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Happy plates and planners for all ages

When my sister’s kids were little, she’d always encourage them to make a “happy plate,” meaning to eat all their food. No one in our family struggles with this concept today. We still use the phrase though, 30 plus years later.

My nephew in Alabama has been a professional cook and is an envy-inspiring home chef, with his own produce and chicken eggs. Now his toddler is a little Culinary Thrill Seeker.

I was minding my own business when we got a family message showing his own toddler son’s little divided baby dish brimming with alligator and chicken piquant, home grown fried okra and green tomatoes.

What did you have today?

The next day, Dad must have tried to keep the pace with a photo of this lucky kid’s skillet fried queso blanco, grilled El Milagro corn tortillas, sour cream, sautéed onions and peppers, refried beans and marinated grilled skirt steak.

Oh, then we all got another message that he’d forgotten to plate the avocado before taking the shot. Again … lucky kid.

A “happy plate” of my own included dressing up another bowl of lentils with a fried egg. Boy, a bag of lentils makes a lot of servings. This is a dish I’d never have considered in my youth. Just too boring. While I do appreciate that they are healthy and cost pennies a serving, I appreciate that they can be enhanced with herbs to go Italian, Indian, Cajun, etc. I was going to have an egg on the side, but decided to make it a topper when I ran out of room on the plate.

The Happy Planner

Women: If you are decades past high school and still doodle, check out The Happy Planner.

If have a bullet journal and think perky plastic dividers and tiny, colorful stickers of spatulas and whisks will get you excited about cooking and you’d even wear a little charm bracelet to show everyone how organized you are, then you’ve met your tribe. I may have thought the high quality, teeny stickers that will be all over my spice jars — and can also adorn recipe cards for shower gifts — would be my favorite part of the package. Oh no. It’s the big fridge magnet designed to plan out the weekly meals that will be my go-to. OCD people who want control, frugal moms who want to make sure food gets used before it expires and show-offs who want others to salivate over their culinary ways will all love these products. The adjustable planner will help you record your family’s most treasured memories. It’s a mix and match situation and meandmybigideas.com has other themes.

Get to know the creators’ back story. They want you to Plan a Happy Life.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie ready to enjoy Southeast Texas and beyond. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com