I was at a bakery, I was about to ask for it, and I stared at the side of the cake. Something was wrong. It took me second to put my finger on it. And then I realized: there walnuts were affixed to the frosting. Like pernicious little nuggets of doom (we learned this spring that Curly and tree nuts are not really two things that go together, at least not without an Epi-pen and a panicked trip to the ER). After a little more open-mouthed staring (and considering, for about a millisecond, baking the thing myself), I abandoned the carrot cake ambush.
I had to regroup. I decided (after finally closing my mouth) that 1) my carrot challenge was over, 2) no baking was going to be done to introduce carrot cake (I'm in the middle of costume doctoring for Halloween, and it's making me regard all domestic pursuits with a somewhat embittered eye) and that 3) we were going to Serious Pie for dinner after Saturday's soccer games were done. Point 3 obviously had nothing to do with carrots, but as long as I was making decisions, I went ahead with that one. I checked the closing time of the Dahlia Bakery so that we could pick up dessert before walking into Serious Pie (they are conveniently around the corner from one another).Serious Pie was popular with all of us. Curly ordered a pizza margherita (a nice rendition of one). My boy got the pizza topped with Yukon Gold potatoes, rosemary and a little parmesan (fantastic, and traditional Italian, although I think as a topped focaccia usually sold out of bakeries rather than pizzerie but... I can't say I care, since it doesn't really change the bottom line of deliciousness). I had the clam and pancetta pizza (which is essentially a variation on a quite good spicy clam and pancetta pasta sauce Tom Douglas has in one of his cookbooks), and really, I would get it again, and again. And again. I had an ice hockey game that night; I had planned on eating a third to a half of my pizza beforehand, and finishing the rest when I came home, so that I wouldn't be skating in a food coma. I ate it all. I skated around in a contented torpor of food coma-liciousness. It was so worth it. My husband got their special, which was a prosciutto and chanterelle pizza, and very good, but the clam pizza really rocked.
However, Serious Pie was not really a part of any vegetable campaign. You could argue that there's tomato sauce, but that was only on Curly's pizza margherita. It was delicious (if a little pricey for pizza, but it's more or less in line with Tutta Bella and Via Tribunali, Seattle's other pricey pizza joints). And somehow, it got me to thinking a little bit about a food the kids will eat in almost any guise: meatballs.
I realized that meatballs have led the kids to different foods. They are, if you will, a gateway food. They love meatballs (although I will say they are sticklers for meatball quality), and so they eat the stuff that surrounds the meatballs (well, some of it, anyway), and the stuff in the meatballs. They often help make meatballs (child labor is handy for repetitive tasks like meatball formation), so what's in them is rarely a surprise. I have not disguised anything in the meatballs using purees, a la Jessica Seinfeld (and apparently, Missy Chase Levine, who has a more or less identical book but with a lot less in the way of a publicity push). Anyway, I decided that it was time to try meatball soup. With a tomato-y broth.
Curly saw that there were meatballs and began devouring hers. That there were meatballs in her dinner was all she needed to know. After a few moments, she noticed that there were diced tomatoes in there, but she'd already decided that the whole thing was good, so she continued eating happily. My boy? Finally had to be ordered to have a piece (singular) of tomato with a meatball. His eyes got big with anxiety. Wincing, he finally did it. And then his eyes opened back up, normally, and he said that it tasted fine. He even went so far as to say that he could imagine having a tomato and meatball pasta sauce. That he might even want that. And then he ate the rest.