The other night our youngest had a
The scene: the children's room. Toys strewn all over the floor. Dinner is about to be served.
The rule: whoever makes a mess, cleans up. When the job is too daunting for a four year old and a little overwhelming for him to tackle on his own for organizational reasons, we help and also give him some general guidelines (put all the animals into the green box, all the lego pieces go into the blue box).
Action: my husband gives him a hand; they seemingly work together in harmony and the job is soon done. Dinner is on the table.
Next thing we know, our son turns into a raving, screaming, three-headed monster. He starts throwing all his neatly stowed away boxes and toys all over the floor again, putting them the way they were before the clean-up.
Aha, you are thinking, he wanted to do it himself, he wants to assess his independence, Daddy shouldn't have rushed him.
Spittle is flying, he is possessed. Toys are flying everywhere.
He didn't want them to do it together, Daddy was supposed to do it. All of it. Alone.
Daddy has to do it! Daddy has to do it! Daddy has to do it!
No more talking. No more reasoning. No more trying to understand.
Young man, you will stay in your room, clean up this mess, calm down and apologize. Then you may have your dinner.
And so he sits in his room screaming, crying and saying that same sentence over and over again. We sit at the table and try to enjoy our dinner.
Ten minutes in, he is still going strong.
And then, finally, the eagerly awaited wind-down phase. A pause, then two, then three amidst the bouts of crying. The oh-so-slow inching towards the kitchen, the mumbled half apology. There are still runny noses, red tear-stained cheeks and lots of little sobs and hiccups. But he nonetheless manages to wolf down every last one of those little fishies in between sniffles.
So, even in the face of drama, this is a meal that will be enjoyed. Although it won't give you any extra clues as to why your normally sweet child sometimes turns into a little monster.
|Out of the oven|
It is also an ideal week night dinner:
1) It is nutritious: as I already told you here, sardines are good for you because they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Plus, this one dish covers most food groups: protein, carbs and vegetables.
2) It is environmentally friendly: if you read this post you already know that sardines are extremely abundant in the Mediterranean, thus not overfished.
3) It is cheap: they are so abundant that you can buy it extremely cheap. I paid under €4 for the sardines needed to make this dish.
4) It is easy: if you can buy the sardines cleaned and butterflied, you are set!
5) It is quick: once again, if the sardines are already cleaned, it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare this dish and no more that 25 minutes from beginning to end, cooking included.
If I still haven't convinced you, what is there not to like about a combination of olive oil, ripe tomatoes, capers and the crunch of bread crumbs flavored with garlic, mint and parsley?
Once again, more than a recipe, this is an idea to make something a little different than your usual week night fare, so I am not giving you exact quantities. You just need to eyeball it and adjust according to your liking and the amounts you are making.
The first thing I did was prepare the bread crumbs. I didn't have any stale bread lying around so I used some zwieback (or rusks). I put them into the food processor with a small clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, a handful of parsley and a small bunch of mint. For the amount of sardines I made, I used a little under a cup of the mixture.
Next. I greased an oven-proof dish and arranged a layer of the cleaned sardine filets on the bottom.
I sprinkled the first layer with the breadcrumb mixture.
After that, I arranged the remaining sardines in a new layer and scattered over most of the remaining breadcrumbs. I cut the perini tomatoes in slices this time and arranged them over the sardines, dusted them with what I had left of the breadcrumbs, added a little more olive oil and pepper and this time a little salt for the tomatoes.
The final touch was a tablespoon of capers, to add some acidity (to cut the through the fishiness) and add some color and flavor. Small black olives or sultanas would work very well here too and I'm thinking of trying some almond meal in the bread mixture next time.
Stick into a preheated oven for about 15 minutes (or as long as it takes for the fish to cook through, you don't want it to dry out) at 180°C/375°F and dinner is ready. Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread.