Food

All things related to the stuff you put in your mouth and comes out the other end.

How to cook perfect rice

Here’s the breakdown for perfect rice.

Ingredients:
– Rice
– Water

1. Put equal levels of rice and water into the pot and cover. (height from the pot to the top of the rice is the same as the height from the top of the rice to the top of the water)

2. Put the pot on the stove at maximum heat.

3. Once the water reaches a boil (bubbles start forming on top and a gurgling sound can be heard), turn the heat to a minimum.

4. Wait for the water to boil out.  It will take between 20 to 30 minutes.  Here’s how you tell:
– Lower level of steam coming out of the top
– Gurgling noise turns into a hiss.
– The rice smells cooked (if the rice smells burnt then turn it off because it is).

French fries and priorities

Time management is just another way of saying task prioritization. It is about knowing what you will get done and what you won’t. The biggest part is placing names on the things that you do. Checking e-mail, chatting, updating your status on Facebook, cruising your newsfeed are some activities that we do not name, but end up taking our time. When we list out our priorities, we have to include these things on our list of things to prioritize.

With that said, as a working parent who wants to find fun ways for my kids to learn. One of the things on my priority list is giving the kids hands on learning experiences. I keep my eyes peeled for opportunities where I can take something on my priority list for the day and combine it with a way to teach the kids something fun. I love taking them grocery shopping because they learn about the process of picking fruits and vegetables, interacting with a cashier, and the value of money. Before going shopping, I make Trystan take out some money from his piggy bank so he can buy a treat. Hunting for those opportunities is one of the things that injects random fun into my day.

Yesterday, on our drive home from daycare, I asked Trystan what he wanted to eat for dinner. He replied, “I want French fries, ketchup and chicken nuggets Daddy.” “Well, we don’t have any French fries at home so we have to go to the store and buy some.”

At this moment, I remembered the potatoes in our pantry that were starting to go soft and I had a flashback to when I was a child and my mom cooked French fries with me and my brothers. Now I can teach the kids how to cut potatoes and show them how one of their favorite treats are made and at the same time, I don’t have to put them in front of the television while getting dinner ready.

 

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Teaching kids to eat their food

Each child is different, and with that said, these techniques may not work on your baby or toddler but they’ll at least give you something to try.

As a baby, Trystan was not a very picky eater.   Once he was able to feed himself, he did go through phases when he would not eat what was on his plate.  Initially I would sit there with him and pull out every trick in the book to try to get him to open his mouth and at least taste the food.  After all, a child develops a taste for new food after five to ten times of tasting that new food.  So how did we get Trystan and Zoey to even open their mouths to give them the opportunity to taste new foods?  As a baby there was only one option that worked for Trystan: leave him in the high chair and continue about your business.  He usually finishes the food in front of him before we get back to him.  This didn’t work for Zoey as she would just dump the food over the side of her high chair.  So in her high chair days, I would wait a little later after Trystan had started eating to feed Zoey.  This did two things 1. She was hungrier when she started eating, and 2. She watched Trystan eat and enjoy his food.  Generally, I would have two options for meals anyways and would just let her eat the one she was more inclined to. Serve the new salad, but have the carrots, peas and corn on backup.

When Trystan turned 3, getting him to eat new foods became even trickier since his brain is developing and he starts using his negotiation skills to convince us that he is not hungry or he wants a more snack-y food, until of course dessert comes.  Then when the sweets come out, the bottom drops out of his belly and he can eat boatloads.  This phase didn’t last too long, especially after we started applying the techniques below.

One note to take into account.  These techniques work best when you eliminate or minimize snacking in between meals, and if meals are well scheduled so their bodies are used to eating at roughly the same time everyday. If you are having a busy day, then bring just enough snacks to whet the appetite, not satisfy it.  Yes, you may get a whiny baby for a few minutes but if it takes you longer than an hour to get them food, then the error was in scheduling the activity/meal not in packing the snack.  If you are busy all the time, then schedule the child’s meal as an appointment and put as much importance on it as a class or work meeting.

