by SuSu, Runt Ekwesh, Rosie
Menu: Sloppy Dexters | Tenzo's Toasty Cheesy Sandwiches served with Dreamy Creamy Tomato Soup | Golden Soup with Tiny, Tiny Noodles | Vermin Traps | Piggies in Blankets | Paste & Glue | Dex's Crispy Chicken Nuggets made with Dex's Mysterious Powder and served with Tangy Apricot Dipping Sauce and Simple Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce | Cinnamon Sugar for Toast or Porridge | Superlative Non-Scratch Chocolate Brownies | Metaphorical & Messy Banana Splits
Without income (for Jedi are forbidden possessions), the Jedi Order are reliant on support from governments, industry and individuals. The Jedi Temple was built for them with donated skills and materials; transportation to missions depends on the charity of starship captains with extra space. Their food, likewise, came largely through donations and what they could grow or trade. Though the Jedi Order, like many austere orders, tended to eschew meat, they never rejected a donation or a meal.
But when you are a youngling, there are some things you just don't want to eat, even if your friends and masters are eating it and ordering you to do the same. Kids are kids everywhere, and if one rebels, it's not long before they are all rebelling and clamoring for other things. Nothing could make them change their minds.
But what is it that they wanted? The Jedi cooks are not bad, considering they tend to make do with donated ingredients (if it is the will of the Force that they learn to cook, they see it as their mission to do so). Even so, there were many things they are unprepared for, like the feeding of unreasonable beings -- such as children. As a short term solution, the younglings were sent to bed hungry for their refusal to eat, and it was a worrisome thing for the whole Temple.
During this little hunger strike, the old, wizened Jedi cook named Tenzo Tendo was at his wit's end and he told the council he could not deal with this dilemma. Obi-wan Kenobi was called by Master Yoda to help solve this case. Yoda remembered well that as a youth, Obi-wan was constantly hungry, but was a picky eater as a youngling. But as he grew, he had learned to eat anything that was placed before him. How had Obi-wan progressed from a child who wouldn't eat squashed sidi gourd to one who tried everything?
Obi-wan had to think about it a little, and he honestly didn't know when the transition happened. Upon meditation, he remembered his first trip to Didi and Astri's Diner when he was still a new apprentice. It was the first time he remembered really looking forward to eating someplace again, in contrast to his meals at the Temple cafeteria. The food there was tasty, sloppy, and if he ordered a particular item, he was confident that it would always be the same as it was the last time he ordered it. The galaxy was always a changing place, and sometimes, a little bit of sameness was comforting. After Astri sold the diner to Dexter Jettster, Obi-wan was relieved that she had left the recipes for the new proprietor.
Obi-wan explained that Tenzo was making the youngling's food too interesting and different all the time. Instead of trying so hard to teach lessons to the younglings through their meals, just make easy, stodgy food, make it simply and well, and don't change it -- too many changes can make even adults nervous and tearful. For instance, maybe the kitchen could serve a cheesy, starchy casserole once a month, but it should always be the same, so the kids would learn to look forward to it and take comfort in it.
It made sense, but Tenzo complained he was old, and didn't remember being a child. Yoda's eyes twinkled as he ordered Obi-wan to aid in the kitchen, and to take his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, to help Tenzo. He told the two humans that he had never known such childish Jedi as them, and he knew they'd be successful!
This was the dish Obi-wan enjoyed at Didi and Astri's, back when he was Qui-Gon Jinn's new apprentice. Astri was a talented cook, though her father had this business more as a front for his information gathering and peddling. It gave her enormous satisfaction that as many customers came for her cooking as they did for what Didi could offer. After he bought the diner, Dexter did actually change a few things on the menu, but he wisely refused to alter the old best-sellers. He had been looking for a more stable business to buy, and had tried many diners before offering to buy this one. He liked this sweet and sour recipe so much that Astri named it for him before she left for the Outer Rim. The younglings like it, even though it has mustard and onions in it -- it also has little bits of meat and ketchup! A subtle lesson -- take the yummy with the yucky!
Tenzo's Toasty Cheesy Sandwiches Served With Dreamy Creamy Tomato Soup
Even though he griped about having to think like a kid in order to re-learn how to feed the younglings, he did admit that his recipe development had become exotic and fashionable. He had let pride in his skills get in the way of a good feed, so he asked Yoda for time to meditate. When he came out of the chamber, he looked years younger and whistled as he prepared this simple, crispy sandwich, which he served with a smooth tomato soup -- the kind you dream of when you're cold, tired, hungry and things are just going badly. There was not so much as a crumb left the day it was offered to the younglings. This was fun!
Golden Soup with Tiny, Tiny Noodles
Anakin, having grown up on a planet with very little water, always found it fascinating that some beings ate soup at every meal. During his time at the Temple, he had to learn how to eat it, how to experience it, the properties of soup and the things floating in them. So on that level, he was still a child. He told Tenzo that he was fascinated by how things like bread changed when you put them in soup. But his very favorite soup was one that has skinny or tiny noodles in it, and not too many of them -- that way, they didn't swell up quickly like croûtons or rice did, or cool the soup down like fruit and vegetables did. He also liked the yellowy golden color -- not quite the color of the Tatooine sands -- and could often be seen slurping it down in a mug, rather than a bowl. It slid down so easily, and the noodles were fun and tiny enough for even the smallest kids. (If you prefer, go ahead and use bigger, fatter noodles. But even adults like the novel-shaped tiny noodles!)
