“Spaet-ZA-la”

by Laura on July 9, 2009

in Blog

Two weeks out of our element, living, breathing, playing and eating at someone else’s home. A simple task when I visit my parents’ alone, but a somewhat hard thing to do when you try to impose your rules – of meals and snack-time – on four kids while in a different environment.

The first full day behind us, and it went pretty well. Breakfast, a meal we typically eat together at home, was eaten one by one – perhaps because we’re on a different time zone and the kids didn’t wake up at the same time.

Lunchtime was a family affair, although Grandma took a hold of things and made the mistake of giving them options. Lunch immediately turned into a smorgasbord.

As for snack, well that turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Unlike at home, snacks (chips etc.) are readily available at Grandma’s. So, while here, I have to loosen my reigns on the snack food rules, but must also gently let the kids know when enough is enough.

Dinner was Grandpa Richard’s domain. His decision was to make meatballs and gravy with spaetzle. Fully aware that the kids might not take to the mushroom gravy, he planned to keep several on the side for the less adventurous kids, and allow the big kids to enjoy the “souped up” version.

While making meatballs, which he said he learned from his Grandma, our discussion turned to whether genetics played a role in someone’s love for cooking. We all agreed that people aren’t necessarily born with a cooking gene, it is something that we absorb throughout our lives. He vividly remembers his grandmother in the kitchen, who most likely learned to cook through absorption and first-hand instruction, from her father who was the chef at the now defunct Hotel Cleveland. He may have never participated in meal preparation with his grandma, it was ther happening in the background on a day-to-day basis.

I guess I never really thought about it, but we all know that children mimic what they see from their parents.  And if their parents are in the kitchen cooking, then they’ll absorb some of the cooking vibe. Similarly, if a parent’s choice for dinner is take-out, and the child rarely sees a parent in the kitchen cooking a meal, then they won’t have the opportunity to experience the importance and joys of preparing a meal.

Now, that isn’t to say that if a parent cooks, a child will naturally love to cook, but if they rarely (or never) see it being done, then they will have nothing to mimic, nothing to compare it to, no great mealtime experiences to think of.

As we sat down to dinner – Grandma, two Grandpas (Grandpa Richard and Pa), Grayson, Nicole, Addison, Kelly and myself, everyone quickly dug in.

“Oh, I love meatballs,” said Nicole, “but I don’t want spaetzle.”

“I’ll try the gravy and mushroom meatballs,” said Grayson, who was also quick to remind Nicole that “Spaet-ZA-la are just little dumplings, and you like dumplings.”

“Yummy,” added Addison, and Keely’s clean plate said it all for her.

No doubt dinner was a success.

Thanks Grandpa Richard. I guess you just may have been born with the cooking gene!

Grandpa Richard’s Meatballs

Serves 8

  • 1-12 lbs ground pork
  • 3 lbs ground meat
  • 2 old buns
  • Bit of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop up buns and soak in milk, just to moisten.
  2. Mix all ingredients and form into balls.
  3. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 375 F oven until cooked
  4. Serve with gravy and spaetzle.
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