Author: Fran

3 Truly Fantastic Italian “Relationship Recipes” from La Festa della Donna

A “Relationship Recipe” is a recipe I’ve developed over my whole life, but especially over the last 20 years as a restaurateur, to create, encourage and strengthen our connections to those around us – Friends, colleagues, family and loved ones, using food shared and time spent around the table. The sharing of food is a very personal and intimate experience. Cooking and eating use almost all of our senses – Sight, smell, touch and taste. When we cook together and eat together, we know that we are part of a community (a family, a group of friends, a couple) and the sharing of that experience reinforces our knowledge that we are important to others and that we love and are loved in return. It feeds our soul in a manner that cannot be done any other way.

For my recent event celebrating La Festa della Donna, one of my cooking specialists, Luca de Matteis, and I worked together to select a few of his recipes that were simple enough for a non-cook to prepare, had opportunities for others to help in the cooking of the dish (being a part of the experience of creating the meal) and were universal in their appeal. Luca and I both wanted to impress on everyone that food does not need to be complicated to be delicious. He and I agree that the simpler and easier something is to prepare the more inclined a person will be to actually cook it and share that experience with others.

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Recipes provided by Luca de Matteis.

Pasta alla Puttanesca (Olive and Capers)

Ingredients:

•Spaghetti: 400gr or about 1lb
•Black Pitted Olives (kalamata olives are ok):150gr or about 6oz
•San Marzano Red Tomato sauce: 400gr or about 1lb
•Capers: 2-3 teaspoon
•Italian Parsley (chopped): 2 tablespoons
•Extra Virgin Olive oil: 5 tablespoons
•Salt as needed
•Pepper if preferred
•Garlic: 1 clove
•Anchovies: 3-4 filet

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, saute the garlic until a bit brown (do not burn).
2. Add the anchovies and cook until those melt and add pepper if desired.
3. Add capers, olives, and parsley in this order.
4. Leave each ingredient to sizzle for a few minutes.
5. Add the San Marzano red tomato sauce and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes.
6. In the mean time, boil water in a mid size pot, add the spaghetti and cook as indicated on the package (it shows the number of minutes).
7. Drain pasta and mix it in the sauce pan with the previously prepared olive, capers and tomato sauce.
8. Garnish each plate with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley and fresh black pepper.

Eat while it’s hot!

Serves 4-5 guests

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Tagliatelle or Linguine with Panna, Prosciutto, Funghi e Piselli

Ingredients:

•Linguine or Tagliatelle (egg pasta preferred): 300gr or about 2/3 lb
•Creme Fraiche: 8oz (panna in italian, if not available replace with heavy cream)
•Prosciutto cotto (ham): 300gr or about 2/3 lb (cut in small cubes)
•Dried Porcini Mushrooms: 40gr or about 1.5 oz ( before cooking, re-hydrate the mushrooms in warm water for 30 min)
•Green Peas: 150 gr or about 6oz (great if frozen)
•Onion: 1 chopped in small pieces
•Butter: 1 tablespoon
•Extra virgin Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
•Parmesan cheese: 1 teaspoon per person or plate
•Chive: 1 teaspoon per person or plate finely chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion and cook until lightly brown.
3. Drain the revived mushrooms (funghi in Italian) and add to the sauce pan along with prosciutto cotto (ham) and frozen green peas (piselli in italian) straight for the bag.
4. Let it sizzle for 1 or 2 minutes and then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream (panna in italian).
5. Let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. In a mid size pot, boil water and add the tagliatelle (or linguine). If egg pasta is used once it raises to the surface remove from the pot with tongues and add straight to the sauce pan, mix it on a low heat. Otherwise, drain pasta and add to sauce pan.
7. Garnish the plate with Parmesan cheese and chopped chive.

Eat while it’s hot!

