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Pumpkin Pie, R.I.P.
“I am the Mommy, You are not!” I can’t believe I am saying this while it’s tumbling out of my mouth. What has happened to me? I used to have it together, I used to be “with it”, or maybe I just thought I was. My four year old daughter has reduced me to an idiot, struggling to retain my so called “power”. I don’t even” reign supreme” in the one place I have always felt dominant: the kitchen. Sadly, I am reduced to serving chicken nuggets, smiley fries and mac ‘n’ cheese out of a box. (At least she likes the organic brand.) This got me thinking, “I need to take control, get my meal mojo back. But, how?” To try and get her to eat new foods, I have cajoled with the best of them, attempted to bargain, I even resorted to bribery. Nothing seemed to work. Then I considered asking her what she wanted and if she helped cook it, then she was sure to eat it! Right? We’ll just see about that….
“I like pumpkin pie with orange, because it is orange.” Ava says between thumb sucks from her car seat in the back.
“Yeah, right.” I think to myself as I say, “Really?” in my best cheerful mommy voice.
This kid of mine is the pickiest eater I have ever met. I consider myself somewhat of an adventurous eater. However, not quite on the level of that guy from “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. Have you seen some of the stuff he shoves into his mouth? I can’t even watch him chow down on those cockroaches covered in ant larvae purchased from a cart with questionable cleanliness standards in a country I can barely pronounce. I like to think of myself more along the style and palate of The Barefoot Contessa or Nigella Lawson. Those ladies know how to enjoy the good stuff. It is amazing to me that I gave birth to this child who exists on Cocoa Puffs and grilled cheese sandwiches (no crust, please). She will barely touch most typical kid fare and when she does, there are specific requests that must be met: “Please peel the skin off my hot dog, Mommy.” I think by now you can all understand my skepticism when she professed her love of pumpkin pie and asked me, “Why you don’t make that for me?”
For a moment, I was bolstered by the thought that maybe this will be one of those odd childhood things that she loves like my own love for spinach at her age or my sister’s craving for Swedish Meatballs. It is for this reason that I decided to forge ahead and make a homemade pie. Even if it was just to test this theory for myself.
The afternoon started off well. Both Ava and Declan were excited about helping Mommy cook. After the pie crust was made, I placed all the ingredients for my mother’s classic pumpkin pie recipe in a bowl and added some orange zest and juice to go along with the finicky one’s request. Ava took a turn stirring and Declan did, too. Excitement and anticipation filled the air followed by the smell of fall and Thanksgiving drifting out of the oven. In my delirium, I decided to jazz things up even more by adding honey toasted almonds as a garnish. I whipped some fresh cream, sure that this would entice the children even more to try the confection of the gourd. I sliced Ava’s piece super thin and topped it with a dollop of fluffy cool cream. Then the hammer of truth hit me over my head.
“Yuuuck! I don’t like pumpkin pie!”
“Honey, you haven’t even taken a bite. Look, Daddy loves it! Mmmm!”
Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t just throw in the towel at this point. It was so pathetic. Here I was groveling for some type of praise, some small victory. It was no use; the pumpkin pie had become the newest occupant of Ava’s food graveyard.
Oh, I know you’ve heard of picky eaters before. All of us have read the articles in the parenting magazines about how to disguise fruits and vegetables so the kids will eat them. Ava (and just about every other child I can think of) knows that a “little tree” really is broccoli. My lovely cherub once bit into one of my freshly made sugar cookies complete with pink frosting and hearts and asked me “Where is the chocolate?” She knows what she wants and it’s not carrot sticks placed in cute cupcake papers to make them seem more appealing.
Here’s the place in the article where there is supposed to be some solution, some kind of resolution to the problem. Unfortunately, dear reader, I have none. The next day, Ava asked for chocolate cupcakes. I knew she would beg to eat every last one until they were gone and then whine for more. I was already weak, I admit it. I helped her make them. Then I let her lick the bowl dry. So much for me being “The Mommy.”
If your kids won’t eat this recipe, you won’t have any problem finishing it off all yourself:
PUMPKIN PIE A L’ORANGE
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
Zest of one orange
Juice from ½ orange
9” pie shell, unbaked
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except crust. Mix well. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust.
Bake pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-40 more minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. Decorate top with honey toasted almonds and serve. Yummy with whipped cream.
HONEY TOASTED ALMONDS
¼ cup roughly chopped salted almonds
1 tablespoon honey
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Spread out almonds on cookie sheet and drizzle honey over almonds. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Watch closely so that almonds do not burn. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove from pan with rubber spatula.
For those weak moments when only chocolate cake will appease the wild ones, including Mommy.
Val’s Devil’s Food Cupcakes
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Combine all dry ingredients. Add vegetable oil and ¾ cup milk. Beat at low speed with mixer for ½ minute. Then mix at high speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining milk, eggs and vanilla. Continue to beat for 2 more minutes. Fill paper liners to ¾ full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool thoroughly and frost.
To change the cup cakes into jack-o-lanterns, add a few drops of orange food coloring once the desired consistency of the frosting has been met. We made the faces with a can of Betty Crocker black gel frosting. I found it at Shaw’s in Teaticket, MA.
Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
½ stick soft butter (1/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
2- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup milk
Mix butter, vanilla and 2 cups confectioner’s sugar with a beater on low until all lumps are removed. Slowly add milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Add more sugar if necessary to get the right consistency. Frosting should not be too stiff or too runny. Frost cupcakes and eat out of the bowl to your heart’s content.
Andrea Norris tries to keep her cool while she raises her two children in East Falmouth. She often wonders how her mother, Val managed three kids. Andrea is writing a cook book about Val’s triumphs. Check out her blog: http://www.notesfromvalskitchen.blogspot.com