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Happy Meal

Happy Meal
July 2011
Carrie Morey of Callie’s Biscuits passes down a love for cooking to her three foodies-in-training

Even though there are three young aspiring cooks in the Morey household, there’s not an Easy-Bake oven in sight. No, these daughters of Callie’s Biscuits owner Carrie Morey—Caroline (age seven), Cate (four), and Sarah (three)—spend time in the kitchen with their mom doing the real deal, measuring, stirring, and even sautéing. “The more you expose children to cooking, the more they jump in,” says Carrie, whose culinary appetite was inspired by her own mother, noted Charleston caterer Callie White.

But it’s not just biscuits and other Southern fare that these little ones have a taste for. This Asian menu of marinated five-spiced whole flounder with assemble-it-yourself accompaniments is a family favorite. “My girls love this dish because they actually connect with what they are eating,” says Carrie. “As a parent, you can’t easily demonstrate that with beef or chicken—with the whole fish, they get it. The fish usually gets a name and lots of TLC before we start cooking.

“The concept for this dinner is definitely family style,” Carrie continues. “Bring the whole fish to the table so that everyone can build her own masterpiece. The foundation can be lettuce cups for wraps, wontons for a crispy crunch, or jasmine rice. Then build upon it with fish, green beans, cucumbers, onions, herbs, and cilantro-lime nuts. You get a salad, rice, and a crunchy cracker option, which is my girls’ favorite.”

Carrie’s philosophy is that little hands and palates learn early. “I spend every afternoon with my girls. If we need to go to the grocery store, they each get to pick one item from the food groups: starch, fruit, vegetable, and meat,” she explains. “Then we come home, do homework during the school year, and prepare dinner together.”

Having taught the girls the basics in kitchen safety and sanitation, Carrie assigns duties based on skill level. While everyone has a hand in washing and peeling ingredients, Caroline is the event planner of the family. “She sets the table and combs the neighborhood for flowers to decorate it, while Cate and Sarah love measuring ingredients and small tasks like picking and washing herbs.”

Beyond the hands-on instruction, her daughters are learning to try new flavors at least once. “We only serve one meal—the same for all of us,” Carrie continues. “When we sit down to dinner, they get a little of everything. They don’t have to eat anything, but if they want seconds of something, they have to eat what’s on their plate first. It’s their choice.” It seems the girls have learned the ground rules as they chime in: “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Of course, it helps that Mom always uses some of the ingredients she knows her daughters love, in this case the wonton crisps and nuts. “If they hesitate at first, usually after the third time we cook something, they’ll eat it.”