Expert tip for boiling water: When cooking pasta, make sure to bring water to a boil, then add salt before adding any pasta. Usually a couple of tablespoons of fine salt is sufficient. Based on the sauce you are preparing, modify quantity of salt. If the sauce is already salty do not add any salt to the boiling water. This is a great reason to always taste your sauce while cooking it!

 

Serves 4-5 guests

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Sanguinaccio (Chocolate Dessert Cream)

Ingredients:

•Cocoa power (100% cocoa, good quality e.g. Valrhona): 100gr or about 3.5 oz
•All purpose flour: 50 gr or about 1.75 oz
•Cane Sugar: 200 gr or 7 oz
•Whole milk: 400 ml or 14 fl. oz.
•Dark chocolate pieces: 50gr or about 1.75oz
•Cinnamon powder: a couple of pinches
•Vanilla extract: 2 teaspoons
•Orange peel of one orange

Instructions:

1. In a mid size pot, mix cocoa powder, flour and sugar.
2. Bring to a uniform dry mix with no clumps. Add whole milk (room temp) and turn on the stove to medium heat.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes and use a wooden spoon to stir continuously, until the mix thickens.
4. When lifting the spoon up, the cream should fall like thick syrup (it will harden slightly when cold).
5. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract for about 1 minute and turn off the stove.
6. Turn off the burner add the dark chocolate pieces (it will melt immediately), keep stirring during this step.
7. Poor into espresso cups. Depending on the portion, you can fill up to 10 cups.
8. Sprinkle an orange peel on each cup and serve with lady fingers cookies or your favourite cookie.
9. No need to refrigerate. Great at room temperature.

Expert tip: If the mix appears to be too thick or not fluid enough, add a little bit of extra milk while still hot, stir throughout.
Serves 6-10 guests

Something for a Rainy Day: Beef Stew with Potatoes and Carrots

Beef Stew with Potatoes and Carrots

Author: Recipe by Maggie Ruggiero

One of the things I love about rainy days is how they beg for me to be in the kitchen for just a little while and after several hours in an oven with no further effort from me. The dish I’ve put together becomes something fantastic making the whole house smell amazing! Those are the days to invite a group of friends over for a Sunday afternoon watching sports or just drinking a great glass of wine together and sharing stories while waiting for the fabulous thing that you’ve put in the oven to finish cooking. I’ve come across a recipe that I’m going to do just that with – it sounds incredible and the reviews are fantastic. It is by the wonderful Maggie Ruggiero and I found it on one of my favorite websites, Epicurious.com, though it was first published in Gourmet Magazine December 2008.

Ingredients

  • For braised beef:
    • 5 pounds boneless beef chuck (not lean), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, quartered
  • 3 celery ribs, quartered
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (about 3 3/4 cups)
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • For potatoes and carrots:
    • 2-1/2 pounds small white boiling potatoes
    • 1-1/2 pounds carrots
  • Equipment: a wide 6-to 8-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid
  • Accompaniment: crusty bread

Instructions

  1. Braise beef:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
    • Pat beef dry and season with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
    • Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown meat, without crowding, in 3 batches, turning, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, then add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 12 minutes.
  3. Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook paste, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir into vegetables.
  4. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in wine, bay leaves, and thyme and boil until wine is reduced by about two-thirds, 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Add broth to pot along with water, beef, and any juices from platter and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in oven until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  7. Set a large colander in a large bowl. Pour stew into colander. Return pieces of meat to pot, then discard remaining solids. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes
  8. Cook potatoes and carrots
    • While beef braises, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Slice carrots diagonally (1-inch).
    • Add potatoes and carrots to stew (make sure they are submerged) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 40 minutes.

There are a couple of suggestions in the “reviews” part of the recipe posting that I will definitely follow. For instance, take the braising vegetables, puree them and return them to the pot with the broth. Don’t forget to remove the garlic skins, thyme stems and bay leaves before you puree them. I will add mushrooms as well; I do love mushrooms in anything. And do NOT forget that crusty bread. I can’t wait to try this!

Recipe for Cranberry-Cherry Compote for Thanksgiving All Year!

