Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Feeding Children; Or, A Lesson in Zen-Like Patience and Fortitude

fried chicken4 It is excruciatingly difficult to feed my children. I make them three square meals a day, and I'm lucky if they eat a third of each. Now, those of you without children or with tiny babies, don't stop reading--you made need this information one day. I swear, I've truly exposed my daughters to a wide variety of foods (like all the books say) yet they still are reluctant to try even the most innocuous looking vegetable, the most benign seeming chicken dish. And although they have tried some real exotica--calamari, chorizos, and manchego cheese in Spain-- that's all they ate there for three solid weeks, and it was only starvation that drove them to eat those foods in the first place. Oh, and the promise of ice cream.* My children's friends, now, they eat up everything I make; I've even acquired the reputation as a "good cook" in elementary school circles (and that's high praise, you know). While those other children eagerly (gratifyingly) gobble it all, my children disdainfully pick and reject, suggesting hot dogs or plain buttered pasta as more appetizing alternatives. I don't want chubby little porkers, but I would like to see just a meal or two that actually disappears inside of a child instead of inside of the garbage can. They will eat a few things (they'd have to, or growing bigger wouldn't be an option) and one of them is Judy Hesser's (Amanda Hesser's mother) oven-fried chicken (here's a link to the recipe). The simplicity of this recipe is astounding. Brine the chicken, shake it with flour and cook it in the oven until done. It takes a bit of cooking (usually an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes) so you have to plan ahead, but that's the only real drawback. Instead of being spattered by burning hot oil and setting off your fire alarm, you can do whatever you want, knowing that hot, tender, crispy "fried" chicken awaits you at dinner time. My only modification is to add an equal amount of sugar along with the salt to the recipe to make it a true brine. Buttery macadamia nut oil, if you have it around, can stand in for the butter the recipe calls for to make it a bit healthier, and you have my word, no one in my family is the wiser. Even with the butter, however, this version of fried chicken is far, far healthier than any you might pick up at a fast food place or grocery store (using organic chicken alone ratchets up the health factor) and far, far tastier--simultaneously crunchy and sticky, with meat that falls right off the bone and into your mouth. It guarantees membership in the Clean Plate Society and allows me to feel what it's like to be a "good cook" in my children's eyes, for one brief, shining moment. *One more piece of advice: while on vacation, especially when traveling in a foreign country with children, lift your ban on bribery. Life away from home is hard enough. , , , ,

9 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

I don't have kids but I can relate. I often make treats for my elementary students and I teach a kids cooking class each spring. Even when I bring "strange" foods they gobble it all up! I'm sure once I have my own children they'll live on chicken nuggets and hot dogs.

August 02, 2005 8:23 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Sadly, that seems to be the way it goes . . .

August 03, 2005 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Wow, reading through your blog, I realized that *you* took the pretty pics... I had assumed they were professionally done. If I ever open up a place, promise you'll come do the photos for advertising? :-D

August 05, 2005 6:54 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

But of course! Thanks!

August 05, 2005 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Fried chicken without the mess? Sounds great! What did you think of Amanda Hesser's book?

August 05, 2005 11:19 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't, although I've enjoyed her column in the New York Times Magazine--as well as her chicken recipe.

August 05, 2005 11:29 PM  
Blogger Grommie said...

I totally relate. My own child will eat nothing 'unusual' (yesterday it was one tiny piece of canary melon, of all things) unless she is forced. I have one advantage that most other mothers do not have... my Darling loves broccoli. Thank goodness for THAT!

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Yours is too lovely!

August 11, 2005 6:39 AM  
Blogger megwoo said...

Awww, I know it must be infuriating, but it's kind of cute.

That oven-fried chicken looks amazing!

August 11, 2005 2:58 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

It is a great recipe. I hope you get a chance to make the wasabi deviled eggs--I love them!

August 11, 2005 3:17 PM  

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