This week our cooking class worked on a traditional Southern recipe, barbeque (usually baked) beans. Of course, we changed things up by leaving out the pork fat that’s normally used and balancing our barbeque sauce so that it is a bit tangy, not too spicy, and just generally delicious.
One of my mini-chefs, O., has been having a, well, moment. Every class she starts out by definitively stating that whatever we are making is “disgusting” and making a terrible face and saying, “YUCK!!!!!” As we begin our classes with everyone gathered around, she riles everyone up. All the mini-chefs are eventually chorusing, “EWWWW! YUCK! DISGUSTING!” This, of course, devolves into potty humor, and away we go.
From my experience with my own children and with so many years of babysitting picky eaters under my belt, I know that this kind of behavior is generally a power play. For the kids in class, besides this instigating mini-chef, they will almost always try the “yucky” food when it’s served to them, and they generally end up liking and sometimes even loving it.
It’s just that it’s so fun to say those powerful words: icky, yucky, disgusting, gross, etc. Once the fun of the moment has passed, they scarf down the food when they are hungry and that beautiful food that they have helped prepare is served to them.
For little O., though, it is a bit more difficult to let it go. She came early to class for a bit of a pre-class play date and, when Mira told her what we were making in class, how she and I had made cornbread (Mira’s favorite!) before class to go with everything, O. immediately launched into, “Disgusting! I hate cornbread! It’s only yucky! Yuck! Beans! I’m NOT eating those ’cause they’re like poo poo!!!!” Oy.
Now, I must also say that O. is one of my most favorite children ever. She is endlessly creative and always herself. The way that she looks at and moves through the world has always fascinated me since she was a few months old. She did not crawl in the regular fashion but used this amazing spider walk on two hands and one foot, with one hand free to explore the world. Her inner life is rich and full, and she has often told me things, both about herself and about others, that are incredibly adept and philosophically wise. She is most definitely on the list of kids we consider surrogate cousins in our family. But, that means that she also does not look outside of herself or to what adults feel is socially acceptable on certain issues, such as YUCKY ICKY BLECH.
How to not break a beautiful spirit but also to keep my class under control? I’m still working on it. I can tell you that I decided we would all get our “yuckies” out and then throw them out the window. It helped, at least a little bit.
Ok, so we muddled through all this trash talk, made our BBQ sauce together, and served the food to the mini-chefs. The next thing I know, little O. is wandering back into the kitchen asking for a second serving of cornbread for herself.
I had to rib her a little(humor works out most kinks). ”WHAT!!! I don’t know, O., I thought that you thought cornbread was disgusting.” Glancing at her plate I continued, “And it looks like you’ve been doing a pretty good job on that chicken and beans as well.”
She got the joke about herself and laughed. And sat back down to eat her second hunk of cornbread.
One of the reasons that I share this story is just to say that, while we might not have all of the answers and we might have frustrating days when our children will not, WILL NOT eat the food that we (or they!) have prepared, it is worth trying to keep a sense of lightness about it when we can. Not let ourselves be bogged down in the power struggle.
It does not always turn out so positively as it did this week with O. Sometimes yucky stays yucky. For months. For years even. But, hang in there. Keep cooking and letting them help, and see what changes over time. And, remember that humor and love are always ingredients that should be cooked into the sauce.
Tribeca Yummy Mummy Barbeque Sauce
- 1 c. maple syrup
- 1/2 c. gluten-free, low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 c. Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 c. organic ketchup
- 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (plus 2 T. if you like your sauce vinegar-y)
- 1 t. salt (optional)
- 1 t. mustard powder
- heaping 1/4 t. dried ginger
- 1/4 t. dried thyme
- 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
- With your mini-chef measure out all of the ingredients into a big bowl.
- Whisk everything together very well.
- Pour the sauce into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven.
- Big Person: Over medium-low heat, bring the sauce up to a simmer. Once at a simmer, turn the heat down a bit lower and let it cook for 10 minutes, whisking it every now and again so that the bottom doesn’t burn.
- Take off the heat and let sit for a few minutes so that the flavors can come together.
Vegan BBQ Beans
- 1/2 recipe of TYM barbeque sauce
- 8 cups cooked navy beans and/or cannelini beans
- Place the beans and the sauce in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Bring the beans up to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Take the pot off of the heat and let sit for another 5 minutes. Serve warm.