I need not be so hard on myself. Compared to the kids on the new Jamie Oliver show, Food Revolution, my children not only know the name of every fruit and vegetable in the house (OK, they didn't know Bok Choy, but when I held it up Mc said: "Oh, I love that stuff") they are pretty decent veggie eaters.
The challenge is trying to please all four at the sametime. Someone is always dissenting. I just want one night where everyone says, "Yum!"
The clouds parted, the doves flew down, the chorus sang, a resounding "Yum!"
Besides the fact I'm always looking for a new way to use fennel, this soup has sweet potatoes in it. Sweet potatoes, as an ingredient, is like bacon. It makes any recipe a winner.
Because I've gotta little Casey worship going, I quizzed him on his kitchen essentials--basically how to stock the kitchen and pantry to make the most any Culinary Competitor recipe at a moment’s notice (what that means for me is how to avoid an unplanned trip to the grocery store with four children).
Following are Casey’s Culinary Competitor Kitchen Essentials. I’ll add my own take on essentials for the athletic family.
Here’s the food Casey recommends keeping on hand:
- onion, red
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemon or some other acid
- chicken stock
- fresh herbs (cilantro is usually his go to and mine, which is probably why I love all his recipes)
- black pepper, the king of spices
- other basic dried spices such as cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, thyme, fennel seed
- potatoes/yams/sweet potatoes
- peppery greens
- hard cheese like parmesan, pecorino romano
In addition, Casey says, with fresh, seasonal produce, lean proteins, and whole grains (expect a lot of rice and black beans from CC), you can make anything taste good.
As for the kitchen tools, Casey’s list includes:
- knives (chef's knife, paring knife, serrated slicer)
- large cutting board
- spatulas (both for flipping and a rubber spatula for scraping)
- wooden spoon for stirring
- measuring cups (dry and liquid)
- measuring spoons
- skillets (prefer cast-iron; 14 in, 10 in, 6 in)
- medium or large saucepan
- food processor
- high quality microplane zester or cheese grater
That list looks good to me, but with an active family that includes small children from 1 to 6 years, I have a few additions.
Per the grocery items:
- peanut butter: most frequent use in our home isn’t for sandwiches, it’s for pancakes. Try it. You will never go back.
- yogurt: I buy a case of 32 oz. vanilla for smoothies and “yogurt parfaits,” and small flavored sizes for snacks and pre-bedtime hunger pangs.
- frozen fruit: those smoothies again. Plus frozen cherries, blueberries and blackberries are great right out of the bag and make a teething baby very happy.
- bananas: the perfect pre-run food, baby food, and kid snack (again, slathered with peanut butter).
- eggs: when all else fails, make scrambled eggs or french toast for dinner. Scrambled eggs on pierogies with salsa and cheese... yum.
- slow-cook oatmeal: doesn’t take that long to cook when you soak the grains first. My kids prefer it to instant, but who wouldn’t with the amount of butter and brown sugar I add to it. Plus, I now prefer to make my own granola. It is so easy.
- nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts): for oatmeal and granola, salads, ice cream and alone as a snack.
- pasta: because kids will always eat noodles. When I'm feeling frustrated or have cooking block, I always fall back on noodles.
I can’t improve on Casey’s kitchen tool box. The only items I believe are necessities aren’t required for cooking, but definitely keep the cook happy:
- wine bottle opener
- beer bottle opener
- coffee maker
- ice cream scoop
Anything to add to the fit family kitchen?