Expanding the taste bud frontier

bacon butties

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Earwigging the wise

Please scroll down for Smiley Saturday / SOOC

“It’s just grossly unfair! Don ya know how lucky you are?”
“Me? I am be lucky?”
“Yeah. You sure are the luckiest kid I ever knew.”
“I am be lucky?”
“Yeah. Jus tell me this. What other kid on the planet get to eat chocolate every day? Huh? Well?”
“Right! You. Just you. Only you. Nobody else on the planet gets to eat chocolate every day. It’s just not fair.”
“Not fair?”
“No! In fact…..now I come to think of it you get chocolate more than once a day…..you get your chocolate in your Advent Calendar, sometimes you get Nutella sandwiches and you always get chocolate pudding if you eat the other crap.”
“Food you don’t like.”

All too often I need an independent third party perspective on domestic matters. I believe we have reached the point where we need to scale down chocolate consumption, now that a more broadly based diet has been “generalized.”

Here’s an update on that one:-

11. Sat – wholewheat pizza with pepperoni, mozzarella and spinach, bean burrito
12. Teriyaki chicken, chard and brown rice
13. Custard filled éclairs
14. Cut apple pieces
15. Shredded gem lettuce, grated raw carrot, chopped tomatoes, sunflower seeds, Chinese dressing and terryaki chicken
16. Vanilla pudding with chocolate chips
17. Thai chicken curry [mild] steamed greens brown rice
18. Macaroni with fresh chopped tomatoes, garlic, spring [green onions], sautéed celery, carrot and onion
19. First ever whole [small] slice of pizza [red pepper, onion, tomatoe, spinache and chese]
20. Macaroni and beef ravioli, egg nog
21. A prune!
22. Lemon pepper pappardell, onions, garlic, and bacon
23. Pumpkin and coconut bread
24. 3 prunes
25. Popcorn
26. Toasted open cheddar cheese sandwich [first ever toast]
27. Fresh apple slices [skin on]
28. Non chilli chilli with mashed potatoes and white French bread
29. One scoop of TJ’s sun dried tomato and pesto torta on one tortilla chip
30. Meatloaf and gravy, scalloped potatoes and mixed [frozen] vegetables
31. Chilli with kidney beans [mild] with mashed potatoes and mixed [frozen] vegetables – new phrase = chew it or you’ll choke!
32. Mushroom gnocchi [2] large pasta shells with spinach and mushroom
33. Hot dog in white hot dog bun [half]

One taste, teaspoon or half teaspoon of each of the following
34. Roast potato
35. Roast parsnip with rosemary
36. Garlic mushroom
37. Sautéed crook neck squash and courgettes
38. Pureed sweet potatoes
39. Pureed carrots
40. Pureed swede
41. Cauliflower in bechamel
42. White Corn on the cob
43. Brussel sprouts and chestnuts
44. Creamed spinach and toasted almonds
45. Green beans
46. Leeks in white sauce
47. Pearl onions in cheese sauce
48. Steamed brocolli
49. Sausage
50. Bacon
51. Turkey
52. Gravy
53. Cranberry and orange sauce
54. Chestnut stuffing
55. Parsley stuffing
56. Yorkshire pudding
57. Cornbread muffin [Owen’s recipe]
58. Cinnamon raisin English muffin toasted with butter [scored 7!}
59. Home-made meat loaf and gravy, pureed carrots, creamed spinach and leeks with pearl onions
60. Pecan pie and cream
61. Couscous and apricot turkey tangine
62. Whole pasta, pesto, garlic, prawns [shrimp]
63. Apricot sausages, mashed potato, half a brussel sprout, leek, sweet potato
64. Savoury turkey croquettes, spinach nuggets, sweet potato, mashed swede [rutabaga] marinara sauce
65. Wholewheat English muffin with nutella Toasted!
66. Turkey meatballs, marinara sauce [with spinach] and fettucine
67. Sticky Toffee Pudding
68. Roasted pepper and tomato soup, sausage roll, crab cake, cheese quiche, mushroom turnover.
69. Cinnamon raisin toast with butter [one third of a slice!]
70. Campbells chicken and stars soup [small cup] TJ’s individual mini cheese tomato and pepperoni pizza = all of it
71. home made shepherds pie with frozen peas, much lower level of protest [apart from the poisonous peas] Half slice of home baked bread and smear of poisonous butter
72. ‘spicy’ peanut cabbage, bacon, onion, spinach scramble

