Buttery duck with peppers & garlic toast (page 280)
Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids
My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary
Jake 4 years 8 months, James 2 years
Jake has always enjoyed duck and sweet and sour sauces and loved this meal. He has always eaten peppers and onions cooked this way but I only recently stopped chopping them up for him.
James had just woken up when I cooked this and he didn't eat anything. It wasn't the food. Yesterday he rejected a chicken sandwich which he'd usually wolf down. We try to feed him before he goes to sleep to avoid the grumpy wake up which I'm sure comes directly from his dad's genes. I'm writing this two days later. Jess has just fed him before his afternoon sleep and he ate everything.
When mealtimes are difficult I try hard to remember through the screams that it is not very often about the actual food, and almost certainly not about how it tastes. It can be the texture, how it is chopped, if there is something that was a little too hard for him mixed in last, or just the mood he is in. As grown ups we tend to eat because it is time to eat and we enjoy it a little more or less depending on how we feel, but it seems that a 2 year old will only eat if he is feeling just right and it is just how he wants it. We've had a lot of experiences of putting an untouched meal in the fridge then watching him gulp it down the next day. The halfway stage can be difficult, when the first wave of hunger is sated and I now start with small portions so that he is more likely to finish everything. This makes him happy because he can get a clap and we are happy and satisfied.
We've tried to engineer James's and Jake's habits so that meal times are fun and they're ready to eat when we are, but it doesn't always work. We have also found that when it comes to kids, spontaneity only works when it doesn't include sleep or meal times. We only go 'off the cuff' when we're willing to pay for it later. Saying that, the only rule that we always stick to is not to give them something else to eat instead of the prepared meal.