the beautiful salad my kids did not eat

Dear Jamie Oliver,

I am enjoying your show.

And while I may never truly recover from watching you make a chicken nugget by putting a carcass in a food processor, bones and all, and then squeezing the goo through a strainer–I do feel like sharing that moment with you somehow made me a better person.

You’ve re-inspired me to raise the bar on the stuff I’m cooking.

Which is why we went to the farmers’ market near our house the other day.  And we bought some strawberries.  And then we did a taste test between the farm ones and the grocery-bought.

Try to guess which ones won.  (That’s my wedding china, by the way.  Nice to put it to use!)

We got some lettuce at the farmers’ market that day, too–enormous, gorgeous lettuce!–and made a big salad for dinner.

And then, a couple of days later, I made a pizza from scratch.  And then a pasta dish with spinach and bacon (from one of your books!).  And I’m fixing their lunches from scratch, too, because I do–I really do–want them to grow up with an appreciation for homemade food and fresh, crunchy things.

Sometimes they eat these meals.  And sometimes they don’t.  But they’re helping me cook most nights.  And we’re talking much more about food and what makes it good for you, or not.  And even those times–like tonight–when they wind up rejecting everything and eating cereal for dinner, I know for a fact that I tried.  And with all of this, they’re more taking away a feeling than they are learning anything in particular.

But how beautiful that the feeling that they’re taking away, in the end–what they’re really learning about–is love.

34 responses to “the beautiful salad my kids did not eat”

  1. Gordo says:


    Those meals were yummy.

    I appreciate that in between all your writing, being an amazing mom, and a gorgeous wife, you find time to prepare us meals that literally leave me drooling.

    Oh, and a shout out to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration.

    If I didn’t tell already tell you today, I love you the most.

  2. detes says:

    I want to sit outside and eat that salad and enjoy the spring.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I do SO like your salad, Ma’am. Thankyou thankyou Mom you am.

    P.S. Jamie rocks. So does the luscious Nigella Lawson. Try her poached Swedish salmon and scrumptious spaghetti carbonara. And now I am going to have a bowl of crunchy cornflakes.

  4. Mel says:

    that is such a great post and I want to eat that salad now. And it’s breakfast time here.

  5. I may never eat another Chicken Nugget again in my life, either, KatCent.

    That salad looks delicious.

  6. Shayne says:

    That salad looks deeeeelicious! When we have the time, my boys like to help me cook too. It has made them more adventurous in what they’re willing to try and also helped them be more attuned to WHY they don’t like something (“This is too sweet” is a more valid critique in my book than “Ewwwwww!”).

    And I keep telling them that they’ll be able to impress women later in life if they know how to cook. :)

    • It helps a lot of they see what things are made of! Definitely! And if they “chopped” the tomatoes, then they feel a kind of ownership of them. Even if, as often happens here, chopping just means “stabbing with a dull knife.”

      And, yes–men who can cook rock!

  7. Heather says:

    What a beautiful post. His show has really moved me to. We finally found a CSA that was close enough to justify the ‘food miles’ and I know they’ll have a blast visiting the farm every week. I, myself, already can’t wait to get some beets!

  8. Mindy says:

    this salad looks AWESOME!! i love salads like this… yummy. my boys ate a lot better when we grew the salad and tomatoes ourselves. i’m planning on doing a small salad garden in the dirt bags, this summer. we are renting and i don’t want to plant anything in the ground that i can’t take with me if we have to move.

    and also… chicken nuggets… food processor… BONES… yuck. i don’t eat chicken nuggets ever and now i NEVER will 😉

  9. Helen says:

    Those photos are beautiful! You’ve inspired me. And you are a wonderful Mom! One day your kids will be inspired to make you dinner, and I can’t wait to see the menu!

    Maybe it’s time for a vegetable or herb garden in the backyard?

  10. sara says:

    LOVE this so much. So sweet and you are so right on in your intentions. I agree, teh chicken carcas thing was pretty gross. The food looks great, wish your family the best ~

  11. Rachel @ Suburban Yogini says:

    Hi there – I came across your blog via Twitter. Just wanted to say I LOVE this post. Jamie is a bit of a national institution in the UK and it makes me so happy he’s fighting the good right over the Atlantic.

    Great post and great blog :)


    • Hi Rachel!
      I know! I have dear friend who is British (though living in Texas, where I am) and the other week I asked her if she’d ever heard of Jamie Oliver. And she burst out laughing and showed me a whole shelf full of cookbooks. I love what he’s doing, and I hope the U.S. is up for it.

  12. nicole says:

    This is so lovely — and the photos …!

  13. Mark says:

    Lovely post. I know I love cooking with and for my son. And more often than not, he eats it, but frequently not. It’s a constant struggle. But always worth it. It’s about learning, sharing, and loving. That will make all the difference. Only if we could all do it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Stacie d says:

    I really relate! My son has been going tough a very picky phase — sometimes it’s tough to stay motivated. But like you, I’m committed to bringing my family together around cooking and eating great food — and having as much fun as possible in the process. You go!

    • The picky phases are so tough! On the one hand, I’m fine with it–and I know it’s just a part of growing up and learning what you like and who you are. On the other hand, I’m like, “It’s a cucumber! Just eat it!” Which sometimes they do!

  15. Great story! When I was a little one I begged for sponge-like white bread, sugar cereals, and soda. My parents said no. Now I’m all grown up. I can do whatever I like and I have zero interest in any of these items. You are making a difference in the lives of your children, you just might not see how big that difference is until later in life. Way to go.

  16. LLH Designs says:

    Way to go and keep it up! It’s totally and completely worth it! The kids will catch on in time and will have a much healthier relationship with food because of what you’re doing (not to mention healthier bodies and brains!). ♥ Linsey

  17. LLH Designs says:

    And BTW…we did the exact same strawberry experiment! I just wish that Atkinson Farms (where I bought those berries) didn’t use herbicides and pesticides. Just found that out yesterday when I asked them, so I’ll be looking for another way to get fresh strawberries SANS chemicals. Hooray for farm fresh, though!

  18. Julie-O says:

    Last week was a blur, so I missed this post BEFORE meeting you at TLA in SA, or I would have commented on it.

    Speaking of last week-
    Managing a quite credible woman-who-needs-a-keeper imitation, I managed to forget to give you and Ingrid Law and Elizabeth Berg the Thank You/Hospitality bags that we provided for you, so, if you don’t mind, I’ll just hold on to yours until you get to New Braunfels for the NB Library Foundation luncheon next week, and give it to you then…

    Couldn’t help thinking of you when Adriana Trigiani spoke on Saturday, and how I wished I had urged you to come back for her talk! She’s something else!

  19. LOVE.

    I wish we had a farmers market. I’m still searching for somewhere to buy fresh produce.

    ‘learning love’ ~ YES!

  20. Jean at The Delightful Repast says:

    Living in Texas. Fan of a British chef. I daresay you would feel right at home at my table. I incorporate a lot of my two grandmothers (one Southern, one English) into my cooking. So glad to see more mothers now recognizing the importance of “the family dinner” and growing, shopping for and cooking wholesome food with their children. PS Start putting that beautiful wedding china to use. What are you saving it for? Doesn’t your family deserve the best?

  21. Miss K says:

    That chicken carcass was truly scarring! I just wanted to chime in that you are doing a great thing!

  22. Great post. I have learned to cook what I want to eat, and if they don’t like it, they can make themselves a sandwich. There are so many fabulous things to eat.

  23. Rebecca says:

    If they won’t eat it, invite me over. I’d eat it! Yummmmm