Best way to spend a frigid Sunday after a blizzard drops 8+ inches of snow on us?
Make a giant batch of Diane’s sauce to restock the freezer, and pizza for dinner.
Sunday Sauceday perfection.
The first few years of Cadence’s life, meal times were easy. The kid would eat anything. ANYTHING. Well, except for the six short months she loathed bananas to the point where she would start gagging if she even saw one. Other than that, we had no issues getting Cadence to eat (or at least sample) anything we put in front of her. And that lasted right up until she started going to preschool regularly and learned that there was such a thing as being picky and eating only peanut butter sandwiches and assorted snacks.
Henry, on the other hand, would survive on nothing but pancakes and plain pasta (flavored with a little butter and garlic salt) if let him. Meal times have been a battle since he started solids, and I have to admit, for awhile there we just got lazy. With work and life and everything else being crazy and hectic, we picked the 3-4 foods he would actually at and just went with it, figuring it was better for him to get something in his stomach before we put him in bed.
But we decided recently that we’d had enough. We were tired of the constant meal time meltdowns, and by God we weren’t going to let a 3-year-old beat us in what was becoming a sheer battle of wills. So, we started cracking down on snacks, limiting Henry’s milk intake to just a cup or two a day (because he would polish off a gallon by himself if given the opportunity), and putting the kids to bed if they protested the meal we put on the table.
Cadence was pretty easy to fall back in line. It took exactly two dinner time battles when she was a toddler to convince her that our rule of at least trying one bite of everything before you get to say you don’t like it was fair. With Henry, we definitely hit the double digits in the number of times he got sent to bed with his plate still full of dinner and then having to eat the leftovers the next day.
He is our stubborn, stubborn boy.
But like everything with Henry, it just takes a little extra patience. And we’re finally starting to get there. Tonight, he didn’t even protest. He came right to the table when it was time, sat down, and dug in. He at the entire serving of chicken and pasta and broccoli, headed upstairs for a bath, and then polished off two bananas and a cup of strawberry yogurt before bed.
And there was a moment at dinner tonight, listening to Cadence tell us about the sleepover last night at her friend Rowan’s house and Henry quoting lines from Bob’s Burgers (“You’re my family and I love you, but you’re terrible. You’re all terrible.”) and Superbad (“One name? Who are you, Seal?”), I found myself blissfully happy to be sitting at the table with three of my favorite humans on the planet.
What can I say? Life is good.
There were a lot of compromises when Stevie and I made the decision to leave New York. We left Stevie’s family, some of our best friends and most trusted mentors, and a whole lot of amazing food.
Every spot on the globe has something all its own when it comes to food–some signature dish or cuisine that is uniquely local and difficult to replicate. I think the one thing that differentiates New York is that the flavors of the world have quite literally migrated and established themselves in restaurants and bakeries and sidewalk stands and food trucks throughout the city. You could taste the world without ever leaving the five boroughs.
One of the things Stevie and I miss the most is the variety. After we started dating, we had a habit of hopping in the car and driving to Manhattan every Friday night for dinner. We had a favorite sushi restaurant, Yoko, in the West Village where we ate so often that we didn’t even need to order. The chefs knew our tastes and favorites, and would begin sending beautiful plates you couldn’t find on the menu over to our table as soon as we sat down. Other nights, we would just pick a flavor or type of cuisine, look up the name of some random restaurant that served it, and go.
We were never disappointed.
We haven’t been able to settle into quite the same routine since we left New York. Now that the kids are getting a little older (and Henry is finally entering the reasonable phase that follows the fit-throwing insanity of the two’s and early three’s), we’re hoping to get back to being adventurous. Sure, there aren’t nearly as many options here in Lincoln, but there is some really great food in this town and a lot of places we haven’t even had a chance to try yet.
The one food we have thoroughly tried here though (and have been thoroughly disappointed with) is the pizza.
Nobody does pizza like New York.
We tried every pizza place in Lincoln since moving here in 2011. Every. Single. One.
Lazzari’s was our frontrunner there for six months or so back in 2011-2012. Crust was almost true NY-style and the sauce was decent. Then one day the sauce started tasting a little too sweet. (Hear this now people, sauce should NEVER be sweet! You add pinches of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. That’s it. If it’s sweet AT ALL, you’re doing it wrong!) We tried again a few weeks later, sauce was still sweet and the crust was burned. One more try a few months after that and we had too-sweet sauce, overdone crust, and so much extra cheese piled on that the pizza slices were drooping in our hands even folded in half. Strike three. We’ve never gone back.
Yia Yia’s gets a pass because it’s unique, and they have some delicious flavor combinations. We dig it, but the ultra-thin cracker-like crust keeps us from classifying it as traditional pizza. It’s good, but we stick to small doses.
MoMo Pizzeria & Ristorante is the only place we will actually endorse. The pizzas you’ll find on the menu are Neopolitan style and wood-fired, and there are some really incredible flavors. Stevie has always been a fan of plain cheese pizza, but even he enjoyed sampling some of the unique toppings like Lobster & Shrimp Hollandaise and Prosciutto & Egg. One day, by chance, Stevie found that by asking the server if we could have just a plain cheese pizza for Cadence that he could get a smaller version of the closest to true NY-style pizza we’d found since leaving New York. Major props to MoMo (for both the pizza and for having hands down some of the finest food in Lincoln).
