Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

I saw French Kids Eat Everything on A Cup of Jo and knew I had to get my hands on it.

Karen Le Billon relays her experience moving her family from Canada to France, where her husband grew up. She had two picky children and recounts their experiences. They learn what lunch is like in French school, how to shop at French markets (the non-supermarkets), and what they wanted to expect from their own children (and themselves).
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It fascinated me. Before you tell me “it is different when I have kids of my own”, I beg you to hold that thought. I don’t agree. My biggest fear is having children who don’t eat real food.

This family in the memoir finally had to seccum to the French method of exploring food, the parents deciding what was for dinner, and standing firm to “you don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it”. Ahhh! Eureka!

I care about food and I care that my some-day-children learn these lessons. The French are pretty brilliant when it comes to food, and it is quite no-nonsense which I like too. The Le Billon family had to overcome years of feeding whatever the kids dictated to avoid meltdowns.

Her story feels real and emotionally charged. They were in a new country, her husband’s family had different views of their ways of eating (initially), she wasn’t a confident cook, and it was a learning curve for all of them. She was torn between feeling like a dictator and allowing choices to her children.

Here is Le Billon’s interpretation of the French ways of eating (the rules)

1) Parents are in charge of food education.
2) Food is not a reward, punishment or bribe.
3) Parents schedule meals. Kids eat what adults eat.
4) Eat family meals together–and make them feel special.
5) Eat your veggies. Key: Think variety.
6) You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.
7) No snacking. It’s OK to feel hungry between meals.
8) Slow food is happy food. As in, eat slowly.
9) eat real food – treats are ok for special occasions
10) eating is joyful and a time to relax.
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I have a leg to stand on here because I was brought up with a few of these in place from the start. There were no happy-meals for dinner (1). We ate what my parents ate (3). We didn’t have to finish everything but dinner time was a chance to chat. There wasn’t permission to escape from the table. The thing is, we didn’t mind sitting and talking (10).

We snacked but we also weren’t eating fruit roll-ups (9). At Christmas my sis and I each got a grocery-store present which was a highly coveted item we wouldn’t normally have (like pop-tarts, sugary cereal, Little Debbies). Grandma would buy us Cheetos or Fruit Loops but cereal consisted of Cheerios/Chex/Corn flakes/Rice Krispies (9).

I don’t recall getting these lessons drilled into us. It was just what we did. Dinner was together, at the table, without TV/games/phones/etc but with placemats and real napkins (4). Sandwiches had tomatoes on them and weekend breakfast was accompanied by fruit (5). Dinner often included salad first (5). There was always fruit around. Our bread was always wheat/rye/pumpernickel.

My sis and I each had veggies we didn’t like (her: mushrooms, me: peas) but we were allowed to not like something (6). I don’t think we were force fed things or made to stay at the table. I’m not sure when it started but there were expectations about food. Bursting into tears and bawling about not wanting that for dinner would not have been ok. There weren’t tantrums at the checkout line because we could ask for something (though we wouldn’t have questioned a “no”) and sometimes we got to leave with a ring pop, which also kept them special.

I loved that a family I babysat had “babysitter food” which was a treat for the normally real-food-fed-boys (I got to give them mac & cheese and chicken fingers). They had the three bite rule before they could not like something (the 1st to try it, the 2nd to decide, and the 3rd bite to be sure). They definitely knew the grown-up was in charge of the meal.

Wow, I guess when it comes down to it, the R family appears quite French in terms of food. I love that Mr. J and I sit down for meals together. No matter what we’re eating, it is still a chance to chat and eat off a real plate.

French Kids Eat Everything also included their transition back to Canada after their time in France. I don’t judge this family who had to adapt when returning. Hello, North American schools don’t serve a 4 course lunch! Commerce doesn’t stop so everyone can slowly eat lunch with somebody else! North America isn’t like France so I doubt this is something everyone can replicate. The book was really captivating. I was interested that the “rules” weren’t specific to their family or region with research stats to prove it.

I thought this book was really interesting and I hope I’ll follow these someday. I saw the same sort of thing on Cooking Light. I got to see a lot of families food standards and practices after babysitting for, jeez, probably more than 15 families. I just followed whatever their way was, I never once thought my opinion should factor in there.

I was out to dinner at a fun pizza place and was shocked to see the kiddo behind us had pizza without cheese. Hmm. Maybe that is dietary? Then another table had 1 kid at it who got grilled cheese. At a pizza place? I was surprised. I thought what kid doesn’t like pizza? Or melted mozzarella? It was interesting.

Tell me, what do you think? Do you think these French Rules would help youth nutrition in general? Do you think these “rules” would work for you/somebody you know? Is eating “like a child” a nature versus nurture? Do you think youth eating behavior is an age thing that he/she will grow out of? Is this the least of your worries for your children? Should kids HAVE to eat what they’re given?

