The first cookbook I ever owned was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls. Uncle Harold sent it to me in 1983, with the date and “Happy New Year” hand-written on the inside front cover. I read that book more times that I can count, usually flipping through the pages until something caught my eye, but I don’t think I actually made that many of the recipes. So I’m not sure why I had higher hopes for Melissa Clark’s cookbook and my own kiddos. Though the book hasn’t yet lured my boys into the kitchen, I’ve tried making several of the recipes and they’ve been well received. The savory Dutch Baby with Parmesan and chives was a favorite. We also thought the Cheesy Skillet Black Beans were a winner – even without the cheese – and Secret Ingredient Tofu was pretty good (though I reduced the amount of fish sauce in the homemade barbecue sauce slathered on the baked tofu slabs cause I know how my boys feel about fish sauce.)
My older son, though, has proved more interested in coming up with his own recipes. “I’m going to invent a salad,” our thirteen-year-old announced as I was preparing lunch Saturday, “one with two kinds of olives, lettuce, and cheese. Do we have any black olives?”
So here he was, the one who begrudgingly helps with meal preparation, pulling items out of the fridge and pantry of his own accord. Turns out there was no lettuce in the fridge, but baby spinach leaves worked splendidly tossed with his olive-brine and olive-oil dressing. It was a tasty salad, but the thing I appreciated most was the initiative he showed in contributing to the meal.
Another item that’s been brightening days is this cute mouse pad. It’s got a photo of a quilted placemat my sister Clair made for us over a year ago. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and has become my favorite mouse pad ever.
I’ve also been enjoying an angel wing begonia from a neighbor. Back in November, someone posted a request for houseplants on Nextdoor.com. The response was so overwhelming that not only did the person making the request get all the offers for plants she could handle, but lots of other plant sharing took place as well. One kind grower gave me a clipping that I’ve managed to keep alive these past four months. I still have to figure out how to get it to flower, but otherwise it seems to be thriving.