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How to get kids to eat fish

Once upon a time, Aunt Toby and the DH wanted the Little Siberians to learn to eat fish and we made the mistake of introducing them to fish fingers and batter-dipped filets baked in the oven. Yes, it is fish, but it’s fish that is sort of hidden under a lot of other stuff. We didn’t trust the kids to actually like fish. I think that’s a mistake. The Little Siberians got bigger and learned to like other forms of fish that hadn’t been so doctored up and we learned a couple of tricks in terms of introducing kids to new foods:

First – there is nothing wrong with doing a riff on something they already like. It takes a pretty sophisticated palate to like fish such as haddock or cod right out of the chute. “Mildly flavored’ doesn’t even begin to describe the way kids feel about it in its unadorned state; that’s why breaded, deep fried fish is so popular with kids (Mickey D’s has built an entire industry around those sandwiches): that breading and the grease from the deep frying give kids a stronger taste that they recognize and accept easily. But there are other tastes that kids recognize and that you can use to your advantage with fish that is frankly bland:

Italian Food: If your kids like anything with tomato sauce and cheese on it, don’t be afraid to bake fish such as haddock and cod with the same treatment. Or, if you want to go completely sophisticated, chop up veggies and tomatoes, add the appropriate spices (basil and oregano for Italian; cilantro, garlic and chili for Mexican) and bake in a 350 degree oven until done and if there is cheese, it’s all bubbly.

Chinese Food. If your kids like Chinese or Asian of any sort, tonight’s recipe is for you. Frankly, it’s an idea I cribbed from the fish display at my local Wegmans where they’d taken strips of fish filet and stuffed it and baked it. Now, I certainly don’t have crab meat laying around the fridge at Chez Siberia, but I had some other stuff and my son raved about this so much, he asked for seconds and then tonight asked for me to make it again, a sure sign that it’s a keeper.

Chinese Mushroom-stuffed Fish
Fish: filets of totally bland tasting white fish such as haddock or cod, cut into 1” thick strips, with no skin.
Mushrooms – whatever you’ve got, chopped really fine. 3-4 ounces of mushrooms chopped fine will fill up 6-8 of these little fish donuts.
Ginger – I used sushi ginger from the jar, but grated fresh ginger will do as well – see the photo for the relative size of the piles of ginger and mushrooms you will need.
Binder – I used Thai peanut sauce, but whatever Asian sauce, Asian salad dressing or whatever will do – use enough so that the mushrooms and ginger will stick together.
Mix all the filling ingredients together.

Grease a baking sheet and taking the strips of fish, make circles with them on the baking pan. Fill with the mushroom filling and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until done (don’t let the fish get dry).

Serve with Chinese stir fried veggies and either rice or noodles.

For more strongly flavored fish, I saw another really clever trick at the same store: This will work with fish that comes in steaks. Cut into big chunks, marinate in spiedie sauce (if you can find it in your area – it will be in the same area as the salad dressings and the bbq sauces) or some sort of bbq sauce such as Mexican. Put on skewers with veggies and grill. Serve with a salad, pasta or if you want to go totally ‘old school’, Italian bread for a fish spiedie sandwich. We had these once and they were fantastic – got a big thumbs up from everyone at the table.

Light and Good: Eggs

eggsLet’s put something to rest immediately (if not sooner): Stop dismissing eggs as ‘breakfast food’. In many other places on Earth, eggs are seen for what they are (concentrated protein) and are served at many different times of the day, with dishes to match. It seems that only in the United States is a dish of cold greasy fried eggs, with the ubiquitous accompaniment (now there’s a word) of fried potatoes, and some form of meat is deemed to be the very embodiment of breakfast. It is no wonder to me that there are people who will not touch an egg at all (much less before 11 a.m.). (more…)

The Name’s Bean — Black Bean

black beansWe’re talkin’ beans here, dried beans – navy, pea, kidney, garbanzo, etcetera, etcetera. But the queen of them all, the ones that tastes best and actually is the healthiest for us, is the little shiny black bean (aka black turtle beans). Beans are high in fiber and protein, phytochemicals and if nothing else, are filling. For more on health benefits of black beans, go here. black bean nutrition (more…)

Ya Gotta Ricotta

white pizza3First, let’s get the housekeeping out of the way.
1) Ricotta is not technically a cheese. It originated as a way (whey?) for Romano cheese makes in Italy to harvest more protein out of the whey.
2) Ricotta is made by making the whey more acidic (either by adding something such as vinegar to it or allowing it to naturally ferment for a day) and then heating it up. This causes more protein to precipitate out of the whey. The liquid is passed through some sort of filter such as a fine cloth and the resulting curds (ricotta) are left behind.
3) Ricotta is NOT cottage cheese which is made from milk itself and is not cooked. One of the advantages of ricotta vs. cottage cheese in terms of cooking is that if you try to make things with cottage cheese which are heated, the curds will start to separate, releasing whey. This is why baked products such as cheese cakes, etc. are best made with ricotta rather than cottage cheese. This is one place where Aunt Toby (who is big on substituting) will have to draw the line. Don’t try it. (more…)

Awwwwww — Nuts!