Cranberry-Cherry Compote

Recipe by Anna Stockwell

Who doesn’t remember Cranberry Sauce, especially the Ocean Spray “jelly” kind in the can?  I loved that stuff growing up and could never understand why we only ate it once a year at Thanksgiving.  My palate has grown a little bit since those days so I’m always looking for an easy but tasty recipe for something that actually resembles cranberries but more of an actual relish.  I think I found it in this year’s November issue of Epicurious. I haven’t made it yet but I’m definitely going to if only to put on sandwiches with sliced turkey- who doesn’t love a taste of Thanksgiving all year?

Ingredients

  • 20 ounces frozen or fresh cranberries (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 10 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Instructions

  1. Bring cranberries, cherries, brown sugar, cider, and pepper to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in bourbon. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often and pushing fruit against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to break apart slightly, until thick and syrupy, about 25 minutes more. Let cool completely.
  2. Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 5 days ahead; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

Online Dating? Skype Before a Visit!

Dating sucks but online dating can REALLY suck. I thought, though, for a hot minute that it was a good idea for me, so I signed up for a couple of sites. I was cruising along checking it all out, finding out that I really didn’t want to go meet someone for coffee just for practice. The acceptable gene pool was REALLY, REALLY tiny!

Anyway, I started messaging with someone who lived on the east coast (I’m on the west coast) and we spent a lot of time on the phone, as well. He had me convinced that the distance was not an issue as he traveled for work and I travel to NYC, as well, so we could meet fairly often if it all worked out. He sounded pretty great on paper, his pictures looked OK and his family looked pretty stable (at least in the photos). Let’s just say that when we finally met in person, after about 6 months of communication, there was more than one reason why he couldn’t manage to send me any recent pictures of himself! My takeaway from all of this…

NEVER agree to meet ANYONE who lives far away WITHOUT SEEING HIM ON SKYPE FIRST!

Recipe for a Sweet Potato Casserole You Can’t Put Down

Spiced Sweet Potato and Parsnip Tian

This recipe is by Anna Stockwell

I think everyone has had a Sweet Potato Casserole at Thanksgiving. It almost doesn’t matter if dinner was at your house, your Grandmother’s or a neighbor’s, someone made a Sweet Potato Casserole. But here’s the thing – the old standard of Thanksgiving can be brought in any time, for all kinds of holidays and family celebrations. And people will love you for it. Food memories, anyone?

Anyhow, most recipes call for puréed sweet potatoes (of course we just referred to it as mashed) with cinnamon and butter. But, the most important thing about it was the perfectly browned mini-marshmallows. Sometimes, they were just sprinkled across the top but if you were really lucky, the person who made it placed a cloud of mini-marshmallows on top so every bite had some sugary sweetness. You always knew who took time with making the casserole because the marshmallows were in a design or rows on the top. Now that was perfect!

As great of a memory as that is, I’ve been searching for an alternative and I think I’ve found it in a recipe that I just read in the Epicurious November 2015 edition. It looks so pretty, but seems so simple to prepare and sounds great. It will definitely be on the menu for my next celebration dinner party – especially because you can make it up to 2 days ahead. Any recipe that lets me spend more time with my friends before dinner is a GOOD one.

Ingredients
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled, sliced into 1/8″-thick rounds
  • 2 pounds parsnips (about 3 extra-large), peeled, sliced into 1/8″-thick rounds
Instructions
  1. Special equipment:
  2. A 4-quart casserole dish or braiser, preferably round
  3. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°F. Bring cider to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, add butter, thyme, Aleppo, and 2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until butter is melted. Let cool slightly.
  4. Place potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl. Pour cider mixture over and toss to coat. Stack a handful of slices about 3″ high, then place vertically in casserole dish. Using a measuring cup or small bowl, keep slices standing up as you go, working around the perimeter and then into the center, forming concentric circles. Continue arranging slices in pan until tightly packed (you may have some leftover). Pour in cider mixture to come halfway up sides of dish; discard remaining cider mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp. salt and cover tightly with foil.
  5. Bake, covered, 1 hour. Remove foil and brush pan juices over tops of slices with a pastry brush. Increase oven temperature to 425°F and bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, 35–40 minutes more.
  6. Do Ahead:
  7. After first round of baking at 325°F, let cool, then chill for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature, then bake, uncovered, at 425°F for 40–50 minutes.
  8. Cooks’ Note
  9. If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the sweet potatoes and parsnips—it will help you get thinner, more even slices in less time than by hand. The number of potatoes and parsnips you need to fill your casserole dish will depend on their width, so buy extra just in case, and try to seek out parsnips that are as close as possible to the width of your sweet potatoes.

