Make dinner, teach your kids to cook, stop siblings from squabbling, and host a happy children’s play-date all at the same time with a miracle food processor! This wonder machine does it all. In the hands of a savvy parent, a food processor brings household peace, child happiness, and dinner to the table. How do I know? Because a stroke of genius struck me from the kitchen heavens when my two children were once again squabbling over who got to play with the child friend who’d innocently arrived for a play-date.
I tried enforcing that old rule of children’s play-dates that says, “when a friend comes to play, everyone plays together; no one gets excluded.” But with an age and gender difference between my children, this rule failed to establish harmony. The older girls wanted to do “girly things” like talk and giggle in the privacy of my daughter’s bedroom. My young son wanted to tease and bother them. Sure, I could have played camp director and gotten everyone engaged in a group game, and I did for a while; we all played twister, dogs included. But as the play-date continued, I had to start preparing dinner. That’s when I brought out my miracle worker – the food processor. Keep reading to find out how I used a food processor to stop my kids from squabbling and make potato latkes (Jewish potato pancakes) and red cabbage.
My success started with a red cabbage wilting in the crisper. That cabbage was bound for the dinner table. While washing away the dirt from its leaves I caught my inspiration. In a flash I knew that my food processor was exactly the kitchen tool to lure my button-pressing, gadget-loving son away from the slammed door of his sister’s bedroom. “Hey, Dave,” I called, “You want to help me cook? You can operate the food processor!” Instantly he was at my side, standing on a chair, ready to man the machine.
Cooked red cabbage was the perfect recipe because it requires so many things be chopped up. First he diced the onion, then the cabbage, then the apple. In this order, they all went into the large stove-top pot lubricated with bacon grease. (This is a German recipe. We old-fashioned Germans use bacon grease for the oil. Go ahead, use a canola-based, non-stick spray. I dare you to like what you make.) If I’d had real bacon, I would have cooked it up and added it to the cabbage. But I didn’t have it, so instead I sprinkled cheater’s bacon bits from a bag. I also added a pinch of brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Sometimes I add paprika, but not this time. I simmered it for about 90 minutes on a very low heat. You have to simmer it for at least a half hour to get the flavors to blend and the cabbage cooked. My son had a glorious time applying his brain to figuring out exactly how to engage the food processor parts so that the switches and dials would work. With him on my team, I had never before made red cabbage so fast!
But then the deed was done. The cabbage was simmering, but the girls were still playing, and the play-date would last another hour more. “Bring out the potatoes!” I rallied. More chopping to do! I haven’t made potato pancakes in a very long time, but tonight was obviously the night to make them again.
In The Flavor of Wisconsin: An informal history of food and eating in the Badger state, by chefs Harva Hachten and Terese Allen I found a potato pancake recipe that actually lets me make potato pancakes ahead of time. I hate standing at the stove flipping pancakes while everyone else is at the table eating them. The recipe I found is a Wisconsin-Jewish potato latke recipe that as an option lets you pour the potato pancake batter into a muffin tin, bake the “pancakes” and then serve them as “potato muffins”. It also called for a chopped onion. This was our 2nd wonder recipe for our food processor.
My son loved it. Not only did he get to diced the potatoes and onion, but he got to see the eggs and spices swirl around too. Here’s this easy potato latke recipe:
- 4 large potatoes, grated (food processed)
- 1 small onion, grated (food processed)
- 3 eggs, beaten (stick them whole in the food processor after having diced up the potatoes and onion)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Cooking oil for frying (if you go that route)
- Sour cream or applesauce (if you have the apples, you can occupy your child processing apples too. The food processor fun can continue on!)
“Combine poatoes and onion and mix well. Beat in eggs, salt, flour, and baking powder. Heat about 1/4-inch cooking oil in a heavy pan over moderately hot fire. Drop batter by spoonfuls into oil and fry on both sides until brown. A large mixing spoon full makes thin pancakes; more batter makes thicker ones. Serve, drained, with sour cream or applesauce.
“These may also be baked in muffin tins or a baking pan. For muffins, heat greased tins and fill 3/4 full; bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until brown. Or heat in a 375 degree oven a 9×13-inch baking pan containing 1/4-inch cooking oil; add batter spread thinly and bake until well browned, 20-40 minutes.” These potato muffins are also great for breakfast!
By the time we’d finished all this food processing, the play-date was over. Time to return the friend to her parents. Thanks to a food processor, peace had reigned in our home, sibling squabbling stopped, and dinner was made. Pretty good for a weekend afternoon, I’d say.