Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chili and spice and all that's nice

I've learned not to add seasonings to anything I'm cooking if I have walked away from it for even a minute. Why? Because the Phantom Spicer is sure to strike! (I shall not divulge her true identity here and now, but if you've read my family letters, she is our gourmet cook.)

Case in point: I was making a nice tame pot of chili the other day with baked beans, black beans, chili beans, ground turkey, and spaghetti sauce. I put it on the stove to heat up, then came back a little later to add some sauteed onions and green peppers to it. I never used to eat these, but Thad likes them, and I found that I liked them too after I started making them to please him. (Marriage is a good thing. I am much less a picky eater. I didn't like any vegetables at all until I was 17 and everyone was munching at the salad bar when we went out to eat. And I don't like to force my kids to eat veggies either, which puts me at sharp odds with the Phantom Spicer, who wants to make sure her little sibs grow up healthy... But at least I eat brocolli and green beans now, with a smile.)

Anyway, back to the chili. I caught dear P.S. in the act of spicing. I asked her what she had spiked my chili with and she didn't want to 'fess up because she thought I would be mad. I think I remember her admitting to white pepper, black pepper, red pepper (heartburn yet?), dijon mustard, mesquite seasoning, salsa, honey, taco seasoning... What more? I don't think there was any pickle relish in there... Oh, I'm probably forgetting an ingredient or two or three...

And you know what? It was delicious! Tongue tingling, raging hot, clean your bowl, lick your spoon yummy!

However, I was concerned about little Miss Melody and whether her tender tummy could handle the onslaught -- or whether she would even let it past her picky little lips in the first place. (This is a child who will not even eat fruit, unless it is apple sauce or apple juice.) I need not have worried. She wolfed down a bowl of chili and asked for more. And I, fortunately, did not even have to reach for my Tums or Maalox. I stand amazed.

Speaking of picky Melody... We had yogurt the other morning and she had eaten some of hers. Daddy wanted her to finish it (waste not, want not) but she refused. She wouldn't let me feed it to her either, though I tried in vain to cram some in her mouth. You would have thought it was mud -- no, she'd probably eat that. OK, you'd think it was cooked brussel sprouts! (I wouldn't know -- I have never let those past MY picky lips!) In a flash of inspiration, I handed the spoon to her sister Naomi, who promptly put it up to Melody's mouth. Yes, you already know it. Melody gladly ate all of the yogurt with Naomi feeding her. In fact, after every single spoonful she turned to me with an impish grin and said, "YUMMY!" I couldn't help but laugh every time. Oh, I know I'm a bad mommy for not being firmer with my kids at mealtime. I just prefer peace and quiet -- and dessert!

Oh, dessert. If you've read my "Jamming with the berries" post you know that we had a whole bounty of strawberries that Joanna picked. Last night, Lydia made a wonderful Boston cream pie (sans the chocolate) and topped it with strawberries. All from scratch! It was so moist! You can find the recipe here: Boston Cream Pie at Everyday Baking. She's such a gourmet...

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