S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Welcome to mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, November 25th, the Rethinking Traditions Edition. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributors to slave care and feeding parenting column, and mom to Naima, who is eight and a half and some change and we live in Los Angeles, California.
S2: I’m Zak Rosen, host of the Best Advice Show, a very short podcast featuring your best advice, and my kids are Noah, this four and Amy, who’s one. We live in Detroit.
S3: Hi, I’m Amber Smith. I am the senior manager of Audience Development for Slate Podcast, and I am the mama to Marley, who is 16 months old and we live in Philadelphia, Pa..
S1: Amber Thank you so much for joining us. So happy to have you back.
S3: I’m happy to be here.
S1: So on today’s show, we’re going to be talking first about how Thanksgiving is taught at school. Our letter writer is uncomfortable with the whitewashing and her kids school’s current curriculum, and she wants to know how she can change that. Then Zak is sitting down with bestselling author and creator of Dinner, a love story to talk about food traditions, picky eaters and getting your kids involved in the kitchen in Slate. Plus, we’re sitting in the kitchen. If you’re listening on Thursday morning, you’ll probably be in the kitchen too. So we decided to share some of our best food disasters and holiday hot takes. But first, as always, we’re going to kick off the show with some triumphs and feels that. Do you have a triumph for fail for us this week?
S2: Yes. So if you’re listening last week, you might recall that I talked about my family’s Thanksgiving prep regimen for COVID, wherein everyone going to my mom’s house, there are 18 of us. We pledged to all get tested the week prior, which is this week. COVID tested and not to be indoors with people outside our immediate households without a mask and recording this on Tuesday. I know you’re listening. On Thursday, listener and I, we just got our COVID test back. They came back negative. So that’s out of the way. No one is sick yet. No one seems to have any like colds or flus or tickles. So I think we’re on our way to having our first family Thanksgiving in two years because last year we just didn’t go. So I don’t want to call it a triumph yet because we’re not. I’m not eating cornbread yet, but we’re close. We’re close.
S1: Cornbread is on the horizon. That is us, though
S2: dreaming of cornbread.
S1: Gyari Are we not all dreaming of cranberries beloved so much? I ate it for dinner. The last two nights were amazing.
S3: Yes, I get a little Thanksgiving pre-game.
S1: So I’m actually not doing Thanksgiving this year, but we’ll talk, we’ll talk about that a little bit later. So the cornbread might have been all the Thanksgiving I’m going to get. OK, but what about you, Amber? Let’s hear your triumph or fail. Hopefully triumph out. No, that’s OK.
S3: No, no, no. I don’t even know if it’s quite a fail. But it felt like a failure. Yeah. Mali, we had gone 15 months. No sickness, no colds. No nothing. And then he got his first bad cold, which turned into an ear infection. Mhm. Ah, the antibiotics didn’t work. Your infection went to both years, then pneumonia for like a 16 month old and like when they first. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s been a crazy three weeks of like sickness. And so, yeah, when the doctor has said pneumonia, I was just like a heart, really. My heart sank because I’m like, What do you mean? Like here? Pneumonia? You think hospital, right? Mm hmm. But I think like the the word was bigger than than than the actual diagnosis because his breathing was good. All that we just had to do some stronger antibiotics and come back a week later. And now we have a clean bill of health. But yeah, still kind of hard to not feel like mom guilt. You know that you couldn’t fix it or like the you didn’t do feel like you didn’t do the right things when really, you know, kids get sick. Tis the season. Babies are super resilient, which is amazing. But, but yeah, so fail and that it happen. Triumph and now he’s better. Mm hmm. Yeah. And that I’m finally sleeping again. Well, now not through the night, but more than I was.
S1: Well, it’s definitely not a fail for him getting sick. That’s just the thing that happens, you know, like you can’t you can’t take ownership of that. You know, it’s not like, Oh, we were at the water park with no mittens on hanging out and there, which is probably not how you get pneumonia anyway. But that’s what we’ve been led to believe by the grandparent industrial complex. So like, we can pretend it’s that, but I’m sure your child was not playing in water without meds. There’s nothing that you did that led to pneumonia.
S3: No water without mittens. No water without meds. You always had a hat on when you went outside. Yes, ma’am. So like I yeah, it just, yeah, it just does a nasty cold.
S2: And how long it was three weeks.
S3: Yeah, it was like escalated, right? So it was like, Oh, we just got a little cold. Oh, now we have a fever and we’re pulling on the ear. OK, let’s go to the doctor. OK? Ear infection, OK, 10 days of amoxicillin. All right. Cool fever. Shut up again. Still pulling on the ear. Still not sleeping. Thank God for the nose free to the congestion is really bad. Let’s go back. Oh, infection in both ears now. She’s like doing a little stethoscope on his chest for like a very long time, and I’m glad we got you can. Just like I hear crackling. This is a pneumonia I would like. My heart just sank. And it’s also so hard to see them so little and it’s just so uncomfortable. Like he couldn’t sleep well because he was so congested and the nose. Frida was a whole traumatic thing for both of us. And he’s at the point where he can say no. Now he’s like, Oh, no. And this is just like a heart. It’s just heartbreaking. So it was rough. It was really, really rough. Yeah, yeah.
S1: What was what were some of the things that brought him comfort during that time that that, you know, helped him feel better?
S3: And that’s a great question. I invested in a really good humidifier. I think, like I said, thank God a million times for the nose free to because it did allow him to sleep.
S1: And what is it? What is the nose freighted? Because I think that’s something that came along after my little one.
S3: It’s not gross, but it’s amazing. It’s like this no second thing you can impart into their nose and then you suck on the other end and it pulls snot out and sounds so gross and like there’s like a little spongy thing there. So it’s not like you can suck snot into those drawn like accidentally. Yeah, but it’s incredible. But now what I’m hearing on the mommy block is that there is an electronic nose free to. That’s also incredible that you just cross a button and it’s sex the snot out. So that’s a thing to
S2: be honest here. Amber, because this free to it’s called a snot sucker. Uh huh. Satisfying, isn’t it? Isn’t that satisfying to get all those boogers out?
