Monday, February 28, 2011

Barbie Girl vs The Girl Scout

I am currently embroiled in a battle of epic proportions between two of my personalities.  I call them Barbie Girl and Girl Scout.

Barbie Girl is on a mission to be Hollywood thin, with perfect white teeth and no proof of her age evident on her face.  Barbie Girl makes me buy magazines like People Style Watch and Self.  She makes me watch The Biggest Loser and she makes me buy iPhone apps called "Lose it" and "Carb Counter". Barbie Girl is at least a little bit misdirected and I recognize that it's possible she might be slightly crazy.

Girl Scout is completely logical.  She recognizes that she is a healthy weight, is fit and active and lucky to have been born with a relatively fast metabolism.  Girl Scout prioritizes having a healthy self-esteem, believes in eating in balance and living in moderation.  She knows that food is a great joy in life and that a joyless life is not one she wants to be part of.  She works hard to be a Good Example to the kidlets and doesn't like to use words like "diet" or "fat" or "calories" in the presence of her two darling kidlets.

The trouble is that Barbie Girl gets fuel from outside events like The Oscars, and The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  She is easily influenced and gets more than a little bit competitive.  Barbie Girl sits back, smirking and whispers in Girl Scout's ear, things like "You COULD be that thin" or "If you just had more will-power..."  Girl Scout can't really argue with those things, because, frankly...all good Girl Scouts want to Do Thier Best.

So, Barbie Girl talked Girl Scout into joining a Fitness/Weight Loss competition.  The logical argument she made was, "It will be a great motivator to work out 6 times a week!  Who cares if you lose weight?!"  Only, Girl Scout is the good girl pre-adolescent version of me.  She is slightly insecure deep down (admit it...we're all still a little bit of our awkward 12-year-old selves), and when involved in a competition where the goal is to see the scale drop...she feels like a giant failure when it doesn't.  Or CLIMBS.  Girl Scout doesn't weigh herself regularly.  She likes to do a periodic check-in to be sure that nothing has gotten out of control, but for the most happy when her clothes fit and she hasn't gone too far outside of the "normal range".  Barbie Girl, left to her own devices...would weigh herself twice a day.  She has tried every diet known to man: no carb, low-carb, Weight Watchers, juice fasts, Slim Fast...and on and on.

So, this Biggest Loser competition started out fine.  Weigh-ins weekly...first week, normal.  Second week, down 1/2 pound.  Third week...up 2.5 pounds??  Wait.  what?  I'm eating healthy foods, in normal quantities.  I'm exercising (like a fiend) is this possible?!  Barbie Girl is NOT happy.  She has put Girl Scout on a diet.  But Girl Scout is opposed to diets.

Here's the thing about dieting: it makes you obsess about food.  I'm pretty sure I'm eating more now than I was last week.  Because I am constantly planning the next thing I am going to (get to!?!?) eat.  And the truth is, Girl Scout knows that her clothes still fit.  And she feels fit and healthy.  And she can run for 30 minutes with the treadmill on 7.5.  But Barbie Girl is plays dirty...she is there when I catch a glimpse of my backside in the mirror.  Snickering.  Smirking.  Raising an eyebrow.

I'm waiting for Girl Scout to do the right thing and Bring the Smackdown to Barbie Girl.  Stay tuned.  I'm going to work out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hulk

You'll have to forgive my lack of posts over the past few days.  I'm kind of an all or nothing type of girl.  If I'm in, I'm all in.  I won't half-ass it.

Which brings me to the Today's Topic.

