“Yeah, you’d be a total drag to live with”
Someone recently said this to me, someone I don’t know and who, except through this blog, doesn’t know me. It was said (typed, really) in response to comments about how I sound like I’m no fun at all.
Au contraire. I own a fart machine. Much to her mother’s chagrin, I taught my toddler niece how to sit on various household items, squint and grunt loudly, and then stand up and announce to everyone “Look what I laid!” I regularly judge the kids’ belching contests. I once made a piece of very realistic looking plaster of Paris poop with my friend Megan and hid it in various interesting places around the camp I run just to get a reaction. (Wait…I did that more than once…some things just never get old). In fact, I’ve wreaked so much hilarious havoc at that place that I don’t even have to participate in pranks anymore and I still get to take credit for them.
Of course I do have rules here — quite a few, and the kids are well aware of them all. I trained my kids from the time they could speak never to utter the phrase “I’m bored!” because they’re just plain not allowed to be bored. There’s always something to do, and if they can’t figure something out, I’ll give them something to do. Disrespectful language or behavior is never tolerated. Use the end of something, especially toilet paper, and you either replace it yourself or tell a parent we’re out. I don’t do lying, period. No one in the house will own a rodent. Rodents are for feeding the pet snake, not for pets. Knock on closed doors. Be ready when it’s time to be ready. If you need 2 dozen cupcakes or 4 liters of orange soda for school Thursday morning you don’t spring it on me at 10pm Wednesday. These things seem like no-brainers to me.
So it follows that I would have similar rules about food and meals. Everything brown is not a mushroom and if you didn’t like mushrooms in March on your chicken you just might like them in November in the souffle so yes, you do still have to taste it. No one is allowed to diss something he or she has never tried. You are allowed to rescind your 100% List “no” votes but never your “yes” votes, so vote wisely and carefully. Unless it’s the season premiere of Psych, dinner happens at the dining room table with the TV off. Faces of disgust and retching noises are never allowed after tasting food, no matter how much you swear your guts are going to turn inside out from the utter nastiness of it all.
So I figured today’s List addition simply had to be some sort of fun food, for what it’s worth. I don’t resort to this meal very often because a) it’s a wee bit expensive, b) it involves getting out and (more importantly) cleaning and putting away afterwards two of my catering chafing dishes, and c) it takes forever to eat. This last point is of uber importance right now, because at this stage in their development the kids are getting along famously; however, I fear that spending an extended amount of time within kicking/pinching/elbowing/face making/farting noise/general purposeful annoying distance of each other would not be prudent. However, the kids ask for it often and when I’m feeling particularly “fun” I’ll oblige.
#11. Mongolian Hot Pot, Storm Style (or as the kids like to say, “Mom-golian Hot Pot”)
The first cookbook I owned (ok, stole from my parents my sophomore year at UCLA when I got my own apartment and, ergo, my own kitchen) was called Chinese Cookery by Ken Hom. Over the years I’ve changed his hot pot recipe quite a bit, but I still love Ken’s manner and writing style. That old Chinese Cookery book still sits on one of my cookbook shelves, albeit in pieces and coated in various unidentifiable spills and splatters from the days before I discovered the value in a $5 piece of clear acrylic from Home Depot.
This dish really is a ton of fun, and it gives the kids a chance to craft their own meal their own way. I suggest having something else to do while the food is cooking, though; for example, this is a good trim-the-Christmas-tree-at-the-same-time, or bring-your-homework-to-the-table, or Psych-season-premiere (see above) meal.
Perhaps the coolest part is the sauce-making extravaganza that begins about 15 minutes before the actual meal takes place. I pull out every sort of sauce-making ingredient I can find, give each kid a mixing bowl and a sauce dish (I still have about 20 sauce dishes left from my Chinese Experience Dinner…a subject for a later post), and let them go to town. Find the Mom-golian Hot Pot recipe and sauce-making ideas and suggestions here, on my site.
Now go be fun.
The List currently sits at 11…