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SOOC Smiley Saturday – another brilliant idea by someone

Slurping Life

We have had food fights around here for many a long year, a battle of wills I thought. As usual, as it turned out, I thought quite wrongly. It was not a battle of wills but something quite different indeed. It was neophobia, a fear of new foods. Once I discovered this mind changing fact, I changed my mind, my attitude and my approach.

At that time my young wee neophobe was very fond of the alphabet and numbers. He also had any number of hard and fast rules. One of his hard and fast rules was that he would only eat or drink from particular pieces of crockery, one bowl and one plastic cup. As a busy old mum, I found this most inconvenient as I was always challenged in the washing up department. If the particular bowl or cup were unavailable, soaking perhaps, or in the dish washer, he quite simply would not eat or drink until they reappeared.

Being of a somewhat laxidaisical frame of mind in the housework department, I recalled that in my own youth I was also fond of a particular bowl, one iwht a rabbit at the bottom. The bowl would be full of whatever, but bit by bit, spoonful by spoonful, ever so gradually, the tide would fall and the bunny, in all it's gloriousness, would be revealed. With this recollection, I had yet another brilliant idea. I would fashion a bowl to tempt my neophobe to do likewise. It was genetic. It was bound to be a sure fired solution to the food problem. I played on his passion and exploited it ruthlessly.

Pottery is a time consuming business, but after a few weeks and several attempts, I eventually managed to produce a bowl with a tempting array of the alphabet on the rim and a semi icon on the bottom. On the bottom, under the food, were the letters 'E M P T Y.' How could anyone resist those adorable capitals, because as we all know, capitals are always especially adorable.

I presented the bowl, whilst empty to my youngest son and he was indeed delighted with the bowl, or rather the letters on the bowl. I permitted him to carry it around for a few days, clutched to his chest to familiarize himself with his new acquisition. He put dinosaurs in it, counted them in, counted them out. All was going spiffingly to plan.

One morning, inauguration morning, I filled the alphabet bowl with baby oatmeal, the gluten free, casein free variety of oatmeal that would clear out his little intestinal system, add no end of beneficial nutrition to his three only food diet and all would be well. I beamed at my beloved, soon to be no longer a neophobic son. He, on the other hand, did not look at me. He looked at his bowl, full of unaccustomed slime, but I had anticipated protest, I was used to the yelling, I knew he'd run away.

I did not know that he would upend the bowl and empty it. But I still have a lot to learn.