 

Tips and Techniques

1a.  Involvement in food selection.  This pertains more to fruits and vegetables.  It works with everything else but if you’re on a budget, then make sure you can control which brand of jam, or juice you get and limit the options to what flavors they can choose. When at the grocery store, I just talk out loud to Trystan about the fruit/vegetable selection process.  Then letting them take it from the display to the shopping cart adds to the involvement.  Zoey and Trystan have both operated the “shopper in training carts” at Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s and now I just tell them what to get and let them put it in the cart.  I have Trystan and Zoey help me with the herb garden, by plucking or clipping leaves off the basil and spinach.

– How do you pick a good banana?  Golden brown with speckled hue, but let’s get some greener ones for later too.

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1b.  Involvement in food preparation.  The cooking videos are just one of the benefits of preparing food with the kids.  I remember the first time Trystan made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.  He was two years old and I taught him how to crack the eggs, scramble them with a whisk and then place the bread in the toaster.  He was so excited that he ran over to the bedroom to pull Shelly out of bed so that she could eat the breakfast that he made.

toddler, scrambling, eggs, cooking, kids and food

2.  Name dropping.  Whose name?  Whoever their favorite cartoon character is.  One real reference for celery are the Wonder Pets because they do like celery.  “Trystan, do you know who LOVES lettuce?  Diego does!” Trystan just stares in disbelief.  I continue to tell a fabricated story about Diego and Alicia going shopping, picking out the perfect lettuce, going home and preparing it; of course the exact same way that we prepared it in the salad or sandwich.  Minutes later, he is munching down his meal “Look daddy!!! I’m eating lettuce like Diego!!!”

 

3. Tell us 4 things about the food a.k.a. Why don’t you like it?  This method requires that the child is at least 3 or 4 years old, or old enough to negotiate and apply logic.
“Trystan, you don’t have to eat that bell pepper but you have to tell us whether it is:
– crunchy or chewy
– sweet or salty
– hot, cold or warm
– dry or juicy

We’d ask each comparison after each bite, which would make him take 4 bites before we give him something else.  Sometimes he even ends up liking the food that he initially didn’t want to try because of the way it looked.  Which brings me to the next method…

 

4. Presentation.  Don’t just lump the food on the plate. Arrange it in a way that is appealing to little kids.  Look up Breakfasts with Trystan and Zoey for some examples.  Most of them are simple arrangements that I came up with as I was making the food.  The ingredients are already decided, it was was just a matter of how they looked like on the plate.

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5.  Bribery/Negotiation – I try to do this least of all.  We don’t have to do it with Trystan as much but Zoey, who hasn’t developed her speech to the point of expression still tries to play dumb or just refuses to eat until we give in.  She isn’t sitting in a high chair anymore so leaving her with her food doesn’t work because she just walks away.  It usually becomes a problem if Trystan finishes eating first and gets dessert, or if mommy or daddy have a brain fart and grab a popsicle out of the freezer before she is done with her food.  That is when we apply the bribery technique and it goes like this:

“First you eat this (show the food you want them to eat), then you get this (show the sweets)” You can even pretend to eat each as you tell them this.  Placement matters, put the sweets directly behind the food so that visually there is a logical sequence.  The food is blocking me from my sweets!!!!  In the case of Trystan finishing first and getting dessert, we show her Trystan’s empty plate and hold it next to Trystan eating his sweets.  Then present her not so empty plate in the fashion described above.

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Well, I hope that was helpful to you.  If you have other techniques that have worked for you please feel free to write them in the comments below.  I know that we only have two children and these techniques may work for them but not for my other friends and followers of this blog.  Thanks for reading.

