Guest Post: Eli at Coach Daddy

Today I’m proud to announce that Notes from the Shallow End is hosting its first guest post! And the honor goes to Eli at Coach Daddy, one of the blogs I’ve been following since I started down this crazy path. Eli is a soccer dad, a coach,father of three daughters, and a fantastic writer; also it turns out he is as food obsessed as I am, which makes him the perfect guest poster!  Trust me, you’ll be inspired to hit the fridge after you read this.  Take it away, Eli.

 

Cooking is a highlight of my existence – right up there with coaching soccer and tickling my girls.

By Miia Ranta from Finland (Curing salmon  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Miia Ranta

Seriously, I probably spend considerably more hours per week thinking about food than actually preparing it.

I realize this makes me sound a bit obsessed and perhaps unhealthily attached. Someone will probably retweet this column with the hashtag #dadswitheatingdisorders. They’d be completely justified, as I recognize I’m a bit dreamy when it comes to preparing food.

I actively seek nourishment in any way that especially involves me, a kitchen, kids, tortillas and cheese. I’ve made pancakes for no special occasion; planned my study time around pizza specials on campus, and would undoubtedly attend parties hosted by friends I might not like very much due to their propensity to serve delicious fare.

I used to love walking down Tryon Street on my dinner break when I worked uptown, for exercise, sure, but mostly to smell all the incredible aromas from the restaurants along the way.

Just nose shopping, I suppose, and trying not to look too hungry.

My kids have heard the phrase, “What do you want for breakfast?” to start almost every day of their lives, because breakfast is the most important meal. I’ve taught them that a well-balanced meal consists of at least two waffles, an egg, milk, juice if we can afford it that week, and should always lead right into thoughts about what we should have for lunch.

We’ve spun through the mall’s food court in hopes we’ll get to sample everyone’s chicken specialties.

“I’d love some!” I say as I consider wearing fake glasses or taking off my jacket or using a fake accent to give the appearance of being someone else for another run through the free food.

Food, while greatly appreciated when prepared by others, is a huge source of joy for me if I prepare it myself. I’m so food oriented; I know what I wore when I had a great steak four years ago, can’t wait to hear about the seafood specials, and although, I don’t know much about the term “fair market value,” I’m all about restaurant.com gift certificates.

I’ve been told that I’m an ideal dinner companion, as I have no particular restaurant preference, and I can get sauced on half a glass of wine. I am also likely to help you finish your entrée, and I’ll never forget to bring the leftovers out to the car.

Seriously, put some food in front of me so I can savor it, talk about it, and think about my next meal.

My girls, ages 8, 13 and 15, are similar to me in this way. In their world, food is a carnival, and they can go long periods of time just thinking about what to stuff in their crepes or who will get the first tortilla off the skillet.

And because breakfast is the most important meal of the day for pediatricians, clergy and President Obama, I can
celebrate our enthusiasm when it comes to nourishment. I’ve trained myself to embrace my affinity for it, and set aside each Saturday morning during the soccer offseason to prepare a breakfast chock full of yumminess, visual appeal, enticing aromas, and double whatever our favorite ingredient might be.

By [cipher] (http://www.flickr.com/photos/h4ck/2301135433/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cipher

I realize that my dedication, as is true for all parents who like serving as the occasional family chef, will be appreciated. The sugar cookies I made from scratch? Dipped in hot cocoa, and scarfed in unreasonable numbers. The omelets I prepared with “too much” cheese (as requested by Elise) and whipped up fluffy and delicious? Devoured with reckless abandon when they realized the inside tasted a bit like the county fair, Christmas and a birthday all rolled into one.

But rather than leaping from the couch to hug me and kiss my face after providing this culinary circus, or even just bring their dirty plates to the sink, they’ll simply prop their feet, conjure up H2O or the Andy Griffith Show on Netflix, and leave me to enjoy my own omelet in peace.

There’s a considerable portion of me that wishes to simply shrug internally and think, “Meh, they’ll cook for themselves when I’m not around. They’re not some entitled divas in a mansion in South Charlotte; there’s no way they’ll actually be helpless when it comes to making their own breakfast.”