(P.S.  Some other foodie books I love: The American Way of Eating; Fortune Cookie Chronicles; Waiter Rant, & The Dirty Life)

Cookbook: Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

I got a copy of Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook but I kept it under wraps until I could make Cookie Dough Truffles for Mr. J’s Birthday. I’ve been making treats to accompany birthday and Christmas gifts lately and I figured this was definitely special enough! He got real gifts on his bday but I wanted him to have something to open at a family gathering too. Plus, I love excuses to make something unusual!

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook is by Lindsay Landis. She also writes a blog Love and Olive Oil. Here’s her blog post for these cookie dough truffles! The cookbook is lovely and really has some good ideas. It is a fun one I think anyone would like. It is spiral bound which is a huuuuge help when following a recipe (it lays flat). I love the photography and I’m sure I’ll make something again. Here it is standing up but hiding behind my cookbook shield.
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The cookbook has a ton of creative recipes I haven’t seen everywhere. I have my eye on Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies, and Cookie Dough-Stuffed French Toast.

I made the truffles and they came out ok. They were somewhat messy but tasted good (as was the case for some oreo truffles I made with Mrs. E way back when). Anything that has to be dipped in chocolate is going to be good but messy. I made them on a warm day and couldn’t come up with a good technique.

The dough is super sticky since there aren’t any eggs in the recipe, but otherwise it is standard cookie dough dipped into melted chocolate. First I made the dough.
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Then the chips are mixed in and it is left to refrigerate for 30 minutes. I’m a lucky duck that my Mum gave me a mixing bowl cover for opportunities such as these!

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Then the dough is rolled and dipped.

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I liked that there weren’t a million ingredients. I overlooked that the chips were supposed to be mini (makes sense). That might have allowed them to form more uniform balls, rather than the large and lumpy ones mine were.

My trouble was dipping. I think the tines of my forks are kind of close together to allow the chocolate to drip through. I tried a bamboo skewer and that seemed to go ok. They were tough to get off though. It meant that getting off the skewer left an undipped hole. I did my best to cover it and I definitely recommend sprinkles to hide any imperfections.
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He liked them. I thought they looked cute once they were done and I could breathe again. Dipping was time consuming so I might make them as cups…that’s just a hint to what I made in cups that worked so well. ;)

I wish I could send some fun sweet treats to Biloxi this weekend. Something tells me 95-degree weather would wreak havoc on some cookie dough deliciousness but should be great for a beachy bachelorette party! Enjoy ladies!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My copy of Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Foodie Book Review: American Way of Eating

Do you need a beach book? Grab this book for a whole different side of food! I saw this book somewhere and was instantly interested. The author Tracie McMillan goes “Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.” Check out her website for more info.

She tackles the myth of privileged classes being the only ones interested in their meals. The verdict? McMillan says it isn’t true. She explores class relations with food, and eating as a culture in the US. This is no Upton Sinclair Jungle. McMillan goes to the fields to try her hand at harvesting garlic and peaches. She lives the life of the field worker before entering the next experience of late night shifts in Walmart Produce departments. Seeing the goods in their whole forms takes a drastic turn when she works in an Applebee’s kitchen and can’t find a whole food anywhere.
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I loved her stats on grocery space and fresh food access in different parts of NYC. It is true that fresh food costs more but also that it is harder to access in certain areas. McMillan lives the life and tries to afford to eat on her earnings.

The result is really captivating. Her experience trying to make cookies for a holiday swap all the time wondering what other party-goers spent on butter is really interesting. She uses a mix and winds up calculating that flour and sugar themselves would have been cheaper, but more money upfront.

I was most interested in her Applebee’s experience. She works in the kitchen and befriends the other staff. During her time there she sees how they cook and the product they use. I also thought it was endearing that she doesn’t assume the staff want to cook that way. Everything is a packet or pouch of pre-made this or packaged that. It is worth thinking about when dining out. That’s why diners impress me…most of them make everything there, on the spot.
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I’m always interested in what it costs to make dinner. It is just Mr. J and me eating but I’m a penny-pincher by nature yet I really value dinner time and the meal. I grew up eating dinner as a family and it is definitely a priority for my family. That doesn’t mean that Mr. J and I don’t end up whipping up something easy now and then, but it does mean that most nights we eat together and I like to cook.

I started calculating the cost of meals I’ve made. It is really astounding. Chicken, bean & corn enchiladas for $2.12 per person, mashed potato pizza for $1.12 per person, and baked ziti for $1.68 per person are just a sampling. We don’t eat a lot of red meat, or fish at our house which tend to run a bit pricier, but still. Cooking at home is easily attainable for us.

I know we’re lucky, we have professional careers, we each work near farmer’s markets, and we have the means to buy any produce we want, whenever we want.  Reading how hard she had to work and the generosity of the communities really touched me. Those around her also had nothing yet still were including her in family meals, sharing more beans than she could eat, and making sure she survived

Here is a stat I thought was most note-worthy to leave you with: the poorest Americans spend up to 35% of their income on food; the middle-to-upper class spends only 8% to eat (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Pies? Whoopie!