It occurs to me that I might be unnaturally competitive.  I'm not sure how or why I became this way.  It's kind of a joke between me and my big brother.  Neither of us was born particularly athletic or sporty.  Not that we didn't take part in sports.  In fact, it's kind of the opposite.  I was the kid that had to be in every club and activity and I think I tried out for everything.  I will never forget trying out for Volleyball in 9th grade.  My school had three teams (enough, one would think that everybody who wanted to play could play).  At the end of the 2 day try-out there was an A Team, a B Team, a C team....and then me and three girls with various handicaps left in the sorting room.  Back in those days, the coach didn't even have Sue Sylvester's political correctness to put the Down's Syndrome kid on the team as a mascot.  So I sat with them and waited for Coach to come and tell us that we weren't really "Sports Material".  For the record, I'd have been a kick-ass mascot.

Sadly, I'm also not the kid that takes advice like "You should maybe stick to drama club" well.  It makes me mad and then I want to try harder.  Unfortunately, my natural athletic prowess and skills don't really cooperate.  I'm a spaz.  Which makes me funny.  But not somebody you want on your team.  So I run and hike and take private tennis lessons so I don't make a fool of myself.

So, I've come to my Sporty Self rather late in life.  I ran my first real race sometime in my mid-20s.  Discovered triathlons in my late 20s and figured out that Sports and Physical Activity aren't punishment...or What You Do So You Can Eat Dessert at some point in my 30s.  I discovered this incredible link between my mental heath and my physical exertion after the arrival of my second child.  Have I mentioned that she didn't sleep for the first two years of her life?  I swear, were it not for my friends that forced me to run with them in order to have social outlet...I would be locked up in a padded room.  The thing about becoming sporty in your middle years is that if you haven't learned how to be on a team or play nicely with others when you are a kind of just miss that lesson.  Nobody ever wanted me on their team.  Well, swim team.  But that's not the same thing.  It's still an individual sport.

I found myself at Trouble's Sports Day this week.  It was just adorable.  100 or so two to four year old kids doing a variety of sport, race, agility and balance games.  The kids loved it and mommies and daddies got to participate and cheer on the kiddies.  Things were going just fine until we got to the last station: Tug O War.  Miss Allison asked the mummies (Trouble attends a British School...she also says things like "rubbish" and pronounces "toe-May-toes" "toe-MAH-toes"...but, once again, I digress) and daddies to join the kids in an innocent game.  I found myself with bloodied hands, a couple of toddlers underfoot and a hideous grin of victory on my face.

Sadly, I didn't stop at the kiddie carnage.  The last event of the day (clearly meant to be good fun) was the Mummy and Daddy races.  Mummies were up first.  I had come to Sports Day straight from my tennis lesson at 8am and so was dressed in sports attire: Lucy running pants and a sports tank and sweatshirt.  The race was meant to be fun and funny: the mummies had to take off their shoes, don mis-matched and over sized Welly boots and run about 10 meters, open a silly frog umbrella and run to the finish line with the umbrella open over our heads.  I'm chuckling a bit with a fellow American MOM who had also come from tennis.  We were saying we were dressed for it, so we had to win...when we hear commentary from the peanut gallery.  "I'm not sure I want to be in the heat with the Lycra-Clad AMERICAN Mums".  Well...that was it.  My inner David Banner got eaten up by The Hulk.  I only remember fist pumping at the finish line.  There were numerous heats and in the final and I was ready to eat up the snarky mums.   Despite my best efforts, I lost to a darling little Chinese mum (who didn't open her umbrella, and as far as I am concerned should have been disqualified).  And I was actually mad at myself for losing.  I am proud to say that I stopped short of waging a campaign for her disqualification.

It took about an hour for my adrenaline to cool and then I was just embarrassed.  Trouble, thank goodness, had lost interest in me and the race before the first heat was over and, she's also slightly too young to be aware of my ridiculousness.  But it made me realize that it's really not a fair combination to be born uncoordinated AND competitive.  It's like a double-whammy.  I'm too bad at sports to win but to feisty to be gracious.

So, I'm trying really hard to Play Nice so I don't embarrass my children and, well, myself.  And if I can't Tame the Tiger...I suppose I'll just have to stick to hiking.  Only don't try to pass me on a climb....because I'll tackle you on the way down.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


It's rainy in Hong Kong this weekend.

