a while (including someone from high school!). The best part: we all pitched in on parenting. I could sit back and feel sure that if I didn’t have my eye on Isaac for a few, someone else did.
For all of my efforts to make food meaningful and fun for ChowPapa, our ChowBaby, and me, nothing compares to getting together to eat with friends. These were two of our most nourishing and meaningful meals in recent memory. Even though Isaac ate his weight in tortilla chips both nights! I hope that you, too, were able to share yummy food with good folks this Memorial Day weekend. Here’s to keeping it up with last minute take-out in the park or playground to keep the fun going, paper plate (so to speak!) dinners on the stoop while waving to neighbors passing by, and backyard potlucks on a whim.
I was feeling a Spanish theme for my contribution to the picnic in the park. This tortilla was a hit (and can be served at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack). I served it alongside fresh (ie, Mexican) chorizo roasted in the oven (drizzle with olive oil, roast at 400 degrees until cooked through) topped with roasted cherry tomatoes (remove cooked chorizo from the roasting pan, dump two pints of tomatoes in the leftover oil/sausage fat, add a healthy drizzle of sherry vinegar and salt, toss, let cook for about 45 minutes). Perfect with baguette and spanish idiazabal cheese (manchego would be nice, too).
There are a lot of ways to cook a spanish tortilla. Mine isn’t particularly traditional, but it’s quick, low maintenance, and works well. Perfect for cooking with a two-year-old running around.
(can be served to kids 12+ mos)
3 organic potatoes, par-cooked, just enough to cut through (I used the microwave, but you can steam or boil)
1 large organic onion (vidalias are especially delicious), quartered and thinly sliced
10 large organic eggs
organic olive oil (for frying)
salt and pepper
1. Heat olive oil over medium high. When hot, add onions. In the meantime, cut par-cooked potatoes into about 1/4″ slices. When the onions begin to carmelize, add potato slices. Saute until potatoes are cooked through and everything has a nice light brown color.
2. While potatoes and onions are cooking, whisk eggs until frothy. If you’ll be feeding only to older kids and adults, add some salt and pepper. When veggies are done, add some more oil to the pan and pour in the eggs. Turn heat to medium low. Cook until eggs start to cook through and get puffy, at which point turn the heat down a little further (so you don’t burn the bottom).
3. When the tortilla is 95% cooked (with just some uncooked egg skimming the top), put the pan under the broiler for just a minute or two. This will complete cooking and give a nice brown color. Remove from broiler, loosen sides with a spatula, and slide out of the pan. If it’s sticking a bit, try cutting wedges and removing wedge by wedge. You don’t have to worry about the way the bottom looks since the top got such nice, golden color from the broiler!