The art of the compliment

It’s music to a mom’s ears when the teen son peeks into the pot and exclaims, “I love that stuff! The bacon, the peas!” Tonight’s compliment was a long time coming since I’ve veered away from any effort to make kid-friendly meals of late.

Son #1 was speaking of Spaghetti Carbonara. It was a last minute inspiration – at 6:10pm to be exact — when I realized that the tempeh stirfry I had planned would not go over particularly well tonight.  Good decision. Instead I quickly sauteed bacon and shallots, added the cooked pasta, scrambled in the eggs, tossed in parmesan cheese, peas and cream.  Easy. It’s an old favorite that I spotted when leafing through the latest issue of Relish.

On the side was a salad of romaine, grated carrots, tomatoes and avocado with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  I have always felt like such a slouch when buying simple vinaigrettes at the store. No more! Ever since I bought a nifty salad shaker , I’ve been more committed to salad dressings made from scratch. Another simple way to make a big difference.

Inspired by compliments before we even sat down to dinner,  I seized the opportunity to share a few thoughts with the boys, thanks to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about how to give and receive compliments.  Specifics make a difference.  “I like the fresh avocados and tomatoes with the romaine,” my husband noted. (Did I detect a smirk?) “Why do we need to know this stuff?” Son #2 wondered. Because manners matter, I reminded him.  And manners are more likely to keep me from going on strike in the kitchen.  That much, they know 😉


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