I'm a Colorado girl, so I prefer it sunny.  I can take the cold, but long stretches without sunshine leech the joy out of me.  It actually explains a lot about why my post-partum "adjustment" to my second child lasted approximately 2.5 years.  The sun doesn't really shine in Switzerland.  The 20 days a year when the mercury tops 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20-ish degrees Celsius) are the days when every travel photographer in the universe descends on the land of Yodeling and Cheese and dupes all of us travel-eager suckers into heading there.  I'm not knocking the beauty of Switzerland.  It's beautiful in snow, rain, sleet and Fog.  But I need sunshine.

No sunshine to be had in Hong Kong at the moment.  It's cool and damp and that combo is a recipe for me to stay in my pajamas all day long.  No visit from the make-up fairy.  No fighting over hairbows and those ever-cursed Pants that I force into Trouble.  Just jammies.

Circus Dad had a brilliant idea today: Family Movie Day.  Awesome!  The girls skipped in circles doing a chant that reminded me of the Bill Cosby "Dad is Great" skit.  Kraft Mac & Cheese for lunch for the kiddlets, leftover roast chicken, cheese and a crusty baguette for us.  LOVE.

And then.

The kids choose the movie.  I cannot believe that Circus Dad and I didn't prepare better for this one...we should have had a suggestion on the ready.  Trouble pipes up with "Parent Trap"!  (You should all know that the mid-90s version of Parent Trap starring a young (non-addicted, pre-wacko) Lindsay Lohan is a cult fave here.  For some reason, people are always telling Drama that she looks like a young Lindsay Lohan.  You can imagine the *ack* factor of that one for poor Circus Dad.  Anyhow, Drama's sole exposure to LiLo is The Parent Trap.  She LOVES that people say she looks like a Real Movie Star...and she currently calls all of the female characters in her games and screenplays Annie and Halley. We watched the movie at least once a day for 6 weeks.  My kids go through phases like this.  We have literally hundreds of DVDs.  But they will choose one and watch it incessantly.

Surprisingly, Drama did no go along with Trouble's The Parent Trap suggestion.  (Hooray!!  Circus Dad and I secretly give thanks) And then Drama says, "High School Musical!!!  The First One!!!".

Oy.  Short lived celebration. HSM was The Movie of the summer in 2008.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen HSM (One, Two and Three, thankyouverymuch) no fewer than 200 times.  I kind of wish we still had VHS tapes because I am certain that it would have worn out.  Trouble hasn't really watched it...she's not really into it.  She "missed" it due to the fact that she was about a year old that summer.  Drama had no trouble convincing her sister that HSM was the best choice, much to the chagrin of CD and me.

I tried to delay my active presence on the sofa for Family Movie...made some popcorn, tinkered around in the cupboards looking for snacks (oh...what I would give for one of those milk-carton shaped containers of Milk Duds!?).  Alas, here I am.  On the Sofa.  Watching High School Musical for the 201st time.

And it occurs to me.  Trouble has discovered HSM.  I'm gonna have to survive the obsession all over again.  Lord Help Me.

You'll excuse me while I find some sticks to poke in my eyes (and ears).


I don't know about you, but Saturday mornings in my house are not relaxing.  It's nice to have a break from the carnival-style madness of getting the kids fed, dressed and out the door for school (and work)...but really, it's just the same thing in slo-mo.

You already know that Saturday does not mean "sleeping in" Chez Circus-Broccoli.  Though, Trouble did decide to gift us with an extra 30 minutes of sleep today.  She crept to my bedside at 6:01am, gently tapped me on the eyeball and whispered (as only a three year old can do, really loudly...and with spittle) "MAMA, I NEED TO TINKLE".  Wonderful.  My favorite wake up call is to wipe somebody else's tush.

