[UPDATED: now with incriminating photo!]
Almost two years ago, I posted my recipe for Daddy's Chicken with Rice Bombs, which arose from a dearth of viable takeout options and remains a favorite failsafe in my kitchen. Whenever it's nearing dinner time, and I don't have the wherewithal to "negotiate" with the boyspawn over what to eat, I can always just grab the chicken and broccoli, our fridge mainstays.
The other day, however, with Bombs on the dinner agenda, the rice container was disconcertingly light. Sure enough, there was only about a tablespoon of grains mocking me from the bottom.
Thinking as fast as my brain is able, which says less than it used to, I found a bag of quinoa on top of the fridge. And not just any ordinary monochromatic quinoa, either. This was tri-color quinoa, which is delicious but looks like you just shoveled it off the bottom of a fish tank.
A more accurate representation of the glorious panoply of cultures that comprise modern America? Sure. But would the kids to eat it?
I developed a strategy. I couldn't just sandbag the boys with it, because they'd resent me for life. Nor could I oversell it, because if it didn't live up to expectations, they'd doubt me for life. So I casually mentioned that I was out of rice, mea culpa, etc., and this was all we had. The skeptical groans were about as positive a response as I could have expected.
After I cooked the quinoa, the odds that either kid would consider sitting within three feet of it took a dramatic drop. Because the little grains sprouted, and each bomb looked like something a cat would hork up after a full day in the meadow.
The responses were predictable:
- The 7yo recoiled in horror at the "pile of dirt and hairy spiders" on his plate.
- The 10yo, who has cultivated more creatively impressive ways to assess my cooking, was equally, yet more disarmingly, blunt: "At the risk of sounding rude, Dad, there is no amount of soy sauce or ketchup that will make me want to eat that monstrosity."
So we compromised. They got the lion's share of the meat and veg, and I got a huge mound of dirt and hairy spiders, finished off with a little peanut sauce, scallion, and lime.
It would be easy, I know, to write this off as an abject failure. But I can't discount the pleasant discovery that, whenever a game of Wii tennis devolves into a slapfight, the Threat of Quinoa is enough to get the boys to leave each other alone. And/or scurry under their beds.