Rushed home amidst evening traffic like Mario Andretti to prepare for battle. “This time, I’ll reign victorious!” I told myself. Surely, my carefully conceived meal plan could not be bested by “The Whirling Dervish”, or “Dude’s nephew”as he is also known.
(The Whirling Dervish is so aptly named as he is rarely, if ever, NOT in motion. Not unlike someone ELSE I know and shall not name. Ok fine, it’s Dude.)
The clock is working against me. I grab my saute pan, small sauce pot, larger saute pan and get to work.
My mission is clear: I have to get a balanced meal into this small, fidgety human being WITHOUT drawing attention to the fact that he was actually consuming… duh duh DUHHHHHH… VEGETABLES. *cure horrific scream*.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with feeding small fidgety human beings: vegetables are evil things that come in a variety of deceivingly harmless, vibrant colors that are sent from the devil himself to torment small children by way of with-holding desert. Or “deserp” as it is called in my house.
BOTH nephews behave as though vegetables are made of a mixture of ipecac and hot sauce. Scrunching their little faces, gagging and coughing before they even take the first “deal making” bite. We’ve tried everything from “they make you strong” to “It’s what the Hulk eats because it’s green…”, “It’s fuel for your body”, to “I will stand on my head right now if you eat that…” and nothing seems to convince them that veggies are anything but weeds from the pit of hell.
Step 1: I laid my weapons out.
Leftover sloppy joes to which I added leftover black beans, corn, and rotel. Beans for the antioxidants & protein (to combat the sugar) and the rest are my “real” veggies. (About 1C sloppy joes to 1/3 C black beans, corn, and rotel each). I have my “decoy” veggie of corn from his PaPa’s garden going in one pan, and my cider for “Apple Pie ala Gee” going in the small pan.
Step 2: Crap. I also have to clean. I grab the vacuum and tear ferociously around the house, sending the OTHER whirling dervish into a frenzy.
Step 3: Smell something burning.
Step 4: Trip over vacuum cord to investigate said burning smell only to discover it was coming from the vacuum which needs to be emptied.
Step 5: Set vacuum aside but in a visible place to “remind” Dude to empty the vacuum. (Because I don’t like to empty it, and it’s a Dude approved cleaning task.)
A flash of light followed by a burst of sound as the door opens, the two whirling dervishes unite, and a kerfuffle of barking and laughing and shouting and SO MUCH NOISE ensues. A round of big hugs & “How was your days…” before the gauntlet is thrown. “Um, Gee? What’s for dinner?”
“Sloppy joes” I smile and say confidently, knowing the battle has begun.
“Ok… I like sloppy joes?” It was almost more of a question than a statement. But a sure sign nonetheless- he knows a plot is afoot, but hasn’t decided where the trickery lies yet. I channel my best Lady GaGa (Poker Face) and nonchalantly reply, “Yep. You do.”
And just like that he’s off in another marathon run of: around the house, playing cars, running outside, hitting a ball and cramming as much Uncle Dude time as his little four year old heart can into the few minutes before the battle begins. Ok, back to work.
Step 6: Place whole wheat buns into the toaster oven and toast on medium. (Neither nephew will put up a fight with whole wheat vs. white, other than noting the difference in color. I guess “bread is bread” to small fidgety human beings.)
Step 7: My apple cider (Simply Apple brand juice, highly recommended) has reduced from 1C to about 1/2 now, so I toss in 1 chopped apple (I had a Macintosh on hand) 1 scant TBSP cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 2TBSP brown sugar and a pinch of nutmeg, stirring to coat the apples and return to simmer.
***CRASH! BANG!***…silence…. ***giggle giggle giggle***….
“…Are you boys ok?” I peak my head around the corner.
“We’re fine!” they peak their heads ’round the corner by the nephew/toy room, heads stacked Abbot and Costello style, both simultaneously apologetic for the noise and annoyed by the interruption in whatever they were destroying in there.
Step 8: Prepping for Apple Pie ala Gee (which is more French Toast than a pie) I make use of the leftover wheat buns, disguising them as such by using a cookie cutter to cut a fun shape. Grabbing two eggs, and 1TBS half in half, I create the “dredge” for my toast. Add to that 2TSP cinnamon, 1 shake nutmeg & ginger each, a pinch of brown sugar and a tiny squirt (about 1/2tsp) of store bought caramel. Whisk. Set aside for deserp.
