To celebrate the launch of EMMA’S PANTRY, my line of organic jams, syrups, pickles, relishes, and granolas, I’ve been letting the kids try each new flavor as I make it. They have their stand-by favorites. Jamie’s a fan of the Apricot Butter, Daniel can eat a jar of Strawberry-Vanilla all by himself (yes, he has), Julia adores Raspberry, and Will eats any kind of spread but has recently taken to using Blueberry Jam as an all-purpose spread. He will eat it on toast, of course, and pb&j…but he’ll also dip green beans into a splotch of the jam, or his finger, or pepper slices. Will is what I think of as a deconstructionist eater. He smiles and says a polite “Thank you very much” when I put the blueberry jam and peanut butter sandwich in front of him, but then proceeds to pull the slices apart and use both sides as though they are ramekins set out at a cocktail party. In goes a green bean, now nicely coated with blue jam, and into the three and a half year old’s mouth. Everything from apple slices to spinach gets a thorough dunking. At least I’m the only witness.
Tonight, I am making whole wheat spaetzle for no other reason than it sounded good in my head when I was awake early this morning. We have a new puppy and he’s doing well sleeping until 7am, but I wake up around 6.30, waiting for him to wake up. I seem to use the time to a) dream of my morning coffee and b) imagine cooking dinner and c) avoid thinking about everything else that need tending to. So whole wheat spaetzle it is. I bought two pounds of baby spinach at the local farm yesterday, along with three leeks and an onion. I cleaned and sliced the leeks, made fine ribbons of the onion, and when they had turned golden in a bit of olive oil and sea salt, I set them aside. In the same pot, I wilted the spinach. Tonight, I set a pot of water to boil and have Will help measure 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup white, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup water. We stir and add 2 eggs while Jamie tries to hit Daniel with yesterday’s sports section of the NYT. Once the water was boils, I put the spaetzle dough into a colander and pressed it through the large-ish holes. Each little squiggle drops into the water, cooks, and bobs to the top when cooked.
While the wait for dinner “takes longer than it took me to learn how to tie shoes…but, I mean, it’ll be worth it probably” (thanks, 11-year-old!), the kids ask question along the lines of:
“Would you rather eat only meat for the rest of your life and nothing else, or drink only milk?”
“If you had to give up fizzy water or cookies forever, which would it be?”
The older three kids play along, as does Adam, home from work and not the least bit interested in trying any of the jams. He doesn’t like cooked fruit. I use a slotted spoon to drain the spaetzle, and pile it on each plates on top of the heated spinach, leeks, and onions. I grate fresh cheese on top and give everyone a piece of thin, crispy chicken schnitzel.
Daniel realizes that Will hasn’t answered any of the questions, so he simplifies the game for his toddler brother: “Will,what’s your favorite fruit?”
Will takes a moment, mouth ringed with blueberry jam I somehow haven’t cleaned off from lunch, and when he has everyone’s attention says, “Bacon.”