teaching my dad to cook: fried chickpeas with kale & sausage

Growing up, it was my mom who did all the cooking. When I got older and my mom went back to work, I took over cooking on weeknights. Making our meals back then was the spark of a lifetime of love. My dad, on the other hand, was quite content to sit back and enjoy all the bounty. Sure, I remember my dad making us fried eggs with buttery crinkly, crispy edges on Sunday mornings, or his specialty, “eggs in a hole” topped with a slice of processed cheese melted on top. He also was the one to make traditional Lithuanian dishes like the ones he remembered from his childhood. I remember him grating potatoes for kugelis and making large pots of stinky cabbage and apples (which I grew to love). However, when my mom got sick, my dad was the one in the kitchen. And he wasn’t happy about it.

In January when I was back home, I spent a lot of time cooking. My brother and his wife had a brand new beautiful baby and I wanted to help make the transition easier by dropping off dinner for them. As well, making a big, comforting dinner after my mom died was a welcome relief for my dad. Whereas my brother and I had come to terms with my mom’s illness years ago, my dad couldn’t get there. He always believed she’d pull through, even at the very end. Having me around cooking dinners certainly didn’t soften the blow, but I know it was one less thing that my dad had to worry about and I was so glad I could be there doing my small part.

During the one and a half years that my mom lived at the hospital, my dad relied on his “cooking” which meant oatmeal for breakfast, tomato and avocado sandwiches for lunch, and either frozen pizza or canned soup for dinner. With my dad at the helm of the kitchen, he was getting gaunt. So one night when I was making soup, my dad started asking me questions about what went into the pot. He wanted to learn to cook.

After I came back to Vancouver, my dad would tell me about his wonderful soups that he was making. He was proud and I was happy that I could pass along a bit of myself to my dad. But then he goofed. He threw in too much spice and ended up throwing the entire pot into the toilet. He stopped cooking just like that. I was disheartened and wanted him to try again, to help him regain some of that new-found kitchen confidence, but I wasn’t sure where to start. And then this morning, while thinking about what to write here, I came across a photo of a meal I had made last week. It was so simple and it had all the ingredients that I knew my dad would love. So I sent him an email with a recipe and even a photo of the completed dish. I wrote it out in a way that I hoped would be easy for him to follow. It’s just a simple recipe that would suit his tastes and hopefully would coax him back into the kitchen. I’m not sure it’s going to work, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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61 comments to “teaching my dad to cook: fried chickpeas with kale & sausage”

  1. 1
    Camila F.   March 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    That looks amazing!!!

  2. 2
    kate   March 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This is such a sweet story, Jeannette, it made me a little teary! :)

  3. 3
    lo   March 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    This is healthy comfort food at its finest. That first photo has me drooling… so I hope you included that with the recipe! Surefire way to catch dad’s attention!

  4. 4
    Allie S.   March 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Awh, this made me weepy too. My mom got really sick last year, and one thing that kept popping up in my mind is how in the world my dad would eat without her.

  5. 5
    Jabba   March 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I agree with Kate, what an odd feeling – salivation over your food and tears at the same time! We will be trying this one for sure.

  6. 6
    Adrienne   March 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    You are a very good daughter. And you have very good taste in recipes! I made this last week, too :)

  7. 7
    Bijoux   March 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    What a great post! I can certainly relate to it! I have almost all the ingredients now to make this – except for the sausage, which I no longer eat anymore…so I can sub faux meat instead. Does your dad really know how to use a computer? My parents have no clue whatsoever :)

  8. 8
    Tiberia   March 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    What does your dad like to eat? Maybe we can all send him some dad-frinedly recipes :)

  9. 9
    hag   March 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    This transition period sounds very challenging for everybody. I hope your Dad tries again with the cooking, I know my Dad eventually got beyond Bacon and Eggs and became a very creative cook and a more adventuous eater ( I think the two go hand in hand).
    I think this recipe should hit the spot, tasty, healthy and easy. I look forward to trying it myself!

  10. 10
    karen   March 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    what a delicious meal! i hope your Dad tries this and gets his kitchen confidence back. :)

  11. 11
    kickpleat   March 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks Camilla!

    Aw, thanks Kate, didn’t mean to make you tear up!

    Lo, so glad you love that photo! I like it too.

    So sorry to hear about your mom, Allie. I know, it’s hard to wonder about the other parent. It must be so hard for them both. Hugs to you!

    Thanks Jabba. I didn’t mean to conflict you with emotions.

    I saw that last week on your site, Adrienne. It’s a pretty fab dinner.

    Bijoux, my dad was born in 1932 and does so much online. He shops for most of his clothes online and is a huge ebay fanatic!

    Tiberia, what a great idea!!

    Hag, so true about cooking and becoming an adventurous eater. My dad has a very spice-sensitive palate, so when I hope he sees herbs and spices as friends rather than foes. Thanks!

    Karen, I hope so too.

  12. 12
    holdyourspin   March 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    This looks really delicious. I’m a bit terrified of kale (and chard, though I’ll eat spinach), but it does look fantastic.

    BTW, Thanks for the link for the RSS feed – it’s working perfectly now.

