What is this thing called picky

I’ve been reading a lot of stories from parents about their child’s picky eating habits. The despair is apparent: how can I get my child to try new things? How can I ensure that they get a healthy, balanced diet?

Well, speaking as an autistic adult: don’t. I was a very picky eater as a child, and I am not a picky eater anymore (apart from a few exceptions). And frankly, this is DESPITE everything my parents did in forcing me to try new foods and finish everything on my plate. I used to dread dinner time. Now it’s my favourite meal of the day.

Because I started cooking for myself.

Picky eating in autistic kids is not obstinacy or temper tantrums to get candy. It’s tied up with a whole boatload of sensory issues: not only taste, but also smell, texture and temperature. Most of us are far more sensitive to these things than you realise. That’s why some autistic kids don’t like crisps, or ice cream, or bubblegum… things you imagine every child would like.

Maybe I can show you by listing examples of the things I would and wouldn’t eat as a kid.

Vegetables

You know, the big one. The one every parent freaks out about, because if you’re not eating your veggies, you’re going to DIE. Or something. So let’s look at how I kept myself from dying so far.

© Katrien | Praetershoek

I liked broccoli but only if it wasn’t boiled too long. Spinach, only if it was nearly pureed. Green beans were alright. I was quite fond of string beans as well, but only sliced very thinly (my mother had a special slicer for that, pictured on the right). My favourite vegetable was curly kale, mashed with potatoes. Other than those five, I hated all boiled vegetables. I hated them so much, that I scooped them behind the radiator at my back when nobody was looking, or hid spoonfuls in my pockets. I also hated to eat anything in which I couldn’t identify the vegetables. Vegetable soup was a nightmare, mostly because of the texture of boiled onions and leek. I didn’t start to eat onions until I was 19, and then only if they were sliced razor thin. Leek took me even longer, age 25. I didn’t eat tomatoes until I was about 22. Tomato sauce was OK provided it was pureed to death, but not my favourite. And other vegetables? I discovered a marvelous thing once I started living on my own: I could eat them raw. Carrots, cauliflower, endives, beets, cabbages, courgette (zucchini), even fennel have all been added to my veggie repertoire now that I’m an adult. All raw. I love veggies. What a difference from when I was a kid. If only my parents hadn’t forced me to eat them boiled.

Fruit

I loved and still love cherries. Oranges and clementines have always been a favourite of mine. The tarter the better. I couldn’t stand overly sweet oranges, not to mention the ones that were sort of chewy and dry. I also had to spend about half an hour picking off every last bit of pith. I’ll call it attention to detail, but the adults around me called it exasperating and neurotic. Now that I’m an adult, I fortunately have a higher pith tolerance. Strawberries were more complicated. I love them plain, but process them in any kind of way and they became my most loathed fruit enemies. Strawberry jam, strawberry yoghurt, even strawberry ice cream: YUCK. It was a combination of taste and texture: processed strawberries are completely different from fresh ones. Bananas were and are still only OK if they are slightly green, with absolutely zero brown spots. The texture of brown banana is still grueling to me.

© Kornelia Häfele | Wikipedia

I could only eat apples if they were rigorously de-cored, and not with an apple corer because that would still leave pieces of core. Pieces of core even made me refuse apple pie if I found any of it inside. I hated the taste of grapes. I still can’t stand seedless grapes as an adult. Peaches, apricots, and plums were only edible if they were skinned, again a texture issue. In line with the tartness of oranges, I also loved and still love any type of berry: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, gooseberries. It probably helped that we grew most of those in our back garden. My favourite was gooseberry, cracking the skin and then sucking out the juicy flesh. So while I was very specific about the ways in which I wanted to eat fruit, fruit was never the nightmare for me that vegetables were.

