Wild Animal Kingdom

August 10, 2009

The girls almost got a lesson in survival of the fittest per the wild animal kingdom we are cultivating in our back "yard." Neha's bird feeder is attracting all sorts of creatures: amazing birds, squirrels and now a rat. Lovely, yes! But this is Lincoln Park living after all. We have rats and muggers too!

Last week some of you know that I was confronted by a dying squirrel near my back porch. Apparently the birds got to him and gorged out his insides for eating their sunflower seeds. Not to worry - a really nice Polish construction worker from the ally who didn't know what he was getting into helped me coax the dying, squeaking squirrel to the alley. I'm not sure where he went to die.

BUT today Neha came screaming and apparently a little bird had gotten it's head stuck in the bird feeder. How the heck does that happen??? And a squirrel was perched on the balcony ledge waiting to feed off the bird. Likely he saw his buddy's demise last week and wanted some pay back. It didn't help that the feeder is right out our back window and the girls can watch the play-by-play. It didn't help all three of us were screaming at the top of our lungs at the same time.

Not to worry folks, the bird did wiggle itself free and the squirrel ran away. With action like this it's a wonder I even have time to cook let alone write....but I gotta' say, this cooking project is actually taking effect!

I was in the kitchen talking to James and Brennan (before the above incident). They're my buddies and two taste testers who came over to pick up chicken curry. Aria rushed in wearing her lavendar langa (Indian skirt and top) we bought for her in Delhi in April. She pushed me out of the way, pulled open a cabinet and rolled out the bottom drawer.

"I want my crockpot," she stated.

"Why? What are you doing?" I rolled my eyes knowing this would be another clean-up moment.

"I'm making rajmah in my crockpot," she stated. She ran over to another cabinet, pushed James aside, and pulled out the container where I keep the dry kidney beans.

I helped her grab a measuring cup, pour the beans into a bowl, wash them and then put them in the tiny 1-quarter that I've dubbed Aria's crockpot. Then she pulled out my masala dabba (spice box) and when I had my back turned put in her spices of choice. I'm still not sure what she put in there but we'll find out tomorrow when we taste the concoction.

Folks, she's four years old. She's gotten so used to seeing me cook - measure and wash beans that it's now second nature to not only do that but cook as well.

For all you moms of "finicky" eaters out there...keep in mind the first step to turning all of this around is to change your own habits and perceptions of food. Kids when they are very young mimic their parents. If they see you wrinkle your nose eating broccoli likely they won't like it either. If you go to Japanese restaurants weekly with them and feed them edamame and soba noodles like it's no biggie - that's what they'll perceive as "normal." Here's a revelation for you: kids in India eat Indian food. In China they eat Chinese food. In Africa they eat African food. In America they eat crappy food! Why? Because we first and foremost condition them to do that.

Yes, it's more work on us - the parents - but it's worth it. Granted this is not the end all answer, but it's a start. Begin the process of feeding your kids real food and teaching them about real food by eating and appreciating it yourself.

No recipes for the day - just basking in the glory of finally sending out a finished manuscript. Though that doesn't mean I'll stop cooking. I still have to test recipes folks!

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla




August 11, 2009

Do you have any advice for me about getting my daughter to eat grown-up food? I feed her super healthy stuff, but it is all kid friendly- not adult food per se. Ex: plain pasta, broccoli (no sauce), fruit, cheese/yogurt. Advice on working on her to eat more adult food?


August 17, 2009

Watching Aria wash her beans is so funny, she is very meticulous about making sure each bean is perfectly cleaned.

A big welcome to the new familial additions, hopefully these four are survivors. Actually it would be interesting for Neha to start a blog about survival of the fittest, and she can document her experiences with the backyard and her fishbowl.

You are positively correct about children mimicking parents behavior, if you want your children to eat certain foods you simply need to feed it to them. I love when parents feed their children something that a child would perceive as abnormal, and then watch their child to see their reaction. As soon as the child tries a bit of the new food the parents are quick to ask "how is it? do you like it?" of course this will confuse the child enough to make them just not eat it. Don't encourage them to try new foods either, just give it to them like you would give them chicken nuggets. My mother loves vegetables and as a result I ate a lot of them growing up and as an adult I love veggies (especially carrots and cauliflower).

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