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

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Fruit cake Sugar Rush

“Agh! I am die!” he flops on the kitchen floor in a fine rendition of faint.
“What's up dear?”
“I can be eating dah poison cakes.”
“Oh that's o.k. they're not for us.”
“I am not eating dah fruit cake?”
“No. They're for the school and anyway they're not fruit cakes.”
“You are be poison my school!”
“No, no, no. No poison, just little cakes for the bake sale to raise revenue.”
“Um…..make money for the school. People pay money for the cakes and the money goes to the school.”
“People's are be paying for poison? Dat is insane!”
“They're not poison,er…..poisoned, just cake.”
“Cake wiv poison fruit.”
“Oh those are just decorations made out of sugar. They're not real fruit per se…..not really real fruit.”
“Dey are real fruit cakes?”
“No. Americans are afraid of fruit cakes…..er…..I mean……American's don't like fruit cake and there is no fruit anyway.”
“Dey are leaf cakes?”
“It's a leaf decoration not a real leaf.”
“Dey are apple cakes?”
“Decorations! Anyway, they're really lemon cakes.”
“Lemons is fruits.” I put the icing bag down to take a closer look at Mr. Logic.
“The point is……..you don't have to worry about them because you are not going to have to eat them.”
“Dey are not being my new food for dah day?”
“Dey are sugar.”
“I am like sugar?”
“Er……you like chocolate.”
“I am not like sugar?”
“Well…..I don't think you've ever eaten sugar…..as such.”
“Maybe I am try to be eat dah sugar today as my new food?”
“I don't think sugar counts as a food.”
“Maybe I can eat a sugar leaf coz I am a vegetarian?”
“Great idea, but no. I need all my leaves.”
“No leaf for me?”
“No. I don't have enough.” I look at him. I dither. Should I? Shouldn't I? I am saved from having to make a decision as he skips off on a project of his own. I stack the boxes on a tray on the table and start the mountain of sticky washing up, behind with the laundry, skipping homework, overdue with supper preparations and generally dilatory on all scheduled routines. My daughter appears as I pop individual cakes and biscuits into individual containers because of germs or some such nonsense designed to drive busy people barmy, “Mom when's supper?”
“Ooo I'm not sure.”
“Whatur we havin?”
“Take a look and the board and tell me, I have absolutely no idea.”
“What's what dear?”
“It says 'new food.'”
“Does it? That's not very helpful. I wonder what I was thinking?” I step away from the sink, dry my hands on my jeans and peer through spotty bifocals, “who wrote that anyway I wonder?”
“You din write it?”
“No. Where is he?”
“He's in Nonna's room. He's pretending to be an ant.”
“Ah…..that's alright then.”
“Is he supposed to be eatin candy before dinner?”
“No he most certainly is not.” I march to Nonna's room, past the table with the cake boxes, with a glance back. The boxes have moved! I whiz on to intervene before his appetite dwindles too far to accept tonight's offering, “what are you doing under there Sonny Jim!”
“I am being dah ant. I am being my ant in my ant nest.”
“What are you eating young man? Halloween candy?”
“I am not eat, I am nibble.”
“What are you nibbling?”
“Leafs. I am being dah leaf cutter ant.”

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I have to whisper, because you know I wouldn’t like to jinx it, but I wanted to share something with you, the week just past, because this is the weekend when we can share secrets, if we share them very quietly, so that you know who doesn’t get wind of it.

Here’s a few things:-
1. California shrimp sushi rolls
2. Pot stickers one shrimp one pork
3. Fish sticks, peas, corn, mashed potatoes and one micro dot of tomato sauce
4. Home made [white] bread
5. Egg and potato curry with coconut milk carrots, onions and celery
6. bread and butter pudding with marmalade [a bit like French toast]
7. wed  10/12/08 chicken corn enchiladas, peas, sloppy joes with lentils and tomatoes, spinach nuggets
8. thur  golden carrots, mashed potato, sausage, tomato sauce, sorrel
9. Fri  white fish fillets [breadcrumbed], red chard, rosemary potato chips, salad, avocado sushi rolls
10. Sat  wholewheat pizza with pepperoni, mozzarella and spinach, bean burrito.

These are some of the things that entered my son’s mouth and were swallowed, only a teaspoonful of each one of course, but I suspect, although it’s too soon to say with any certainty, that I may have lost my neophobe, possibly. They remained in his digestive system. The screams were more habit than painful, you know, the lowest common denominator, if in doubt ˜yell your head off,’ but he stayed in his chair. As he chewed, sort of, he examined his biceps waiting for them to grow, which they surely are? All in all, I think we are entering an entirely new phase of life, growth and change. To date none of the ˜new foods’ has rated anything higher than a 3 out of 10. Most are zero, or minus infinity, but all the same, what do you think? He’s nearly 8. We’ve been at this for five years. Is it really possible? Is that how long it takes for some people? Every day exposure for 365 days times five? To desensitize them? So now I’m wondering, maybe, just maybe, in the future, say in, what?……five years, perhaps food might be a source of pleasure? Am I jinxing him? Am I getting ahead of myself? Will I have to delete this tomorrow? Oooo pushy parents! In the meantime, please send emergency supplies of toilet paper, urgent!

