10 June 2010

Guest Post: Aviva Goldfarb on Life with a Cookbook Author

Last Saturday I introduced you to Aviva Goldfarb and her terrific new cookbook SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue. In that post, I shared Aviva's recipe for Mango Black Bean Salad and told you about a great giveaway to win both a copy of the book and a 3-month subscription to Aviva's Six-O'Clock Scramble program, an online dinner-planning service.

Today I have the pleasure to welcome Aviva to Beth Fish Reads. I asked her to tell us about how her family--especially her children--have adjusted to living with with a cookbook author.

My Poor Lucky Family: Life in a House Where Each Dinner Is an Adventure

When I tell people that I write cookbooks and share recipes for a living, they frequently respond that my family is so lucky that they have a mom who loves to cook! I’m pretty sure that overall my family would agree. But it’s not always a slice of heaven to have a mom who makes something different every night.

My husband has a huge appetite and loves to come home from work to enjoy a fresh meal. When he’s thinking of working late, sometimes I lure him home by mentioning what’s on the menu:

  • Andrew: I have so much to do. I might have to work late tonight.
  • Me: Oh, too bad you can’t make it because I’m making Soba Noodle Soup with Snow Peas, Coconut-Lime Crusted Tofu, and an arugula salad with oranges and toasted walnuts.
  • Andrew: Actually, maybe I can just finish up my work at home after dinner.
  • Me: Thought so.
My kids, on the other hand, often ask me what we’re having with a note of apprehension in their voices.
  • Solomon or Celia: Um, mom, what’s for dinner?
  • Me: I’m trying a new recipe tonight! It’s Fiesta Casserole with turkey and vegetables and a cornbread crust. It sounds so good!
  • Kids: Uh, are you making bread, too?
  • Me: No, not tonight, but we will have a tomato and cucumber salad!
  • Kids: Oh, okay, I’m not very hungry anyways. [Usually said while backing away.]
When dinnertime rolls around, the kids are usually good sports about at least trying whatever new dish I set in front of them, and often they find it’s a lot better than they feared. Because I’ve been creating and testing recipes for most of their lives, they’ve learned to keep an open mind, even if the dish doesn’t look at first something they would enjoy eating.

One of my favorite parts of testing recipes with my family is when the kids discover that they like something they didn’t necessarily expect to enjoy. One of my eleven-year-old daughter Celia’s favorite things in the world has always been pasta with just a little olive oil or butter and Parmesan cheese. So whenever she sees me making an “interesting” sauce, she can barely mask her disappointment. That’s why I was so thrilled a few weeks ago when she helped herself to her third serving of Fettuccine with Artichokes, Roasted Peppers & Pine Nuts.

Our son, Solomon, used to be an incredibly picky and light eater, which would be very frustrating to any parent but especially one who loves food so much that she made cooking her profession. Over the years, through repeated exposure to so many foods, Solomon, who is now thirteen, has become a wonderfully adventurous eater. I knew we had come far from his food-averse days when he had a second helping of my healthy and hearty Lentil Stew with Bacon, over which he had drizzled a few drops of a Costa Rican hot pepper sauce we love, called Marie Sharps.

No matter what we’re eating, my family always makes dinner time together a priority. These days, dinner is usually the only time that all four of us are in the same room, at least without anyone being distracted by screens or phones. This sacred time together gives us a chance to connect with each other and detach from our to-do lists, homework and other daily pressures.

I’m pretty hopeful that all the healthy and delicious meals I cook for my family are going to be a part of their warm childhood memories, rather than the cause of many mental scars. And I’m sure that no matter what I’m serving, we are all nourished by this time together.

I can imagine that there are some evenings of great doubt for the kids. One of the things I love about your recipes (as I mentioned last week) are the tips you give at the end. Often they include great advice for families with less-adventuresome eaters. I am fortunate because my husband loves to eat and is willing to try pretty much anything. That's a good thing because I don't often make the same thing twice.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway and visit Aviva's website.

Aviva Goldfarb is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble®, an online weekly menu planner and cookbook (St. Martin's Press, 2006), and is author of the new cookbook, SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families (St. Martin’s Press, 2010).


Julie P. 6/10/10, 6:47 AM  

I have the first 6:00 Scramble book and it has some terrific fast, easy and healthy recipes!

JoAnn 6/10/10, 7:02 AM  

I had to laugh because my husband will do the same thing - check on the dinner menu, THEN decide whether to work late or go in early the next day! My library doesn't have the Six O'clock Scramble books, but I'll check them out next time I'm in B&N (which may even be later today!).

Eva 6/10/10, 9:02 AM  

Neither of my parents enjoy cooking, whereas I do, so I often cook dinner for all of us. They're not the most adventurous eaters, though, so I definitely get the 'back away slowly' reaction sometimes! hehe

Serena 6/10/10, 9:36 AM  

I read and reviewed this cookbook earlier and just love the recipes. I would love to take a break and have the hubby pick something to cook from it, but alas, it is all me! LOL

The recipes are great and I love the "green" tips she gives.

bermudaonion 6/10/10, 9:37 AM  

Oh my gosh, both Carl and Vance would be in heaven if I tried a new recipe every night!

Aarti 6/10/10, 10:15 AM  

My mom is a great cook, but she doesn't enjoy the act of cooking very much. I think now that I'm more into it, she has been revitalized. My sister, too, didn't used to cook much but since I'm really into it, she has gotten more into it as well. I REALLY enjoy it. I absolutely agree with the author that it's a wonderful way to bring a family together. And to try new things in a safe environment :-)

Robin M 6/10/10, 4:52 PM  

My husband used to do the same thing before James was born. Ask what we were having and suddenly not be hungry. Now he has to set a good example for my son and try whatever I cook. Hee hee!! I'll have to check out her book..we've gotten into a food rut lately.

Anonymous,  6/10/10, 6:18 PM  

My boyfriend is a very unadventurous eater. He'd probably be happy with the same menu every night. Too bad he didn't grow up in Aviva's house!

Helen's Book Blog 6/10/10, 7:09 PM  

Yay Aviva! I grew up with Aviva and her siblings so have known about the Six O'Clock Scramble and her cookbooks for a long time! They are awesome

Heather 6/10/10, 8:30 PM  

I made the Black Bean and Mango salad this week. It was great. Next time I'll use bigger or more mangos. I ate it for both dinner and for breakfast. Wonderfully filling. Thank-you.

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