Picture this: 4 people (call them A,B,C, and D) sit down at a table.

A and B like spicy food; C and D like bland.

B and D like fatty meats, such as ribs and brisket, A prefers lean meats like chicken, C does not like meat.

A loves vegetables, B will eat most vegetables, D will eat some vegetables, and C gags on vegetables.

C savors starch such as pasta, rice, and potatoes, B and D eat them moderately, A equates eating them with lobbing lead into the stomach.

The chef’s challenge: cook the same, healthy meal for all 4 people. The meal must be enjoyed such that everyone eats, and no one complains or sneaks handfuls to the dog.

If you can cook one meal for these 4 people, (and you probably do if you are a parent of young children) you can join Cristie’s Cooks Club where our motto is: Can we cook it? YES WE CAN!

So, have club members found a perfect food that pleases all palettes, or a particular combo of tastes that pacifies the picky? Or perhaps there are ways to disguise questionable foods and slip them incognito on to the plate? Maybe, but I haven’t found them yet.

I win by fudging the rules of the chef’s challenge. I stretch the requirement of the “same meal”. To please a spouse who insists the kids should “eat what we eat” and “not be made different dinners,” I broadly interpret the boundaries of “sameness”.

For example, last night our “same meal” was a “spaghetti dinner”. Now, the creative cook realizes that spaghetti appears in multiple forms. Obviously, spaghetti is that long, starchy pasta. But it also is a football-sized, yellow squash – the spaghetti squash, found in most supermarkets. I’m not kidding – its sticker even says “spaghetti squash” and tells you how to cook it.

The crafty cook also knows that spaghetti is still spaghetti regardless if it is covered by a tomato-based veggie sauce, a meat sauce, a pesto sauce, a creamy Alfredo sauce, or even just butter seasoned with salt, basil and garlic. All variations qualify.

Armed with this breadth of possibilities, Super Chef whips up the winning spaghetti dinner in what could have been a half hour, but because of interference from the sidelines, takes 45 minutes. Click on “continue reading…: for the play-by-play recipe.

Continue reading