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Picky eaters, and then some!

Picky Eaters Club

Many parents share a common goal, something along the lines of, ‘please let my child reach the age of majority and live a happy healthy life.’

Others, more ambitious parents, a few of them, focus on the “details.”

“Food and fun”

If ever there were two words that don't go together, then these two would be my first choice. I should have the picky eater logo tattooed on my forehead. I swear I have read every book ever published on the subject, or if not 'swear' as I have a tendency to exaggerate, then certainly a great many.

You see I am the mother of a neophobe, a person who eats less than 20 foods.

What does this mean?

Well……when did you last see a child [or adult?] who had a meltdown at the prospect of eating an ice-cream, or a chocolate chip cookie, or chocolate or candy……? Do those children exist? Yes, they surely do.

The first step towards helping your child expand their diet is to relinquish control. Control must be passed to the child without reservations, although hesitation and doubt is permitted.

The second step in any successful de-sensitization plan is to extinguish the connection between 'food' and 'eating.' This is where 'food is fun' comes into it's own.

For many people 'food' is fearful because it has to be eaten. Therefore, if you do not have to eat it, there is the possibility of extracting fun. Once fun has been extracted, by fair means or foul, food is no longer the enemy. When food is no longer the enemy there is the hopeful possibility that additional consumption might become a reality.

I can see 'doubt' writ large, but I can promise you that this approach will help make meal times less traumatic. There may not be very much more eating, but less trauma is definitely worth fighting for.

So where to start?

This will depend upon your child and you are the one that knows them best.

I can catalogue an endless campaign of ways to play with your food, some that will be familiar and others that are a little more obscure, but the ability to touch the food with hands should never be under-estimated. The inability to hold a utensil can be put on the back burner.

Bear in mind that the food, whichever you choose, may look horrible, smell disgusting, feel abhorrent and sound revolting when it is cut or squished. This is because food involves ALL of our senses.

I could write more, several volumes in fact, but I shall leave you with a selection of photographs that suggest a few of the endless possibilities available to us and our children, on their journey to accepting that food is our friend and starvation must be staved.

First we learn to tolerate touching the food.

Although some are easier than others.

We have a jello theme here = dino rescue!

No it’s not a disgusting vegetable it’s a toothbrush.

It’s one thing to touch it with a finger, quite another to hold it….. count to three before you chuck it!

It’s the basic principle that counts.

It’s one thing to hold jello, quite another to hold a genuine vegetable but we will generalize or bust.

Practice with something safe.

Is this real? No there’s Nutella smeared on the other side, but we still make contact!

Apple bobbing in Lemonade, might just take the edge off.

Ultimate control, every neophobe should have at least one. This was probably the hardest step for me and the most important one for him because it gave him real control. A designated ‘spit’ bowl means that once the food is in his mouth, he is able to reject it. No-one will force him to swallow. That first assault on those thousands of receptors is a challenge of taste, texture and temperature with every new food. The inside of our mouths, surely the most sensitive area, where a mouth ulcer the size of a pin head feels like an unexploded bomb. With continued exposure, repetition, the new food loses it status as new, becomes more familiar and may eventually be eaten.

From 3 to 17 foods in four years………….

………desensitization is a work in progress, the trick is to make the ‘work’ fun!


My good pal “Kristina” from “Autism Vox” suggested we pass this on to any interested parties………..

Hi “Kristina,”

This is Josh Levy, Managing Editor of “Change.org,” a social action blog network that just launched more than 12 blogs last month covering issues such as global warming, homelessness, and genocide. (You can see the full list here: “www.change.org”/causes).