I loooove whoopie pies. I’m thankful that Mr. J comes from the state whose official treat is the whoopie pie (Maine’s official dessert is blueberry pie)! If I had my way, I wouldn’t have had a wedding cake, I would have served whoopie pies. Don’t get me  wrong, I ended up loving the cake, but how yummy would that have been?! For Christmas my bro & sis in-law gave me a whoopie pie pan and cookbook. It was so perfect since on the way to the C family Christmas I said I hoped I got a whoopie pie in my stocking!
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I’m not a big baker but now that I have lots more space and a fancy mixer, I hope to bake more. These came out great which was definitely a confidence booster. Also, you may recognize these from my Nosh guest blog post!

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Ingredients:

4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups rolled oats (not fast-cooking)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
½ cup raisins (optional)
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars on low speed.
Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla dn beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.
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In a food processor or blender, process ¾ cup of the oatmeal until it resembles whole grain flour. Transfer the ground oatmeal to a medium bowl and add the remaining oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the oatmeal mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
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Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
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Bake one sheet at a time for about 11 minutes each or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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Makes about 48 two-inch cakes.

Classic Marshmallow Cream

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Marshmallow Fluff
1 ¼ cups vegetable shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract

Directions

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the Marshmallow Fluff and the vegetable shortening, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
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Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

I was really proud of these and they were delicious. I might fill the whoopie pan a bit less next time because they were pretty large.
Using the whoopie pan, I made 24 cakes, thus making 12 whoopie pies.
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The cookbook is cute. I liked that it was casual (makin’ whoopie, beating filling until you forget about it, etc). The pictures are great and there are some great combinations (bacon chive goat cheese filling or pistachio cardimum cakes, or mocha etc).

Superbowl BBQ Peanuts

In my moving maddness right before the holidays, I came home to a package and was surprised to find a gift! Mrs. K is totally supportive of The Three Bite Rule and saw the Hunting and Fishing cookbook thinking of my love of cooking and Mr. J’s hunting and fishing trips…not that he’s caught/shot anything for me to cook (just yet).
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I thumbed through and was impressed. I thought there were a bunch of fun recipes and the photographs are lovely as well. Most recipes use pretty standard ingredients which is nice. I saw the snack section and picked an easy BBQ peanut recipe to try. The breakfasts look awesome too. Mr. J will have to check out the venison section for the deer meat his brother hunted.
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Ingredients:

1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
16 oz dry roasted peanuts

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine barbecue sauce, butter, garlic powder, and cayenne.
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Add peanuts; stir until evenly coated.
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Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in x 2-in. baking pan.
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Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Spread on waxed paper; cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
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I thought these were great! They are so easy and will disappear quickly. They’d make a fun superbowl snack or hostess gift. I had cashews and mixed nuts so I decided not to go out and buy peanuts. I used the mixed nuts and they worked just fine.

Thanks Mrs. K! There will be more meals to come from here! Now, if Mr. J would just catch me some salmon!

On a Stick

I was psyched to get a copy of “On a Stick” by Matt Armendariz and after quickly glancing through it I just couldn’t decide what to make! Everything just looked so good!
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Part of me wanted an excuse to make something fun or an upcoming special occasion and the other part of me figured, what’s wrong with just making something fun on a Monday? It was a dreary day here in Boston and I was pretty soaked after getting home and walking the dog.I chose: (drum roll please) fried ravioli on a stick! It was a fun dinner and more filling than I thought. A few extra large raviolis sprinkled with Parmesan with tomato sauce for dipping. How great is that?! The leftovers toasted up nicely under the broiler too.
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Ingredients:

marinara sauce
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, seeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper

1 qt vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 store-bought ravioli

Directions:

1) make the marinara sauce: warm oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze pot by adding wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of pot; then stir in oregano and sugar and seacon with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process to desired consistency. Return mixture to pot and simmer 30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

2) Prehead vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.

3) Place flour in one shallow dish and eggs in another. In a third, mix bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
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4) In two batches, toss ravioli in flour, gently shaking off excess. Dip in egg and then in bread crumb mixture. Thread 3 breaded ravioli onto each skewer.
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5) once oil reaches 350F carefully place skewers in pot, 2 at a time, and fry about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. serve warm, with marinara sauce on the side.
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They came out awesome! They were definitely something I wouldn’t have really thought about making otherwise, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have put them on a stick. The stick helped make them more manageable rather than bobbing for raviolis.

The book is beautiful. The photos are lovely and very appropriately styled. Though I’m not familiar with Matt Armendariz’s work, the blogger voice comes through rather than the often-distant cookbook author voice. For the ravioli he says “if you haven’t tried them, you should”. True story.

Each stick item includes a recipe for the sauce too. This definitely puts some of these items to the next level. I plan to make the s’mores sometime before fall decends and the bacon wrapped shrimp looks like something my Mum and I would love.
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I liked the background provided on certain recipes and that he differentiated all the types of sticks. While I don’t know that every item in the book needs to be on a stick, they definitely spice up the presentation and sometimes make the item more manageable.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My copy of On A Stick was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.