Oh, You’re Two!

Polenta with fresh corn, carrots and zucchini with a fried egg

For this week’s Monday Meal, I’m not sharing one of my original recipes. Instead, I’m sharing a recipe for polenta that I make fairly regularly for dinner. The original recipe, by Peter Berley, is adaptable to any season and can be made using staples from the fridge and pantry so I make it all year long with a few little revisions of my own. But I must confess that this week’s Monday Meal has some ulterior motives, too. It just so happens that when I made this recipe recently, Eliana had one of her “totally toddler” moments that can occur around food and I was able to document all 21 photos of the insanity that ensued. You see, here in the teeny tiny foodie home we too have drama-filled meals with a toddler yelling and screaming and a parent bartering and trying very hard not to yell and/or scream, too. (I live with Sybil, I tell you). So, since it seems appropriate given her antics, I’m using this post to not only share the recipe, but to also take this opportunity to show you photos of her acting like a nutcase and to answer a couple of questions I’m frequently asked regarding Eliana’s eating habits, too. Here goes!

FAQ 1: Is there anything Eliana doesn’t like to eat?

Yes. One thing Eliana consistently rejects is dried fruit. She will often try it, which I love, but then it comes right back out of her mouth. So, I’ve stopped adding dried fruit to our granola and I just mix it into a serving of granola for myself or for my husband if we want dried fruit in our granola.

FAQ 2: Does Eliana eat everything she is served all the time?

No. I said ‘consistently rejects’ in the previous answer because as a 2-year old, it isn’t uncommon for Eliana to claim, “No! No like it!” before she’s even seen the plate much less tried something on it. But, I’ve found that her claims are inconsistent. She might like something one minute and not the next (or vice versa) or gobble something up when it is served to her on one day and eat only one bite on another day. I attribute these behaviors to being a toddler. At this point in her life, I attribute all of her wacky, inconsistent and unable-to-be explained behavior to the fact that she is a 2-year old.

The early childhood teacher in me knows that there is a lot of information about the world coming at a toddler all at once. And, the effort to make sense of it all can be really confusing and overwhelming. So, sometimes toddlers shutdown and meltdown and become mini-monsters all in a heartbeat. The “Mommy” in me can have a hard time remembering all that and tries very hard  not to yell out loud, “WTF??!! Why are you doing this?” which is in my head when we are having a perfectly happy time and the next moment, with no warning, Eliana becomes her own version of Mr. Hyde and throws herself on the ground and starts screaming or some other behavior that is equally odd and out of context. (Did I tell you she is hard at work practicing for her Academy Award for Best {teeny tiny} Dramatic Actress?). Since she acts this wacky way about life in general it doesn’t surprise me that she acts this way about food, too as food and eating are part of life. Honestly, Eliana is such a nutcase that I’ve stopped wasting my time by asking, “What happened?” My new response to everything she does these days, the good, the bad, the ridiculously cute, the insane, the funny and the ugly is: Oh, you’re two.

Sigh. A lot of deep breaths and some wine in the evening helps, too.

So, beyond my intention to introduce you to a great recipe, I chose to share this recipe for polenta from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley today in order to share photos from Eliana’s total 2-year old moment around this recipe when I made it most recently. She “hated it” before she tasted it, finally tried it and proclaimed it to be, “Yummy!” and then decided she didn’t like it again. Oh, you’re two! 

Before the recipe, I want to let you know a few ways I’ve revised this recipe:

  • 1. Peter’s recipe calls for fresh corn. I’ve used drained canned corn instead and it works well here, too. Just look for brands without too much added sugar or sodium.
  • 2. Other raw, fresh vegetables I’ve used instead of corn are: grated or finely diced carrots, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, and grated zucchini or yellow squash. In the photos below, I was trying to empty the vegetable drawer and used a mix of corn, carrots and zucchini.
  • 3. Peter shares a recipe for homemade tomato sauce, too. I’ve included two links to recipes for tomato sauce I make. One uses fresh tomatoes and the other uses canned tomatoes. Those recipes are after the recipe for polenta. Alternatively, you can use jarred marinara sauce. Again, I recommend you choose a brand with little added sugar and sodium.
  • 4. When I cook dinner, I often cook extra or double a recipe so there are leftovers for my husband to take to work and for Eliana and I to eat for lunch the next day. I usually double the recipe below so we have extra.
  • 5. I often top the polenta and tomato sauce with a fried egg, which Peter suggests as a way to enhance this meal.

 

Peter Berely's Fresh Corn Polenta

I can’t help it. I’m a literacy nerd and I write in and put post-its on all my books.

 

  • My Barely Revised Take on Peter Berley’s Fresh Corn Polenta
  • Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  • -1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • -1-2 pinches sea salt
  • -1 large or 2 medium ears of fresh corn, kernels scraped off the cob (around 1 cup) OR whatever vegetables you’d prefer to use
  • -1 cup ground polenta (not “instant”)
  • -3 cups water
  • -Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated, to taste

 

Preparation:

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the butter and salt. Stir in the polenta and corn and keep stirring until the water returns to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the polenta for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is thick and smooth. Don’t forget to stir the polenta often. I’ve made the mistake of not stirring it enough and it gets lumpy.

Divide the polenta among four large plates and top with shredded or grated parmesan, tomato sauce and, if desired, a fried egg.

Top again with a bit more parmesan, if desired.

Polenta with corn, carrots and zucchini

 

Click here for a recipe for Tomato Sauce using Fresh Tomatoes and click here for a recipe for Tomato Sauce using Canned Tomatoes. Alternatively, you can use jarred marinara sauce, too.

Does Eliana like this recipe? Usually, she does. Below is “Dinner in 9 Frames.” It’s a photo essay exemplifying why I respond to everything she does these days with: Oh, you’re two. (Sigh).

 

Toddler eating polenta in 9 frames

I don’t want polenta! I don’t like polenta! Oh, you mean this polenta? Oh, okay.
Let me try this, here. Ooh, yum! Hey, give me the fork, will ya?
Nomnomnom… So, so, so, so yummy… Wait! But, I DON’T LIKE POLENTA ANYMORE!!!

 

Does meal time ever look similar in your home? Thank goodness these strange little people are cute, right?

 

Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Oh, You’re Two!

  1. […] We’ve Been Eating Together. Typically, the meal our family shares together is breakfast. Sometimes it’s a quick breakfast to prepare like cereal or sometimes it’s a little more involved like eggs, toast and fruit. But either way, we try to sit down and talk and model proper eating habits like using a utensil or wiping your hands on a napkin rather than shaking them vigorously in an attempt to clean them off. I like this time not only as family time but eating together also gives me a chance to show Eliana that I at least taste all the different foods on my plate before deciding I don’t like them. Often, she just wants to do what my husband and I are doing. So if we are eating eggs for breakfast, she will likely try them, too. However, she is almost 2½ and very “willful” so lately, some mealtime are a bit, um, challenging. […]

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