Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Superb Spaghetti Spring Break meal unites Spectrum & NT family!

One of my FAVORITE all-time meals is spaghetti with meat sauce and french bread.  I'm definitely a pasta kind of girl. It's the special meal I used to ask my mom to make for most of my birthdays and she makes an awesome spaghetti feast!



Admittedly, I've been missing my mom's cooking for quite some time.  John is a great cook, don't get me wrong but there is something about a homemade meal from mom that is satisfying in so many ways.

Up here in Washington we will occasionally treat the family to spaghetti with mizithra cheese from the Old Spaghetti Factory. It's reasonably priced and something the whole family will eat.  With our three picky eaters on the autism spectrum and John (who will eat almost anything), anytime we find a meal that the four of us will eat at one time, that's golden!

If you want to get a feel for the eating habits of our family, I invite you to check out a humorous look at the eating habits of a family with 3 autism spectrum travelers, all who have different sensory issues. This was actually one of the first blogs I wrote and it was back on January 20th, 2010. It still seems to be a favorite, although I probably need to do an update since there has been a little bit of progress in trying new foods and we always like celebrating positive steps.  Here is a link below:

A Typical Dinner with 3 Picky Eaters on the Autism Spectrum



We've been working with both Justin and Ryan on the concept of trying new foods. It's kind of a hit or miss thing and always a work in progress. Scouting has helped encouraged Justin to try new foods and preschool snacktime has been successful for getting Ryan to eat healthy snacks. Ryan used to eat a wide variety of foods up until about age 3 1/2 but then his preferences became more restrictive and almost all his food has to be cooled or put into the refrigerator as he is very sensitive to temperature.  Justin is very sensitive to texture.  I get really turned off by smell.

As we're working really hard on managing our money and wanted to be able to still provide little treats here and there without breaking the bank, John has been trying to introduce the boys to new foods during weekly grocery shopping trips in the hopes that something will look tasty enough to be worth a sniff, lick or try.  McDonalds McNuggets and french fries for Justin and plain cheeseburgers with fries for Ryan could be a staple given their drothers but we're looking for a much healthier route.

Everyone in our family likes pasta so when John was at the grocery store last Saturday, he was showing the boys different kinds of noodles and all of a sudden, Justin wanted dad to make SPAGHETTI and Ryan wanted this too!  This was a really surprising request because Justin usually picks penne noodles or corkscrew noodles and then eats them plain with just a little butter or parmesan cheese. I know some of you out there might wonder what is really the big difference between noodles?  Trust me, there is... In our family, it is a major accomplishment if we try a different brand of frozen pizza.  We're daredevils, I tell ya!

Well, John came home and the boys were pretty excited because their Dad was going to cook a spaghetti dinner to start off the spring break.  It was a lot cheaper than OSF and if the boys liked it, we could add another meal option to the menu which everyone could eat together at once. (Now granted, some have sauce and some don't but it's spaghetti nonetheless.)

John had never cooked spaghetti noodles before with meat sauce from scratch but he said he'd wing it. I'll have to admit that I was probably the most apprehensive of the four because there was no way I wanted to tell him that I didn't like it. Sauce is the big killer for me. I'm not a big sauce person but I will eat meat sauce with my spaghetti if it has the right kind of texture or flavor (i.e. no chunky tomatoes...)  I watched him stirring sauce on the burner and it didn't look right. I know that sounds silly... especially considering my culinary skills but I was afraid it was going to taste really tomatoey.  Then John added in some ground up hamburger and stirred it and it started to look like there was potential.

Of course Ryan and Justin were both really jazzed because they were having their spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese.  The sauce wasn't going to be a big deal to them.  It's funny though because Ryan DOES eat meat sauce from Old Spaghetti Factory so I thought he might try Dad's.

A couple minutes later John did something funny. He threw a spaghetti noodle at our kitchen cupboard to see if it would stick.  It did.  I'm sure you cooking inclined people out there know that trick but it certainly wasn't one I ever saw my mom do when she made spaghetti.  I think that would have been one of the last things she would have ever done.  I have to say after I saw John do this, I had a mischievous urge to start throwing noodles in a spirited food fight frenzy but I restrained myself.  We have enough daily clean-ups in the house as it is!

By the time John's spaghetti meal got to the table, everyone was ready to eat and tell Dad what they thought. Tact is not something Ryan has learned yet and although Justin does a pretty job, I knew that if the boys did not care for the meal, they would voice their opinion.



John goes to such hard work to prepare meals for us and I want them all to be a success. In all honesty, I would like to try cooking more often but I tend to get shuttled out of the kitchen.  I do make a mean microwave macaroni and cheese and I was the originator of our family's chicken and cheesy noodles!

Well, we sat at the table and said our nightly prayer and then we all dug into our spaghetti meal with various levels of initial enthusiasm "just in case" something might not be quite palatable. There was no reason to worry because it was absolutely DELICIOUS!  It was SOOOO good... definitely better than Old Spaghetti Factory.  In fact, I hadn't really been eating much lately BUT with this meal, I had second helpings!

Not only was it tasty, but it was really special because it reminded me of my mom's.  The taste was a little different but it was just as good in its own way. Both meals were cooked with love by people I love. We now have a "new" favorite meal in this house.

Despite Justin's request that we change the menu to spaghetti every day, we had different meals the past few days but tonight John made spaghetti with meatsauce again and bought some delicious french bread to go with it. He also bought garlic bread too and although that was great for Ryan and John, let's just say toothpaste needs to be embraced before a goodnight kiss!



I didn't really think this blog would be all about a spaghetti dinner but it was really nice to sit at the dinner table tonight, just the four of us, knowing that John only had to cook one meal.  Although we know our family is nowhere near typical, it gave us all a good feeling inside sharing the same meal and embracing good conversation together.

The boys have been on spring break this week and although there have been some challenges trying to balance work and entertainment coordination, we've tried to enjoy some family experiences together. The spaghetti dinners were part of that.  We also enjoyed a family movie yesterday at Clackamas Mall in Oregon. I'll share more about that tomorrow because movie outings in a theatre are not something we get to do very often with the four of us.

I'm needed right now to mediate and try to get the boys to bed so wish me luck!  I'll be back again blogging tomorrow!



Thanks for stopping by!
Karen

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