Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mealtime Without Many Restrictions

Sienna 1 1/2 years old is talking up a storm already.
On the kitchen counter at the cabin during Easter she exclaimed, "I'm cooking." ("jeg koker")
And she was. Her little hand vigorously swirled the spoon around  in the large red bowl. She took the job very seriously, sitting there in her sleep wear and with more energy than what I find necessary in the early morning hours.

Linnea with her confusion of being trilingual told me when she was little, "Mamma, you are the best "kokerin" in the world. You can "kokke" so well. Koke is the Norwegian "to cook, boil", the "in" at the end was added as we lived in Austria at the time - and words ending with "in" indicates female. Hard to explain. But if you are trilingual, too (English/Norwegian/German), you may understand how funny it sounded.

I'm not at all the best "cooker" in the world, but bless her heart for thinking it was true. And it's probably true in many families: Mother's cooking is wonderful.

I loved my mother's food. When I was away at college and returned home for holidays, I asked my mother to cook three certain dinners for me. And she did. Just like I try to accommodate wishes for my own children when they come home for visits. Now I enjoy having my kids cook for me when I visit. They experiment with fun recipes and serve new meals and new tastes. And they inspire me. They plan their weekly menus and are thrifty and clever with their meal planning.

In my book mealtime is not a hysterical regime. We are grateful to eat every day. The meals are mostly healthy, but allowance for strangeness is alright--and necessary.

So, here are a few pointers--tried and survived:

  • Have a picnic on the floor in the living room on rainy or cold days. Sit on a quilt and have colorful plates and yummy treats.
  • Ride your bicycle to a beautiful place and bring dinner in a backpack.
  • Give everyone trays with their meal to put on their laps.
  • Have your meal in a roundabout (when the police comes, invite them to share the meal with you. It might not turn out that well, but it has been tried).
  • Sit under a canopy outside in the rain.
  • Bring hot dogs on a thermos and hike somewhere.
  • Serve dessert before dinner

This Easter Arnfinn and I went cross-country skiing in the mountains with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier, and found a wonderful place in the sun where we sat for a couple of hours enjoying our hot chocolate, sandwiches and orange.

Then again, in the future I would like to try having a meal in a tree and also lying out in the snow with plenty of blankets and sleeping bags and eat our meal while we discuss the constellations.

Restrictions: breakfast in bed is wonderful--but crumbs on the sheets are off limits.

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