 

The First 10 Minutes, Why They’re So Important

I’m reminded regularly of one of my basic truths. A person will tell you who they are within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. It’s funny but we all do the same thing when we meet someone for the first time – we make assumptions about their character, how nice or angry they are, if they seem genuinely happy in their life, if they’re rich or bright. Listen carefully. You know about assumptions.”

This is the thing. That’s why it’s so important that in those first 10 minutes when you first meet a person. You have to listen to what they are saying – truly listen and not assume. This means not only listening to what they are saying but also to what they aren’t saying. When we don’t listen carefully, we either miss the red flags that are waving wildly in our faces or, just maybe, the fabulous person in front of us.

How Many Full Moons Do We Have Left?

It’s funny. We all find ourselves getting cranky over something that someone else has said or done to us that we perceive as mean. I know for a fact that I’m guilty of that. I’ve always said that I may forgive but that doesn’t mean that I forget – mind of an elephant and all that.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was complaining to a really wise girlfriend about just that – a slight that I thought I had received from someone else and what I thought I would or could do about it. She looked at me kind of funny and then she asked, “How many full moons do you think you have left in this life? Is this worth the 5 minutes we are talking about it, much less spending any time actually doing anything about it?”

Her answer stopped me COLD and at that point, I decided I was going to let “it” go. I’ve been reminding myself of that ever since. I think it’s a pretty good thing to remember.

A Recipe for a Different Kind of Carbonara

A Different Carbonara – Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks & Bacon

The author of this recipe is Sara Jenkins published in the February 2013 issue of Bon Appétit. When I’m looking at new pasta recipes (a favorite carb), I always stop at ones that include bacon. I love bacon – not a secret among my friends! This is a little different because leeks are added to provide sweetness to offset the salt of the bacon. It’s a very simple dish to make for a great impromptu get-together with friends.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add leeks and season with salt.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.

 

 

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

There are days when we all hate the mirror. I agree that whoever said that the mirror doesn’t lie was actually telling the truth. I’ll look in the mirror and think I’m either “fat” or my skin doesn’t look good that day or I REALLY need to put makeup on or…or…or. We all have those days and sadly the mirror is always telling the truth at that moment. The thing that I’m most grateful for though is that it CAN’T LAUGH!!! That would be awful…

Easy Skillet Recipe for Gnocchi with Sausage & Tomatoes

Recipe: Gnocchi with Sausage and Tomatoes

This recipe is such a great one – quick to make and looks beautiful on the plate. It’s from The Kitchn, a favorite website that always has so many yummy recipes posted. This one popped up on their 23 Romantic Recipes post this week. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use store-bought gnocchi and any type of Italian sausage you like (spicy, anyone?). A great suggestion if you love cheese – finish the skillet with Parmesan!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
  3. When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined, but the tomatoes have not broken down into sauce.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Chef’s note: A cast iron skillet is preferred only because it will give you the best color and sear to the sausage and tomatoes but any skillet will work as long as it does NOT have a non-stick coating. That will interfere with the browning.