S1: That’s what I was afraid of, which is why I’m like, I’m obsessed with it now because it’s so satisfying, satisfying.
S3: And then it’s like, Oh yeah, it was in there that you can breathe, I guess. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s making them feel, but I’m not going to lie. It is. It is good. It’s testing. And yeah, I guess parenting is gross. So yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
S1: We’re very glad that your little one is feeling better and that is a shame. You know, you you you know, some back to health. That’s important. Yeah, give yourself credit for that, for sure.
S3: Thank you.
S1: So my this week I am again taking credit for just raising an amazing child like she’s done something. And so I’m like, it’s not really my triumph. So much as it is like the kid I made did something awesome. And so I’m going to claim it. But like my daughter, much like I was at her age, minus all of the access to technology, like at eight, I only had access to a computer like if I went to my mom’s job and I was very excited to play on like word suite. You know, like I would want to make PowerPoint presentations or office suite or whatever and letterhead this was. I was always trying to start a business and make a letterhead. So like my daughter’s also very much into creating things, you know, on devices. But one of the things that she’s gotten into is making like slideshows, and she may like she makes them about her dogs. She’s made some for brand like she just makes slideshows. And so she made one for me, and it is literally the sweetest thing that any human being has ever created on Earth, like shipping pictures of us online. It’s so funny. Like she, I’m actually glad that she doesn’t go in the photos folder on the computer, but I’m like, you know, there’s like all the pictures are there, but there’s also my pictures too as I work on that. But like she found pictures of us online and like, you know, as she captions it, it’s like my awesome mom and my mom is the best thing that ever happened to me. My mom is the reason I am me. And she, like, asked me for a quote. She was like, Do you have a quote? And I was like, She’s like, You know, it’s nothing you’ve said or written, and I was like, Black girls deserve more. I don’t know. Like, you know, and so like, she put that in the slide show is a quote from me. And she wrote, Black motherhood needs to be respected. So does my mommy. And then, like the closing slide is like black. Motherhood ain’t nothing to mess with because she’s obsessed with the Wu-Tang Clan. Like, is just the cutest little thing. So I put it on my Instagram page if you follow me on Instagram five days ago and it happened, so I guess it would be. I don’t know. I don’t care so much on Instagram. You’ll see it. I guess it’s just. I’m taking all the credit because she’s just the sweetest. She’s so loving. Like, I just cannot believe how expressive she is with her love. It just really blows my mind and keeps me going.
S3: That is incredible. So cute looking right now and how fulfilling as a mom to read that and hear that from her. Oh my gosh. Yeah.
S2: Oh, she calls you a writer and super mom. Yes.
S3: And she asked her journalist mother for a quote.
S1: Yeah, oh oh. Is a dazzling
S3: Chansey. Amazing job. Amazing job.
S1: Thank you. She’s sweet, baby. I’m very grateful for her. It’s so sweet. All right. So Shanna, two of our awesome kids and celebrating them, celebrating with them and being celebrated by them. Now, let’s get into our big listener question, Sasha Leonhard is on vacation, so it’ll just be me reading it. Dear mom and Dad, our kids preschool just sent out their weekly newsletter outlining their upcoming plans, namely Thanksgiving related ones. They appear to be focusing on gratitude, which of course we value as a family. And they don’t appear to be pulling any explicit shenanigans like splitting the kids and so pilgrims and Native Americans or anything along those lines. However, my husband and I feel strongly that a lack of discussion about indigenous cultures or the realities of the quote unquote first Thanksgiving does equal whitewashing, and we plan to write as a writer to ask if some of these things could be included. We understand the age group two point five to five years. Limits what can be realistically covered, but even a short discussion of the land the school sits on and to whom it belongs, and perhaps the reading of a Native American story feels doable. How do we approach this topic with a preschooler? Any specific books you can recommend for preschool age about the real Thanksgiving? Thanks. Thanks to writing a letter writer Amber, let’s start with you. What do you suggest?
S3: Well, I love the enthusiasm. I think that that age group is probably hard, and it might be hard to find a ton of resources. Maybe there are some things I don’t know about yet, though some of that. Can preschoolers really grasp colonialism and genocide in a real way? But I think it’s maybe more important where you are at home versus maybe expectations from school. Although it’s great to have a school that’s aligned with your values. I come from a home where at Thanksgiving we always had a moment of silence for the Native American lives that were lost. Like I had the type of white parents. I feel like I come home excited about history and they’d be like, No, this is what happened. And I think that that shaped me probably more and that my values and what I brought to the world more than anything or discussions that I got from school, but not to say that discussions like that at school couldn’t help in and kind of elevate that even more. I do think it’s good that there are focused on gratefulness versus like, I don’t, you know, and I don’t know, it’s preschool. So they maybe they’re still making hand turkeys. But yeah, I think my my answer would be to really focus maybe more on what you offer at home.
S2: I totally agree. I mean, I think that we should expect, depending on, I don’t know, depending on your expectations of school or public school or wherever you’re sending your kids regardless. So much of what I’ve learned, just like what you said, Amber came from home, came from media, came from friends, came from outside of school. So yeah, I totally support you. Letter writer writing to the director of the school and saying something. But like, even if because this is the first of many histories that will likely be whitewashed in your kids, you know, educational life. So again, like Amber are saying, it is up to us for sure to to do that teaching. So even if it’s missing at school, that’s fine. Well, even if it’s not fine, you can still have really interesting discussions at home. And maybe, you know, maybe two and a half to five is too early to talk about genocide, but it might not be too early to talk about colonialism with some broad brush strokes, and it certainly isn’t too early to talk about indigenous people and to learn their stories. And I know you mentioned that you’re looking for a couple of books that might be helpful in doing this. I found a couple. Full disclosure I haven’t read them, but they do look really interesting. One of them is called We are grateful, and it’s a book written from the Cherokee perspective. And beginning in this, I’m just reading off the summary. It’s beginning in the fall with the New Year and ending in summer. Follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. This look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee celebrity originally created by Sequoia. So this is, you know, before we talk about, you know, indigenous people being slaughtered, maybe we talk about, you know, what they created and what they left the rest of us. And so it’s a kind of celebration rather than than a mourning. Not to say you can’t get to the morning at a certain point, but this might be a good place to start. And there’s another book that looks really cool. It’s called Fry Bread, a Native American family story by Kevin Noble Mallard, and it’s a poem and it’s told. And again, this is me reading the summary. It’s told in lively and powerful verse. It’s in evocative depiction of a modern Native American family vibrantly illustrated by this award winning illustrators Pura Belle Pray Award winner, Caldecott honoree Juana Martinez Neal. So again, like you know, I grew up in the suburbs of of Detroit and didn’t know any Native Americans, and that’s probably true for a lot of listeners and their kids. So just, you know, starting to talk about that, they still exist and that they have these stories and that there’s so much to learn. And then maybe, you know, maybe next year we start talking about the Trail of Tears, depending on, you know, if your kid is ready and you know, you know them a lot better than than we do. And yeah, just back to Amber point, which so deeply resonates like it’s it’s up to us, I think, as as families, sir, to do the real social education. And a lot of ways.
S1: I agree with that. That ultimately certain conversations are going to have to take place at home if you want your kids to be grounded in a particular understanding of the world around them and that you’re not going to be able to look to school to do that. However, I do think it’s totally within reason for you to approach the school’s director with some thoughts on how they can improve this curriculum for next year. You know, and like when you want to challenge a school to put something on the curriculum that’s out there like you pretty much needs to come up with a rather something. If you want to introduce the concept that they’re not being taught like, be prepared to provide a curriculum of sorts, right? Like, it’s not that you have to know how this is to be taught to kids that age and that you have to have lesson plans. But like, you should have a pretty clear idea of what it is that you think the children, you know, need to know, right? And so it is starting with, you know, a discussion of whose land you know the school stands on and what does it mean that the school stands on someone else’s land, right? Or land is not occupied by the people to whom it belongs? And I think that could be a really great entry point into this story of what happens to indigenous people in this country. You know, in an age appropriate way, he should also have some, you know, age appropriate books that you’ve pulled together that you’d like to suggest, and I wish I had more to offer you. I have to say I found a lot of great books by indigenous authors about. The stories of indigenous people and their contributions to the world, which is ideal, but I did not see books that challenged the story of Thanksgiving as it’s taught, as which I kind of hope to find, you know, like I often recommend a kid’s book about lying. You know, and I didn’t see anything in their catalogue because they have these really great, very easy to read, comprehensive breakdowns of super complicated things like, you know, gender identity and systemic racism. But yeah, it seems like a kid’s book about Thanksgiving would be a great opportunity, you know, because there needs to be something that, you know, is that this is the only native history that needs to be taught or even the most pressing one. But this is the one that needs correction. You know, I think the biggest thing that you can hope to convey at this point is that you’re going to see a lot of stuff on TV and maybe even hear things that’s cool about Thanksgiving, and they’re going to tell a story about something that’s not quite accurate. You know, you may hear about this dinner and this coming together of Native Americans and pilgrims. And you know, that’s not how things happen. You know what I mean? Like that that is not a true accounting of the relationship between those two groups of people. And what that looks like for your little person is that for you to decide. But we share that information with Naima pretty early. We shut down the idea of Thanksgiving before she could fall in love with it, and she handled it quite well. You know, and challenges her friends. It’s OK for your kids to be weird. How to? Yeah, how did you shoot it down? Well, I mean, we’d especially like Thanksgiving is not, you know, this day in which the Native Americans and the pilgrims sat together and have this wonderful meal, like the relationship between these two people was not equitable at all. You know, these were lamb thieves and murderers. And you know, that is the foundation of what America is land that was stolen, you know, from one group of people and built by other groups of people without the agency to be a part of the foundation of that building. That’s kind of how she’s always had to understand America. And in some of it I know is over her head, you know, but I rather her be kind of grasping at those broad concepts as opposed to kind of, you know, coming home with turkey feathers on her head and, you know, thinking, it’s cool.
S3: Yeah, I am mama. Mama is me. That’s what my parents and I would challenge in my friends and the teachers like.
S1: I said,
S3: Yeah, yeah,
S1: yeah, same thing. That’s how I got it. I never, you know, I came home once with a Confederate nickel from a field trip because like a like a gift shop at the museum and like, I guess my teacher wasn’t paying attention. And I think from that point on, there were like. It was my parents were always working to make things clear, but like no illusions and no point I felt devastated, like my I was like, Do you know what this is? I felt like I brought home, which I basically had, like I brought home like a clan corners, you know, like that was how ashamed of myself I was. But there’s no real room for fairy tales, and America spends a Thanksgiving burying sale. I think there’s a lot of things we can tell our kids about Thanksgiving, you know, including Black Friday, right? I think it’s really great that target has decided to close permanently on Thanksgiving. You know, like ending their tradition of having people get up from their family celebration, and I don’t even really celebrate it all. But like, I know that most people do and like getting out from your family celebration to go back into work so people can buy TVs that they could have just bought the next day. You know, like there’s a lot of not great stuff about Thanksgiving, you know, and I think the sooner you share that, the better your kids can kind of appreciate what you all are trying to create with the holidays. So it sounds like you all have reimagined it as a gratitude day or family day, which is what I think most people whose divested from traditional Thanksgiving have done. But make sure you’re emphasizing that, and perhaps that’s really where you start. You know, maybe that’s where your focus is. You know, there are some other things that people say about Thanksgiving, but here’s what it’s about in this house, you know, and as you get older, we can get, you know, we’ll talk more about the other stuff. But for now, this is about gratitude and family.
S2: I think that’s such a profound point. You made earlier Jamilah that like, even if they might not be intellectually ready for it, you say it anyways. Yeah. And you know, we don’t know what they’re actually taking in. And of course, this is I never even thought about it like this, but right there, let them grasp rather than decide for yourself when they’re ready. That’s like that seems to be such a great parenting truth that you just articulated that I hadn’t thought of like that. So thank you.