Dairy

I was breastfed and then got formula for a couple of months until I was about 12 months old. I stopped drinking milk after that. It used to worry my mum that I wasn’t getting enough calcium. She shouldn’t have worried, because I’m an absolute cheese fiend. One of my first words was cheese. When people asked me what I wanted on my sandwiches, I always said “Cheese!” even when I meant something else. And even as a little kid, I preferred the stronger tasting and aged cheeses (I discovered blue cheese when I was about 14, and fell utterly in love). I also ate a lot of plain yoghurt, with little or no sugar added. Fruit yoghurts tasted artificial to me and were too sweet. As an adult, I still eat enormous amounts of cheese, but I’ve also added ice cream (yes you’ve read that correctly, I didn’t like dairy based ice creams as a kid), sour cream and other dairy products to my diet. I still can’t stand sweetened yoghurts or milk, though.

Meat and fish

© Kokodrill | Dreamstime.com

My love of meat was extremely dependent on texture. I wouldn’t eat sausages if they had chewy bits in them. I painstakingly removed rinds of fat from everything, including ham and bacon. I wouldn’t eat any type of cold cuts except very thinly sliced “rookvlees” (a kind of smoked carpaccio). Steaks had to be extremely well-done. Funnily enough, I loved such weird things as chicken livers, venison, and rabbit. As an adult, I’ve slowly moved towards liking rare steaks, but I’ve become very picky about quality, and prefer to eat vegetarian if I can’t get good quality meat. I’m still not fond of rinds of fat, but I’ve learned how to cook them to a crisp. Crispy is much better. Texture-wise, I also had to eat everything with knife and fork, even things like chicken legs, because I hated my fingers getting sticky. I didn’t eat spare ribs until I was 27. Any type of fish sent me into a panic because I was scared to death of choking on a fish bone. Even fish fingers had to be meticulously checked for stray fragments. I didn’t learn to like fish until I was in my late twenties, and I still check for fish bones, although not as panicky.

Beverages

In this sense, probably the ideal child, because I only drank tea or water. Even fruit juice and cordials had to be watered down beyond all recognition, otherwise I wouldn’t drink it. I couldn’t stand Coke or other sodas, because they were far too sweet. I liked carbonated mineral water, though. As an adult, I’ve added coffee and most types of alcohol (except alcopops) to this list, but other than that, no change.

Other things

Bread: as a child, only toasted (but not too crispy), especially supermarket bread. And without whole grains in them. And no hard crusts. I’ve come a long way since then, and now I’ll eat any type of bread, although I am still fairly snobby about supermarket bread.
Eggs: only fried or scrambled, and only if the yolks were broken up immediately and the egg was thoroughly cooked. I didn’t eat a soft boiled egg until I was 34. Hard boiled eggs still make me gag.
Vinegar: my nemesis. Just the smell is enough to make me throw up. My two brothers always tried to take advantage of this, by “accidentally” dropping some mayonnaise or ketchup on my chips so I’d refuse to touch them. More chips for them. I still have to be very specific in restaurants about not wanting any salad dressing or other condiments.

This image is enough to make me nauseated. Not kidding.
© Kliek | Wikipedia

You might be thinking to yourself that this doesn’t sound very picky, because the list of foods I would eat was still fairly long. However, it was still a list, and if something wasn’t on the list, I’d have a complete meltdown when forced to eat it. It was nearly impossible to take me to a restaurant because I didn’t want to eat anything I wasn’t familiar with. Once, when I was on holiday in Austria, about age 10, I ate nothing but Wiener Schnitzels at the local restaurant for over a week. This ended with the chef making me the most gigantic Schnitzel I’ve ever seen (about the size of two large dinner plates), to the extreme hilarity of everyone present.

For years, food to me meant being forced to eat things, because that was the way the world worked. It was only after I started cooking my own food that I dared experiment a bit more and develop a healthier attitude. I had control over what I ate and how I ate it, and that helped me to become less uptight about food. Even so, it took me a long while to stop feeling anxious when having dinner at someone else’s house, because I hated drawing attention to my long list of weird food dislikes.

I’ve finally come to the point where I eat and enjoy most foods. But it’s been a very long, traumatic road.

