Can you place the quote? That’s right! This week I am channelling Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part III. Why? A family blood-feud? No, just that these words were squealed (with an edge of small child hysteria) at my dinner table last week;
“Mummy, is this ONION?, you know I don’t like ONION!”.
What, little child!?! You don’t like onion? Since when??? Onion has been liberally used throughout most of our meals for the past few years, but suddenly this week, it is being identified and picked out of everything. Then with a face screwed up in disgust, the child is smearing half chewed chunks over the table and turning a peaceful family meal into a battle scene.
Just when I thought I was on the home straight of Vegie-Smuggling I realise that I still have many years of food fads to go.
What to do when these phases hit?
1. Keep calm. Don’t inflame the situation by arguing, particularly if you have one of those argumentative little lovelies who enjoy nothing more than a battle.
2. Stay in charge. Try to get your kids to eat it all up, assertively reminding them that they’ve eaten it before and loved it before.
3. Serve a similar dish again within a few days. See if the aversion was a once-off, or something you are going to have to deal with.
If it’s a definite new food problem, head back to your vegie-smuggling basics. If you’ve been cooking with nice big chunks of the culprit veg, go back to grating it for a while, or replace with a variation. For me, grating the onion or replacing it with spring onion has been enough to keep the last couple of nights calm (and the dinners still tasty).
Within a week or two, just go back to normal. Your lovely fickle offspring will (hopefully) have forgotten all about it. Kids are good like that. Unlike the Corleones.
This recipe is one I return to again and again as a fail-proof dinner that smuggles nearly anything.
2½ cups of any fresh vegetables, chopped super-fine or grated. I use peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrot and canned corn.
50g ham, diced (optional)
2 tbsp plain flour
1½ cups milk, warmed
125g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & black pepper
Preheat oven to 180C.
Microwave or steam each of the vegies separately until just starting to soften. Mix them together with ham, if using, and distribute evenly among overproof dishes.
For the cheese sauce, heat the butter in a non-stick saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk. It is important to do it gradually and stir constantly. The mixture will thicken into a paste before smoothing back out into a glossy sauce.
Bring sauce to the boil, remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. Season to taste.
Divide sauce evenly among the ovenproof dishes. Place on an oven tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden.
MAKES 5 CUPS (divide between ovenproof dishes to suit your family).