S1: Thank you. I hadn’t thought about it until I said it aloud, you know, and I guess that’s kind of what like I’ve been, do you know with certain things what we’ve been doing right is like, Oh no, you don’t get all of this, but you know, I’d rather this be something that you’re considering or thinking about, you know, because there’s a lot of stuff they don’t. Kids are constantly to, you know, introduce to concepts they don’t understand. You know, like, everything is confusing, you know, especially the younger they are. It’s like you put the food in the box. So it came out hot, you know, like, it’s all madness. So, you know, it’s OK for them to be confused and still have the right answer in their head, you know. Thank you, letter writer. And we hope that you, you know, figured out a way to make it work for you this year and that for next year, you’ll be able to get the school on board as well. For any other listeners that may have a parenting dilemma that they’d like to share, go on ahead and send us an email at. Mom and Dad at Slate.com. Now, Thanksgiving’s big enough can be incredibly stressful, particularly with children. You cook all that food and surprise the kids don’t want to eat it or they just want to eat just that one thing that they like the most. And they don’t want to sit at the table and do it. They want to run around. So how do you make Thanksgiving work with kids? Well, first and Tips We Are Turning to Jenny Rosenstrach Jenny is the food writer and New York Times bestselling cookbook author of Dinner A Love Story, The Weekday, Vegetarians and How to Celebrate Everything, among others. She also authors The Dinner, a love story, blog and newsletter. Zak had a chance to talk to Jenny about prepping for Thanksgiving cooking involving your kids in the process, and most compellingly, perhaps avoiding D.c.’s Empty Celebration syndrome.
S2: It’s a different Thanksgiving, it has been for the last couple of years, but what are you most excited about this year?
S3: I’m excited about having my whole family with me. Last year, as you said, was difficult. We had to do sort of a makeshift on the porch with the heat lamp that didn’t work, and we know we will. I’m not complaining. We were all healthy in there, but this year I’m just excited because all my nieces and nephews will be home from college. My daughters will be home from college, so I’m actually for the first time ever. The food feels very secondary to me. Yeah, but yeah, I can’t wait and I feel like I feel like they can’t wait either, which is a nice feeling. So, so yeah, that’s what I’m most excited about.
S2: Can we talk about empty celebration syndrome?
S3: Wow. He went deep down my family and loved him.
S2: Well, I think I think it resonates so much. So to start, just tell me what that is and how he can beat it.
S3: Well, I think I discovered and I think most people probably came to this realization a long time ago, but the whole meal is gone and, you know, if we’re lucky and in the last half an hour. But so then what’s left really right? I mean, we’re all together, obviously, and we’ve been cooking together, which is nice. But I do kind of find that if you don’t have a moment of connection with your family or like some sort of a toast or a ritual, however your family does it. Then I find that if there’s not that moment of connection to me, I, I identify that as empty celebration syndrome. So so when I go into holidays like Thanksgiving, I try to think of what can we do to connect us, to connect to, you know, maybe, you know, for instance, my father in law has just just passed away a few weeks ago. So what can we do to make sure that he’s present? How can we make his grandchildren feel connected? Well, you know, I think a lot of families will go around the table and say things that they’re grateful for, and that’s that’s always a, you know, that’s a classic and that’s that that works. My father in law, the one who just died, he he was the one sort of who taught me this lesson because at every major occasion or celebration he would. He was this amazing writer and he wrote beautiful poems. And so he would present these poems for birthdays or anniversaries for Valentine’s Day. And you know, that’s a little bit that’s a big ask for most people I know, but it was really just a wonderful moment in every celebration that we could count on feeling just like really connected. And it was just like a really beautiful moment. So so that’s what I go into these holidays trying to achieve mostly.
S2: Yeah. Well, I’m sorry for your loss.
S3: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.
S2: Do you have any ideas for helping any of us out there who maybe don’t have our own unique family rituals, but we’re really compelled by this idea of not having an empty celebration syndrome?
S3: Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of things you can do. I mean, for starters, you can just like, look at the food that’s on your table or recipes that are important to your family and make sure that those are present. There might be recipes that your mother or your grandmother made for Thanksgiving. And that’s a perfect excuse to launch into a conversation about your grandparents and your family history. Thanksgiving is a really good time to sit down and get that information from from a family member. I never knew any of my grandparents. They all died before I was born, and so had always been very important to me to talk to my parents about their parents and get the stories because I didn’t know them. And I really, until I into I ended up interviewing my father around Thanksgiving a couple years ago, and until I did that, I don’t think there were so many things that I didn’t know about his father and his mother, and I was so glad I did it and I recorded the whole thing. StoryCorps has an amazing app that gives you prompts for these kinds of things like, you know, just in case you’re like, I could never do that. I would never know what questions to ask. And I’m so unbelievably grateful that I have that recording now. I just have to do my mom. I haven’t done my mom yet. So maybe that’s this Thanksgiving.
S2: Fantastic. This question goes for Thanksgiving, but also just in general, what have you seen work when it comes to getting kids excited about helping out in the kitchen?
S3: Well, I have seen in my own family I cook with my sister and my parents and then and my brother and all of the kids. So there’s how many parents and their six grandchildren or my nephews and nieces and my kids total. And so early on, we got them used to. We kind of assigned each one of them a job, even when there were like too little to actually really be doing the job. But like my niece, Amanda and my daughter Abby are always in charge of the cornbread, and my nephew Owen is always in charge of the brussel sprouts. And over the years, it’s very sweet. They’ve kind of taken these assignments as their own. And even if they’re not 100 percent, you know, preparing it from beginning to end, they know they have like they know they have an assignment like my my niece, Allison makes the most delicious cranberry relish now, and I gave her a recipe when she was younger to work on. And she’s kind of since been developing it, and it’s changed over the years. But it’s nice, you know, they all kind of have their their marching orders, and that means they’re all in the kitchen, which is which is just, you know, obviously my favorite part of the whole holiday. And I would suggest to parents who really want their kids to be there to put them in charge of dessert, because maybe that would be a fun, fun place to start.