Meal Idea: Super Meatball Stirfry

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Ingredients
– Beef broth (or bouillon and water)
– Costco meatballs
– Trader Joe’s Kale
– Steamed Rice

1. Put 1 cup of broth (or 1 cup water and bouillon cube) in a frying pan or large sauce pan and bring to a boil (dissolve bouillon cube if using one).
2. Turn broth flame down to a simmer and add kale.
3. Microwave Costco meatballs for 3 minutes or heat in oven as directed.
4. Stir kale until almost all the broth has been absorbed or boiled out.
5. Add meatballs to the pan and stir.

Serve hot over steamed rice. The remaining broth will flavor the rice. You can add salt and pepper to taste but I thought it was perfect just a it is.

Trystan and Zoey’s breakfast pizza

I opened the fridge this morning to find some uncooked pizza dough I had prepped a couple of nights ago when inspiration struck.

pizza dough
raspberry jam
condensed milk
fruit toppings

1. Preheat oven to 400deg.
2. Roll or toss pizza dough
3. Spread raspberry jam on the dough
4. Puncture 2 holes in the can of condensed milk and pour out in thin stream to look like shredded cheese.
5. Add fresh fruit toppings
6. Bake for 9-15 minutes. I baked it for 9.
7. Slice, share, and enjoy.

Note: if you like the taste of fresh fruit. Then add the toppings after baking the dough, jam and condensed milk. My first run through which is shown in the pictures was done by baking the dough first and adding the jam, milk and fruits afterward.

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How to deal with two babies

Almost two years ago, Zoey was born.  Shelly and I were in the nursery ward at Providence Saint Joseph and I was sitting on the couch which was also my makeshift bed from the night before.  Trystan was at a children’s party with Kayla.  Ben and Sheri took him when Shelly started going in to labor the day before.  Zoey was in her crib sleeping next to Shelly.  We were tired, happy and in awe of the new addition to our family.  I couldn’t stop looking at her.  After taking her out for some tests, they brought her back in with a little pink bow in her hair.  It was held on by a small drop of petroleum jelly.  This is one of the reasons we love this hospital so much; the amazing staff.

There was a knock at the door.  “Come in!”  Shelly said.  A Catholic nun walks into the room.  Everyday she makes her rounds in the hospital to read scripture and give communion to the patients.  We chatted with her for a few minutes before she continued on.  We learned something from her that day that we have lived by and I believe is what makes Trystan and Zoey’s relationship the way it is.

“Is this your first baby?” Sister asked.
“No, she has a big brother.”
“Let me give you some advice.  If both babies are crying, take care of the older one first.  The second one won’t remember anything, but the first one will and might hold it against the baby.”

So from that day on every time Zoey and Trystan would both need attention, it doesn’t matter which one started crying first, we would go to Trystan and make sure that he was taken care of.  About a year later, when both of them were in need of attention I went directly up to Trystan to see what he needed.  He saw me coming and stopped calling for me, instead he pointed and directed me to Zoey.  “Look Daddy!  Zoey is crying.”  Since then, little by little he began to look to her needs more and more.

Here is a heartwarming episode that just happened this morning.  Shelly had already left for work, Trystan and I finished breakfast, and Trystan was working on a homework assignment on his little table (yes, he already has homework at 3 years old).  I hear Zoey crying from the bedroom so I bring her to the dining room table to get her breakfast ready.  Trystan walks over and shows her his page of upper and lower case letter B’s and she smiles in approval.  He puts the paper back on the kiddie table, comes to the dining table and climbs on his chair.  He grabs a paring knife and about six strawberries and starts slicing the leaves off each one.  I wanted to capture him on video using a knife so I started filming.  After getting two good shots, I turn my camera off.  Then I hear him saying, “Here you go Zoey.” I glance back and catch him giving her all the strawberries that he had cut.  Then he takes his bowl of muesli and yogurt and splits it with her… Just when I thought the cuteness was over, he gets his step stool from the bathroom and brings it over to the kitchen sink.  He grabs his and Zoey’s cups, fills them with water and brings it to her at the table.

Well, Sister’s advice has worked amazingly for two.  Hopefully she will be at the hospital when baby #3 is delivered and she could tell us how to play Zone Defense.