From Lisa Barnes
My children (I think like most) do not like to see mom on the telephone. As soon as the phone rings the mayhem starts. We could all be playing nicely together, but when I get on the phone my children suddenly fight, yell and generally misbehave. I finally got the reason for this behavior out of my son. He said “we don’t want you to stop playing with us”. Oh that’s sweet and I can’t argue with that – no one likes to be interrupted, but the truth is sometimes I have to take or make a call. Naptime (they don’t nap at the same time) and late at night doesn’t always work, especially for Midwest agents and East Coast publishers.
I told my son I will be brief and try to avoid calls, however he needs to understand the exceptions (see above agent and publisher). So my son is 4 years old and understands to leave his sister alone when I am on the phone. However my daughter at 17 months doesn’t care who’s on the phone and she demands (read screams loudly and grabs at me) to talk too. However I have found a way to keep my daughter happy if I have to make or accept an afternoon call… minestrone soup. Yes that’s right. Not only does my daughter love the taste of minestrone soup but she is fiercely independent and needs to spoon it for herself.
Here’s how the preparation goes. Set phone call time for afternoon when my son is napping (or at least mellow) and daughter will be hungry (about 2 p.m.) Next, always have soup on hand (see recipe below). Two minutes before scheduled call, strip daughter down to diaper for ease of clean-up. After caller answers, set lukewarm bowl of soup in front of daughter and hand her a small spoon. Sit at table to multi-task – taking notes from conversation and watching to be sure soup is not depleted and child is not eating too fast (avoid choking incident). I now have about 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time, and a content child. I’m sure to end conversation before she stands up in highchair, gives “all-done” sign or drops bowl on the floor.
Of course a bath should follow…
Minestrone soup is a great way to use an abundance from your garden and also get your family to eat a healthy dose of vegetables. Feel free to substitute left-over meats in place of the turkey, or skip the meat and make it a classic vegetarian meal.
Olive oil, 3 tablespoons, divided
Organic ground turkey, ½ pound
Salt, ¼ teaspoon
Pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, 1 teaspoon
Leek, ½, sliced, about 1/3 cup
Carrot, 1 medium, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Zucchini, 1 medium, chopped, about ¾ cup
Green Beans, 2 ounces, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Celery, 1 stalk, chopped, about ¼ cup
Organic Vegetable stock, 1 quart
Vine ripened tomatoes, 3 medium, about 2 cups
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon
Organic Cannellini beans, 1 cup, rinsed and drained
Elbow macaroni, ¼ cup
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add turkey, salt, pepper and oregano, stirring and breaking up turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove turkey with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme and paste and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Add cannellini beans and stock and macaroni and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Add turkey to heat, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes about 6 cups
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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