Still, because we just couldn’t seem to find any true NY-style pizza, I made it my mission to figure it out. And I did, back in 2015. You can CLICK HERE to read all about it. Since then, we haven’t bothered to order to eat a pizza anywhere but in our own kitchen, and we don’t have a desire to.
Well…unless we hope a plane and head back to New York. In that case, we might have to make an exception.
Tonight, it was homemade pizza for dinner, and I couldn’t have been any prouder than the moment I looked across the table and saw my kids’ New York come out. Henry had a slice in each hand and was eating it almost as fast as I could make it, and Cadence was folding slices in half like a pro.
What can we say? We’ve taught them well.
Excitement of the day…I almost set my house on fire. Not shitting you. I could have done some serious damage today, and thank God for Stevie noticing or it might have been a much more eventful evening in the Romano house.
Here’s how it went down…
These days, H-man is into everything.
The boy is 8 months old and he’s already all over the place. He can speed crawl the length of the living room in 2.7 seconds. No joke. If crawling were an Olympic sport, this kid would be world champion and he’s not even 3/4 of a year old yet.
And if the crawling wasn’t enough, he’s pulling up on everything, letting go, standing for moments at a time. He’s even trying to take steps, though at that point he usually just topples forward or sits abruptly with a soft thump on the carpet.
Hell, he’s even trying to climb–shelves, baby gates, the furniture. Anything in his path, he’s going to try and get over it.
So much for this kid being my mellow one. Looks like it’s just me and the dog.
So today, in the time it took me to walk through the kitchen and let Electra outside, H-man was climbing the curtains. Two fists over his head, pulling up, one foot off the ground, legit climbing folks. It was like scene straight out of a Cirque du Soleil show.
I hollered and lept over the baby gate, narrowly escaping making a fantastic nosedive of my own right into the TV stand. I scooped Henry up in one arm, and tossed the heavy curtain up over one of the wall sconces, thinking I just needed a minute to redirect and distract the little turd before he managed to pull the heavy drape runner down on his head.
That was a plan anyway–redirect, distract, then quickly when Henry wasn’t looking, I would pull the curtain back down and hope he spent the rest of the afternoon trying to climb something a little less dangerous.
But do you know what happens to plans when you have an overly active 8-month-old? They fly straight out the damn window. Plans. Psssh! I’m at the point I don’t even know if I remember what they are anymore.
So yeah, I forgot the curtain flung up over the sconce. And it didn’t really matter this afternoon when the sunlight was spilling in through all the windows. But then that sun started setting, and our living room grew dim, and I walked by and absently flipped the light on like I do every evening, and it wasn’t until a couple hours later, after Stevie kept complaining about some weird smell (which we assumed was our sweaty 6-year-old daughter so we sent her straight upstairs to take a bath) that we looked over and realized our drapes were sizzling on top of the wall sconce while we sat watching playoff hockey.
So now my drapes have a nice crispy spot to remind me what an idiot I am.
But at least the house is still standing and Henry made it through the day without a head injury. Cadence is clean and smelling fresh before bed, so that’s an added bonus. And Stevie managed to score us some delicious Empyrean Peanut Butter Porter, which has officially taken it’s spot as my favorite beer.
You know I’m a glass half full kind of girl. So life is good, scorched curtains and all.
So H-man has officially started solids. After hearing him holler at me every time I tried to eat something in front of him, and having him constantly grabbing at my food and putting EVERYTHING in his mouth, we decided it was time to get the little man started. With Cadence, we tried rice cereal exactly once. She made faces and gagged and absolutely hated it. I took a bite to see what all the fuss was about, and I gagged too. That shit was worse than Malt-o-Meal, and tasted like stale, sweetened styrofoam, so we promptly switched to fresh veggies (steamed and pureed) and Miss C was hooked.
With Henry, we decided to just skip the disgusting rice cereal altogether and just get to the good stuff. His first foray into solids was a spoonful of pureed peas. The kid was immediately hooked. Since then, he’s gobbled up squash, had a few bites of pears (which he hasn’t quite decided if he likes yet), and seems to be developing a love/hate relationship with bananas (much like my own). But sweet potatoes…oh, sweet potatoes. H-man goes nuts for sweet potatoes. He scarfs them down about as fast as Electra eats a bowlful of kibble, and he moans “Mmmmm…mmmmm” the whole time he’s doing it. Stevie and Cadence and I laugh and little H-man just gives us a big gummy grin and then opens his mouth wide and demands another bite.
It didn’t take long for Electra to remember what having a baby in the house means…accessible food. Our dog is no dummy. She’s learned that Cadence is no easy target anymore. Cadence is at an age now where she finds our hound’s food-stealing downright offensive. And even worse for Electra, Cadence will fight back. She knows enough to yell and grab Electra’s collar to pull her down off the counter or the table. And she has even snatched pieces of food right out from under Electra’s nose when necessary.
Electra knows Cadence is no dummy, not anymore.
But now there’s another little human in the house, and he’s short and slow and messy and generally clueless, at least when it comes to Electra’s intentions.
And almost overnight, our dog has become a creeper again–watching, waiting, calculating Henry’s every move, just waiting for a chance to sneak in a lick of his face or his fingers. Electra knows, the only thing better than a puree covered baby is a food-dropping toddler, and well, my friends, those days are just around the corner.