By Shannon Baylis Sarino
But I like making my daughter's lunch every day. I like knowing she'll open her lunch box and see food that has been lovingly -- or at least competently -- packed by me every morning.
There's only one problem. My daughter, while not a picky eater by any stretch of the imagination, has certain food issues. She doesn't like peanut butter in a sandwich. She won't eat tomatoes in any form, except ketchup and spaghetti sauce. She won't eat grapes. And she gets bored of eating the same food day in and day out -- so the idea of just sticking a ham sandwich, even one cut into fun shapes, in her lunch box every day is definitely out.
So Gaby and I have been experimenting the past few weeks, trying to find a cache of things she will happily eat at lunchtime. So far, they include homemade applesauce, stewed peaches, fresh apples, pears and nectarines, baby carrots, noodles with peanut sauce, deconstructed sushi (we keep the rice balls and the imitation crab meat separate so it travels better) and edamame, and tuna pasta salad. I've also been including small containers or homemade pudding or Jell-o, so she gets a little something sweet, too.
Not bad for a 5-year-old, if I do say so myself.
I'd love to hear what you pack in your kids' lunches every day. Or what you pack in your own lunches, for that matter. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll feature your comments and recipes in a future food column.
This really is a fool-proof recipe, and so intuitive. I usually make it with whatever apples I've got on hand. Last week, I made them with gala and smokehouse apples from Larriland Farm.
Ten to 12 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3-1/2 c. sugar, depending on sweetness of apples
1/2 c. water, more as needed
2 tsp. cinnamon
Cook apples, sugar and water in large pot, over medium heat. Add more water as needed, so that apples do not stick to the bottom of the pan. You'll know the apples are done when they are soft enough to break apart with a cooking spoon.
Turn off heat, spoon apples into blender and puree to desired consistency. Return to pot, add cinnamon and taste, to adjust sugar.
Can be served hot or cold.
This recipe came to me from a friend whose mother used to make it all the time when she was a child. We made it using freshly picked peaches from Larriland last week.
10 to 12 peaches, peeled and sliced.
1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. sugar (more if needed)
2 tsp. cinnamon
Place sliced peaches in slow cooker with water, sugar and cinnamon.
Slice a zillion peaches and put them in the crockpot with 1/2-3/4 c. water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until nice and soft.
Can be eaten at room temperature or cold. Also freezes well.
Noodles with peanut sauce
This recipe also came to me via a friend who discovered she liked peanut butter only a few years ago. I gave it a try hoping to trick Gaby into liking it, and discovered she loved it. I use soba noodles, which can be found in any Asian grocery store or in most supermarkets, because they are usually made with buckwheat. The sauce is very much intuitive -- you'll get the proportions the way you like them after a few tastes.
One package soba noodles
Chopped fresh broccoli florets
2-3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
Splash of rice wine vinegar
Splash of soy sauce
Sprinkle of granulated garlic
Ground ginger to taste
Honey to taste
Cook soba noodles according to directions on package. Once the water is boiling, add broccoli to blanche. Drain noodles and broccoli, saving some liquid to thin out peanut sauce if needed.
While the noodles are cooking, make peanut sauce. Start with peanut butter, and add a splash of rice wine vinegar, a splash of soy sauce, garlic, ground ginger, and a bit of honey.
Add the peanut sauce to hot noodles. As you stir, the heat and residual water will thin the peanut sauce and make it easier to coat the noodles. Add in any other vegetables you want. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
This is good served warm, and also at room temperature.
Have a recipe you want to share? E-mail Shannon Baylis Sarino at email@example.com.