Dinnertime is rarely without drama in my house as of late. Big brother has always been a pretty great eater, but little brother apparently skipped that gene and has taken to refusing what we have to offer. (I promise not to get into our strategies and failures behind whether or not we eat as a family or we have utter meltdowns at dinnertime).
I’m guilty of having let my kids run my food life. I’ve gotten entirely too caught up in who likes carrots cooked and who prefers them raw, whether or not we have chicken nuggets in the freezer and making sure I cut every last bit of crust of the littlest’s PB&J. It’s ridiculous.
You know what? I love to cook! I love to eat! I’m a vegetarian who often ends up heating up a frozen veggie burger for lack of a more inspirational option after I’ve cooked a pot of homemade turkey soup or from-scratch, meat-laden spaghetti sauce for my menfolk (admittedly, I love doing that, too, but I far too often forget myself or just don’t bother).
THEN, a friend gifted me a Superstore cooking class with former Top Chef Canada contestant Chef Lauren Marshall. First, can we talk about how thoughtful an experiential gift is?! We had so much fun! What a great way to spend a fun evening out, learn a few kitchen tips and enjoy an incredible meal. Highly recommend.
The theme was vegetarian Belizean food. If this doesn’t mean a whole lot to you (as it didn’t to me before I attended the class), the influences are very Jamaican and Mexican in nature. Think tostadas on the beach. AKA delicious. It really lit my vegetarian fire. I’m so excited to not only recreate the meals at home, but also branch out into other foods, ethnicities and methods that I haven’t tried before.
I do a bi-weekly meal swap with another friend and we, too, recently decided to branch out and try new things. For the past two swaps, we made Thai dishes — a type of food I have little experience with beyond the confines of a take-out menu. We made and shared Thai-inspired meatballs, noodle salad, squash curry and wonton slaw cups that were all tasty and added to our respective recipe collections. Food containing peanut butter, which three of four recipes do, tend to go over well in my house; the spice factor is a little iffy for my men, but that just means more leftover lunches for me.
Part of our meal swap is to go vegetarian for every other exchange. It is great for me because it adds a dish in my meal planning rotation that I might have had a chance to try (read: not bothered to make for just me).
The whole topic has inspired one of my resolutions for 2017.
More on those later.