Making mud pies

Well, not really. But in Dutch, we call these biscuits “zandkoekjes”, which literally translates to sand biscuits. Probably because of the crumbly texture. So it’s not that big a leap to mud pies. Really, it’s not. Sand. Mud. Biscuits. Pies. Really.

They’re incredibly easy to make, so this time I’m going to do things slightly different and add a video!

Ingredients

Makes about 16 biscuits

  • 100 grams of self-raising flour
  • 75 grams of cold unsalted butter
  • 50 grams of granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt

Math wizards will realise that you can easily adapt the amounts, as long as you keep to a 4:3:2 ratio.

Preparation

Wash your hands with cold water so they’re clean and COLD. Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes. With a knife, not a fork. Ahem. Then “pinch” the butter with your fingertips to mix it with the sugar and flour. Keep on pinching until it starts clumping together. Take small lumps of dough and place them on a baking sheet. Flatten them with your hand. They don’t need to look perfect.

Place the sheet into a preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

After two minutes they look like this.

Sand biscuits 2 minutes

After four minutes they look like this.

Sand biscuits 4 minutes

After seven minutes they look like this.

Sand biscuits 7 minutes

After nine minutes, they’re done.

Sand biscuits 9 minutes

Might be a bit shorter or longer depending on your oven, so keep an eye on how brown they are. You want slightly brown edges but not much more. Refer to the picture if you’re unsure.

They will come out still a bit soft, so let them cool down on the sheet for about 2 (if you’re hungry) to 15 (if you can wait that long) minutes. Enjoy!

The Salad Variations

Fried chicken salad

200 grams of chicken breast
75-100 grams of lettuce
4 cherry tomatoes
100 grams of cottage cheese or mozzarella
1 tablespoon of olive oil


This is how I clean chicken breast. I cut off a lot of weird bits, as shown on the left of the first pic. Then dice it into pieces of about one inch, as shown on the right. It’s hard to do this because it seems so wasteful, but part of my “Life As An Adult” motto is that it’s more wasteful to throw out food because I can’t eat it due to ickyness. So. I simply don’t buy meat everyday. And when I do, I’m allowed to cut off the weird bits.

Next, I put a bit of olive oil in a frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom, add chicken pieces, and put it on a medium to high heat. Basically just high enough to make spluttering noises but not so high that there’s oil flying everywhere.

Then I ignore the pan for a while and start sorting out the lettuce. See, the thing is that I really like this mixed bag, but they’ve started putting too much onion in it and that’s smelly and awful. So I pick out all the actual leaves. I can do that, I’m an adult now. Even if it takes 10 minutes.

Which, incidentally, is about the time needed for the chicken pieces to become nice and brown and crispy. Put the lettuce in a bowl and stir the chicken to get it to brown on the other side as well. Be careful of oil splatters.

Next, I want to add the cottage cheese to the salad, but as it turns out the best before date was about a week ago. Yay executive function! Disregarding that, I rely on my awesome autistic senses to taste if it’s gone off. Oh, actually it has. Yay autistic senses! So I use some mozzarella instead, diced into small bits.

Then I slice the cherry tomatoes into quarters. The chicken should be completely done by now so I add everything to the bowl, then add some extra virgin olive oil as a dressing. I don’t use store bought dressings, because vinegar and sugar and lots of crap. This salad doesn’t need it.

You can leave out ingredients or add others if you so wish (cucumber!). That’s the great thing about salads. You can add whatever you like. Except if you don’t like lettuce, then you might have a problem. But even then, fried chicken bits with tomatoes and cottage cheese is pretty yummy as well.

Endive and orange salad

4 endives
4 oranges, peeled and sliced
a small handful of walnuts
3 slices of blue cheese
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil


So, endives. Also called chicory sometimes. It’s a very popular vegetable in the Netherlands. I don’t really like it when it’s cooked. But raw? Yum. I have this thing for bitter tasting stuff. If bitter is your thing as well (there’s a reason chicory root is used as a coffee substitute), then you’ll probably like this salad.