Step 9: Plate dinner. Grab the buns from toaster oven. (SURPRISE! They’re HOT. They came out of the oven. It heats things. Yet, you insist on using your hands. You’ll show that Darwin yet!)
Assemble “joes”, add decoy veggie on the side, and it’s “go time”.
I called the boys to the table. The Whirling Dervish climbs into his seat and surveys the plate. “I don’t like this.” He declares.
“You don’t like what, Buddy?” Uncle Dude prods.
“This.” he proclaims, pointing to the corn.
….sigh…. “Yes you do, Buddy. You eat it all the time. It’s corn. You know that. Just try a bite. You’ll like it.”
And here we go with the scrunchy face, like he walked into a room of rotten eggs. It’s corn for pete’s sake! It’s a neutral vegetable. It’s not like we’re feeding you radishes or god forbid, A SALAD. *cue horrific scream*.
He draws the spoon to his mouth, being sure to keep his head a safe distance from it. (Because corn, as you may know, DOES have a tendency to leap off one’s spoon to deliver a quick jab to the face.) Slowly, the spoon makes contact with his mouth.
“BLEEEEEEEEEEEECH!” he cries. “…do I have to eat this?”
Ok, we’re in the clear. The decoy has taken effect and we’re now in the negotiations phase.
“Well, you can eat 4 bites of corn, or this much (Dude cuts a 2/3 chunk) of your sloppy joe. Or, if you’re done, you can get down. But there’ll be no desert.”
Yes. We’re all about “choice”, yet not above “bribery” in this kitchen.
“Um… what’s for desert?”
“Apple Pie…. ala Gee”. I add.
“It’s like apple pie.” I should have known better than to add funny words.
He pauses a moment, then opts to eat the sloppy joe with little to no complaint while managing to change positions in his seat at least 20 times.
…and he’s still eating corn….and peppers….and BEANS. It’s the decoy vegetable that lures him into the false assumption that other foods are “safe”. MY PLAN HAS WORKED!
…But the battle rages on. I now have to deliver on desert.
Step 10: In go my bun “flowers” into the dredge, then straight to a hot pan. (See my apples working away in my cider mixture back there?) One side about 3-4 minutes. Then flip.
By now, TWD & Dude are playing cars, patiently waiting for deserp. I can see their noses gravitate towards the kitchen as the scent of cinnamon, apples, and nutmeg fills the house.
My goal with deserp was “balance”, so we’ve got whole wheat happening (fiber) with some apples (more fiber) & ice cream. While high in sugar, there IS some milk protein present, and fiber is a necessity for obvious reasons.
Step 11: Seriously? 11 steps? YES! THERE ARE 11 STEPS!
Plating the Apple Pie Ala Gee: Into a bowl goes your French Toast, top generously with apples, a little of the sauce, dollop of ice cream (this was for Dude who LOVES ice cream) and a small drizzle of caramel syrup.
Everyone regroups at the table. TWD picks up a big forkful. Contact. Then….
“PHLEEEEEEEEEEGH” he spits out his bite.
“What is this?! I’m done”.
“Yes, you are. We don’t spit out food at the table. Down you get.”and off he went into the living room to play cars. We don’t “force” food in our house, but we do demand respect at the table, even from small fidgety human beings.
I honestly thought it was good. Dude woofed it down, but then again, he loves food. I was shocked and amazed that the deserp of all things was my downfall. But, to each his own. And hey… more for us! Bonus: I got to use up buns that weren’t going to be eaten otherwise and an apple that was “nearing the light”.
As it stands now… it looks like we’re 1 for 1. But Aunt Gee doesn’t give up easily. There’s more veggies to be had, more foods to try, more acceptance for veggies everywhere to be gained. Eventually, The Whirling Dervish will respect enjoy eating healthfully, make good food choices, and grow to become the President of the United States.
…That’s how this works, right?
In your words…
- Patty Prince on Comfort
- shannon on Thanksgiving: A tradition steeped in blood and served with a side of artery-clogging awkward family food moments. And pumpkin.
- Leslie J. Brown on Thanksgiving: A tradition steeped in blood and served with a side of artery-clogging awkward family food moments. And pumpkin.
- Aunt Gee on One Cupcake and Cookie at a Time
- Aunt Gee on One Cupcake and Cookie at a Time