Making Dinner with a Toddler: Sweet Potato Cabbage Daal, Red Kale, Slaw & Chicken

Step 1: Go pick up our CSA! Ava can walk with me now. She loves to check out the purple lights at the bar, stop and play peek a boo through the window with patrons, and rearrange the onions and potatoes at Harlem Shambles. Mama puts all the onions and potatoes back where they belong. She helps me pull the vegetables out of our CSA box, pulls my wallet and keys out of my shopping bag, and tries to escape 5-6 times. On the way back, she experiments with sitting down and lying down on the sidewalk and I encourage her to stand up again.

Step 2: Pop the chicken legs in the oven at 400 degrees while Ava starts unloading the CSA vegetables from our shopping bag.

Step 3: Notice that Ava has already started ripping the red kale apart and get out a pot of water and the salad spinner so we can wash, dry and rip the kale together. Ava is very industrious and spends lots of time transferring kale between the pot of water, the salad spinner and the floor. I rewash kale as we go. When Ava is ready, she puts the lid on the salad spinner and spins it very vigorously. I confiscate the kale so that she can’t put it back on the floor.

Step 4: As Ava is happily ripping up and redistributing kale, and taking occasional stair climbing breaks (prompting instant attention from mama), I start peeling a sweet potato. I stop to pull Ava off the stairs, change her diaper, nurse her, show her the sweet potato, remove her from the trash can, wash her hands at the sink, clean up all the water on the floor from giving the kale a bath in step 3, change her diaper and wet clothes, nurse her, read a few books, chase her, and nurse her. Peeling this sweet potato takes a very long time.

Step 5: Cut up the sweet potato. I stop to put eggs and vegetables from the shopping bag into the fridge with Ava, put red lentils in a pot, smell all the spices with Ava before adding them to the pot, take out the recycling with Ava when she starts dragging the big recycling bag to the door, hold Ava to press the elevator buttons, hold Ava to look out the window, walk the hall, and nurse her. Cutting the sweet potato takes a very long time, but finally the sweet potato is in the pot with the red lentils, spices, and water.

Step 6: Play with Ava, nurse Ava, change Ava, read to Ava while sweet potato daal cooks. Go check out the lentils with Ava periodically to see if the bubbles are getting bigger. Set the table with Ava.

Step 7: Our roommate comes home and plays with Ava! I add shredded cabbage to the daal, start sautéing kale with olive oil and red wine, pour tea, pick kale off the floor, scrape/consolidate all the prep dishes, and empty the dish drainer. I am so fast now!

Step 8: Stop and nurse Ava. Daddy comes home and plays with Ava. I plate all the food, microwave some frozen broccoli for Ava, and it’s time to eat.

 

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