MEET THE FOUNDER:
Founder of Crumb
The struggle between kids and what’s on their plate at mealtime is nothing new. However, what we have to keep in mind is that kids are still finding their way around the many foods that are out there. The silver lining is that they can still find foods that they want to eat and be adventurous eaters!
We spoke with Devin Connell, the founder of Crumb, a site decided to life’s simple pleasures - family, food, and travel - and to keep good company along the way. She shares with us some of her favourite meals she makes with her own children as well as some tips on eco-living and how to tackle the picky little eaters in your life.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the food industry?
I grew up in a family that lived to eat. My parents founded an artisanal bakery when I was twelve, so I grew up watching them run a business built around the pleasures of good food. Any family trips we took were based around "research" so that meant going to markets, restaurants, and specialty food shops all over the world. It was in my blood.
I opened my cafe Delica in 2009 with the hopes of bringing good quality food in a charming setting to a landscape that was pretty barren of that. Toronto in the late 2000s was more known for fast-casual chains like Starbucks than one-off quality cafe's. After 10 years in the restaurant business, I knew that there was so much more I wanted to talk about when it came to food. I wanted to share all I knew about feeding my family and feeding my friends, thus Crumb was born. I like to describe Crumb as the anti-Martha Stewart, anti-meal planner resource for people who love (or have to) cook spontaneously.
Is there a recipe from your childhood that you’ve carried with you and introduced to your own children?
Absolutely! It has to be crepes. My Belgian grandmother would make crepes for me whenever I saw her. They were either filled with sugar and lemon juice or sausages and cheese. My kids adore them and I make them most weekends.
I wish I had Nutella when I was little to spread them with as I do now.
What are some of your favourite recipes to make with your tykes?
Scrambled eggs are a great place to start. Cracking the eggs, whisking, melting butter, stirring. It's all very fast and provides instant gratification, so less time for mess-ups or frustrations to happen. My 7-year-old now actually makes his eggs for himself in the morning now. It's a win-win!
What do you think are some of the best ways to introduce new foods to your child, especially when they are picky?
Bribery?! No, don't do that. We have a little trick in our house where we ask our kids to take a "snake bite" of food they don't want to eat. It's essentially a lick, just so they can taste the flavour. It works about 50% of the time. I like it because it's not forcing them to eat something and they actually think it's quite funny. I never want to put a stigma around food being negative, so I don't push too hard when it comes to new things. I truly believe these things will come with age.
How has having children changed your relationship with food?
Having children has taught me how to be more flexible with the way I cook. I often turn to dishes now that can easily be modified to suit everyone’s tastes, but without having to cook separate meals for everyone. Ironically, my children are somewhat picky eaters, which was incredibly frustrating to me in the beginning.
Now I know how important it is for them to have a healthy relationship with food rather than forcing them to eat mushrooms and green beans. Those things will come. The most important thing is fostering a routine of sitting down together for one meal a day as a family to focus on each other. It's a time when everyone has a voice and we can talk about issues bigger than just the happenings of the day.
What are some eco-tips for the kitchen?
Save your scraps of vegetables, bones, and herbs for stocks. I always save the tops of leeks or green onions for soups. Broccoli stalks are delicious when steamed, beet tops make a nice salad. Freeze over-ripe bananas for smoothies or banana bread. Use bruised apples for apple sauce. Preserve herbs by turning them into a pesto that you can freeze. We try to have a no or very low waste kitchen.