What’s usually for dinner in your home? Hamburgers and steak and chicken wings and ribs are easy, popular, and accessible. But how about expanding your kids’ palate and making something new, healthy, and simple? It’s a great time to experiment in the kitchen with delicious alternatives to the standard fare.
When I eat red meat, which isn’t often, it’s almost always lamb. Lamb is usually raised on pasture by small farms and therefore escapes many of the health hazards and animal abuse present in factory farming cattle. This rack of lamb came from a family-operated farm near me in Austin, TX and was purchased at the farmers market.
And now, introducing Chef Sizzle-Snap, my 13-year old burgeoning chef, preparing two of his pet dishes.
These lamb chops were so yummy that they never made it to the table. As soon as the chops hit the serving plate, my son and I pounced on them like wild animals and stood at the counter by the stove gnawing them, ooh-ing and ah-ing our satisfaction and exclaiming between bites, “Can you believe how awesome this is?” Then we fished out the sprigs from the skillet and sucked them dry—they were both crispy and succulent! We often use fresh herbs for flavor but this is the first time we chewed the oregano and rosemary right off the sprigs, one after another, as if we were eating potato chips. Do you have a garden? There are so many ways to create and manage a small garden and its a wonderful project for kids, who are more likely to eat what they grow. If you have no room outside your dwelling and no patience for a traditional garden, consider a self-contained, self-operating garden like click ‘n grow. Easy peasy.
1 sprig each of oregano, thyme and rosemary
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons pastured butter
6 lamb chops
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Dry lamb with paper towel.
2. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/3 teaspoon per chop).
3. Heat pan on high for 6 minutes.
4. Pour 1 tablespoon (or enough to coat the pan) high-temp oil like avocado .
5. Carefully lay pieces of lamb with tongs from a short distance without leaning over pan.
6. Set timer for 1:45 seconds.
7. Move chops around every 15 seconds to prevent burning.
8. Flip chops.
9. Set timer to 1:45.
10. Add herbs, butter, and garlic to pan and wait for butter to melt.
11. Use a spoon to baste the butter over the chops.
12. (Optional) Turn chops onto side and render fat.
13. Immediately remove chops and serve while hot.
Chef Sizzle-Snap likes everything drenched in butter. In fact, butter is his favorite food. That’s why we searched far and wide for the most pure and artisanal butter and found the incomparable Au Sel de Mer from Normandy France. Normandy is a quaint, picturesque region where tradition reigns supreme and the grass is still lush and glyphosate-free, so the cows live in paradise and you can almost taste their happiness. By contrast, we are under lockdown with limited options, so this time the butter came from Organic Valley, an acceptable alternative. It’s still pastured and organic, but not as rich and flavorful. The shrimp was so succulent that it disappeared in 3 minutes, even before it could make it onto the pasta. So consider shrimp for a snack as well as a dinner entrée—good any time of the day and even on its own.
1 lb shrimp
4 tablespoons butter
Dried Italian seasoning
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional) local Sriracha
1. Season shrimp with salt and pepper
2. Turn burner on high
3. Melt half the butter
4. Add shrimp
5. Cook for 2 minutes
6. Flip shrimp
7. Wait one minute
8. Add seasonings, sriracha and the rest of butter
9. Wait one minute
10. Serve with pasta* or just eat by itself
The chef de-veined the shrimp for this dish and thought it was fun and interesting, but he recommended that first-timers use de-veined shrimp, which is easy to get and easier to work with.
*Our family uses chickpea or mung bean pasta because we try to avoid low-quality American semi-dwarf wheat, which is found in almost all processed carbs. Occasionally I use a seminola pasta made in Italy because the wheat is superior and contains less gluten and more protein. What’s wrong with gluten, you ask? Here’s the story.
Where do I get my seafood?
- a) at the local gas station shop
- b) at the San Antonio aquarium
- c) factory farms in China and Indonesia
- d) Vital Farms in Seattle and K&S Seafood in Austin, TX.
- e) I reach into my fish tank
C. Just kidding. D. I love my local farmers market! K&S is a small, honest, local operation and they have all their fish tested independently for a whole list of chemicals and heavy metals. I also order fish from Vital Farms. Want to know the difference between wild and farmed fish? I wrote about that, too.
Be sure to divvy up the cooking roles so that you assign to your kids tasks that they are capable of and will enjoy. If they’re good with knives, but not with flames, hand them the correct knife (consider a demonstration) and keep them away from the stove. If they are younger, maybe they can season the meat or prepare the sauce. You can also lean in and help them baste. My son likes cooking on high heat and has occasionally splattered himself with oil. Now he holds up a paper towel as a shield in front of his face while he is basting. It looks pretty flimsy but he says it works!
I’d love to hear your about your experiences cooking these recipes with your kids, so please comment below!
To your good health,
How to stay safe, sane, and prepared for Corona: