My Family Recipe
I'm the Food Expert. But My Kids Love My Husband's Cooking.
On learning to cook again, after children.
Photo by Ty Mecham
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healthierkitchen December 27, 2018
Wow! Thank you, this is wonderful, Amanda. I definitely relate to the seeming dichotomy of being a homebody but feeling restless. I find that cooking is a creative act, and I also often try new things and tinker with regulars. My family's favorite foods are still the few that I made over and over by rote: peanut chicken (or tofu for my daughter), pesto, and simple soups and stir fries. and I might add as an aside that some of our absolute favorite recipes still come from the early contributors to this site. They are among our most loved and vetted recipes!
This is so great to hear! I just made Secret Ingredient Beef Stew, which was also an early Food52 recipe. I've made it many times but never cooked it for my extended family before. It was a big hit, so I'm going to put it into the holiday rotation, rather than searching for something new every year. :)
M S. December 20, 2018
Wow. This is pretty serious presentation Amanda. I first responded by noting that kids love Prego. True. But this is much more...more than food. All the little things you note...dad talks to them while he cooks, makes familiar dishes, not stressful, complicated dishes, avoids nuances that the kids have no context for understanding. Do you miss many dinners at home because of your work responsibilities, too. Painful. Sure you have resources for dealing with all this.stuff. Did all the above. Still fooling around with french fries starting with your column. Very big on croque monsieurs for the past month-remember your "From the Streets of Paris" thing. And, everything else. Like four hours figuring out what to serve first for Thanksgiving. My son, now in his thirties, hates the mention of Richard Olney's name. Our salad for years was the classic oil-3, vinegar-1, freshly grated garlic, touch of dijon mustard, parsley and tarragon. After Olney, decided this was passe and corny, and switched to subtle oil, vinegar, shallots. Family has hated the salads since then, . Maybe Marian Cunningham's "keep it simple dear" and the Canal House offer a little light at the end of the tunnel. oh well.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds like your kids have had some great food.
Bri L. December 20, 2018
Repetition makes traditions, and signature dishes that friends and family can love...I applaud your hubby for his tweak til it’s right approach and your quest for the exciting and new—how lucky your kids are to get both! I’ve long held the belief that one should marry complimentary vs redundant skills, so cheers to you for making it work. And yes, post kids, simple is key, at least on weeknights!
Merrill S. December 18, 2018
Getting to this a bit late, but it was worth the wait. It was especially fun to read because I've witnessed this important transformation. Now, I need to take some inspiration from your restless years and apply them to my own cooking... 😉
lastnightsdinner December 18, 2018
I love this. My schedule is such these days that I rarely get to cook dinner for my kids (their current favorite eats are "daddy's salmon patties" and "daddy's turkey burgers"), so I try really hard to make sure we eat dinner as a family on Sundays. I generally let the kids decide what we'll eat, and 99% of the time, they ask for spaghetti and meatballs. The repetition is hard sometimes, but I am also learning to slow down and roll with it.
For the record, I would also be very happy to eat spaghetti and meatballs cooked by you any time. xx
marie December 17, 2018
I remember well your New York Times column and have a worn, torn out copy of your story about the first time your future mother in law had you and Mr. Latte for dinner. I have repeated the duck recipe more times than I remember and always loved that you were enchanted by the tastiness, but more the generosity in her entertaining that came from the ease of well honed recipes. Her son learned well. Happy Holidays!
Thanks, Marie. I'm at my father-in-law's house now and he has that column framed and hung in the mud room. He'll be pleased to know the duck recipe lives on. Thank you for keeping it going!
Courtney C. December 13, 2018
I am just bawling reading this - thank you for sharing this delightful story. I can absolutely relate to your description of ‘restlessness’. I came into cooking later, when my daughter was well beyond the toddler stage - and she is now almost 23. I rarely cook the same thing twice, which I realize has it’s positives and negatives. My daughter could likely not tell you what dish she remembers most growing up, or would love to repeat...but she has a love of food that is just a delight to watch, and she is extremely adventurous in what she will eat. I love that both my husband and daughter embrace this and will eat/try literally anything I put in front of them. I, too, also now understand that I will never master cooking, and I’m OK with that - but it does not diminish in any way the joy I have in my attempt to reach that lofty goal.
andymcmorrow December 12, 2018
I used to be adventuresome, but now it's the standards: my 19-year-old daughter wants my Bolognese, vegetable soup, a fairly authentic stir fry I do... It's her comfort food. She has no interest in "new classics;" the old ones are what she grew up on...
Jane S. December 12, 2018
I think I can now diagnose myself as a restless cook! Working in food naturally deters us from repetition, which sometimes (sometimes) is probably just what my kids need. Good food for thought. Thanks for the lovely and honest piece.
Megan December 11, 2018
This is my life too! My kids' (who are as picky as yours are adventurous) favorite meal is my husband's penne all'arrabbiata!! Very similar to Tad's except without the tomato paste and a bunch of garlic. In fact it is the ONLY meal every person in my family will happily eat. It is the meal we always have the ingredients for and the first thing the kids ask for when we ask them what they'd like for dinner. He's making it tomorrow for my son's birthday :)
Suzanne D. December 11, 2018
Loved this piece! What you say about needing stability and a comforting home, but also always itching to iterate and improve, particularly struck a chord with me...food for thought in my own life. :)
Sarah Y. December 11, 2018
I loved this. I, too, love finding and trying new recipes, but have started realizing lately that it's not working with my young kiddos. I'm slowly but surely starting to create an arsenal of go-to's for them. One of their favorites: Marcella sauce. :)
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