Food Forethought: How to Make a Grocery List

Apr 7, 2009 by

Grocery basket woman

I once asked my French mother-in-law, Lucienne, how she managed to cook for the crowds when large numbers of her five children’s families descend on the old farmhouse for days or even weeks at a time. Her answer applies equally to managing daily dinners for one’s own little family: “Il suffit de prévoir”: it just takes some planning ahead.

Traditionally, French women, unlike my mother-in-law, are said to make almost-daily trips, on foot, a little basket on her arm, to the corner grocery store, or better yet, to an outdoor farmer’s market where local growers are displaying their just-picked produce, sparkling with dew. This ideal woman is supposed to know how to choose what’s freshest and most appealing,…

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French Kids Don't Get Fat, But Do French Kids Cook?

Mar 17, 2009 by

Kid cooking Jeff, a reader from Portland, asks: “I wonder as I read your blog whether your family chips in on meals . . . or is this a solo activity.

I have found that my daughters, who are 8 and 12, really enjoy chipping in. But since your kids are older, has the novelty worn off for them, as to cooking . . . ?



Reading through my diary from seventh grade recently, I came across some bitter complaining about how my mom had made me do some cooking for dinner. But then I concluded my whining thus: “But I kinda liked it.”

Then once, and only once, in high school, for some reason, I selected my own recipe, Salisbury Steak—basically a hamburger patty in sauce—something I…

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Why and How Long You Should You Wait Before Teaching Your Child the Benefits of Healthy Eating

Mar 11, 2009 by

Kids scared "What’s Eating Our Kids?" asks writer Abby Ellin in a Feb. 25 New York Times article. The answer? "Fears about ‘Bad’ Foods."


Bad food Many American parents are finding out just how effective it can be to bring out the boogey men of diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, along with the goblins of sodium, calories, and trans fats. Anxiety has been found to be an effective motivator. These kids willingly eat what their parents want them to eat. That's what we want, right?

It’s not a bad thing that parents are getting concerned about what their kids are eating. I believe it to be of extreme importance. But the tide of mass carelessness about children’s diets has turned to mass hysteria. While using…

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Dinner Table Pharisees and Born-Again Vegetable Lovers

Mar 10, 2009 by


Keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.  — Proverbs 4:23

“In education, as in religion, it is the motive that counts,” writes educational reformer Charlotte Mason in A Philosophy of Education. Motive is equally important in eating.

As true faith and love that come as gifts of the Holy Spirit are the purest motivators for religious practice or living “by the rules,” curiosity is the most powerful reason for learning. Hunger is the best reason to eat. We might even say those are the only reasons we need.

Phariseeism is doing what we’re supposed to but for wrong or lesser reasons. It’s putting on a show, being a hypocrite. It’s being one thing on…

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How Seasonal Bargains Came Together Quick for a Super-Satisfying, Healthy Meal

Feb 27, 2009 by


Grocery shoppingI went to Central Market yesterday with my list. I was planning to make Curly Endive Salad with Poached Pear, Pecans and Blue Cheese (see previous post for the recipe) that night.

Walking in, I was pleased to see some really nice, fresh looking jumbo asparagus for only $1.99 a pound. With some hollandaise sauce,it would make a scrumptious partner to the salad.

Then I saw they had fresh blueberries and lovely strawberries on sale. Like the asparagus, strawberries must be newly in season, and therefore, not only looking better than usual but also cheaper than usual. I rarely buy either one because…

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