Anyway. Clean the endives, remove any outer leaves that look shrivelled or brown. Slice into small strips, about half an inch wide. I cut off the tip here because it was green, basically the more green the more bitter, but there is a limit to what I can take. After I’ve sliced up the endives, I take out the inner core which is a bit tough and again, very bitter.

Then I cut the oranges into segments.

Once I’ve done that, I add some walnuts, about five of them broken into small pieces. Say a small handful.

For the blue cheese, I’ve chosen a Rochebaron this time, because it’s not extremely pungent and has a very creamy texture, a bit like brie. But sometimes I use a more pungent one like Danish Blue as well. I cut this into small cubes. Not too much or it will completely dominate the salad.

Finish with some extra virgin olive oil as a dressing, together with the juice from peeling and slicing the oranges. Same goes for this salad, play around with ingredients you like and leave out things you don’t like. It’s all good.

Oranges are not the only fruit

So I made an endive and orange salad for dinner yesterday, and I thought it would be a nice excuse to show you how to clean oranges the professional way, ending up with those pretty little segments without skins. I didn’t figure out how to do this until I was 32, and my mother still doesn’t get it. But it’s pretty awesome.

Orange peelThe type of orange doesn’t matter. I always buy what we call “juicing oranges”, because oranges that are meant to be held in the hand while eating them tend to be less juicy (because of messiness). And I like juicy.

So yeah, this is going to be messy. If you have sensory difficulties with dirty and/or sticky hands, keep the tap running so you can rinse your hands whenever you need to.

First sliceFirst, you need to cut away the white rind. It takes some getting used to, but if you start with cutting the “top” of the orange off, you can see exactly how thickly you need to peel this baby. I always peel the oranges over a bowl, so I can catch the juice as well. I did mention that this is going to get messy, right?

Once you have gotten all of the white rind off, you can hold the orange in one hand and take a sharp knife to slice close to the white “divider” thingie.
Second sliceThis is actually the skin of one of the segments. Don’t worry about slicing very closely to the “divider”, you’re going to end up with different size segments anyway because nature is chaotic like that. So just slice somewhere next to it and don’t worry about not getting it right the first time.

Third sliceNext, you’re going to do the exact same on the opposite side of the segment. So because I’m right-handed, first I slice on the right of the “divider”, then I move to the right and slice on the LEFT side of the next “divider”. (I’d really appreciate suggestions on how to call these, by the way. Divider sounds idiotic). If you’re left-handed, it’s probably easier to mirror this.

Once you’ve made those two slices, you can simply lift out your orange segment with a flick of your knife.

Then you can move on to the next segment, again making a slice right of the “divider”. You can see the thickness of the segment skin in the picture.

Orange leftoversKeep on working your way down through all the segments, and keep rinsing your hands if you need to, because they’re going to be covered in orange juice.

If you used the same trick as me, doing this above a big bowl, you’re going to end up with:

  1. About 7-9 pretty orange segments without skins
  2. A big bowl of juice
  3. A weird flowerlike orange leftover thing!

I will do a follow-up post for the endive salad, which is also pretty awesome but I know most people hate endives.

What nobody tells you about cooking

When my mother taught me how to make pancakes at the age of 12, it was mostly because she hated making pancakes in summer when the evening sun was shining right into the kitchen. It would get incredibly hot in there with the sun and two heavy pancake pans constantly in use. And I wanted to learn. Especially how to do the bit with the two pans. Like how do you make sure that one doesn’t burn while you’re busy with the other? My mother is not very good at explaining but she is very good at showing how to do things. So I watched and paid attention and figured it out. (The trick was to keep the flame under the pan not too high, so you’d have more time before burning started to happen).

As I grew older I kept begging my mother to teach me how to cook other things, but she always replied “Read the package, dear.” But what about potatoes? Or green beans? They don’t have packages. “Everything that doesn’t have a package, boil for 20 minutes.” Oh. Right. Does that really work?

As it turns out, it doesn’t. My mum is a great cook but she hates cooking. I have never asked why. It’s probably to do with having three kids and a husband who was never home on time and not having a lot of money when we were growing up. So I had to figure things out on my own. And there was a lot of figuring out to do, because there’s a lot that nobody explains to you.

