October 17, 2007

Is it not delicious to be deceptive?

Yes, I did buy this book.

First, I feel I should confess that I have a Cookbook Compulsion. I LOVE reading what I refer to as my Kitchen Porn and I do have a collection of cookbooks that I like to peruse just for fun. One of my most treasured cookbooks is my Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer. I will probably never actually cook something from Fannie Farmer's selections, but it is still fun to read. I also have my grandma's first ever cookbook she purchased as a newlywed back in the 40s. And I own a copy of Average Jane's family cookbook. Also, I totally scooped up Sophia Loren's family cookbook with excitement. Um. Yeah. The list goes on because I enjoy reading cookbooks. Anyway.....when I saw Deceptively Delicious a few weeks ago book, I was immediately interested and saved it to my Amazon cart to consider.

Then, I saw the incredibly adorable Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah last week and frankly, I was impressed with her sincerity. It was also obvious that she was WAY excited to be on Oprah which I found to be quite endearing. So, I did go to Borders to get a copy. And promptly discovered this book was flying off the shelves and that I would need to order a copy. No problem. When I went to pick it up a few days later and the gal at Border's said people were going insane over this cookbook because of the "power of Oprah".

So. Is it worth the hype? Probably not. However, it is truly a fun, easy cookbook that is worthy of a Picky, Childish Palate. Dude - EASY. The recipes are very simple to follow and she does a great job with explaining the steps for preparation. Also, this book won me over with its adorable anecdotes, telling quotes and whimsical illustrations.

There is much debate about whether one should actually deceive one's child in consuming vegetables. I am not sure how to answer this. I bought the cookbook for 2 reasons - to get ideas for breakfast and for Arun's lunches. Our family meals at home are primarily South Indian and when we eat out, it is at a variety of ethnic restaurants. We are not a mac n' cheese family . Arun is only two years old and at this point, we do not have any issues whatsoever getting him to eat veggies. I am not sure if this is due to the fact that he often gets curried veggies (as opposed to steamed veggies) shoved in his face or because he is two years old and does not know better. To be fair, I am 36 years old and I do not like American-style veggies myself. I do not see myself serving those to my kids often because I think steamed veggies are fairly bland.

However, I do struggle with breakfast, lunch and what to pack for Arun's lunches. Let's face it - I am not going to whip up a curry for lunch and besides, curries do not pack well for a preschooler's lunchbox. Therefore, for me, this cookbook met a need for gathering more ideas. I have not made any of the recipes yet - I will be doing that over the next few weeks and into November during my Foodie Month. My review thus far is only that of a reader.

But, I am excited by what I have read. There are actually a few recipes that I think I can make Desi Worthy by throwing in some chili, cumin and turmeric to make it spicy enough for us for dinner - the Aloha Chicken Kebabs and the Tofu Nuggets in particular hold much promise. So, I will definitely report back. And I do like that there are some standard American comfort foods here that I can make when X is out of town - the potato soup recipe made my mouth water.

I would like to make one, small criticism of this cookbook - the recipes are definitely built for folks who like bland food. I still think most Americans underestimate the toddler palate. We often give Arun food that is too spicy for him. He knows now that his world has not collapsed and that he simply needs to reach for his water. After a few sips of water, he invariably reaches for more food. However, he is only two years old and I am hearing that the ages of 3 to 4 are tough ones for the whole issues of Food Fights so you can rest assured that I am not overly confident over here.

Finally, I do not think it entirely uncool to shove veggies into recipes. After all, grandmas have been pushing zucchini into bread for years. Have you complained?


Average Jane said...

Hey, no hating on zucchini bread or zucchini cake. I think it's legitimately delicious, not a way to hide a vegetable. :)

girlfiend said...

My problem with this book, which admittedly I haven't read, is that how can a picky eater learn that vegetables aren't awful if they're disguised? I don't mind boosting vitamin content by adding veggie purees to foods or cooking rice in homemade veggie stock. I just want Sam to know he's eating vegetables and that they taste good.

So far he loves vegetables and fought me for my Penang Curry lunch the other day. Hopefully he'll stay okay with different foods for a while. I don't trust toddlers when it comes to picky eating. Though it would be interesting if he went through a stage where he only ate green foods!

Mamma Sarah said...

I've seen this book but didn't have the concern over what to make for kids until just yesterday. Alex is now eating real food and is not very happy about us feeding him. Hooray for that, but scary about what to make.

Cookbook reading is fantastic. I belonged to a cookbook club (dangerous) and have lots of reading materials and have tried at least 1 recipe from each (even if they bombed). I may just have to pick this one up though!

Cagey said...

No hate, only love for the zucchini bread.

I agree that this cookbook should not be used as "be all" resource for feeding one's kid. I also agree that kids need to learn how to try different veggies without being tricked into it.

Mamma Sarah,
Ah, it is nice to know that I am not the only weirdo reading cookbooks. :-)

Stephanie said...

I read somewhere, on another review of this cookbook, that it's not so much to trick your kids into eating vegetables now (although that probably is part of it if they won't otherwise eat veggies), but actually that since kids have much stronger taste buds than adults, it's a good way for them to get used to vegetables without them being too overpowering. Young children can probably taste the vegetables through these recipes more than adults can, but they still are not as strong tasting as if they ate the vegetables alone. Also, there's that theory that you have to get a kid to try something several times before they will like it, so I think it's more like you are preparing them for eating the vegetables on their own. I think vegetables really do taste "yucky" to some young kids, which may turn them off of vegetables later in life. If you get them used to it now, then it's easier to work into their diet alone later on.

