To Bake Or Not To Bake

Weevy is quite the gourmand. Take this recent exchange with our new across-the-hall neighbors, who we bumped into in the hallway:

Weevy: Where are you going?
Neighbor: We’re going to go get some dinner.
Weevy: There are a lot of excellent restaurants in this neighborhood.
Neighbor: (Stifling laughter) Oh, really! What’s your favorite?
Weevy: (without skipping a beat) Red Farm (a fairly hip and pricey place). It’s a Chinese restaurant.

To explain just how fantastic I think this is, let me explain a little something. Many years ago, long before I ever gave the slightest thought to actually having a child, I was having lunch at Nobu, the swank De Niro-owned eatery in Tribeca. There I saw a mother feeding chicken teriyaki to her toddler-aged daughter, and they both seemed to be having a grand old time. “Man oh man,” I thought, “if parenthood is like that, hell, count me in.”

And lo and behold, it really is like that. Red Farm twice a week. Seared scallops at Cafe Tallulah. Pancakes with lots of powdered sugar at the Utopia Diner. Cupcakes at Magnolia. Mac and cheese at Old John’s. We’re regulars at all these places, beloved and welcome with open arms by owners and waiters alike, on a first-name basis with way too many of these people… when it comes to restaurants, at least, Weevy is the mayor of the Upper West Side.

The thing is, it’s fucking EXPENSIVE. It’s rare that a trip to Red Farm for plain lo mein and a couple of appetizers for Daddy doesn’t hit $60. Two orders of seared scallops and “hot-hots” (French fries, it’s a long story) cost $36, and that’s without me eating a thing. And I must confess that it’s not the greatest thing in the world for my now-bulging gut. Weevy likes to eat dinner at 5:00 or so. By the time the missus is home from work and ready to eat, it’s often about 9:00, and… I can’t let her eat alone, now can I.

But hey, what could I do? Weevy likes to eat out, I like to eat out… there’s no other option.

Or is there?

Yesterday we were over at her friend R’s for a playdate. R’s mom is fascinating — she has no interests, no hobbies, doesn’t seem to particularly like doing anything, including parenting. But one thing she knows how to do is keep R entertained. And one way she often does it is by baking. Yesterday she invited me and Weevy to join them in making some blueberry muffins. Now, Weevy is a freak in that she doesn’t like bread products. At all. Sure, she eats cupcakes. But she eats the frosting and the frosting only. The cake she leaves for Daddy. No bread, no muffins, not even cookies for the most part. Like I said, the girl’s a freak.

But she was really into making the muffins. I mean REALLY into it. And lo and behold, when it came time to actually eat the finished product, in her words, “I put it in my mouth and I ate it!” In fact she ate about three or four of them. Or parts of three or four, after which she gave me the remnants to down myself. Why, I don’t know. But they WERE tasty.

Which is causing new fantasies to sprout in my head. Fantasies of cooking dinner with Weevy every day. Saving money, eating healthy, doing something besides acting out Frozen, start to finish, with me playing about 14 different characters and her standing there saying, “Daddy, what do I say now?” I think this particular fantasy may not last past lunchtime, when it’s time to have lunch at one of our regular haunts. But I’m not ruling it out.