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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kiddies Menus

I am one of those rare individuals. A woman who has never been a mother and quite happy with that thanks very much. I put up with the “Happy Mother’s Day” greetings every year with a Madonna like smile hiding how annoyed I get at the assumption. I put up with my feministic lower salary no doubt based on the fact that most women take a considerable amount of their productive time out of the workplace while they are having children. I accept that. I put up with the fact that sometimes my friends are unable to meet me for lunch because their darlings have soccer, ballet or whatever extramural activity. But when I am asked to do reviews on restaurants with playgrounds I have to say enough is enough. I mean come on. To the childless those jumping castle adorned venues are quite simply hell on earth. Mothers and Fathers (in the metro sexual age) are oblivious to how annoying their little darlings are. The food menus at these restaurants have been designed to turn you and your darlings into lumps of lard and only seem to add to the exuberance displayed by the screaming bundles of parental joy. One of these restaurants is actualy named after a middle English term for dregs and waste. A perfect description of their fare in my opinion.

There are very few children that I enjoy in restaurants. And those children that I do enjoy in restaurants are those that are used to sitting together as a family at a table and eating a meal. And they do it well and there is usually lovely chat that everyone gets involved in. The event of eating out together is all the entertainment required. These kids also are never offered a kiddies menu. They eat adult food and are encouraged to eat healthier options. The White River Rats are a perfect example of this. These kids were raised in restaurants and around the family dinner table. They prefer to be in on the conversation. They are not told to go and leave the adults alone.

T & A, my nieces were raised to be restaurant friendly by me. I frequently took them to very adult restaurants and ordered weird things like oysters and sashimi for them to try. We had one rule. They had to taste anything we ordered. They didn’t have to like it or eat a full plate of it and if they did not like it that was fine. But taste first. It proved to be quite expensive as they both adored oysters at first bite. And now that they are both in their twenties they gulp glasses of bubbly with the oysters. They both love food and have become quite discerning over the years. Budding foodies. And I take full credit.

I believe very firmly in families eating together. I have never found children bothersome at a table where they are used to sitting and eating at dinnertime. In fact I find the conversation at dinnertime to be rather pleasant. My dad was my food mentor. He was a sales manager and often entertained his sales teams at home as a team builder. I was always very involved and would set the tables and design the flowers etc. Then later when our maid was off on Thursday’s I cooked for the family. I often made a minced beef dish. With half a bottle of red wine. In those days it all went in the food. It was rich and dark and packed with garlic and mushrooms. And served with Tastic rice. I made up the recipe myself. Real rib sticking food. I like working with mince and I have quite a few favourite recipes. Not least of which is the simple Spag Bol (Spaghetti Bolognaise). The one that comes to mind today is:

Ostrich Frikkadels with Cucumber & Mint Tzatziki
Ostrich Frikkadels
500g Ostrich Mince
1 Medium onion chopped
2 tsp chopped capers
2 tsp chopped anchovies
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon rind
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped parsley

Mix all the ingredients together and form into golf ball sized frikkadels. Shallow fry until golden brown all around. They should be slightly pink inside. Do not do too many at a time or you will stew them. Fry about seven at a time in a 28cm pan.

Cucumber & Mint Tsatziki
125ml Greek yoghurt
1 tbs chopped English cucumber
1 tbs chopped mint
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside for the flavours to infuse

Serve with pita bread and a crunchy salad.

For those that are counting the approximate kilojoule count is 1900. The serving size will have to be 3 frikkadels, half a pita bread, a side salad and a table spoon of tsatziki. You can lower the count by replacing Greek Yoghurt with fat free yoghurt.

I am not a nutritionist so my kilojoule calculation is my best guess using several online kilojoule charts as reference.

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