Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Notes from the Executive Chef

Executive Chef: The executive chef is in charge of everything related to the kitchen, including menu creation, staff management and business aspects. The position requires extensive cooking experience and often involves actively cooking. They can also be referred to as the "chef" or even "head chef." Although "head chef" may seem redundant, the word "chef" has come to be applied to any cook, kitchen helper or a fast food operator, making the distinction necessary.

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I am the Executive Chef around here. Executive Chef And Then Some. Once, back in the day, when we threw dinner parties on a weekly basis and had a constant streaming social life, we had a landlord in Boston who accused us of (and I quote) "running a hotel and a restaurant" out of our apartment. We weren't -- at least not officially. But our landlord was definitely onto something. These days I don't so much feel like I'm running a hotel. But I feel like I'm running a restaurant now more than ever---- a one star, short order, fast and furious, catering to the toddler set kind of restaurant. This is not gourmet. This is nothing fancy. It is "family friendly" in the worst sense of the term. In my past life (i.e., Pre K & O) in preparation for cooking for others, I'd spend hours scouring my Silver Palate and Jacques Pipen cookbooks for fantastic menu and recipe ideas. Now, I rarely open a cookbook. But if I do crack one open it is Rachel Ray for a "30 Minute Meal." I used to watch her Food Network show and think things like, "Gosh, why even bother cooking if you're going to cook like that??!" Now if I catch a glimpse of her I think, "Gosh, can't we make it a 20 Minute Meal?! Who has time for THIRTY minutes????????!"
Ok, seriously... is it normal for 3 year olds to eat this much? I sometimes feel like my primary job in life is simply keeping them fed. I know I've blogged about it before (I should probably just make it a whole blog post category called "FOOD"), but for the sake of our family history I feel the need to record this in detail. It is a primary aspect of K & O's childhoods. Plus, someday when the boys are older and mouthing off to me I want to be able to show them who's been keeping their big mouths fed all this time...
I swear every other day I'm saying to Braydon, "God help me! If they eat this much now, what on earth are they going to be eating when they're sixteen?!" He just laughs like a proud father of a man. Yeah, he laughs. Just like all the other men who witness Kyle and Owen eating. That's because he/they are not in charge of food around here. Women who witness it have a different reaction. They look at me with raised eyebrows, kinda like an unspoken female-to-female "I feel your pain sister." To give Braydon his due credit-- he's in charge of laundry (which they create a lot of too, for sure), and cleaning (which they definitely keep him busy with), but me... my household job is FOOD. All things food. And it is a big job. I have a little family with a big appetite.
In an attempt to chronicle just how much my darling sons eat I decided to photograph a day of meals yesterday. I am not including snacks here -- just actual meals. And you can't tell from the photos how much or how often the two of them asked for second helpings of any given thing (or third helpings or fourths, fifths, etc.). Obviously this does not document my food production situation in detail. But it does at least give you an idea of what it is like around here.
Breakfast: Cereal (Kix and Cheerios mixed together -- for whatever reason they've both always preferred multiple cereals mixed together in one bowl ~ My job is not to question, only to serve, so I just keep my nose to the grindstone and try do my job as best I can); bananas; OJ. We are currently going through 2 gallons of whole milk per week and 2 gallons of OJ per week and 2 big bunches of bananas per week. (Note: Braydon and I only drink skim milk, we rarely drink any OJ, and between the two of us we probably eat 2-3 bananas per week max).

Lunch: Whole grain bagel; strawberry cream cheese; deli turkey meat; cut up fresh tomatoes; grapes; apple juice to drink. When they eat turkey from the deli they'll easily polish off 1/4 pound of it. They also can't get enough fruit. At this particular lunch, for example, Kyle went through 4 helpings of grapes (Sweetly: "More grapes please Mama?!" Fake Cheerily: "O.k. Kyle!") and 2 helpings of tomatoes.

Dinner: Rice pilaf; blackened tilapia; steamed green beans; "salad and dip" ("salad and dip" for K & O = salad minus the lettuce -- i.e., all the cut up veggies -- with some salad dressing on the side to dip the veggies in. The only exception to this is caesar salad at Carrabbas or the fuji apple chicken salad at Panara Bread... they'll eat both of those lettuce and all.). To drink: water and "wine" (i.e., a Dora the Explorer cup with some watered down wine in it). When I was preparing this meal I was getting out that classic ol' box of Near East Rice Pilaf and I actually thought to myself, "I should probably make two boxes of this." And then I thought to myself, "No! That is ridiculous-- they're only 3 years old! I'm not making two boxes!!!" So I only made one box. Big mistake. Braydon and I only had small spoonfuls. The boys devoured the rest of it and would have had more if there was more to be had. Toward the end of dinner I said to Braydon, "God help me! If they eat this much now, what on earth are they going to be eating when they're sixteen?!" He just laughed. Of course. I said, "No, seriously Braydon. I thought about making two boxes of rice pilaf but then didn't. I should have! If I have to make two boxes of rice pilaf when they're three, how many boxes will I need to make when they're sixteen?" He said: "Three boxes. One for us. One for Kyle. And one for Owen." Anyhoo... When we were in Virgin Gorda we discovered that Owen loves fresh blackened fish. He now requests that we get "fish" when we go to the grocery store. Go figure. Kyle now eats it too. And they love green beans. As you can see in the picture below, Kyle loves green beans so much he eats them double-fisted shoving them in one by one as fast as he can swallow. Oh, and after dinner they each had strawberry ice cream and whipped cream for dessert. Then each requested milk... and each guzzled down a large sippie cup full before heading off to bed... Thank heavens that at least they do sleep ~~~ that gives me a chance to rest... after all, it is only a matter of hours before breakfast begins another day of steady work for the Executive Chef.


Life in Fitzville said...

Oh, I totally feel for you on this one! We go through close to 2 gallons a day at our house. I am constantly saying 'what will we do when they are teenagers???" All of mine are good eaters, but K and O sound like my Charlie, who put away 3 large plates of spaghetti and meatballs tonight, and will regularly eat 3 chicken breast sandwiches in one sitting. He weighs all of 48lbs. I think( and I am guessing this is the case with your boys) he burns it all off as he is eating it!

Ani said...

we go through a gallon of milk a week at our house - and we just have a 2-year old. and although he's a good eater, k&o are in a league of their own :)