Salt

“Add salt and seasoning to taste.” How can I tell if it’s to taste when it’s not done yet? I can only taste it after it’s done and then it’ll be too late! And how much is “a pinch of salt”?

My solution: Screw that. I don’t add salt and seasoning until the food is on the plate and ready to be eaten.

White rice

I didn’t manage to properly cook rice until I was 28. It was always soggy or burnt. And I followed the instructions on the package!

The trick: add one fingertip of water on top of the rice. It doesn’t matter how much rice you have. Or how big the pot is. Or how big your fingers are. This does not make sense mathematically or physically. It just works. One fingertip up to the first joint, as long as it’s not a huge pot with only a scattering of rice at the bottom. In that case, find a smaller pot. Bring to a boil on a medium to high heat, then turn the heat low and put the lid on. If you lift the lid after 15 minutes of boiling, you shouldn’t see any water, at most bubbles coming up between the rice. Replace the lid and turn off the heat, then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. You can also let it sit longer (especially if you wrap it in a towel or blanket) and prepare the rest of the meal in the meantime. Perfectly dry white rice.

Risotto (short grain rice)

© Vít Luštinec – Wikipedia

This sounds like a lot of work. Glaze the rice, add a little bit of stock, stir until it’s soaked up, add a little bit more…

My solution: Risotto tastes exactly the same when you dump the entire amount of stock into the pot in one go. It’s simply rice that soaks up a lot of moisture so you add a lot of moisture to keep it moist and creamy. That’s it. How you add it is completely beside the point (although stirring does help). Follow the recipe with regards to glazing the rice in some olive oil, and adding the other ingredients, but ignore the whole “add and stir until soaked up” thing.

This is true for a lot of recipes, actually. Don’t be afraid to try out different ways of preparing things, as long as you’re not cooking for others. People get annoyed when they have to go hungry. For yourself, you can simply make a sandwich if it all goes wrong. And it will go wrong often. Very very often. That’s OK.

Fish and meat

How can you tell if it’s done? If you cut it open and it’s not done yet, you can’t put it back in the pan because then all the juices run out and the butter or oil starts sputtering.

The fish trick: you can simply fry on one side only. That saves the trouble of trying to turn it over without the fish falling apart, as well. Keep the heat low and wait until the topside doesn’t look raw anymore. Done!

The meat trick: this works best with beef and other red meats, but also with poultry and pork. Push slightly on the top of the meat and feel how springy it is. You can use either your finger or a fork.

Is it as springy as the meat of your thumb when you gently touch the tips of your thumb and index finger together? Then it’s still raw inside.
Is it as springy as the meat of your thumb when you gently touch the tips of your thumb and middle finger together? Still pink inside, but not bloody anymore.
Is it as springy as the meat of your thumb when you gently touch the tips of your thumb and ring finger together? Well done.

Veggies

I used to loathe – ABSOLUTELY LOATHE – nearly every cooked vegetable. Except fava beans and spinach, for some strange reason. But when I moved out I figured out something really shocking:

I don’t need to eat things I don’t like and still eat healthy meals.

In fact, there’s been some research done that shows that if you enjoy what you eat, you eat more slowly which helps digestion and enables your body to derive more nutrients from your food. Besides the obvious fact that enjoying stuff is pretty awesome in its own right.

I still detest boiled carrots

I still detest boiled carrots ( © Bill – Fotolia.com )

My solution: try out everything raw first. It turns out that a lot of vegetables don’t need to be cooked and have a FAR more pleasant texture when they’re raw. You need to be careful and only do this in small amounts, since some plants have toxins in their skins or leaves to keep away insects, like potatoes and beans. But you can usually find information on that online. Just make sure to check your sources. And remember: one bite won’t kill you. Plants that are that toxic are not for sale in supermarkets. So give it a try and see if you find something you like. Just because recipes say you need to prepare a vegetable a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Cook the scientific way

In closing, check out the site below, Cooking for Engineers. It takes cooking to an entire new level and doesn’t assume anything is true until tested. For example the Kitchen Notes section, where he looks at how food actually becomes brown through different methods of adding heat, and the Cooking Tests section where he sees if the Beer Can Chicken idea actually works and tries out different ways of cooking bacon. The recipes in the Recipe File all have clear pictures of each step and very handy charts at the bottom with ingredients and preparation steps.

