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Posts tagged ‘Boke Bowl’

pesto for all

I feel like my kids are turning a corner with food, as my friends promised me they would. Finn ate the celery or carrots in his lunchbox, five days in a row. At dinner on Tuesday he only dry-heaved twice while eating a green bean. On Thursday, Tate ate two fistfuls of broccoli when I looked past my fear of celebrity chefs to try Jessica Seinfeld’s admittedly delicious recipe for Beef with Broccoli.

I can hardly breathe for the excitement. But I’ve gotten excited at my kids’ minor dietary improvements in the past, scared them by going overboard (see, spinach-garbonzo bean fritters), and ended up worse off than before. This time, I’m pacing myself.

So, pesto. My friends Patrick and Mollyanne brought some pesto for the kids when we went on vacation. Patrick is a chef, so I’m constantly watching his kids eat stuff that makes me want to flip a table over, in rage and jealousy. But Tate, who I suspect would be an adventurous eater if he didn’t see his big brother reject foods on a daily basis, ate up Mollyanne’s pesto, quick as a wink. Finn, that wretch, refused to try it. But Finn’s recent forays into new foods had me hopeful. So yesterday, I made my own batch of spinach-basil pesto, heavy on the spinach.


Look at the color!! A bright and sexy jade green. Almost unidentifiable as a food object, in the best possible way.

Unfortunately, Finn’s not impressed with the color green, especially as it relates to food. When I brought the pasta to the table, he actually cried. I’m accustomed to it now, but still, there’s no crappier feeling than cooking something that reduces someone to tears.  I made a five-pound turkey meatloaf once that had Tom crying for a week.  I know it’s not right, but when it happens, my first impulse is to dump the food on the head of the person who is crying, or to smash their face into their plate.

In any event, this isn’t my first ride on the merry-go-round. At this point, the crying has to be pretty intense to faze me–like, there have to be hiccups.  I ignored Finn’s tears and put three pieces of green pasta on his plate, and told him he was to try it. After his second bite, his grimace relaxed into a confused expression. And then, the clouds parted. “I like pesto, Mama.” He ate two bowls for dinner, and a cucumber from the salad (dry heave: 1). All told, he probably had a single serving of vegetables. But still, better than nothing.

That’s not even the clincher. When I tucked him into bed later that night, Finn requested pesto in his lunchbox the next day.

I may have cried a bit myself when he said that. Tears of motherlovin’ joy.

No Tears Spinach-Basil Pesto

1 cup packed spinach leaves (more or less won’t hurt)

1 cup packed basil leaves (ditto)

2 T pine nuts

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor. Whir until blended into a rough paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or refrigerate with plastic wrap touching the top of the pesto, to retain the color. Store up to three days.


the kids are alright

I haven’t yet written much on this blog about my kids.  Mostly it’s because I feel weird talking about them in a public space.  But a lot of it is because I already spend 90% of my energy worrying about how I failed them on any given day, and it feels like overkill to think about them some more during my down time.

A lot of you are like me.  Parents of young kids, working stressful jobs (including at home) and trying to tread fast enough to keep your head above water.  Modern life makes it hard to leave work at work, so we often leave our jobs feeling harried, and arrive to pick up our children without having had the time to decompress.  On days like that, when I pick them up, my kids get some lesser version of me.  She looks like me, and says all the things I say, but inside, there’s the real Yoona, and her mind is racing with all the things that are on the immediate horizon, like: “do the kids have clean socks for tomorrow?” and “why does Tate keep calling me Daddy?”

Occasionally some behavior issue will come to the fore, but most of the inadequacy I feel as a parent is related to food.  To my mind, my kids don’t eat enough, or often enough, or healthy enough.  I am Korean, and like many other Asians, I equate food with comfort, nurturing, and love.  Tate, my little one, is built like a rail, and every time I look at him, I can’t help blaming myself for how skinny he is, even though his dad was underweight for most of his childhood.  So needless to say, it is very difficult for me that currently, my kids’ week of dinners looks a lot like this:

M: Spaghetti

T:  Rice

W: Spaghetti

Th: Rice

F: Spaghetti

I’ve fought many a battle with my kids over food.  I have sat at the dining table for an hour and a half waiting for my five year old to try a piece of the pork tenderloin that I had meticulously baked in apricot glaze, hoping he would equate the glaze with jam.  I have continued to eat my dinner unfazed while my kid disgorged onto his plate the cooked carrot that I insisted he try.  I have lovingly roasted sweet potatoes for my baby that he used solely to finger-paint the table.  I have steamed and ground up cauliflower and other veggies to hide in pasta sauce that has been rejected at first taste.  The amount of energy that I have spent thinking about my kids’ food is really depressing.

For a while, I hounded my mom friends for tips and recipes–thinking that surely, if their kid will eat it, mine might too.  But the thing about kids and food that I’ve noticed is that there are no patterns, and no way to predict what your kid will eat and what he won’t.  So, while I continue to envy the parents with kids who will eat cheese, lunch meats, and vegetables, I try to be thankful that mine will at least eat beans, olives, and tomato sauce with gusto.

And bottom line, you know what?  They are ok.  They aren’t getting many vegetables, but I tell myself we’ll get there.  Today we went to Boke Bowl, my friend Patrick’s awesome new ramen shop.  And as I watched them slurp noodles and happily crackle seaweed sheets into their mouths, I took a moment to feel happy that we were enjoying our food together, instead of fighting over it.