Crock Pot

004Barring a strike by support workers, school starts next week.

It’s already starting to get dark earlier and the weather has changed. Our ten month stretch of liquid sunshine (rain for those not on the Wet Coast) has started with a mighty splish splash.

While the onset of fall sends many moms to Wal-Mart hunting for notebooks, pencils and cute school outfits, it inspires me to dig out the Crock Pot and start a hearty stoup–not quite soup and not exactly stew. It’s an obviously homemade creation that’s the best of both.

I don’t use the Crock Pot during the scorching days of summer because it warms up the house too much. It’s psychological heat rather than an actual increase in temperature, but the scent of chicken and vegetables simmering all day is off putting when it’s in the high 20’s outside. When it’s cool and rainy?–Nothing could be better!

Today’s meal is a sloppy tomato, herb and chicken mess. It’s the kind of thing my fussy eater normally wouldn’t touch, but my years of motherhood have taught me a few tricks. I first served it when my boy had a friend over–the youngest of five with two crazy busy parents. This little guy is the kind of kid who’s learned to eat whatever’s put in front of him because no one’s going to cook something special for him if he doesn’t like the first choice.

Our guest dug into my tomato chicken mess with gusto and even asked for seconds. My boy, too embarrassed to order peanut butter toast or spaghetti with butter in front of his friend, actually ate what I cooked and (wonder of wonders!) he liked it!

This brings us to the Sailor’s Woman parenting tip of the day: introduce new foods in front of a peer, preferably one of those delightful children who has been conditioned to eat whatever’s put in front of him because he comes from a big, busy family. Seeing his friend dig into what you’ve so lovingly prepared is often enough to shame your picky eater into eating it, too. It’s the upside to peer pressure.

It may be raining kittens and Chihuahuas outside and I may be missing my sailor, but at least I only had to make one dinner tonight!

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