S2: That’s a great idea. All right, my last question. Jenny, say one of my kids is super picky and the other one is a very adventurous eater. How do you are? Can you even reconcile these two, these two halves?
S3: We’re talking Thanksgiving or are we talking? I just
S2: just in
S3: general. In general, I will say the thing that helped me the most with that problem was this concept of deconstructing dinner. Anyone who spent a minute of time on dinner, our love story knows about this theory, but it basically like, there is a delight. There’s a meal I made called salmon salad, which is basically like a roast salmon that’s tossed with a bunch of simmered vegetables like green beans and potatoes and corn, its summer and tomatoes. It’s all tossed together with a bright dressing like, I believe, a very basic vinaigrette, and it’s just the most requested meal in my house. My daughters are both coming home next week, and they’ve both requested it for their coming home dinner. But when they were young, they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t touch it. They didn’t like everything mixed together, right? And one of them didn’t like salmon. The other didn’t like potatoes. You know how it goes. And so what we would do when we we’d already been cooking that long before we had kids, we’d been making this dinner. And so what we ended up doing with that and many, many other meals was we would it’s so, it’s so silly. It’s kind of brilliant, like we would just deconstruct it. And before we put it all together, we would make the little piles of. Here are some potatoes. Here’s the beans. Here’s the salmon. And so that way, you know, your picky kid can just pick exactly what he or she wants, and your adventurous eater can eat it the way you know you’re eating it. And then everyone is happy and you’re not making a thousand different meals, but you can take this concept and use it with almost anything. You can do it with soups you can like. We have a tortilla soup where you can just basically, like, deconstruct it into a pile of chicken, pile of avocado, pile of tortilla chips. For someone who’s like a little pickier, maybe with like a dip of of the chicken so that they can pretend that there’s some kind of soup element on the plate. But but then eventually, like the more if the if the picky kid is eating soup that way and he and they’re looking at the way everyone else is eating it, eventually it’s going to all come together and that that is what happened with the salmon salad and with everything else in my house. So that’s the happy ending. So that’s my advice.
S2: That is a happy ending. That’s brilliant. I’m definitely going to try this. Is there anything else you want to say about family or Thanksgiving or just anything you want to express?
S3: Oh, you know what, I’ll tell you one other thing. This is like another thing that I feel was crucial to the success of creating good eaters was a strategy called I don’t know yet, which is what you say to a kid when they ask you what’s for dinner and it’s something that’s not on their radar. Because I found that when you said, Oh, I’m making butternut squash soup, it’s delicious. It has butternut squash in it and we can put all kinds of fun things in it. You know, it’s like the kids don’t hear the fun things, they just hear some foreign and they don’t want it. And so it gives them all this time to kind of mount a campaign against the butternut squash soup. So I find, you know, you just put it off as long as you can, like, I don’t know yet. I’m going to just throw a couple of vegetables together, and I’m I’m looking in the fridge for some ideas, like even as you’re stirring the soup, you just don’t fess up to anything. And I find that that gets them to that way. They’re sitting down at the table in the right state of mind if they’re not already resenting the fact that they’re not eating what they want for dinner, which I think is was for me, a kind of a game changer.
S2: That’s really good. And they’re like smelling the good smells.
S3: There’s they’re hungry, right? So they’re going to eat with some people. So, yeah, they’re not already planning like a how can I ask her that from mom to like, heat up something else for me or, you know, their their game?
S2: Thank you to Jenny for talking with me. I can’t wait to try the deconstructed dinner. I also talked with her for my show. The best advice show. We’ll include links to that episode and to her books in the show notes.
S1: Thank you, Zak. And thank you, Jenny. Now, let’s get into some recommendations before we get out of here. Amber What do you recommend this week?
S3: So I am recommending these little sock shoes that have changed the time that it takes for me to get out of the door with my child. They’re called Crookes, and they literally look like little like little fake, little little fake Balenciaga, you know, blend Seattle like sock shoes, stinkers like fur babies. So it’s like a sock. Basically, I just saw eyes on their little foot. And it stays on super easy. So there’s no like tying no buckles. No like trying to shove a foot in and get them to bend their foot to get in there. Started way is just like a little sock you put on that has a soul on it. It’s great. They come in all different colors. They have cute little things on them. My kids say self-care with cute and they’re great. They look sort of fashionable. He looks fly. I love them.
S2: So these guys do these go over socks or these are socks and shoes combined?
S3: Well, in the summer, there are socks and shoes combined. Now that it’s like colder. I put on socks in them and it’s great because they just they’re stretchy so you can put like a thick sock on under it. Put a little sock shoe over it. So that’s all he can run around their soft soled. So they’re good for, you know, developing learning feeds and they stay on, which is great.
S1: Yeah, I wish they had like really a half year old,
S3: you know,
S2: they had them for thirty seven year olds.
S1: Well, they do. They’re called Belson daggers. So.
S3: Right. I don’t know. No more expensive than $15, baby.
S2: But Googling going, Oh OK, I can’t pull this off.
S1: You can call them on $787. I Zak what are you recommending for us?
S2: Shopping with your child at your neighborhood or local independent bookstore for holiday gifts this season. I just want Hanukkah shopping with my four year old. And it’s so I mean, it’s a perfect day and like the light was streaming into the store just so but it’s so fun just to let her go in. Like think about what her cousins might like and to let her wander around in the store and let me have some time just to look at look at new books and like, I try not to do it as much anymore, but like just buying gifts that aren’t meaningful. Like, I feel bad for spending the money and then I feel bad for, like getting something done. But it’s like I never feel bad for supporting my local bookstore. Like, even if my nephew doesn’t read the book that I got him like, I still have this experience. Still got to support my bookstore and books are just the best gift to me. So go to it. Amazon is easier, but your local bookstore is so much more fun.
S1: It’s such a shout out to local bookstores now.
S2: Always shout at the source booksellers in Detroit.
S3: Shout, Smile now that’s really great. Yeah, that’s really great. New you talk about the impact that you have, you got time with your daughter and you got to like, support a small business, which is great.