For the Love of Mustard

Recipe: Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

Author: Recipe adapted by Deb Perelman from Regina Schrambling, NYT

It’s cold outside. Maybe it’s raining or snowing where you are. But that means soups and stews that take a while on the stove or in the oven can make your house smell amazing along the way! This stew is one that caught my eye the other day. It’s from a website that I found and really love, Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman. I particularly LOVE the photos she adds of the recipe steps. This stew has a LOT of mustard in it, so if you don’t love mustard, this probably isn’t the one for you. One of the great things – a short list of ingredients! I’m going to follow Deb’s suggestion of serving this over wide noodles and I’m going to get some crusty baguette, too. I’m excited to try it out on friends on a Sunday afternoon!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound salt pork, pancetta or bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cognac (see Note)
  • 2 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons coarse Dijon or Pommery mustard (an extra sharp mustard from Meaux, France)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/4 cup red wine (see Note)

Instructions

  1. Place salt pork in a Dutch oven or a large heavy kettle over low heat, and cook until fat is rendered. Remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon, and save for another use, like your salad, vegetables or, uh, snacking. Raise heat to medium-low, and add onion and shallots. Cook until softened but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.
  2. If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan to augment fat. Dust beef cubes with flour, and season lightly with salt and more generously with pepper. Shake off excess flour, and place half the cubes in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to a bowl with onions. Repeat with remaining beef.
  3. Add Cognac to the empty pan, and cook, stirring, until the bottom is deglazed and any crusted-on bits come loose. Add stock, smooth Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon coarse or Pommery mustard. Whisk to blend, then return meat and onion mixture to pan. Lower heat, cover pan partway, and simmer gently until meat is very tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
  4. Add carrots, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until slices are tender. As they cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender. Stir mushrooms into stew along with remaining mustard and red wine. Simmer 5 minutes, then taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

 

Fran’s Soapbox: There’s Only One Winner

I’m going to step on my soap box now so be warned! When I was growing up, medals, trophies and awards were all things that you worked hard for, practiced hard for. It was still the case when my kids were growing up. That’s not the case anymore in so many ways and it makes me crazy. I don’t understand why people feel the need to acknowledge a child’s simple participation in an activity with a trophy -this isn’t the way of the world. What did they do to earn that trophy? Did they simply say “ok” when Mom or Dad said, “you have to play little league”? – Like they had a choice.

The world we live in is a very competitive place. People study and work hard to achieve a certain status in their field – they are not given awards simply because they thought it might be an interesting occupation or because their sibling is doing the same thing and their parent thinks it’s a good idea for them to do it too. It’s just not how it works; it has never been how it works. That’s not to say that some, very few, don’t achieve status through nepotism or because they were born into a certain family but those few know that’s how they got there and it is definitely not how the vast majority of us got where we are.

The idea that we have to be “careful” of our child’s feelings, ego or sense of self…or make sure we don’t do anything to dampen their spirit is not going to help them navigate the real world. I’m definitely NOT advocating cruelty, meanness, or bullying. Quite the opposite. Not only was I bullied in grammar school (we moved a lot, I skipped a grade, was small, etc.) but my eldest was, as well, so I’m very sensitive to how mean kids can get.

What I am saying is that we have to be honest with our children. The world around them is not going to give them anything extra just because they participated. The accolades should come from us as parents in the form of encouragement, not a trophy.

Kids are smart. They know when they deserve something and when they don’t. They will certainly know it when they have a shelf full of trophies for “participation” or being a “team member” and they still don’t get to pitch in the game when they get a couple of years older and the real competition starts.

I asked a friend who coaches a competition team of young kids his opinion. He said all of the kids on his team know that the participation ribbon they give to everyone who shows up is, in his words, “stupid and useless”. He said it was the organization that his team is a part of that has the rule that everyone gets something. If the kids know it’s bogus what’s the point?

So, be completely frank with your kids. In a ski race, there is only ONE person that comes down the mountain first. Only one who clocks the shortest time. It’s the skier that not only had the talent but also practiced like there was no tomorrow. Let your kids know that there is only ONE person who deserves that trophy – the person that did the work. Do your kids a favor – be honest with them.