I keep a journal for each of my children. Wait, no, that’s a bit misleading. I own three small books with their names written inside, and hold firmly to
a delusion an intent to keep a journal for each of them. When they were very small this seemed like an easier and more realistic task — they got a tooth, said something cute, pooped somewhere not-so-cute. These days, with all their new-found conversational, emotional, and philosophical needs, well, let’s just say I’m doing good to keep them fed.
So let’s back it up a bit. Let’s pretend I was good at keeping a journal for each of my children. If so, they would have plenty of documentation to take with them to their therapist’s office in 20-30 years. My son will flip to that page from 2008 when I moved him from his crib to a toddler bed, making room for his new baby sister (insert deep-seeded feelings of vulnerability, fear of falling, etc.). My daughter might be affirmed in her memories of severe pain after her tonsilectomy at age 5 — and, for sure, all three of them will read admissions of guilt from the days I am not up to my mothering best. But the one thing that at times seems like the most traumatic entry ever — the thing that causes the most confusion in their delicate child psyches is the fact that I don’t often buy grapes.
BUT IT’S FRUIT, MOM!
MOM, (insert any name here)’s MOM ALWAYS BUYS GRAPES!
BUT MOM, LOOK, THEY’RE ON SALE!
And, ok, that last one will work sometimes. If grapes are <$1.99/# (incidentally, that’s my exact shorthand for if/then statements on the grocery list when I send Tim to the store) then I will occasionally buy a pound or two. My complaint with grapes is twofold: economics and nutrition.
I know that grapes are delicious. They are juicy, sweet, and refreshing — like nature’s popsicle. And they do have nutritive value, I suppose (anti-oxidants, maybe?) — but they are really high in sugar content, and that’s why my kids can pop them like candy. Add to this the fact that they are usually from South America, where they are sprayed with who knows what (and who can ever afford the organic ones?), and also are rarely on sale — my kids can eat up $4 worth of grapes in one sitting, and could do so every single day. Not a good thing for the grocery budget, especially when so many other seasonal fruits give much more bang for the buck.
Laugh at me, if you will, but so runs my logic: when I came across a recipe last week for chocolate grapes, it was a no-brainer. If grapes, to me, are like candy, we might as well take that idea to its fullest end.
The method was in that big beautiful cookbook, the one I borrowed from Greg Hardesty, the one that left me longing for ripe red tomatoes. The recipe is French, which automatically makes
me it cool. I made these as contribution for a dinner party, and while an amazing ganache-covered chocolate cake whipped up by my friend Amanda took top honors, my bowl of grapes was gone when the dishes were done.
And my kids? Let’s just say I’m writing this one down in their books.
Recipe: Chocolate-Covered Grapes
: retold from a recipe by Michel Richard in Happy in the Kitchen
- 1 pound firm grapes, stemmed and washed
- 4 oz bittersweet (60-70% cacao) chocolate (I used a bar of Ghirardelli Bittersweet), finely chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Dry grapes thoroughly, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour (the temperature of the grapes and chocolate is important — otherwise the chocolate won’t correctly set)
- Set a medium mixing bowl (glass or stainless steel) over a pot of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water). Add the chocolate to the bowl, and stir until melted.
- Set chocolate aside and let cool to body temperature: dip your finger in the chocolate and touch it to your bottom lip; when it is the same temperature as your lip it is ready.
- Transfer the chilled grapes to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the chocolate, a spoonful at a time, over the grapes, and stir the grapes to coat (the chocolate will begin to set quickly, so stir gently but quickly).
- Sift the cocoa powder over the grapes, and stir to coat, separating grapes that have stuck together.
- Serve immediately, or chill for up to a day.