After my performance as Madame Trouble's Royal Bum-Wiper, I escorted  her back downstairs where I engaged in a 5-minute negotiation into letting her sister sleep, and what can I placate her with that will allow me go back to sleep.  Of course, by the time I've "won", I'm wide awake.  But I did lay back down and pretend to be sleeping.  Which brings me to Pretend Sleeping and Selective Deafness.  WTF with this phenomenon, Dads?  I mean seriously.  I know you hear your children.  You must.  Circus Dad has mastered the ability to Pretend Sleep or Not Hear any noises that come from the childrens' rooms after light's out.  I'm on to the scam.  I'm just still working out how to use that to my advantage.  Late night disco in the dining room?  Who am I kidding?  I just want to sleep!!

30 minutes later,upon the realization that I won't be returning to dreamland, I rose to the squeals and squawks (pterodactyl-like, if I do say so) of the girls arguing over some "rule" of playing Polly Pockets.  This drama never happens on weekdays.  There is no time for playing.  There is only breakfast, clothing, hair, teeth, sunscreen, and getting out the door.  That sounds so orderly.  It takes 75 minutes every day and at least one of us is in tears at some point every day over something.

I have this thing about whiny children.  I truly just cannot suffer them.  And, of course, I have given birth to two little girls.  And we all know that little girls are fluent in eye-batting, giggling, and whining from birth.  My policy is that If You Are Whining, I Cannot Hear You.  Followed by You Will Never Get What You Want if You Whine.  This does not stop my children from attempting it.  Trouble is going through a particularly whiny phase.  She spends an inordinate amount of time collapsed into a human puddle on the floor wailing about some injustice or another.  Today, Meltdown #1 came because I poured her Koko Krunch into the yellow bowl.  I suggested she use words to request a different color bowl instead of crying about it.  She replied that she didn't even want Koko Krunch (which she requested not 60 seconds earlier)...and why did I make her eat everything in the world that she doesn't want?  Sigh.  She ate 3 round slices of smoked provolone cheese for breakfast.  And a "bambino-cino" (read: hot chocolate in a tiny espresso cup WITH saucer AND tiny bev spoon), of course.

Meltdown #2 was something about the pants.  I couldn't get her to verbalize what the problem was, but she was having a spastic fit with hip and hand motions that made me believe that either she had been possessed by the Ghost of Elvis...or she was unhappy with the pants.  Again, (attempted calm) suggestion that she use her words to tell me what she wants.  More screaming, wailing and rolling around while tugging at the offensive pants.  At which point, I suggest she go into her room and either solve the pants problem or just stay in there so I don't have to hear the wailing.

10 minutes later, I came down, dressed...wearing minimal make-up (eyeliner!  mascara!), and a hat because who has time to actually DO their hair when the child is going to require another 10 minutes to get into clothing??  Painting class is in 15 minutes!

There was some negotiation that involved Red Cowboy Boots, pink thermal leggings and a black top with a sequin silver purse on it.  Honestly, this is an outfit that would NEVER have happened with Drama.  I simply would have had her skip the class.  She looked like a cast-off from the Punky Brewster try-outs.  I brushed her hair, put in a pink ponytail and hoped that people would assume that her dad dressed her.

Circus Dad says I need to find Trouble's "currency".  Yes, we can all thank Dr. Phil for this phrase.  But I do like it and it makes sense.  My issue is that I cannot figure out what matters to Trouble.  She just likes to be in charge....and keep me from feeling like I'm in charge.  Which is all I really want anyway.

Wait.  I think she's got MY currency.  Crap. I'm so screwed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Miss America

The most frequent question I am asked by friends who are baffled by our choice to live like nomads...planting our feet on foreign soil for a few years and then moving "Don't you Miss America?".

The short answer is yes.  But of course it's much more complicated than that.

