Monday, January 5, 2009
We cut our New Years’ cake and went around the table.
“I’m going to get better at making things from wood. You know, like the picnic table in the backyard. And, I want to get better at cooking dishes from all over the world,” Andrew said.
I have to admit that his resolution was not entirely expected by me. But, we do try to allow them to set their own goals. Knowing that my childrens’ resolutions generally require my assistance on some level, I kept mine pretty simple.
“I’m going to find a new vegetable dish that this whole family likes every month.”
My children did not seem very excited. I reassured them.
“Yes, I know. You don’t love vegetables. But, we don’t try new things with vegetables very much. You LOVE smoked pork. If I bought a frozen pork chop and microwaved it, you wouldn’t like pork either. You’ve never tried really GOOD vegetables. You’ll see.”
That’s what I said. I hoped I said it convincingly. It is true. We always have vegetables around, but they are rarely very inspired. I went on to say that we could cook vegetables from all over the world, so we could do both our resolutions at the same time. We talked about options.
Jump a few hours. I’m making a grocery list.
“Andrew, what do you want in your school lunch this week, Honey?”
“Spinach tortellini and pumpkin bread, from scratch.”
“Spinach tortellini from scratch?”
“Yes, that is one way that I like vegetables. That’s the plan, right? You know, to cook vegetables that we all like? Remember, I tried a free sample at the store.”
Sigh. Spinach tortellini? Really?
On Saturday, Andrew and I made spinach tortellini from scratch. I could have said ‘no’ but somewhere deep inside I felt that I was setting a precedent for the year. And, that somehow a failure in this realm was better than giving up entirely. It wouldn’t hurt to fail once. So we waste a few eggs and a few cups of flour. It would be a funny memory. We went to the grocery store. We started cooking.
The filling was easy: chop, dump, stir. No cooking. I played ‘sous chef’ and chopped the spinach, but the kids did the rest. (Even Emeril has a ‘sous chef.’)
The first batch of pasta was in the mixer looking like a bunch of rough pebbles. All of the ingredients had been added, but it needed more moisture. So, we added more egg and oil and mixed some more. We kneaded it and put it in the bowl to rest. Skeptical, I thought we should make one more batch. Disaster waited. We would need several tries.
This time, I gave Andrew all of the ingredients and set off to find a diet Coke.
“You can do it,” I encouraged. “Just add the eggs and oil until it looks right,” I said not really sure what it meant to ‘look right.’
When I returned, Andrew was using his entire strength to knead the dough. When the first batch was fully rested, I cut it in half and gave it to him, along with the pasta machine. We talked briefly about how to use it. I told him to run it through three times on the first setting, folding it each time. We looked again at the recipe and decided that setting 5 or 6 would work just fine.
“I can do it, Mom. Okay?”
When my husband walked through, Andrew was cranking the machine and easing out the dough all by himself. My husband offered to help. He began to make a suggestion. But, quickly saw that Andrew had it under control, probably more than we could ever imagine.
With each strip of dough, Andrew cut out circles and gave them to me.
I filled and wrapped the best tortellini I have ever had. The kids gobbled them up.
Today, Andrew has spinach tortellini and pumpkin bread (we made that Sunday) in his lunchbox.
Once again, I have a newfound respect for my son and the additional resolution to remember to ‘let them fail’ just a little more often.
So, what was Gladys’ resolution? She wants to learn how to clean better.
I’m hoping she figures it out.
Maybe she’ll teach me someday.