S1: So very nice. What do you recommend your milk? So I am recommending taking a playtime break. OK, so my child is out of school this week in California. For Thanksgiving, we get the entire week off. Just like for Christmas, we get three weeks off. So I have found myself back in the good old days of Zoom School. Except there is no Zoom school. There’s just me trying to work, work on the biggest story of my career. And, you know, also being mommy daycare. And so something that I did differently yesterday that I intend to do today. Typically, when I’m working from home with Naima, you know, I’m meeting her needs, right? So I’m like, I’m cooking. I’m, you know, helping with whatever little thing needs my attention. I’m sitting by her for stretches of time. So though I might be on the laptop, we are together and we’re connected. But like, you know, I might even stop and talk to her for a while, but I don’t usually do is interrupt my day with play. And like yesterday, we played, I stopped working for a bit, you know, like I wrapped up early to ensure that we had time before she went to her dance class to play. And it was like three o’clock in the afternoon and we’re like playing beauty salon. And I felt crazy, you know, like, I’m peeking over the emails. I’m like, I got shit to do and people need me and I’m like, But my kid is me and she’s here, you know? And like, I’m just going to be president. And just for this extra, you know, for this hour, we’re going to play. So I am recommending if you found yourself or as you find yourself trying to figure out what to do on these days, where the kids are off from school in the coming weeks that you stop and play, if you can.
S3: Yes, I also highly recommend this and even what I have found to when I just stop and play, even if I’m tired, like it gives me like it energizes again. It doesn’t make me more. Yeah, like it’s hard on her. Yeah, but like the stopping and playing really does, like sitting and just being present with them for any like any amount of time that you have 20 minutes, half an hour, an hour. It’s so nice and it’s it’s fulfilling.
S1: It really is. Yeah, it is.
S3: Yeah, it’s not draining.
S1: It doesn’t drain and it means so much to them because they see you making a choice and they see you choosing them, you know, because like, it’s I’m constantly trying to convince my daughter that like when I work in her presence, like whether it’s a day where it’s like, Hey, you’re out of school, but I’m not like, I’m not choosing work over you, I have to work. This is the thing that must happen. But like when I’m putting down work to play like you say that I’m making active choice the like. Now, I decided that, you know, having this time with you mattered more.
S3: So love it, man.
S1: So that’s it for recommendations, and that’s it for our show. Before we get out of here, please subscribe to mom and dad are fighting. If you haven’t already, and if you have a question, email to us at Mom and dad at Slate.com or post it to the slate. Facebook Group sees me the Slate Facebook Parenting Group. Just search for Slate Parenting on Facebook. Also, if you’re thankful for us, please consider signing up for Slate Plus Sleep’s membership program. It’s only a dollar for the first month, and members will never hear another ad on our podcast or any other Slate podcast, and they get free and total access to this website. To sign up now, go to Slate.com slash mom and dad plus again, that’s slate that com slash mom and dad. Plus thanks mom and dad. On Friday was produced this week by Kevin Bendis with production assistance by Rosemary Belson and Elizabeth Newcamp for Zak Rosen and Amber Smith. I’m Jamilah Lemieux. Thanks for listening. OK, slate, plus listeners, let’s keep cooking. So because this is the season for eating and eating a lot, we figured we’d share some of our favorite food disasters and holiday food hot takes. OK, Zak and Amber. Do either of you all want to start us out with a good food disaster? Sure.
S2: My family has a signature Thanksgiving food disaster story. We used to have Thanksgiving at my grandparents when they were alive, my mom’s parents, Lloyd and Bert, and one year we were all super hungry. And, you know, it was four or five o’clock. We gathered around the table, sat down, you know, licking our lips, rubbing our hands together. We are very excited to eat. My grandma goes to take the turkey out of the oven to put it on the table. And she realized she never turned the oven on, and so the turkey that she thought was was cooking all day was not was not cooking at all. Oh Grandma Bert. So with I mean, of course, we laughed and it was it was just funny. But it was a turkey less Thanksgiving. And I mean, this isn’t even a hot take, but like Turkey’s not even good. So like, I like who I come for this. I come for the sides. And especially since then, I’ve, you know, I can’t eat turkey without thinking of Grandma Bert’s uncooked turkey, and I think fondly of her every Thanksgiving.
S1: Oh, so I saw someone say this on Twitter recently, and I have to agree. If you don’t think Turkey is good, it’s because your folks can’t cook it. That’s probably true. Oh, I will. I will cosign that. My mom is not, you know, she definitely doesn’t have sleepless, so I can say safely here. But she is not the world’s greatest cook, and she’ll tell you that it was never her priority to become the best cook. But she kept us fed and and I didn’t realize that she was kind of a not great cook until I got a bit older, you know? But she wasn’t the one who was going to be. We didn’t have this Thanksgiving was growing up anyway, and so the few times we participated in them, somebody else had made the bird and I didn’t really start having a super great turkey until I got older. But I have a turkey hat take. Speaking of Zak, just said, even though, yes, I think it is, and I have had good turkey where someone just roasted it and it was just really well seasoned and really well cooked and just delicious. But like more often than not, it’s dry and it’s just kind of like, you know, something that accompanies the stuffing or dressing, if you will, depending on, you know, who made it and the cranberry sauce into your mouth. It’s just part of the package is not the sour in any way. It’s turkey pieces are amazing. I constantly cooked turkey wings, turkey thighs, which I didn’t not even know where a thing. And so the past year like and turkey legs, of course, and they’re not easy to find. You have to go to certain communities. I don’t want to tip everybody off, you know? But um, you just got to figure out people that eat those things off, and that’s the way you find it. So. But Amber, are you also taking those things?
S3: Well, I just have one turkey body part to add to that mix, which is turkey necks.
S1: OK. Yes. I’ve never cooked them, but
S3: I don’t know if you ever had a turkey neck Zak, but they never had to. Turkey is no
S1: OK. Oh good. And greens, you know, I’ve only had it in greens. I’ve never had it like you
S3: never had, just like someone make turkey neck now.