I know this is true. The Wii fit all but admits this. That little animated circuit board sizes my girls up standing barefoot on it, in their form-fitting Aeropostale gear and soccer shirts, their strong leg muscles and taut bellies lean enough to give them enough power to overcome both parents if they wanted to; but it once murmured to me about one, “Maybe you could feed her a carrot once in a while. I mean, will she eat a carrot?”

I’m like, “Sure. I mean, I would imagine so. I think we have some in the refrigerator.”

By Whitney from Chicago, IL (Ranch Dressing  Uploaded by Diádoco) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Whitney from Chicago

(Grace, the child who can go long bouts eating like starving artist, wriggles with joy at hearing carrots, because
it means copious amounts of ranch dressing, too).

Marie’s interest in food and ability to demolish a plate of nachos like a category 4 hurricane compels me to kick it up a notch. I mean, I have wheat flour; I’ve heard it’s healthy. I also realize that if I really succumbed to my inner foodie, I’d splurge the meager grocery budget on things such as cream of tartar, heavy cream, and fennel seeds.

With all those resources, it would seem the odds would be in my favor to produce something legendary.

But, with the newfound realization I’ve earned like a jester – not a king, I resolved to visit allrecipes.com, type in the not-so-exotic ingredients we actually have in the kitchen, and simply cook/bake/prepare. This is what evolved:

Two Saturdays Ago: I discovered a new recipe for crepes – thinner, yummier.

Verdict: They flew off the grill like hotcakes. Well, better than hotcakes. Elise would have loved to roll six or seven of them up in a row; she didn’t say the words, but I could see it in her love-drenched eyes. (I hope crepes are the only thing she gets dreamy about rolling up. Every time I think of her going to Appalachian State or UNC Wilmington.… ).

Last Saturday: I made pancakes from a recipe that called for mixing milk and vinegar, allowing the mixture to “sour,” but promising a glorious result of the fluffiest, tastiest proportions.

Verdict: An instant classic. Marie sheepishly finished a conservative serving of three silver-dollar sized pancakes, and then returned to the kitchen several times before lunch to steal more pancakes. “They’re like cookies,” she said, and I swear her eyes googled a bit like Cookie Monster’s.

Sunday: I baked cookies for a church outreach mission to a women’s prison – Grace and I found a recipe for molasses cookies, and after I convinced her we wouldn’t have to kill any moles in the process, we dug in. (Don’t ask what part of the animal she thought we’d be using.)

Verdict: Grace sampled many cookies as they sat on the cooling rack, declared them fit, and we agreed they’d be an enormous hit in prison. (Of course, the girls’ concept of “prison” is restricted to describing school lunch and Elise’s recent social studies unit on Alcatraz).

Tonight? I have this hankering to make tortillas, and pots of beans and beef and bowls of cheese and lettuce and jars of salsa and sour cream, and just let the kidlets express themselves on their tortillas.

Predicted verdict: “This is what heaven must be like, Daddy.”

It really must.

I can’t wait. (For dinner; heaven can wait.)

 

When he isn’t cooking or coaching, Eli writes about fatherhood, food, and futbol on Coach Daddy. Follow him on Twitter.

Where In the World Am I?

Good morning readers!

Today I bring you Notes from the Shallow End: The Far North Edition.  That’s right, we’re broadcasting from a different locale today, people. I feel like Kathy Lee and Hoda when they do their part of the Today show “Live, from sunny Orlando!”  except I’m “Live, from the parking lot of the Marathon station because that’s the closest place I can get internet access! And also, I’m wearing pajama pants! And also, my dog just turned my entire mini van into a dutch oven!”  Oh, it’s a glamorous life. Try not to envy.  And pardon me while I crack a window.

Speaking of different locations, guess who went and got herself a sweet guest posting spot over at It’s Fitting? No, not her. Uh, no, not her either. As if.  It’s me! Ashley has been kind enough to let me come play over on her blog this summer while she’s on vacation. And she was kind enough not to mention the missing bottles of wine or the cookie crumbs on the coffee table. So hop on over and check out my post, and then stay a while and peruse the rest of her blog. This city girl turned farm girl turned new mom has loads of fabulous posts guaranteed to inform and entertain. The one about how to use a whole chicken? Trust me, you’ll want to bookmark it. I know I did.

Have a great day!

Lisa