I wanted to get in touch because we’re preparing to launch an autism blog next month and I was hoping you might know of someone that would be good for the position.

We’re looking for someone who is knowledgeable, passionate about the issue, and who can blog like a pro. The position is part-time and paid ($1000/mo).

I’ve pasted a job description below. I’d really appreciate it if you would consider forwarding it to anyone you think might be interested. We’d also love it if you would consider posting a short announcement on your blog; we’re trying to reach out to as many people in the autism activism community as possible and I’m hoping this is something your readers might be interested in.

Thanks so much for the help!

Josh Levy
Managing Editor

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For some reason I am compelled into another pointless debate with my children.

“They're just steak fries really.”
“Mom! They're green. You can't eat green potatoes, that's bad!”
“They're green because of the parsley and Rosemary. Parsley potatoes.”
Ghastly potatoes? Dey are for Halloween?”
“Not 'ghastly,' PARSLEY!”
“Sounds like 'ghostly!” she sniggers, the kind of snigger that is infectious amongst certain juvenile people.
“They're highly nutritious, very good for you.”
“I am be eat dah nutritious foods too.” I glare at my youngest child, he who eats only 17 foods.
“Really! Well you do eat fries I suppose. Maybe you could eat a green fry? It could be your new food for the week.”
“See, I knew you were just teasing me.”
“It don't have one.”
“It don't…….it doesn't have one what dear?”
“It don't have one box.”
“Box? What kind of a box?”
“A box dat is saying dah nutritional content. I am only eat dah food wiv dah box.”
“Great. So that effectively means that you won't eat anything home-made, only over processed, store bought food!”

I pout.

He says nothing.

Everyone else sniggers.

He grins hugely.

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Mass Exodus

I spend an inordinate amount of time creating bite sized, bone-free fish balls. They contain attractive flecks of delicate chives, a high percentage of caramelized onions and the smoothest consistency that the Magimix could manage. I decide to play fair and tell them that they are indeed made of fish. The victims look at them with an air of despair.

“I think I'm gonna be a vegetarian startin……right now.”
“No….I am bein dah vegetarian in dis family,” he says sputtering cracker crumbs, exempt from this particular experiment.
“But you like fish fingers.”
Sticks mom, they're called fish sticks out here.”
“Sticks, fingers, balls, they're all the same. You like them. These are just round sticks without the crumbs.”
“Dah crumbs I like. Dah fish is……..?”
“Diabolical,” adds his little brother with glee and not a jot of sympathy.
“Just think of it as brain food. I can't think why you don't love fish. I love fish. All fish, any fish. I think I'd drop down dead if I couldn't eat fish.”
They both look at me awaiting my downfall with pleasant anticipation. They wait silently. “Just give them a try. Be brave. It's good to try new things, new food, you never know you might just like them.” I fizzle out as my script is over-used and tatty at the edges.
“I wan……can I have…….is…..dere any ketchup?”
I stomp off to the fridge in defeat. He empties half a bottle of sauce over one fish ball and sniffs.
“We're going to have fish once a week, at least, from now on.”
“It is being dah new rule?”
“Er…yes…..good point. The new rule is 'fish on Friday.'”

I beam, smug. We shall join the ranks of the majority at last, by hook or by crook.

“Dat's good!” he cooes as he stands, turns on his heel and wanders off with his sister close behind him, “hey, hang on a minute you two. Just where do you think you are going?”
“You said Friday Mom, today's Thursday,” she mutters over her shoulder. I pout at the one remaining child left behind, still munching his way through several tonnes of Goldfish Crackers, “I am love,” he beams.
“Yes…….I know you love Goldfish dear.”
“I am have a huge brain.”
“I am have fish on Friday. I am have fish every day. I am love my new food.”

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Peanut Butter Bumpkins

Stage one

We make them together, although she has the impression of independence.

Her creation would fail most nutritional examinations but it a triumph of visual delight.

Stage two

She reveals her handiwork to the boys for their approval.

