Non-Scary Balsamic Reduction and Kid’s Menu Success!

Hi everyone. Just a quick note about the last blog post: There are NO rice krispies in the macaroons! I made an error and did not state that the question about refrigerating the batter was about the Cheddar Cookies recipe from 2 weeks ago-you add those rice Krispies right before baking. Sorry and I remedied it on the post on the actual blog site www.takebackthekitchen.com

Now, I am very pleased to share a comment with you from a recent workshop participant’s success with the menu idea and I SWEAR I did not pay her to write this, I only asked if I could share it!:

“At first I sat them down tentatively and suggested, “I’m going to make a weekly menu with all your favorite dinner foods.” Theo initially balked at the idea: “What do you mean? On Monday we eat chicken on Tuesday pasta? Blah Blah Blah…” I think he feared I was hitting him with another behavior mod. chart (like when he got the Hulk action figure after 5 nights with a dry pull-up as a 4 yr old). But Ali loved the idea. She wanted to stay up and watch me “make the menu.” As soon as Theo sensed Ali’s enthusiasm, he didn’t want to be left out. He demanded ravioli, spaghetti and roast beef had to be included. Ali suggested fish, peas and pizza. I already had a week’s worth of ideas.

I ended up settling on a two-week rotation of meals, with a static Monday-Tuesday sequence: Monday is chicken/or turkey, carrots, and apple sauce day, followed up by quesadilla Tuesday (to use up the left-over chicken or turkey). And then Wednesday #1 is fish day (and I reserved Wednesday #2 for roast beef since that will give me extra time to learn to cook roast beef). Thursday is tofu, veggie, and pasta day (since our vegetarian Tibetan sitter cooks that day). And Friday #1 is pizza/broccoli day while Friday #2 is breakfast for dinner day (eggs, bacon, waffles).

It’s amazing. On Wednesday they both came to the table, checked their photocopies of the menu (decorated and colored of course), and waited patiently to be served fish, peas and spaghetti. It’s almost as if they felt in charge. “Mom, don’t forget the peas…they are on the MENU.” Tonight my sitter reported that Theo went to the menu and asked “Where’s the veggie?” When he was informed that zucchini is a vegetable, he ate it (whereas he had turned his nose up to zucchini during previous meals). This menu concept seems to work. The kids feel empowered by knowing what to expect on the table. Go figure.”

This warms my heart. As I have mentioned before, you can eat the same foods or similar foods so as not to have to make totally separate meals for the adults. For example, for fish night, you can put a fabulous balsamic reduction on yours to jazz it up (when I say “jazz” does it make you think of Bob Fosse?).

Now, do you completely tune out when I say “reduction” like a blog subscriber told me at a party on Friday night??? If so, tune out no more! A reduction simply means that you boil a few ingredients together to make a syrupy sauce. Try this and let me know if you will continue tuning out or have overcome your reduction obstacle. Enjoy!:

Balsamic reduction:

2 cups sugar
2 cups balsamic vinegar

In a medium sized saucepan, bring sugar and vinegar to a boil and then keep it boiling while you stir until it starts to thicken to a point where it drips off a spoon and doesn’t pour off a spoon. This might take 45 minutes to an hour or so but do it while you are hanging around the kitchen during meal time, homework time or while you’re going back and forth to the kitchen. Once it starts to thicken a little bit, I would try to hang around and watch more closely because if it goes too far, it will burn. You can store it in a plastic squeeze bottle or a glass tupperware.

This is delicious and will last for months in your fridge or in the pantry. If it gets too thick, just microwave it or immerse the bottle in warm water and it will thin out and will be able to be poured out again. Great with fish, meat, tofu and poured over cheese.

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