S2: So how do you prep that neck?
S3: Oh, something. I mean, it sounds so savage too. Like, I hate that. But like, yeah, my family is like a big southern Louisiana family, and turkey necks is like something they make. Often it’s just like turkey necks with potatoes and corn. Wow. Wow. So good. So tender. Yes. What do you do to it? You know, I’ve never made it, but I think they just like make it like almost like a stew because it’s like fall off. Oh my. Oh, that’s going to be like, it’s oh, tender and that prices, if they got a boy, all kind of spice. The thing that they use corn and the potatoes, it’s like
S1: amazing would probably be good in the Instant Pot. That’s where I put my turkey first. I put all turkey parts. I’m like, I did for turkey thighs in the Instant Pot. I probably overcooked them a little bit. I think it was on low for like three hours and I left the house for hell along. Like I was just gone all day and came back and it was still delicious. Like, so good. So good. But I think, yes, Turkey Thanksgiving dinner would be so much better. Probably be a pain to cook. But if instead of getting a singular bird, if you bought a bunch of turkey parts, you know, probably would take forever to cook and cooks, those people could actually have really juicy, succulent turkey meat that is befitting the other things that are usually on a Thanksgiving table. My reason for not loving Thanksgiving is that it’s partially because I have an eating disorder and so like the the like temptation to just completely go nuts and you know that that it’s just there. But I do enjoy Thanksgiving foods, and I grew up in a family that does not have big family Thanksgiving celebrations on either side. So that was also just not a thing that was really accessible. So I think that’s part of the reason why I’m like over it now. But like I do deeply love Thanksgiving food, you know? I’m curious to know how often are you all eating these foods throughout the year? Because it seems like most folks are only doing this on Thanksgiving. But then again, there’s other parts of the country where it’s like, No, we eat this way every Sunday, but I’m curious to know like the things that you and like. What do you eat on Thanksgiving? Because I would imagine there’s some overlap. One, like my hypothetical Thanksgiving and you was like real actual Thanksgiving celebrations and some things that might be unique to your tables. Like one, what are you eating? And so are you eating things that you would have say in July? Or are these Thanksgiving only specialties?
S3: For me, the one thing that I eat only at Thanksgiving, well, Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually cornbread dressing. And that’s probably because I don’t make that. I like I have an aunt and that’s just as her as her gifting. That’s her blessing. That’s how she serves. And it’s so good and it’s so good. I look forward to it every year. And then there’s there’s always there’s one dish that I always make, which is like broccoli rice casserole, and I really only make it during Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I think it’s I don’t know why I don’t eat that in July. I mean, there are some things Thanksgiving things that I do eat all year, like grains or candied yams, that type of stuff. But there are certain dishes that are like very specific to the holiday. And I’m always the one like millennial, like ruining, not ruining, but like getting all the rolls because I’m usually bringing like a vegan dish or trying to help with something. And they’re like, No, no, we want the full fat dairy. All of that on today. Not today, please. But yeah, I’ve perfected vegan mac and cheese. I will give myself that I have perfected it and I love it. And that’s I always bring a small dish of it to the What
S1: kind are you a vegan?
S3: I’m not a vegan, but I just I’m lactose intolerant. And so these days where there’s like a lot of dairy, I’m like, I can’t do this. I’m say, Yeah, yeah, so I try to like, give give myself options, but I can enjoy
S1: what kind of cheese to use. I feel like that’s the mac, and cheese is one of the hardest vegan dishes to nail, just because the cheese doesn’t have the same mouthfeel.
S3: Yeah, so I found that the key is to make room. You make a rule and you melt all get all different types I usually use, like vegan cheddar. There’s this brand called Chow, which is like, Wow, just like the best vegan cheese I’ve ever had. And I was like Parmesan, just like a couple of different cheeses. Then I melted down into a sauce. Mm hmm. And that I found is like, That’s the key. Yeah, that’s the key. And then, you know, you mouth it on top it on about the same on top. But you know, it still gives you that feel you make that roux.
S1: So is it like a casserole macaroni and like a traditional southern? So you do use like egg replacer now?
S3: Nope. Wow. Just make it with like butter and flour and like a, you know, a plant based milk and all that suet and all of your spices and it comes together like you.
S2: I mean, you have the fact that you’re not, yeah, granted you. You don’t tolerate lactose well, but that you’re not vegan and you still make this as quite an endorsement for it. It must be good because, you know, because you know, the alternative, you know that mac and cheese is amazing. But you’re saying that I know stands up. OK.
S3: Yeah. And also like when I was when I after I had barley, when I was breastfeeding, he was completely dairy and soy intolerant. So like, I had to learn a lot of things to learn a lot of things and a lot of like big initial dishes are dairy free dishes because there is so much that I could not have anymore. But things that I still wanted. So, yeah, like last Thanksgiving, you know, I also was pandemics. I wasn’t around everybody, but I learned how to make meat and candied yams and all that like, you know, all that in there and a non-dairy vegan version that came out pretty good.
S1: Yeah, I have to say, vegans solve some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had with soul food. Most of it’s been from restaurants, but like so macaroni and cheese, candied yams. Yeah, barbecue ribs, those things are so good. Totally. Zak What about you? Is your Thanksgiving table looking like your March 31st table or is it one night only?
S2: It’s pretty much one night only, I mean. Even though we’re Jews, we still do like a kind of a traditional. Thanksgiving and rarely eat Turkey any other day of the year. One thing that’s very specific to our tradition is a sweet potato pone that my mom makes. That’s really good like brown sugar and pecans like southern style, really? I’m looking forward to that. And I mentioned last week that I am going to be trying this corn pudding at Edna Lewis corn pudding recipe this year that I am very excited about because as we talked about earlier, corn bread is one of my favorites, so I’m excited to try that. It might be a disaster to talk about next year, but I’m hoping for the best for next week or next week. Yeah, or a triumph.