© Michael Chu - Cookingforengineers.com

© Michael Chu – Cookingforengineers.com

Absolutely brilliant.

Rainbow soup

20130825_202111
So I decided to make rainbow soup today.

It’s not actually called rainbow soup. I just like it and it’s got a lot of colours so that’s why.

I don’t really feel like doing an official recipe so I’m just going to show how I made it.

Starting with about two handfuls of green beans.

I hate green beans when they’re stringy or have big beans inside or are gigantically overcooked. Other than that I quite like them.

If you want to make sure they aren’t stringy, there’s a trick to cleaning them. If you sort of use the knife to pull the tip of the bean towards you while cutting, you can get the string to come with as well. I hope the picture sort of shows that.

It’s really hard to take a picture while holding a green bean in one hand and a knife in the other.

I cut the beans into small pieces, probably around 1-1.5cm. I guess that averages out around 0.5in. Does it matter? Not really.

Then there’s the big pot of chicken stock. Two litres. I’m lazy and I always use ready made stock from jars. It’s just so much easier.

I prefer jars to making stock from cubes because this way I can just put it in the pot without thinking about it. I do add plenty of water because I don’t usually like very salty food.

This is called a lombok. It’s a chili pepper used in Indonesian cooking. I’m not actually cooking Indonesian food this time but it’s the most common pepper available in the Netherlands. I think it’s a variation of the Cayenne pepper.

I like lomboks because they’re spicy but not insanely so. Plus they have an awesome red colour.

This one is about the size of my hand.

There’s a couple of ways to clean chili peppers. I prefer cutting them lengthwise and then scraping out the seeds and interior.

The more of the orangey interior (seed ribs) you remove, the milder the taste will be. Today I’m not interested in sniffles so I’m removing most of the insides.

After that I’m cutting them into small strips.

I’m mostly doing it for the colour.

Then it’s on to the tins.

Crispy mais. I don’t know what’s so crispy about it. It’s just maize kernels. Or corn kernels. You know what I mean. There’s a picture.

I always make sure to buy the kind without added sugar. Seriously. Maize is sweet enough already. Silly people.

I drain off the water in the tin before adding the contents to the chicken stock.

It’s starting to look pretty.

Green, yellow, and red.

I had to put in quite a bit of effort to get this picture. The maize kept sinking to the bottom of the pot. And as with the green bean and the knife, it’s a bit hard to take a picture while stirring soup with a really big ladle and making sure the pot stays in place.

The sacrifices I make for this blog.

Another tin!

Diced tomatoes. No idea why this tin is in English, since it’s actually a Dutch brand.

This step in the preparation might be a leftover from when I didn’t eat tomatoes. What I do is I take the diced tomatoes and rinse them about a thousand times till I only have the bits of tomato meat left and no juice.

Fresh tomatoes are not an option (even though I actually like those now) because the skins peel off in a nasty way and peeling them beforehand is a lot of effort.

I might try peeled tomatoes but I’d have to rinse those as well. And they feel icky when you’re cutting them up.

So rinsed diced tomatoes it is. Rinse rinse rinse. Not much left when I’m done rinsing.

Without the juice the soup doesn’t become a red cloudy mess either. We want rainbow soup, not tomato soup.

(Oh, on a side note: at my supermarket they have like half an aisle filled with different types of tomatoes. It is 100% impossible for me to pass it without starting to sing “Let’s call the whole thing off” softly to myself).

Time to clean and dice the chicken breast.

Yeah, I know you can get pre-diced chicken breast. But I’m very particular about icky bits in my chicken. I’ve learned how to eat (and love) other parts of grilled chickens, but breast definitely needs to be skin and tendon free. So usually I prefer buying a whole breast and cleaning it myself. I’m better at it than their machines.