  13. 13
    Michelle   March 16, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    This warms my heart and is so sweet, Jeannette!

  14. 14
    Sprout   March 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Ooohh, that first photo looks as inviting as a steamy, hot bath. I think I’m going to take one now!

    Wanted to tell you that I visited your city for the first time last weekend. Two words: Japa Dogs. Make that four: Japa Dogs. Holy sh*t. Those things alone beckon us for a second visit! I will post about them soon.

    As always, thanks for sharing!

  15. 15
    Bit of Butter   March 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    What a wonderful story. And this meal looks great. I think I’ll have to try it with some of the kale from my garden!

  16. 16
    Dana   March 16, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Oh Jeanette. This post just tugged at my heat strings. My dad doesn’t even know where the dishwasher is, so to imagine him trying to cook for himself just makes me want to cry. What a good and thoughtful daughter (and woman) you are. Bravo to you and your sweet dad.

  17. 17
    crystal   March 17, 2010 at 1:08 am

    did he make it? don’t hold me in suspense!

  18. 18
    Joanne   March 17, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Beautiful post…you are such a sweet daughter! Mark Bittman would definitely be a good chef for your dad to follow…his recipes can be so simple and are always so delicious. Like this dish – can’t get any easier or tastier than this!

  19. 19
    Marianne   March 17, 2010 at 4:56 am

    That is my kind of meal! It truly looks mouthwatering. Good for you, Jeanette, for encouraging your Dad. I’m sure it must be hard for him to rally and do anything these days. I really feel for him. My Mom was a wreck after we lost my Dad.

  20. 20
    kickpleat   March 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Holdyourspin, don’t be afraid of kale! It’s delicious.

    Thanks, Michelle.

    Sprout, glad you enjoyed Van & the radness of japadog. Yum!

    Butter, this would be great with your garden-grown kale.

    Thanks Dana, shucks.

    Crystal, he hasn’t gotten back to me yet!

    Thanks Joanne. Bittman is great for simple recipes, def.

    Thanks Marianne, he seems to be coping okay but it’s hard to tell since we’re across the country!

  21. 21
    Lynn   March 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    This sounds like a lovely, comforting, healthy meal. Hugs in a bowl.

  22. 22
    Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)   March 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    My heart aches for your dad…I don’t know what I would do without my husband. I have such a hard time with people losing spouses because my husband and I are like peas and carrots…we just work so well together. I am really so sorry for your loss. I am sure your dad is appreciate of what you are doing. This dish is one the my husband would definitely love and I will absolutely make it for him. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope your family is all doing well.

  23. 23
    Sweets at Vicky's   March 17, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    AHHH this might be a little late but i LOVE your blog and now I SUPERlove it because it’s even cuter. Love the spunk and all the yummy food.

    I think that yummy dish would make great friends with a side of fried kale chips!

  24. 24
    przepisy   March 18, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Looks really amazing! I hope taste as well:)

  25. 25
    monika   March 18, 2010 at 7:00 am

    I got choked up reading this. It has been similar in my family; both my sister and I have come to terms, more or less, with my mom’s illness, but I suspect my father is aching in ways he keeps hidden from view. I never even thought about how he’d have to teach himself to cook now that my mother isn’t there to do it. What a beautiful, meaningful contribution you’ve made to your father’s life. You’ve inspired me, once again. A reminder that reaching out takes many lovely forms.

  26. 26
    Heidi   March 18, 2010 at 8:07 am

    That is so sweet! I have a husband who does not cook, and up until now, if I was away, I would leave him tupperwares of individual portions of things like tabbouleh, and know that he’d fill up on his eternal saucisson sec and Ikea rye crackers! But now that we have a little girl… I wonder what he’s going to do. He’s going to have to learn how to cook, because if I go away for more than a couple of days, there is no way that I’m pre-cooking everything for the two of them! Unfortunately, I have the sneaking feeling that he’ll just take her for dinner at a different family member’s every night… ;)

  27. 27
    hag   March 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I made this last night, and it was delicious and really easy! I made it with Swiss Chard and also added a little blob of dijon mustard at the end.

  28. 28
    Lydia   March 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    You are so sweet. I want to eat this too. I love your new site!

  29. 29
    The Paris Food Blague   March 19, 2010 at 4:57 am

    gorgeous photos…..between you and smittenkitchen, greens and beans are making it to my dinner plate

    a bientot
    the pfb

  30. 30
    Krysta   March 19, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    this looks so delicious, can’t wait to try it! and I have to agree with the others, hunger and sadness feel very strange together. so sorry about your loss.

  31. 31
    knitgirl   March 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    this looks especially yummy.
    great job on encouraging your dad! : D

  32. 32
    kickpleat   March 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks Lynn!

    Sarena, I know that is the scariest part for me…thinking how my husband and I could manage without each other. I hate to think about it!!

    Thanks Sweets!

    przepisy, it certainly does taste amazing!

    monika, that’s so sweet to hear. it’s true, we’ve got to think about the little things….like cooking. Every bit helps.

    Heidi, hopefully he’ll learn!

    Hag, so glad you loved it.

