On Food and Cooking
We admit it, we're food nerds. We love trying new foods, mastering new techniques, and dissecting the finer points of a meal. We also, as it happens, are parents to two children. So we know all about sneaking vegetables into wary mounts, cooking with someone sitting on your foot and someone else talking nonstop, and trying to do all of this as quickly as humanly possible because someone is "starving."
Food is important to us, and family dinner is a cornerstone of our day, so we've worked hard to figure out ways to achieve delicious, healthy dinners that are simple and kid-pleasing. We hope that some of our ideas can be helpful to you or your family!
Meat is delicious, nutritious, and often simple to prepare (none of that peeling and chopping that veggies often require!). The catch, of course, is that high quality pastured meats cost more than their conventional cousins. Here are a few of our favorite ways to stretch meat money and still eat like a king:
- Roast chicken may be the one perfect food. No prep. No fuss. Inexpensive, and succulent.
- Make broth--chicken backs or pork bones are the foundation of great stock, and homemade stock is the root of everything from soup, to risotto, to a simple braise.
- Tough cuts are cheap, but slow cookers (and pressure cookers) make them tender.
- Ground meat (sausage, hamburger, or ground pork) is tasty, economical, and easy to stretch.
- Chicken liver pate. Don't knock it til you try it--fast, easy, decadent and good for you!
We love vegetables, but even so there are days when the thought of peeling, and chopping, and sautéing is just too much. And then there are the small residents of our house, who heartily protest that green leaves are not, in fact food. Here are a few ways that we try to maintain a balanced plate:
- Roasted veggies. Yes, you have to do some chopping, but you can usually make a ton and eat leftovers for two days. And picky eaters can avoid what they don't like and focus on what they do. Pro-tip: leftover roasted veg is great in a quiche.
- Make sauerkraut a side dish. Many kids love sauerkraut, and when we're eating a simple grown-up salad or quick sautéed garlicky greens , we give our kids sauerkraut (or dilly beans) as their veggie option.
- Not-so-green smoothies. Spinach is easy to hide behind blueberries.
- Spinach and cheese squares. If you can get them to taste them, I can almost promise they'll be won over.
Our favorite Cookbooks
Top three? Oh man, that's tough...
- Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. By and large her recipes are simple, require few ingredients, and no special tools. And yet they will knock your socks off. Plus, she's hilariously opinionated.
- Shannon Haye's Long Way on a Little. As a meat farmer and mom, Shannon Hayes is the perfect person to write a cookbook for people who want to eat real food, not spend a zillion dollars doing so, and still have some energy for other pursuits. She also has a fantastic section on repurposing leftovers.
- Andrea Chessman's Serving Up the Harvest. This is the cookbook I got when I arrived at my first farm, not very good at cooking and newly reformed from my youthful picky-eater-ways. Serving Up the Harvest is simple, varied, and reliably delicious. It emphasizes veggies, but does contain recipes with meat ingredients.