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Simple Sides:  Mother's Day Breakfast

By Dennis Linden

Image of Tangerine Omelet
Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food, and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will provide a child or a group of children, working together under an adult's supervision, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious recipe. The dish is centered on fresh seasonal produce; the recipe will contain tasks that will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through the recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability and identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Image of Cookin with Kids

Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic; this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience and confidence in the kitchen develops. Melissa's encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a" week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It's a wonderful way to teach a child basic culinary skills, and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever. "No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing" – Julia Child. 

One of the most cherished moments for many Moms on Mother's Day is listening to the conspiratorial whispers happening in a kitchen that she is barred from entering while the kids prepare breakfast. For dad, or whoever is overseeing this annual tradition, it can be stressful, especially if this culinary supervisor role has also been only a yearly occurrence! To encourage more culinary collaboration in the future, here's a straightforward four-ingredient omelet recipe that includes a very special ingredient from the season's harvest befitting the occasion, the Ojai Pixie tangerine.

Of course, any variety of tangerine could be used for this dish. Still, the seedless Pixie's flavor is vastly superior, and the best quality of this tiny citrus fruit is grown in California's fertile Ojai Valley. Like the famed vineyards of Napa or peppers of New Mexico's Hatch Valley, the Ojai Valley's unique geography has the perfect microclimate for the flavor development of these late-season tangerines. Pixies have a big, full-bodied flavor like no other in the category; truly the essence of tangerine-ness, if you will. As a sidebar, this writer once watched the double-take reactions of seasoned produce professionals at a fresh produce trade show sampling Pixies. The unexpected burst of flavor brought a taste surprise that widened eyes, raised eyebrows and turned heads so often that it became comically predictable. Besides, it's the perfect fruit to start Mom's special day; tangerines can help deter negative feelings of stress and anxiety by producing neurotransmitters that help calm the nerves and encourages a continuous good mood, a.k.a. a happy Mother's Day! 

Though the ingredient list for this dish is concise, there are still preparation tasks that can be assigned to your kitchen helpers based on age and culinary experience. Even the youngest sous chef can peel and separate the Pixie segments as well as beat the eggs. An older child will get some practice in the art of dividing avocadoes into slices, i.e., a pitted half is sliced lengthwise while still in the shell, then carefully scooped out with a spoon. Also, since cooking eggs is about as basic a stovetop task as there is, consider that this recipe could serve as that first-time experience with an open flame--under very close supervision. 

Tangerine Omelet

Image of Ingredients for Tangerine Omelet

½ Pixie Tangerine, peeled, segments separated
½ Haas Avocado, sliced lengthwise
¼ cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of Melissa's Spice Grinder Rainbow Peppercorns
1 teaspoon butter

What the supervising adult should do:

There is very little to this recipe by design. Oversee the preparation and measuring out of the ingredients, including explaining how to handle the slicing of an avocado halve. Only you can judge whether any of your helpers are ready for some closely supervised stovetop experience. Do not skip the garnishments as eye appeal also needs to be practiced. 

What the Kids can do:

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Peel and segment the tangerine, slice the avocado and grate the cheese. 
Image of egg and Spice Grinder

Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add salt and a few twists of pepper and then beat with fork until blended. 
Image of Omelet cooking

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the eggs to the pan and swirl to cover the bottom completely, then add the avocado and tangerine segments and top with cheese. Once the eggs are set, lift one side over, forming an envelope. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes for the eggs to cook through and the cheese to melt. 

Plating: Transfer onto a plate, garnish with a few slices of avocado and tangerine pieces, then serve to Mom!

Image of Tangerine Omelet
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