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Being a dad is weird. Granted, I’m brand new to this eternal paternal trial, but it’s thus far a very strange and unexpected experience.
I went into this agreement (taking on a one-year-old in the pregnant girlfriend relationship package) expecting what most new fathers expect: play with them when you can, feed them once in a while, change the occasional dirty diaper, keep dangerous objects away from the edges of countertops, don’t let them out of your sight (ever) and don’t accidentally make them grow up racist by letting them listen to Ba Ba Black Sheep. Ha! Boy, was I ever in dreamland.
As it turns out, being Daddy Shark to a toddler with a pregnant Mommy Shark is a bit more complicated. You’re expected to wake up at four in the morning for a few hours when Baby Shark wakes up (for absolutely no logical reason at all) to give Mommy Shark a chance to (maybe, because time is warped for pregnant brains) rest. You’re required to keep track of every single precious comfort object at all times lest they wind up lost in the same strange dimension where I assume dryer socks and tax papers go, and among countless other bizarre obligations, you clean up human excrement most foul, left in places that leave you confused for the rest of your life.
As if all this weren’t enough of a cruel joke to play on the gender that nature intended for other purposes (hunting, protecting, stupid things and acting scary) we modern Daddy Sharks also have to occasionally — or steadily — prepare an assortment of meals and snacks to appease the soul-crushingly fickle taste buds of our tiny, screaming overlords, lest they throw their food along with their earth-shattering tantrums. Leah (my new daughter) oxymoronically enjoys a wide variety of foods, but seemingly hates the exact same assortment of grub depending on... I have no idea what, but after a process of trial and error so maddening that I contemplated a vasectomy, I finally designed the magic food combination that works every time.
Ladies, gentlemen and the entire serfdom beneath the tiny iron fists of our oppressors, I present to you:
Toddlerbane ravioli and caesar salad
- 1 / 2 head iceberg lettuce, small chopped and rinsed
- 1 tbsp anchovy paste
- 1 / 2 cup croutons
- 1 tsp dill
- 2 tbsp Caesar dressing
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 vacuum package four cheese ravioli
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 / 2 lb ground beef
- 1 shallot, small dice
- 1 / 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small can plain tomato pasta sauce
- 1 tsp Italiano seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- In a large plastic bowl, combine lettuce, anchovy paste, cheese, croutons, dill, lemon juice, and dressing. Toss thoroughly and chill.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan on medium high and add shallots for two minutes before browning the ground beef.
- Once browned, add tomato and pasta sauce.
- Let simmer for five minutes before adding salt, pepper, garlic and Italiano spice for an additional eight minutes before setting aside to cool.
- In a large pot, bring two litres of salted water to a boil, add ravioli and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Continue to cook for five to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.
- Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Finally, gently combine your sauce and ravioli until uniform.
- Serve both together.
I have no idea why Leah loves this salad and ravioli combo so much but I designed it to have the perfect balance of warm and cold, crispy and chewy, creamy and tangy and so on so as to leave absolutely no manner of craving unsatisfied, but hey, I’m not going to sit here and pretend to have even the slightest idea how the eternally complicated mind of the world’s toughest food critics actually work. Tomorrow, she might hate it for reasons our mere mortal minds simply cannot ken. Until then, good luck and may every deity imaginable have mercy on our souls.
Terry Bursey, otherwise known as the Food Dude, is a Newfoundland chef transplanted to Ontario who enjoys putting his mark on traditional recipes and inventing new tasty treats with unexpected ingredients. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.