We have already discussed her presentation in advance. On no account should the 'trigger word,' peanut butter be mentioned.

“Ta dah!” she beams!
“Dey are being pumpkins?”
“No they're candy. I made em for ya! All by myself!
“You are being dah awesome chef.”
“You're gonna love em. They're made of……..….food colouring, frosting, butter and………..confectioner's sugar. Mostly sugar really. A whole tonne of sugar.”
“Sugar! I am love the affectionate sugars.”

Stages three and up

Touch, smell, lick…….. well, you know the drill.

Addendum – Recipe and book review

The recipe comes from this book which I would wholeheartedly recommend as it has lots of fun ideas, especially if you're a foreigner and not very good at Halloween. The Book is called “The Big Book of Halloween – Creative & Creepy Projects for Revellers of all Ages by Laura Dover Doran. It is thoroughly suitable for children as there are 'easy' projects too. I think I could have done with this book a few years ago. I think we will be able to use it again next year.

I love all hobbies and crafts but I'm in the minority around here. It is attractively illustrated without too many surplus words, or rather there are lots of surplus words but they're arranged in such a manner that you can tune out the full page of text and concentrate on the insert box, the main event. The instructions are simple and numbered. There are several unusual, home made and cheap costumes too. The models are ordinary, friendly, pleasant people rather than intimidating super models. It is well organized into easily recognizable chapters.

Peanut butter Pumpkins

Combine 115 grammes / four ounces or 1 stick of melted butter with 340 grammes / 12 ounces of peanut butter and 454 grammes / 16 ounces of icing sugar / powdered sugar / confectioners sugar. [see how tricky it is to translate these things!] Smoosh everything together. I would add the sugar gradually as it's a stiff work out for the muscle challenged. Add the orange food colouring early and it will lighten the more sugar you add. It's really hard to add the food colouring at the end as the dough is like cement. You do have to add all the sugar or otherwise your pumpkins won't hold their form [too soft]. Roll the mixture into little balls. You can mark the sides to make them look like pumpkins but leave that step out if cocktail sticks are lethal weapons. Add a trail or stalk of livid green icing / frosting to complete. They taste better after chilling for an hour. The recipe says that the yield is 15 to 20 pumpkins but we had 34! So ours must have been considerably smaller. My daughter ate two and said that was more than enough to last her the next 24 hours as they're very rich.

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Road Trip

From a couple of balmy weeks ago
Glorious Summer Holidays

If I do not go to the shop today we shall all starve.

But that's the real trouble with holidays. If push comes to shove, and it might, I may be able to drag something out of the freezer, kicking and screaming. But if they won't eat the defrosted victim, I shall be no further forwarder. What good are hot dogs without any buns?


A trip to the shops is a must. A trip to the shops with all my lovely children, and Nonna will be a bust.

There are the usual calculations to be made. Interesting shop where I might be able to contain them or boring shop where everyone will run away. A shop with electric doors will ensure that I'll be able to find one escapee. A shop without strip lighting, as the flickers lead to fleeting. A shop with no freezer section because the buzz drives one batty.

Then there's timing. Sufficiently after breakfast so that they're not too hungry. Not too late in the morning, so as to have a better chance at a curb side parking slot, to minimize the chance of death by traffic.

One list for each child. One list with three essential and preferred items each. Ensure that my handwriting will pass muster for the perfectionist. If it's cursive, make sure it is sufficiently curly not zig zaggy. Who in their right mind would hold a piece of paper with those jagged angled zags?

I really need an aide memoire, a little check list pinned to the door for all essentials. Mustn't forget the huge blanket this time. I certainly won't make that mistake again, the fire dance in the car park! 20 minutes shopping with the car parked outside in the heat. A toasty little furnace. A metal box absorbing heat atoms. At the height of summer, in California, in America, airless and still. How could we survive without a thick fleece blanket? Not only do I need to remember to take it, I need to remember to cover the seats.

Forget the dogs:- no-one wants hot buns!

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