So to keep it simple, I'm going with yes, I miss many things about America.  But, strangely, I find that living outside of the US has made me more aware of and more proud of the things that make me American.
Look out...I'm about to go all Glenn Beck on you....and have a big ole Patriotic rant.  Or not.

The Top 5 Things I Miss About America
1) Target.
 I realize that this is a controversial choice for my number one.  I really should be saying my my best friend or my sister, right?  But Skype and Facebook make it possible (if we all make the effort) to keep in fairly consistent touch with people.  But Target?  I miss you so.  Target is the Great Bastion of American Shopping and I took it for granted for 30 years.  When we first moved to Switzerland I was so charmed by the Provincial village life that I waited a year or so before going verbally postal on the ridiculous shopping options available in that country.  But that needs to be a whole other post.  At Target, I can blissfully spend 3 hours (between 1am and 4am if I'm jet lagged and so inclined!) wandering from Department to Department with a hot Starbucks (in a to-go cup!) in my hand.  Yes, I will inevitably spend $200 before I am done (and all I needed was a greeting card and sunscreen)...but it is my Happy Place.
2) Large, Icy To-Go Beverages.
Now that I've been to a good number of countries...including those we Americans romanticize and worship...I'm telling you this: Only in America can you get a Giant Icy Fountain Drink.  Well, perhaps also in Canada.  But, what's the difference?  (oooh, I'll get some backlash for that one)  I know that the 100 ounce, popcorn-bucket sized, 3000 calorie Mountain Dew is a big reason why The Biggest Loser in the US has a contestant every season who weighs as much as a small car, but I don't care.  I drink highly- caffeinated diet versions (yum!  additives, artificial flavorings and caffeine!), and I LOVE them.   Hitting the drive-through for a large fountain beverage is the second thing I do when I get in a car after landing on US Soil.  The first?  Map the route to Target on my iPhone.  Didn't you read #1?
3) Mexican Food
I've tried to duplicate Mexican Food at home.  I'm not ashamed to admit I've packed black beans and authentic home-style tortillas in my suitcase in an attempt to recreate the culinary orgasm of real American-style Mexican food in my own home, but it is just not possible.  I love the whole range: Taco Bell, Chipotle, Rick Bayliss, the scary dive place where nobody speaks English (or me I tried).  I think there is a time for each.  And I promise you that when in the US, I will frequent any and all of these places of business as much as possible.  I'd have a Chalupa for breakfast.
4) Deli Sandwiches
This could probably be broken into three categories...but for the sake of making this list not 6 pages long, I'll make it simple.  I didn't realize how unique the American-style sandwich is until I moved abroad.  I don't want a 2-inch pat of cold butter on my sandwich.  Ever.  I love baguette and croissants.  But not for sandwiches.  I also don't want it pre-made and plated and stored in the glass display case in a (lovely!!) tea room.  I want peppery, meaty, delicious Pastrami served on fresh, grainy bread with a big smear of mustard, Miracle Whip (okay, I confess to importing this, too. I'm kind of ashamed of this one, though), freshly sliced garnishes and a guy who owns the deli making it for me. I want it served with kettle chips and (yep you guessed it!!) a GIANT icy fountain drink.  And yeah, I know this is too much to ask.  I'll also settle for Subway in a pinch.  But I'd prefer Potbelly if I have to have a nose-ringed angsty teenager making my sandwich.  But neither of these things is going to happen.  Yeah, yeah.  There is Subway in Hong Kong.  But it's NOT Subway.  You know what I mean.  That meat is from China.  Enough Said.
5) American Friendliness
Okay.  This one is kind of sticky.  I'm not trying to controversial here, but we've all heard the Ugly American stereotype.  I need to be honest here and say there is a reason for it.  We are an ethnocentric country.  As a whole we aren't really aware enough of world issues and we certainly aren't aware of them from personal experience.  We have had the privilege of not having had a war on our soil for as long as anybody I know can actually remember.  We exist blissfully in the absolute certainty that American is Best.  Now, that is both ignorant and dangerous.  BUT.  It also means that you meet people every day that are so sure in this knowledge that they are free to smile at a stranger, provide customer service like it is their job ( IS their job!), and engage in conversation with somebody you meet in line at Starbucks.  I know, my friends from New York are like, huh?  But here's a news flash: New York is not like the rest of America.  I miss the friendliness of Coloradoans, the slow drawl of the smiling Kentuckians and the kindness of the Iowans.  And I might be generalizing but at least I'm talking nicely about Americans.  That's more than Bill O'Reilly does.

