May 2016

You may have noticed that there’s been sort of a theme running on RRG lately: the boys are growing older. We’re having to expand everyone’s horizons and ways of doing things. We’re figuring out where to give them more independence, and where to hold our boundaries firm. And I’m thinking, more than ever, about what happens next. Not the immediate “nexts” of tomorrow’s football practice or this week’s rehearsal and concert schedules, and not even the farther-off “nexts” of 4th and 2nd grades (coming sooner than I think). I’m wondering  what happens next, when they stop being kids and they start being men. When they move on to college and

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Menu blackboard

My boys are what you’d probably call “good eaters.” They not only have hearty appetites, but they’re relatively adventurous and willing to eat what’s served to them (mostly). I often get frustrated with their particular habits (“Why is P. such a grazer???” “Why won’t L. willingly eat more fruits???” “Why don’t the two of you like Mexican food???”) but the truth is, there are plenty of parents out there who’d love to be in my shoes. The boys’ lists of foods they enjoy are vastly longer than the lists of things they’d prefer not to eat, and aside from the occasional unwelcome commentary from the 7-year-old, dinner is rarely a

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chocolatemilk

I’ve never paid close attention to the cafeteria-related notices at the boys’ school. Both of my kids bring their lunches every day, and that’s the way they like it. Lunch menus come home faithfully each week, only to be chucked directly into the recycle bin without so much as a glance. The “free milk” application comes home in the first-week folders every year, and is subsequently ignored while I handle the rest of the mountain of paperwork that’s required to keep two kids in school these days. Our kids go to a small parochial school near our house, where there’s not a “real” lunch program; instead, a local deli/pizzeria provides

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Sourdough pita

WHY DIDN’T SOMEBODY SAY SOMETHING? Jeez! I finally posted the secret to sourdough starter this summer, and then…I swear I thought I’d posted this follow-up. But I hadn’t. And I realized it today, because I went looking for this post to send to a friend, and it DIDN’T EXIST. You guys! Next time throw something at me to get my attention! Ah well. The good news is, even if you started a wild yeast starter allll that time ago, as long as you put it in the fridge as instructed, it’s STILL FINE. You can (probably — nothing is guaranteed in life) still use it. Amazing, right? The power of

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April 2016 Meal Plan

I’m hungry this month. Hungry for so much. I don’t know why I feel this way. Maybe it’s the fickle weather, the 60-degree days followed by freezing rain and sweaters. The lightness outside, dinners with sunlight coming in through the windows instead of shrouded in darkness. The reappearance of birds and squirrels and buds on the trees when we walk to school. Maybe it’s the sprouting of my boys. Another school year speeding towards its close — 4th quarter beginning already. Another pair of ankles peeping out from the bottom of the pants that were too big in September. Toes trying to pop through the fronts of well-worn sneakers. Teeth

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birthday party

In my experience, birthday parties are sort of like Legos. You think you’ll be able to control them, contain them, buck the trend and keep things modest. And then at some point you find yourself ankle-deep in tiny plastic pieces muttering, “How the heck did it end up like this?” Depending on where you live and how things are generally handled in your social circles, the birthday party trends will vary, but I know very few parents for whom the first words that come to mind when you say “Birthday Party” are “Understated,” “Inexpensive,” or “Simple.” It’s a slippery slope. You find out pretty quickly, as a parent, that if

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March 2016 Meal Plan

I’ve been planning our family dinners a month at a time for so long now that I honestly can’t even tell you exactly how long it’s been. It might be a decade, give or take. That’s a long, long time. Some months are easy to plan; I sit down to write and it all seems fresh and fun. I have a dozen ideas right off the bat that make it to the page, and the rest falls in line, with an orderly and pleasant feeling to it all. Other months are hard. They’re a slog. I can’t make myself fill in the blanks. It’s all uninspired and effortful and just

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hibachi fried rice

Every Christmas Eve, we eat lunch at a hibachi restaurant with my parents and my sister D. I don’t know exactly how that became our tradition, but it has stood for several years now — long enough that L. and P. don’t remember ever doing anything different about Christmas Eve lunch. As it happens, there’s a fabulous hibachi place near my folks’ house and while hibachi is a unanimous favorite in our home, this particular restaurant does one thing better than all other hibachi restaurants I’ve tried. They have absolutely amazing, and I mean KILLER, fried rice. Yes, yes, all hibachi restaurants have good fried rice. It’s part of the

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lump-sugar-548647_1280

Brace yourselves. I’m about to advocate for sugar. I know, I know — haven’t I read the research that says it’s toxic? That we’re poisoning our children? Haven’t I read about how even kids who eat “healthy” diets are consuming unsafe levels of the sweet stuff? What in the world could I possibly be thinking? What I’m thinking is that, as with most of the discourse around not only eating but actually many, many topics of importance these days, we’ve let it all go to the extremes. And extremes are hard to sustain. I’ve been watching the evidence against sugar mount over time, and being a reasonable person who cares

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Winter souvlaki

There’s just something about tzatziki, isn’t there? It’s all so FRESH. You just mix a little yogurt with some cucumber and a few other ingredients, and it’s like summer — you’re transported to this place where everything is warm and lovely. It feels like you’re eating good, living things that are wonderful for your body. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Like happy, good things. In the middle of winter, I start to get tired of comfort foods. They’re, well, not so comforting anymore. Winter food starts to feel heavy and dark and not-so-healthy, even at its best. In January, the itch for good fresh food that came

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