    Thanks Lydia.

    Paris, well go get those greens and beans!

    Thanks Krysta.

    knitgirl, it was the least i could do.

  33. 33
    Krista   March 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Hi there, I made this last night for dinner after my daughters swim meet, it was so fast and easy and really good. I would love to see more of the recipes that you are sending your dad. Do, you have other easy ones using kale, beet greens, collards etc. I am trying to eat more of them so would love to see more. Love your blog. Krista

  34. 34
    Ashley   March 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Aw your dad is lucky to have you. =) These kind of dishes are the best – easy, delicious and comforting.

  35. 35
    Eva   March 23, 2010 at 7:41 am

    This looks so good…and I love the new site! Great job

  36. 36
    brie   March 24, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Yummy! I can’t wait to make this. I have had a really hard time finding kale and/or chard here, but this recipe makes me want to expand my search.

    Also, the story accompanying the recipe was wonderful and sweet and moving.

  37. 37
    Tracy (Amuse-bouche for Two)   March 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

    This was very moving and what a perfect recipe to pass on to your dad. It looks like a dad sort of recipe. :)

  38. 38
    kickpleat   March 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Krista, I’ll try to share more recipes but if you do take a look at my recipes tagged “easy” (http://everybodylikessandwiches.com/tag/easy/) it should give you some ideas.

    Thanks Ashley & Eva.

    Aw shucks, thanks Brie. I’m surprised that it’s hard to find out there in the Swiss! Try spinach instead!

    Tracy, I thought it was a perfect dad recipe too.

  39. 39
    Shil   March 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    My boyfriend adored this, despite it being a several-day-old-leftover by the time he got to it. He doesn’t usually get excited about food but this one got enthusiastic praise. And I thought it was pretty delicious, too!

  40. 40
    kickpleat   March 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Shil, so glad you got amazing results with this! Hooray for boyfriend & dad food.

  41. 41
    cj   March 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    this looks so delicious and I love the story of teaching your dad to cook, while I was so sorry to hear about your mum.

    My dad is pretty helpless in the kitchen, makes good coffee and can handle toast, weilds a mean iron too…but anything that resembles a real meal, forget it.

    I’m totally eating this dish this week, thanks for sharing :)

  42. 42
    Stephanie   March 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Beautiful story, beautiful dish, beautiful blog!

  43. 43
    kickpleat   April 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks cj! At least your dad can iron!

    Thanks Stephanie.

  44. 44
    ruca   April 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was so good! I gave it to a bunch of family members and friends, and now it is a staple in the weekday cooking of almost everyone I know. So delicious! More recipes like this please!

  45. 45
    kickpleat   April 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Ruca, so glad that you’ve made this a family staple. Just take a look through my recipe index and search through the quick and easy tags. I’m sure you’ll find some new favorites.

  46. 46
    molly   May 5, 2010 at 1:39 am

    This is such a fantastic combo. We often make it with rapini (broccoli raab), and the sausage comes and goes (I always like it best the way I make it that night!). It transitions beautifully into soup, with broth, or pasta sauce. Something about those garbanzos and greens…

    On a separate note, kudos to you for teaching your father. What a gift.

  47. 47
    Kate Clause   May 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks once again for the healthy, yummy idea. I can’t wait to incorporate the chard and sausages in my fridge into this dinner. Cheers!


  48. 48
    Andrea   June 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Made this last night. Amazing!!!

  49. 49
    Leah the Foodie   July 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I LOVE your site! Great design! I can’t wait to make the fried chickpeas, kale & sausage dish! I have swiss chard on hand and may use that instead. Thanks!

  50. 50
    Michelle H   September 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Jeanette, thanks for posting this recipe! Kale has become my new favorite green vegetable and I’m trying to find more dishes that use it. I cooked this recently and used turkey meatballs (at my husband’s insistence, to be “healthier”) instead. We liked the dish, but definitely agreed that we’re going for italian sausage next time! I would like to post my attempt at this on my food blog – is that okay? Thanks!

  51. 51
    kickpleat   September 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Michelle, glad you & your husband enjoyed this dish! Yes, totally go ahead and post though I’d appreciate a link back to this page! Thanks :)

  52. 52
    Michelle H   September 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Will do! PS – your cooking helps me get over my past “aversion” of vegetables. I’m glad I can find dishes here that help me get over my silly fear of veggies!

  53. 53
    gia   January 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I am going to make your blackberry scones today, subbing blueberries and some olive oil, and saw this post. it’s wonderful family stuff and you tell your story perfectly. Thank you for sharing, I wonder myself how to help my own parents as they age… luckily they still have each other. happy sunday to you! ~gia

  54. 54
    meagan   May 20, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Has become a weekly staple in our house! thanks :)

  55. 55
    kim   September 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    i was just searching for pictures showing how garbanzos grow and i came across your post. the first thing i noticed was your EXCELLENT and YUMMY-looking photo! WOW!!! nice work!

    then i read your post, and WOW again! i’m so sorry for your loss, i hope your dad’s doing better these days.

    i can’t wait to make your recipe, it looks scrumptious!

    thanks for sharing your lovely story.

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