Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
TITLE: The Gnocchi Nudge
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She’d been thinking about it for days. She’d already scrubbed and nuked the sweet potatoes even. Trista was domestically challenged, but that Saturday she actually felt like cooking.
But she didn’t. She spent the afternoon on the computer instead (as usual).
No Christmas dinner either.
Someone nudged her make gnocchi, but she didn’t listen. Maybe Someone also wanted to teach her a lesson.
Trista didn’t pack herself a meal for Christmas at Ma’s. She was used to packing her kids’ food and drinks when they went out, but she wasn’t used to dealing with her own potentially life threatening food allergies.
I can always just grab a bowl of cereal if I have to, she thought. Even if the pasta has natural flavor the meatballs should be ok.
But Trista was too busy chasing the kids to grab a bowl of cereal. And no way was their dad going to miss out on Christmas dinner. Paulie loved food – and had the belly to prove it.
Trista had packed some of Francesco’s favorite allergen-free fries as a treat, and some special snacks and deserts. But the kids just had their normal lunch. Special treats are enough, right?
They had their usual meals on Thanksgiving, too. Trista didn’t have space in her coolers for hot food, too. And bringing quick cold foods the kids would actually eat meant she didn’t have to worry about the cleanliness of other people’s probably contaminated microwaves. Who needs special meals?
Trista and her kids did.
Trista was really looking forward to Ma’s meatballs on Christmas. It was the only red meat Trista ate – maybe once a year.
Luckily, Trista asked Ma, “Do you still have the labels for everything?”
And Ma actually remembered enough about Trista’s many allergies to warn her, “There might be sesame seeds in the meatballs.”
And yup, there it was, right there on the label of the bread crumbs container -- the allergen that Trista was most afraid of.
The lasagna might’ve been ok. But what if she used the same spoon or sauce for the meatballs? It could be contaminated...
So Trista skipped the pasta, too. Better to be safe than to ruin everyone’s Christmas with a trip to the emergency room.
Trista was so bummed to miss out on her old favorites she actually got a bit teary-eyed.
And it didn’t help that Francesco’s worst allergic reaction occurred two years before, on Christmas, at Ma’s house. And that Trista’s little brother brought leftovers from his family’s Christmas Eve fish feast. -- Francesco was supposed to avoid highly allergenic shellfish. So Trista was a somewhat paranoid, and hungry, wreck on Christmas.
For years she’d been more worried about safety and sustenance than culinary sensations. But that Christmas she realized that special meals do matter.
Trista ate some of the safe snacks she’d packed for the kids and herself: whole wheat crackers, unsweetened apple sauce, and a whole grain spinach brownie (yes, spinach. She snuck those veggies in any way she could.) She snagged one of her home made chocolates. But she missed Christmas dinner.
She kept thinking, I should’ve made the gnocchi.
On the way home that day Trista decided, I’ll make my own meatballs. I can even handle the raw meat (gross!), with a fork… or… an ice cream scoop?
She resolved to cook more, real cooking. The kids loved her chapatti bread. They even loved her veggie muffins… But anything they get too often becomes less special.
If she wasn’t too picky about measuring and could be creative (she had to change something in just about every recipe)… cooking was almost fun. -- And the kids loved licking the bowl!
Trista also resolved to belatedly obey the gnocchi nudge.
During Christmas vacation she made whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi, from scratch.
The kids didn’t like it. Francesco took one bite and said, “Yuck.”
Leonardo smelled it, but wouldn’t try it.
They didn’t understand that meals, especially ones containing vegetables, could be a “special thing.”
Trista thought the gnocchi tasted wonderful. And since the kids didn’t want any, she got to eat it all. (Paulie tried it, but he made his own meals. He wasn’t crazy about Trista’s cooking.) But she was learning…
Trista also picked up a couple thermoses. -- So that on Easter she and her kids could bring their own special meals.
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