It does bother me how "bland" the typical "American" diet and kids food is. Have you seen a children's menu? It's all chicken fingers and spaghetti and mac n cheese... even at fancy restaurants! And parents often tell their kids "oh, you won't like that," even if the kids are willing to try something. No wonder kids are such picky eaters. Ugh.

Wordnerd said...

I love me some cookbooks -- even if just for the reading!

I'm also a big fan of hiding vegetables. I still encourage my kids to eat vegetables, and we are continuing to fight that battle, but it can't hurt to sneak a little in here and there. Spaghetti sauces are great for that -- little do they know that I've got spinach, grated carrots, and whatever else I could find in there!

Cagey said...

Yes, Dr. Oz did discuss the evolutionary reasons for why kids prefer sweet things over bitter things. I thought the theory was interesting, actually. However, it still did not explain why my kid likes to suck on lemons and loves the lentil soup at our favorite Palestinian restaurant - it is quite sour as well. I do agree that veggies probably taste yucky to kids, I still stand by the fact that White People Food in general does a great disservice to vegetables. I am prejudiced, of course, but the Asian countries truly do some totally kickass things with veggies.

I think the key is like said "a little in here and there" - this cookbook is awesome as a supplement to one's standard set of meals (do we not all have our "rotation" of things we cook?)

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I think the American diet is fine in fundamentals, it's just lacking in spices. Then again, it's an issue of people who like to get the flavours of the food very easily, vs people from the east, who want/need that really bold flavouring. I wonder if kids who have 1 or more parents who can handle a lot of spice are able to deal with it much much younger? I do think palate can be built, but I figure some people just have sensitivities due to genetics that can't be overcome.

In terms of W.P.F. that isn't dull, I actually think Mediterranean food is the best compromise (N. African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, Turkish) for people who can't deal with too much spiciness. It's not even true W.P.F., it's a wonderful old mishmash of East vs. West. Flavourful and nutritious without involving thousands of chilies or turmeric or fish sauce or whatnot. I LOVE that stuff. But I know non-picky eaters who just can't stomach it because it will make them sick to their stomach (literally).

Take, for instance, spinach. There are so many ways to cook that in terms of Asian cuisine, where I will hoover it down (saag, pachadi, in a chinese soup). But I cannot stand it plain or wilted or as a salad. Growing up there were very few vegetables I detested (the big 2 are broccoli, which my mom now cooks into some sort of spiced raita, and cauliflower, which I will only eat roasted American style with Mexican/Louisana spices on top). We didn't boil or steam anything. Either it was curried, and the curry gravy is usually so tasty you eat whatever it comes with, or it was sautee spiced with a light juiciness. Yum.

Diana said...

You are wise to not take this lovely "I'll eat everything with delighted abandon" that many young toddlers do. Both mine were like that until about the age of 3 and then they morphed into picky little things that wouldn't eat more that 5 things, total. My oldest is doing progressively better (he's 8) and my youngest is slowly improving (she's almost 5), but it was disappointing coming on the heels of their 2-year-old selves who would eat anything I put in front of them and look for more.

Chelle said...

I love all the debate over whether or not one should employ less-than-truthful tactics when getting their children to eat veggies. I must admit to employing certain less than honest tactics with my son but, boy is picky! I do what I must.

I agree with you about Jesica being adorable. I read an article she wrote for some magazine or another and was struck by how genuine she seemed.

Then, I heard that she sent Oprah $18,000 worth of designer shoes as a thank you for having her on the show and a lttle part of my soul died.

She's still cute, though.

Modern Day Hermit said...

I think there is always hope for the toddler not to grow into a picky eater. My brother and I were never picky eaters and would munch on vegetables all the time. My Grandmother recounts stories of my love of green beans quite often.

With that being said, I do believe that American "culture" dictates the fact that so many children are picky eaters. Sure there are instances at the ages of 3 and 4 where a child will be more prone to not eating whatever is put in front of them...but I think it is cultivated by parents more than they realize due to kid's menus, kid's food products and just "kid's food" in a general sense.

Even now we don't order from a children's menu. Portion sizes have gotten so ridiculous that we just get an additional plate and we share.

J said...

So much depends on the specific kid. Our oldest ate like we do -- anything and everything. He ate curries, he ate vegetables in any size, shape or cooking method. He loved his meat and he loved tofu. He took lovely naps. He too liked lemons (that did wear off, as did raw onions for a while).

I was sure I was the world's best mother. You do know what's coming next, right? Second child. Yup. Hated napping anywhere but the car. Very picky. Very averse to texture -- he wouldn't swallow carrot bits, but instead store them in the side of his cheek to spit out at his leisure.

Fortunately none of my boys was every particularly petite, so I ignored most of it. The closest I got to weird was when I made kool-aid (yuuuuuck) and cut it half and half with prune juice for him, on the ped's advice for, well, you can imagine. It mostly worked.

Now? He's as adventurous as his brother. But the littlest one is sorta picky, except, again, we don't care. We make him the vegetables he likes and he'll eat paneer and chana masala and chicken curry when we go out, so he doesn't starve. I'm just waiting for him to hit the magical age where he eats everything, just like the rest of us.

So, ummm, I guess I didn't have a big point which needed a concluding sentence. Carry on.

CPA Mom said...

I loved this cookbook. Did you read my review? I agree with you on the blandness comment. I'm guilty of it myself.