So, there you have it.  Next post?  The things I love most about Not Living in America.  Maybe.  You never know.  Trouble might sleep past 5:30 and I'll have a coherent thought for a change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


So, listen...I'm about to let you all in on something that is really a fundamental part of what makes me "me".

I like sleep.

Actually, to be honest, I like it a lot more than "like".  I love it.  I relish a good night's sleep and protect it with the carnivorous ferocity of a jungle cat and her fresh kill.  I love it so much that one year for Christmas, Circus Dad gave me one of those coupon presents (seriously!!) for one full month of not having to wake up with our children.  Best present he ever gave me.  But don't tell him that because I kind of like the Cartier watch, too...and I don't want him to get the idea that coupons are a legit way for him to express his undying love.

Anyway.  Sleep.  I was blessed with one child who is a great sleeper.  She slept through the night early and happily took her naps and goes to bed every night without difficulty.  I suspect it might have something to do with her having figured out that she gets to Star in her own nightly performances in her dreams.  I also think that she's got a lot of her mama in her and I really like to sleep.   Drama and I get along just fine at bedtime and I completely understand her reluctance to drag out of bed at 6:15am to get ready for school.  In fact, I'm right there with her in misery.

Unfortunately, my second child does not seem to need as much sleep as the average bear.  She was slow and resistant to the idea of Sleeping Through The Night.  In fact, she would still prefer to get up and play with something than waste those hours lying in bed.  Every day, we go through hostage-style negotiations over whether or not she has to take a nap.   And she generally requires at least 30 minutes to sing, shout, play, request a glass of water, get up to tinkle, require another kiss, and restart her "night night" music before she finally drops off to dreamland.  I suspect is might have something to do with her having figured out that if she is sleeping, she is not getting into something.  She also has an internal alarm clock. It is perpetually set for 5:30am.  Every time we do a big time-zone change I harbor fantasies that I will be able to "reset" her clock to a later wake-up time.  Ha!  That kid's clock is impenetrable.

Those of you that know me well know that I have an entire shelf in my library devoted to Sleep Books.  I've got Babywise; Heathy Sleep Habits, Happy Child; Happiest Toddler on the Block; The Baby Whisperer, and on and on.  I've tried every trick in them.  Twice.  I've currently resorted to all-out bribery in order to keep Trouble in her bed, and deter her from waking up the entire house at 5:30am.  I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads and thinking, "5:30 isn't that much earlier than 6:15...just let her play quietly or something".  Yes.  I agree.  Every night before bedtime Trouble gets to put stickers on her Chore Chart.  She loves the stickers...but she really loves to go pick out garbage trinkets from the Stanley Market.  And if she gets three days in a row of stickers for Not Waking Up Mama and Not Waking Up Sister and Staying Quiet in the Morning, she gets a prize.  Want to know how many prizes she's garnered?  None.  Once she made it two days in a row.  She was sick.

Last weekend I spent the night in the school library with Drama and her Daisy Scout Troop.  Circus Dad spent the night at home with Trouble.  In case you were wondering, she had pizza for dinner, ice cream for dessert, stayed up late watching a movie, and did not have to take a bath...and there is rumor (though yet unproven) that she may have brushed her teeth with frosting.  She slept until 7am.  Of course she did.  Because Circus Dad was in charge.

