I was frequently asked that question as kind and generous people brought me meals after the baby's birth. Unfortunately, I usually answered unhelpfully that I really didn't know. They liked everything, nothing, and something in between. I also callously added that if they didn't like the meal, I didn't mind letting them starve. (Okay, I might have said that, but in reality there is always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just waiting for them to make it and even the three year old can make her own.)
Knowing the likes and dislikes of any group of people is difficult and I find my children to be almost completely unpredictable. One week they love string cheese. The next they won't touch it. Do they love cashews or do they think they are repulsive? The answer varies from child to child and from minute to minute. I may spend all day every day with these guys, but they are still individuals for whom I cannot predict everything.
Let us examine two recipes I recently made here at home. The first was Mujedrah (recipe below the fold). I was skeptical about the reception by the brood of a meal of lentils and rice. They like both, but would they really want that to be their dinner? The yogurt sauce was gobbled down by two kids from the beginning, eyed with suspicion by one because "yogurt with vegetables" was not on the approved list (but then the child ate about five helpings once it was taste-tested) and the fourth ate no yogurt sauce. All of them, however, loved the basic dish and I've been asked to make it again.
The second recipe was for coconut macaroon pancakes. What's not to love? A lot. One child decided that coconut was not her thing. Another child declared "hairy pancakes" weird. One crumbled them and fed them to the dog and the fourth ate a ton. The one who ate them is my pickiest eater usually.
Who can know the eating habits of my children? Their ways are not my ways and their tastes are mysterious.
Crockpot Mujedrah and Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup dried lentils (brown or green)
3/4 cup parboiled (converted) rice
3 cups water
3 chicken boullion cubes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup finely diced or grated cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh mint, torn
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Rinse lentils under cold water and drain. Combine the lentils, rice, water and boullion in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add salt and pepper and stir gently.
- For the onion topping, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions, salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes. The onions will brown, but do not allow them to burn.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, mint and salt; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When serving, top the lentils and rice with the onions and offer the yogurt for people to use as they see fit.