S1: We’ll say I hate farm pudding once and I have thought about it ever since. I can’t remember when it was. It was at a potluck and nobody like whoever made it have made so much because this dish was probably very popular in the family and people weren’t eating it because they were like, What is this? And I felt bad because like it was so good, but like, I could not come down like, all this stuff is amazing, and it was like a core. It was like somewhere between cornbread and pudding, you know, like, I know this sounds crazy, but it’s like, it’s so good.
S3: Listen to us, this is highly underrated. It is delicious. Delicious. I completely concur.
S1: And the recipe we can put this. Yeah, there’s the recipe. And yes, that includes corn pudding. Oh my god, I should make that.
S2: That sounds like it could be. It could be dessert, too, which is some of my favorite dinner stuff. It’s like, Should we be eating this after dinner?
S3: Great. That’s the thing. Sounds good. Goodbyes.
S1: Yeah, exactly. Or some pretty good vanilla ice cream? Yeah. Or some food. Aside from this very exciting corn pudding, are there any new dishes debuting on the table this year? Anything that’s gotten the boot? Have you had any like blacks, anything that you’ve introduced on Thanksgiving? There was just like, Nope, I guess Amber. You might have some considering that you’re usually the one trying to make it healthier.
S3: Yeah, I made vegan key lime pie one year. That was not a hit for anybody. Yeah, cashews did not turn into delicious key lime pie. Nope. Didn’t work. Nope. Nope, nope. I am attempting to make a non vegan salted caramel apple pie this year. Yes, please. Right, right. I’ve been watching a lot of British Bake Off and I’m feeling myself, so we’ll see. We’ll see if it if it turns out well, because I have I haven’t made apple pie. No, never make caramel. How are you doing? Well, we don’t try it.
S1: Are you doing the Christmas crash as well?
S3: Hi, I’m not. I am not. I bought a Pillsbury pie crust premade too ambitious. I already got a pair of like six apples, so. And somehow make caramel. But I’m hoping it turns out well, because as it just sounds really good, like I want that.
S1: What about you say that? Is there anything that’s completely flopped?
S2: No, not because I’m a great cook, but because, you know, I’m like the baby in my family and I haven’t done much cooking. Like, I’ll buy some pies and sometimes make mashed potatoes. So I haven’t I haven’t experimented enough to to warrant a flap. But it’s not because I’m a great cook, just because I haven’t been bold enough.
S1: One year, I attempted to cook an entire Friendsgiving. I think I told a story last year. This was maybe when I was twenty four, twenty five. I don’t know why I wanted everything I made salmon I made. And like some things were good and some things were just a bit like there was no reason for me to be this ambitious. I’ve never been that level of cook. You know, I was and I struggled to follow a recipe all the way through like, I get bored at some point. Like, I got it. Got it. Got it. OK, I get the gist of this here. I’m so guilty of that. Like, I won’t do it with baking cookies. You can’t do that with baking like and just the shit won’t.
S3: Yeah, that’s why I don’t like baking as much because you can’t really like you really got to follow and be exact. It’s like a science and like that bothers me. I want to be like
S1: that, you know? Yeah, I know I’m always so heavy handed with vanilla and cinnamon because it’s like the only place where I have control. Yeah, like, I better, actually.
S3: Oh, how are your kids? Do your kids eat like everything? You know, family dinners? Are there things that they’re like ill or don’t
S1: just won’t try? My daughter is a picky eater and to some extent, but she’s also a big eater and like. So that’s that would probably be a Thanksgiving is usually among her like, like she’s not going to eat everybody’s macaroni and cheese, so you better hope it’s good. Don’t embarrass yourself. She will be like, no. And same for grains. And but she’s a big meat girl. So usually, you know, like if she can find some tender turkey meat, she’s going to ask for, you know, more servings of that. I don’t think she likes cranberry sauce yet. We’re stuffing too much butter bread. There’s a lot of dessert on Thanksgiving. So like, this is one holiday where I think her dance them. I’m ordering in this year and I’m not dealing with it all at all. Even though I bought a box of gluten free dress stuffing mixture in Trader Joe’s and I’ve got some turkey drippings, I was like, You know, this might end up doing a little something simple. I don’t know. But but she’s pretty likely to load up. She just eats and eats. She’s an eater.
S3: Mali, too, he he’s a champion eater. Like, he doesn’t sleep, but he’s a champion eater. And his palate blows my mind. I’m just like, You’re one and you’ll eat it all. OK, as long as it has, like big flavor, he’s into it. If it’s like unseasoned baby food, he’s like, Nah, nah. Where’s there? Was some, some garlic on there? Something. But um yeah, he’s a big eater, so I’m excited to see him on Thanksgiving. Kind of try all these things. Why is it so fun to watch little babies eat? Don’t know, it is a joy. It’s like,
S2: I mean, because it’s like, it’s like you, they’re nourishing themselves and it’s you feel so good knowing that they are literally growing themselves right. You can rest a little bit easier knowing that, Oh, thank God, at least they’re eating.
S3: Yeah. Ah, like they’re enjoying it like, oh, look at you, oh, it’s so great, you like that?
S1: Yeah, it’s fun. Yeah, it’s OK. What about your little one? Zak there at a cute eating age eight is not a cute age to watch eat at all. It’s disgusting. I have to follow up with the DustBuster. It’s terrible.
S2: Yeah, I definitely throw my one year old in the bath after most dinners he loves he. He had like a whole bowl actually last night that he’s just eating with his fingers, Noah, as it’s like on a Monday, she could be really open to anything but the next day she’s like, I want mac and cheese. So she’s she’s very unpredictable. But like, she had a four to salad the other day. We have a lot of Lebanese restaurants in Detroit, like with tomatoes and cucumbers, and then the next day she’s like, Give me bread and butter. So who knows with her? She’s cute regardless, though.
S1: Oh yeah. Well, Zak and Amber. I hope you all truly enjoy your Thanksgivings and listeners. I hope you either in jail or your Thanksgiving or enjoyed your Thanksgiving, depending on when you listen to this. And if you’re like me and you just skip the whole thing, I hope that you have fun doing that. Thank you so much for your support of Slate Plus, and we will talk to you next week.
S2: Happy holidays!
S3: Happy Holiday!