The pitter-patter of tiny resolutions

I once knew a woman who kept shoes in her oven.

She doesn’t cook, but she has a crock of utensils on the stove-top.  This is a woman for whom appearances are everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know from shoe storage conundrums.  When I look for a particular pair in my shoe closet, I wade in like I’m entering a flood-swollen river to rescue a bus full of orphans.  Armed with only a flashlight and my plucky, never-say-die attitude, I declare something brave yet memorable, and leap into the fast-moving current.

I don’t retreat until I’ve found the desired footwear, be it purple suede boots or beaded strappy sandals.

Oh God, that’s the stuff, just like that.

This woman not only had misplaced her values, along with her shoes, she was rail-thin, unhappy, and unhealthy.

And I place the blame squarely on her diet.  She ate lots of low-fat, low-cal takeout and frozen meals.  She ate quickly, and alone.  Food to her was fuel.  If she could have had a home without a kitchen, she would have.

Our attitudes about food are formed early in our lives.  Gathering around the table to break bread, celebrating with a special meal, being rewarded with a treat, those are all good things, despite what some would have you believe.  As people (especially women) age, disordered thinking about eating can take hold.

Good foods, bad foods, behaving, being bad; all of those ideas just contribute to stress, guilt, and the loss of enjoyment.

Have you ever watched a dog, or a teenage boy eat?  They don’t sit with calculator or app, torturing themselves—they happily indulge.

I’m convinced that a healthy, joyful relationship to food and our bodies begins as children–in the kitchen.  Eliminate reliance on other people and the processed meals which they produce.

cooking at Granny's

In my grandmother’s Pittsburgh kitchen at age two.  I still get that look on my face if you bug me.

Get kids into the kitchen and cook with them.  You may have to drag them there at first, but not only is cooking a crucial life skill, if little hands take part in preparing, little mouths may be more willing to eat the resulting food, which by its very nature will be healthier.

This recipe is delicious, easy to prepare, and the various tasks can be parceled out depending on age and skill.  Younger kids will be able to help assemble.  Older kids can shred cheese or dice shallots.  As they gain experience, their contributions can grow with them.

Muffin taters

tater muffins

Vegetable spray

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (a mandolin is the best tool for this job, so that the spuds are evenly sliced)

½ cup grated Cheddar cheese

2 shallots, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins and one side of foil with vegetable spray. Layer potato slice, a tiny bit of cheese, and a couple shallot pieces into muffin cup.  Repeat until cup is full, and move onto the next.  Top each with a pinch of salt and pepper, a little more cheese, and drizzle over a tablespoon or so of cream. Cover with foil (sprayed side down) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through. Invert cakes onto plate and serve.  Serves 4.

Although I say this serves 4, they are horribly addictive, so I always double the recipe.  My petite, dainty mother once put away a dozen of these things in one sitting.

For 2016’s resolution, do something that will vastly improve the quality of life for a child.  And hey, if they become culinarily proficient, you can a get a night off every now and then, and have someone serve you for a change.

Thanks for your time.

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