You don’t want to know how often I find bits of bone.

Potatoes next. (Potayto! Potahto! Let’s call the whole thing off!)

I use a specific potato breed called “Eigenheimer” from Friesland. The Dutch have a thing about potatoes. But any fluffy, starchy potato will do.

What I want is for the bits of potato to become soft and crumbly when I eat them. But they shouldn’t be dissolving while still in the soup. I don’t want thick starchy potato soup.

So now we’ve got our pot of chicken stock, filled with green beans, chili pepper bits, maize kernels, diced and rinsed tomatoes, diced chicken breast, and diced potatoes.

Let’s go and bring that mother to a soft boil.

I usually aim for about 30 minutes. The chicken and potatoes need plenty of time to cook.

While the soup is softly bubbling to itself, I’ve got time for my favourite part.

Coriander. Cilantro.

I love it. A lot of people hate it.

That’s ok. Autistic people know everything about “irrational” dislikes of food so nobody here is going to force anyone to eat something they don’t like.

I’m just going to make you look at it.

Pretty green leaves. So pretty.

And now I’m going to take my big-ass knife and destroy the pretty green leaves.

Chop chop chop!

Well, I’m not that fast. This is a really sharp knife and I still can’t feel the tip of my left ring finger from where I cut into it with this same knife in January. So… proceed carefully. But thoroughly.

I need very finely chopped coriander.

Because I’m going to make meatballs! And my experience with not-so-finely chopped coriander is that it’ll end up everywhere (plate. frying pan. hands) except inside the meatballs.

Lean ground beef. Seasoned with some fresh black and white pepper and a pinch or two of salt (I use literal pinches. Like what I can pinch between my thumb and first two fingers). Again, I’m not that fond of salt but you can add more if you want.

Next, I add the coriander, a small egg, and some bread crumbs.

The egg and bread crumbs are purely optional, I only add it because the meatballs turn nice and brown when frying with a bit of egg in the mix, and it makes it a bit easier to roll the balls and not have them fall apart in your hands or while frying.

But it does make everything a lot ickier to touch. So I can understand if you skip this part.

Knead the meat until it starts feeling like bread dough. If it’s still really sticky and slippery, add some extra breadcrumbs. You literally want a bread dough feel. That’s the easiest for rolling the meatballs.

(This feeling is not applicable when not using egg and breadcrumbs. Then you’re on your own. I’m so mean).

Take a bit of meat about the size of your thumb and roll it between your palms in a circular motion until you get a ball.

I always try to minimise amount of washing up, so I usually put the meatballs directly into the frying pan. Not heated up yet. Just a little bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the pan and a small pat of butter (about thumb size) for the nice frying action later on.

Repeat lots of times until you run out of meat.

Then turn on the heat underneath the frying pan and fry the meatballs until they turn brown, on a high to medium heat. Depends on how much it’s splattering. I don’t like splatter, it always ends up on my hands and then I have burns and that hurts.

Turn off the heat under both pans (yes, the soup was still softly boiling, remember?) and add the meatballs to the soup. Again, try to avoid splatter. Boiling soup is hot.

What do you mean, accident prone? I only have cooking mishaps about once a month or so.

And it’s so worth it.

Look. RAINBOW SOUP!!!

Ch-ch-changes

A few years ago, when pizza delivery places here started preslicing pizzas more often, I was really annoyed because I wanted to determine the size of my own slices.

When my pizza arrived just now, it took me about 30 seconds of pulling on the edges to realise it wasn’t presliced. And then another 15 seconds or so to think of a solution (knife!). And then I felt so annoyed with the pizza delivery place for not preslicing my pizza.

Until I remembered that this was how I used to like it.

I’m pretty bad at handling small changes like that. I hadn’t even realised until now. It’s not that I get an emotional meltdown or get stuck and have no way out, but the annoyance is definitely there and it does take me somewhat longer to adapt.

And all because of pizza.