Circus Dad is on a business trip at the I can't really count on him for help.  When Trouble completed her Chore Chart last night, she was dejected that she had NO stickers and promised that she was not going to wake anybody in the morning.  I actually believe that she meant it.  But when her alarm went off at 5:30am, she was so excited that she couldn't contain herself.   And she lovingly woke up the house with a chorus of "Mmmmoooooommmmmaaaayyyyyyyyy!"s.

The chore chart isn't working.  But Circus Dad's methods seemed to have some I'm going rogue.  Not Sarah Palin-style....I'd look ridiculous in camouflage and even though I *can* see China from my house I'm not saying it gives me Foreign Policy experience.  Whoops.  I digress.  It's because I have not gotten to sleep past  5:30am since the Christmas I got that dang coupon.

My Plan?  Frosting.  I'm leaving a bowl of it on the kitchen table before I go to bed and telling Trouble that she can eat it all if she lets the rest of us sleep in peace until 6:15am.  Don't Judge.  I'll brush her teeth with real toothpaste after.

Broccoli: It's what's for dinner.

In our house, one of us gets to do the fun stuff (the weekend trips to Disneyland, the awarding of treats upon arrival from frequent business trips, the allowance of gum before dinner). This parent is welcomed home with squeals and little girls chanting his name and fighting for kisses.  This parent is affectionally called "Circus Dad".

One of us oversees homework, ensures school uniform compliance, breaks up fights over hairbows and Little Pet Shop toys, and makes the children eat their vegetables and go to bed on time.  I like to call myself "Broccoli Mom".

We go by other names in the real world...but for my current purposes, this is who we are.

Our children are generally referred to as "Miss Drama" and "Trouble".  They are 6.8 and 3.5 years old, respectively.

The other fun twist is that we are professional Ex-Pats, having spent 5 years in Switzerland and the past year in Hong Kong.

So, sometimes...I serve Bok Choy instead of Broccoli.  As long as they are getting their greens.

For the most part, Drama and Trouble eat their vegetables without much prodding.  In fact, Drama declared herself a Vegetarian last week...until she learned that chicken nuggets were made from chicken, the animal.  And then she decided she needed to re-think that position.  My plan for this blog is to serve up a spattering of my wildly humorous observations, an insight or two into our family dynamic, and the occasional recipe.  Tonight, I served them a yummy treat that my friend Annette shared with me a few years ago in Swizerland: One Pan Broccoli Pasta.   I mean how can you start a blog with Broccoli in the title and not offer up some?

What's better than broccoli your kids will eat?  Having only one pan to wash up afterwards.  You can thank me later.

One Pan Broccoli Pasta
(courtesy of Annette)

  • One head broccoli, about 1 pound: peel outside tough skin and break into large, bite sized florets and stems
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced coarsely
  • lots of black pepper-about 30+ grinds or ¼+ tsp cracked (I do this afterwards as the girls don't like pepper)
  • ¼ tsp. (or more to taste) crushed red chili peppers (I use a minimal can always add more afterward)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups Hot water (divided into 2 cups)
  • 8 oz spahettini broken in half  (1/2 package)

  1. Heat the oil, salt and peppers in a nice sized fry pan over medium heat. Saute until garlic is soft, not brown –a few minutes.
  2. Add broccoli and sauté briefly just enough to coat with oil and garlic. Push to one side, or place broccoli on plate for next step.
  3. Add pasta and stir well to coat with oil and garlic. 
  4. Place broccoli on top of pasta and add 1 cup water.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover, and simmer softly till water is mostly absorbed. It is important that you stir the pasta at the beginning so it doesn’t stick together. Check it often as it tends to stick together.  (maybe 4 minutes)
  6. When water is absorbed, add 1 more cup hot water, cover and simmer again over medium low heat until spaghetti is done and water is absorbed. Aprox. 6 minutes. Check to see if pasta is done…al dente.
  7. Plate & serve.  Finish with pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.