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Not everyone’s going to enjoy a special recipe

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By Lonnie Sundermeyer

We just spent a week of vacation with our son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren — ages 1, 2, 4 and 10 — in Florida.

In that group we have some very picky eaters, including the adults. As much as I love them all, I do get a little disturbed because they all eat a lot of snack foods. The general menu for the 2- and 4- year-olds is chicken fingers and French fries, no vegetables. Their mother is trying to get them to eat better, but their habit of eating snack foods that it makes it very difficult for her.

On one of the days of swimming in the pool, going to the beach and playing in the playground, I thought we would have a picnic, and I would fix all the food. My son is a little protective of me and doesn’t want me to feel obligated to cook for them whenever they visit, so generally we eat out a lot. This was going to be my day to really surprise them with some home cooked food from their “Nonna.” I went with the idea of making their chicken fingers, but this time I made them my way and baked them in the oven. Next I made a wonderful marinated tomato salad, which I knew the children would not eat, but the adults would love, and they did. I fixed diced peaches for the kids.

The best part, and I was so excited about it, was the Bow Tie Pasta Salad I made especially for the children. It had everything in it that I knew they loved. I give you:

Nonna’s Bow-Tie
Pasta Salad

  • 6-ounces bow tie pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 (small) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ stalk celery, minced fine
  • 6 mini-carrots, minced fine
  • 3-ounces (half of 6-ounce container) of vanilla non-fat yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Paprika for garnish

Cook the pasta as directed, then add the next four ingredients, stir until blended; set aside. In a separate bowl, blend together yogurt, mayonnaise and honey. Add to pasta mixture and blend well. Add cheese and stir. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

What I learned from this experience: The adults and the 1- and 2- year-olds loved it.

What adults may love mixed together, children may not always like.

It doesn’t matter if they love all the ingredients in the dish separately, once they are mixed together that does it. You cannot please all of the children all of the time. So, don’t get your feelings hurt if they don’t like it.

What I know for sure is, that if you let children help you make something, it’s almost guaranteed they will eat it. I have done that so many times in the past and I thought I could do something different this time. What was I doing “thinking,” I knew better. For one instant I thought about having the 4-year-old over to help me make it.

Going with your gut feeling really is the best. I learned my lesson regarding my grandchildren, but my son loved it and came back the next day for leftovers — thank heavens. Enjoy!

Lonnie Sundermeyer is a professional caterer residing in Ghent, Ky.