As long-time visitors to the Kitchen know, Aunt Toby takes a very focused view of food. Since protein is by far the most expensive nutrient out there, I’m always looking to get the most ‘bang for the buck’ when it comes to buying protein. I’m also looking for more goodies and fewer baddies coming along for the ride. That’s just the position I take – other people take other positions depending on their philosophy, religion, medical Rx and so on. (and by the way, this photograph is of cashews in their natural state before they have been hulled and roasted – interesting aren’t they?) (more…)

Cheap and Good: Oatmeal Three Ways

Oats have a lot going for them, in comparison to other grains.

From a growing standpoint, places which ordinarily have not been ‘friendly’ to grains such as wheat (find a latitude on any globe where in your own mind – versus anyone else’s – you say, “It’s cold there” and you will find oats growing well there: parts of the former Soviet Union, Norway, Scotland, Canada and the northern US and so on). Weather conditions that make for poor growing conditions for wheat and many other grains (wet conditions, cool conditions, humid conditions, etc.) don’t seem to bother oats.

From a nutritional position, oats can more than hold their own with other grains. (more…)

Getting the Best Out of Grass Fed Meats

Well, I lied. Or, I think I did. I think I said, or at least intimated that I’d delved into farmers markets and wouldn’t darken that door again.

Well, Aunt Toby realized that she missed out on an entire section of stuff that gets sold at farmers markets (and increasingly gets sold, I might add), which is meat.

Honest to gosh, shrink wrapped (though usually not on a slab of Styrofoam, in my experience), frozen, labeled with weights on ‘em, meat. And many times, they are labeled with words such as ‘free range’, ‘pasture raised’, ‘grass fed’ and so on. This is to differentiate them from what’s in your butcher or supermarché, which generally is ‘conventionally raised meat’ which means “grain raised”.

And when you see ‘grain raised’, the little voice of reason in your head should be saying, “and that means, ‘corn fed’.” (more…)

Cheap and Good: Hankering for Hummus?

Recently, consumers were faced with another product recall, this time for all sorts of products manufactured with peanuts coming out of the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Georgia due to Salmonella contamination. A bit later, a facility this company owned in Texas was also tagged for the same conditions and contamination. As of early February, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta had identified 600 people in the United States and possible connection with eight deaths due to consumers eating this contaminated food.

salmonella testimony

For those of us who have some concerns, what are our options? (more…)

Cheap and Good: Mashed Potatoes Are Your Friend

patties Writing these articles, I realize that it does seem that when it comes to “cheap and good,” I’m concentrating on white foods. And, that is correct because today, Aunt Toby is going to talk about another white thing that if you’ve got it in the fridge, you are golden in terms of having A Useful Thing™.

Left over mashed potatoes are a great thing to have, especially if you have resisted the urge (because we are all about resisting urges here at Chez Siberia on the Susquehanna) to put garlic in them when you make them. If you want garlic mashed potatoes, make the mashed potatoes first, take out a couple of cups extra, seal them up in the container of your choice (yoghurt containers tend to be used for this at my house), and THEN do the addition of the cooked and mashed up garlic. Tastes the same and now you have mashed potatoes that you have the choice of what to do with. (more…)

Show Some Respect for the Honored Dead — and make Turkey Soup!

turkeysoup If your house is like mine, the carcass from yesterday’s dinner turkey got a piece of aluminum foil thrown over the top of it and is sitting forlornly in the refrigerator, having been combed for odd bits of meat over the past 24 hours.

And you are really quite fed up with it sitting there and are about to unceremoniously throw the poor thing into the garbage, scraping out the roasting pan and letting it be done at that.

“Step away from the roaster, Sir (or Ma’am) and no one will get hurt.”

Now is the time to show some restraint and respect for the poor bird who “gave it up” for your family yesterday. We’re going to turn it into soup today! You will need: the turkey carcass and hopefully the pan that you cooked it in with all the lovely stuff still in it, plus a little salt or a can of chicken or turkey broth. (more…)

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