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Sunday, October 12, 2008

There’s No Room At The Table For Fantasy

By Anne Nodar-Stesney

I have several fantasy people in my life. Some of them are existing people with a twist, like My Best Friend Tina Fey. Some are pure imagination, such as Elderly Lady I Befriend And She Wills Me Her Greenwich Village Brownstone When She Dies. But mostly, my fantasy people are versions of myself, because what fun is a fantasy if it’s not 100% narcissistic? There’s the Me Who Wins An Oscar. (I have several acceptance speeches at the ready.) (Oh-like you don’t.) There’s the ubiquitous Toned Me If I Exercised And Didn’t Eat A Snickers Every Day. Then there’s the most annoying fantasy me of all. The Mother I Think I Should Be.

Since I love food and make a hobby out of cooking, The Mother I Think I Should Be had very stringent ideas on how to feed my son, Walt. I was going to exclusively breastfeed him until he was at least a year old. Make all of his baby food. Once he moved on to table foods, I’d only place whole grain, organically produced and grown, sodium-free, ethically treated, pure food on his little high chair tray.

Hahahahaha! And a big gusty HA!

I ended up having to supplement with formula right away because of supply issues, then stopped breastfeeding altogether when Walt went on a nursing strike at 6 months. I quickly realized that the nice people at Earth’s Best have already made baby food for me and it was much more fun to watch “Dancing With The Stars” rather than boil sweet potatoes. As for table food…. let’s just say a baby meltdown in the middle of a tiny Key Foods aisle had me ripping open a bag of day-glo orange crackers and pouring them into a stroller tray before I even hit the register. And they weren’t even the whole grain kind.

Luckily, this incident didn’t ruin Walt’s taste buds. Nor did any of the other foods I’ve given him, foods that The Mother I Think I Should Be would never, ever deem appropriate for a developing palette. The juice he glugged down that I later realized contained high! fructose! corn! syrup! didn’t cause him to refuse later offerings of water. The occasional Gerber Graduate, despite making me cringe a bit deep within, doesn’t interfere with his love of glazed salmon or farfalle with pesto. He’s not big on scrambled eggs, but he’ll eat a cheese omelet. Overall, he’s a good eater—adventurous and willing with only a few dislikes.

He’s only 13 months old and I’ve heard enough to realize this can change. I’ll cross that bridge when I’m pushed to it by a toddler who refuses anything neither florescent nor beige. Naturally, The Mother I Think I Should Be would never let this happen; she’d tsk-tsk and oh-no and think of ways to battle this as she picked up mini boxes of raisins to give out on Halloween. What a drip. I think it’s best to put that fantasy aside and start living. Pass the Cheetoes.

Maple Glazed Salmon with Easy Creamed Spinach

A quick and easy dinner for a 1-year-old (or older). But not as quick and easy as a Gerber Graduate, so give yourself a break if it’s been that kind of day. IMPORTANT: Please note that honey, maple syrup and corn syrup should not be given to babies under 1 year of age. They can contain Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause severe illness in infants.

For Salmon

1 small salmon fillet
2 TBL pure maple syrup
1 TBL olive oil

Put the salmon on a plate and coat the salmon with the maple syrup, rubbing 1 TBL on each side. Heat olive oil in small nonstick pan until hot but not smoking. Throw the salmon on there and brown about 3 minutes each side.

For Creamy Spinach

1 package of frozen spinach
2 TBL unsalted butter
2 TBL sour cream

Cook frozen spinach according to package directions, either in microwave or on stove top. Add butter and sour cream and stir it all up. If it’s too thick, you can thin it out with a little chicken broth or milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Anne Nodar-Stesney earns her living writing ad campaigns and keeps her sanity writing other stuff, particularly comedy sketches and musings on food. For about 5 minutes in 1997, she was a dainty size 2. It was an insult to everything edible, especially butter. She wised up now she adores good food as well as Cheetoes. She lives in Prospect Heights with her husband Fred and their ridiculously cute 1-year-old son, Walt.

You can read more about her misadventures at goodamericanwife.blogspot.com.