We sit in the pediatrician’s office, the five of us, my four kids and me. They’ve put us in the corner room where there’s a bit more space to roam about as they know I show up with my brood of kids and cramming us into a standard exam room would be near impossible, especially once you add a doctor and a nurse to the mix.
Still, there are only two chairs in addition to the wheeled stool the pediatrician spins around on as he talks to my children, attempting to balance the patient being checked and the other three all vying for his attention, telling them all the things they’ve done and accomplished since our last visit.
He asks his standard questions: “Any concerns you have? Sleeping okay? Eating okay? Eating a variety of food?” The other kids chime in – after all, he brought up their favorite topic, asking, “What do you guys like to eat?” – “I like when we eat salmon!” offers my younger daughter. “Last night we had curry and rice,” chirps my son. The pediatrician, knowing all too well, seeing as he was my pediatrician too, knowingly smiles and asks the kids, “You even like broccoli?”
In unison, almost as if they were programmed to do it, my kids scream, “Broccoli is my favorite!”
I attribute part of my kids’ willingness to eat a wide variety of food to our family dinners. No matter the day, our family sits at the dinner table together to eat a meal. On the weekends, we often sit at the table two or three times a day together. Don’t be fooled, though. My kids have picky stages. There are days they call the food served at the dinner table names, whine and complain, but overall, they are fantastic little eaters and sous chefs.
A few weeks ago at BlogHer Food I had the pleasure of meeting Pam Anderson and her beautiful daughters, Maggy and Sharon, of Three Many Cooks in person. Instantly you notice how great their relationship is, one I hope to someday have with my daughters as they mature into adulthood, and you can’t help but see how talented they are in the kitchen, which I witnessed firsthand at the Underwriters Laboratory cooking competition. Seeing their family togetherness, it’s no surprise that Pam’s new cookbook, Perfect One-Dish Dinners, is a fabulous tool to get your family around the dinner table, whether it’s every Sunday for a Sunday Supper or during the week. Family meals are important, and this book makes it easy for you. I was very excited when I realized we’d been gifted a copy of her book in one of the many swag bags at the conference and its parties.
We naturally went straight to my kids’ self-proclaimed favorite food, broccoli. Pam pairs the steamed broccoli vinaigrette with tomato, basil and mozzarella in crisp prosciutto cups to start, osso bucco with dirty polenta and a rum-raisin cheesecake with gingersnap crust (yes, please). She also offers “instant alternatives” to shortcut the process for when you’re crunched for time. Each and every recipe sounds drool-worthy, and I can’t wait to get inspiration for family meals and dinners with friends.
3 large broccoli crowns, halved or cut into large chunks
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
In a large skillet, add broccoli halves/pieces, water and salt and cover and cook over high heat. Once the pan starts steaming, set a timer for 5 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender (read: tender but not mushy) and bright green. Transfer broccoli to a paper towel and set aside.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, pinch of salt and black pepper. While whisking, add in oil in a slow, steady stream until all the oil is added. To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the broccoli and sprinkle with pine nuts.
Makes 6 servings.
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