These are essentially crispy little pizzas, cut into little rectangles. Dexter had told Obi-wan that the stuff on his "kid's menu" was nothing more than the adult stuff, cut smaller and served on more colorful plates. Kids love them because they are sized and served "especially for me," and if you do it right, you can even give them some choice in the toppings. The long, thin shape was also much easier for little hands to hold and guide into hungry mouths. Dexter called these "vermin traps" because not only are they shaped like the type of trap used to catch rodents, but he affectionately refers to kids as "vermin," too ... and he assured Tenzo that these would catch those type of vermin, too!
Bake at 325°F/150°C for 30 to 60 minutes, till very crispy and dry. Cool on wire racks, then store in airtight containers. Eat like a cracker. (Or you can bake just till the cheese is bubbling and melted, then serve like a pizza.)
Piggies in Blankets
Obi-wan sent Anakin to Dexter's to ask for the recipe for this dish, and the blushing Padawan returned with a piece of flimsi torn off a sugar bag. Dex wasn't there, so he asked the human waitress, Hermione Bagwa, for the formula. She scribbled it down quickly on a piece of flimsi, and amused herself watching Anakin's reaction as he read it. In it's entirety, it read, "You need one male Piggy and one blanket. Make the Piggy cold, he'll roll up himself and steal the blanket from you." Tenzo laughed out loud when he read this rather risqué adult version of the recipe, and told the Padawan never mind, he understood it well enough to figure it out!
Variation -- use cocktail franks, and half or a quarter of a flattened biscuit for each. Kids really love the tiny piggies.
Paste and Glue
In every culture around the universe, there is an "instant" -- or rehydratable -- version of this dish. When it's made from "scratch," macaroni with cheese dishes are usually baked in the oven, where the top can go crispy and brown. But kids seem to like the smoother, creamer taste and texture of a stove-top recipe like this one. Dex jokes about the bright orange-yellow "glue" that holds the often over-cooked macaroni pieces together, and on his menu, this dish is called "paste and glue." The younglings like the funny name and they love this recipe, too! (Don't be put off by the hot spices -- the fat in the cheese and milk will deaden their effect. You can adjust them to suit your taste, of course.)
Dex's Crispy Chicken Nuggets made with Dex's Mysterious Powder and served with Tangy Apricot Dipping Sauce and Simple Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
This is another Dex's Diner specialty. This had been a "Kid's Menu" item when Astri and Didi owned the place, but it was so popular that Dex simply offered it in bigger portions to the grown ups. Tenzo came to realize that the frumpy comfort foods adults love are also the great favorites of kids -- good tip when preparing meals for kids OR adults. This recipe is a bonus, in that it isn't deep fried, so it's easy to prepare and refrigerate or freeze, then bake as needed. Not so bad for you, calorically or in terms of meal planning time and effort!
This recipe used one of the "secret powders" that Dexter was famous for; competitors accused him of putting in addictive substances to make people crave it. Dexter swore he did not such thing -- he even gave the recipe to Obi-wan for the Younglings, to prove to everyone his "secret powder" was completely safe. He included some simple dipping sauce recipes too, just to show his hearts were always in the right place.
To Serve: This meal is simple for kids of all ages -- serve as many or as few nuggets as appropriate to individual appetites. To simulate "fast food," serve the dipping sauces in tiny condiment cups -- if you can't find these, you can cut down small Dixie cups, or use small Japanese dipping sauce bowls, or be creative with any fun container. Oh, and ketchup or Chinese plum or duck sauce is perfectly fine as additional dipping sauces.
Cinnamon Sugar for Toast or Porridge
This is a great breakfast or snack item for Jedi of all ages. Tenzo had put out little shakers of cinnamon sugar so that the younglings could season their buttered toast or porridge to their preference. He accused them of using way too much when he had to refill the containers several times a day. The younglings all denied it, but kids are kids. Then he found out that the older Jedi had also discovered the shakers and were using them liberally, too! Tenzo had to admit it certainly simplified his breakfast preparations.
Superlative Non-Scratch Chocolate Brownies
No matter what Tenzo tried, it was difficult to make the rich, chewy brownies that Anakin and Obi-wan described to him. They had enjoyed these on a mission and knew the Younglings would go crazy for them. Frustrated by the failures, Obi-wan told Dexter about them. The Besalisk giggled, then tipped Obi-wan off that the prepared mixes created cakes that were quite different from homemade, and it was impossible to make the same cakes from scratch. There was a way to guarantee the texture, but Dex would need time to "develop" the method, he said as he gave his friend a broad wink. Wondering what the wink was about, the Jedi Master soon learned that the manufacturer owed Dex some favors, and the Temple soon received many bags of raw cake mix! Following the recipe imprinted on the bags, these brownies were a big hit, and Tenzo was happy that it was easy to whip up anytime. Even the adult Jedi enjoyed them as is, but the Younglings also liked them frosted, or topped with ice cream and syrup. (The padawans assigned to the kitchens behaved very well on brownie baking days -- Tenzo would let the hardest working Younglings and Padawans lick the batter bowl!)
Metaphorical & Messy Banana Splits
Strained bananas are the first solid food for most babies. Perhaps that's why kids enjoy bananas in just about anything. And kids do love ice cream, of course, and they especially enjoy that once in a while for a treat, Tenzo will lay out ice cream, bananas, toppings and syrups for them to make their own creations. Clean up is awful, but herein lies a metaphor-as-lesson -- if you want to make and eat your own messy concoctions, be prepared to clean up after yourself, too! (It seems that old Jedi just can't NOT teach SOME lesson along the way!)
It's not a bad idea to do this outdoors, or to line the tables and floors with tarps or newspapers. This can get messy. Rather than putting each topping and syrup in a bowl to be spooned out, it's advisable to put out little cups of individual stuff, so that the kids can take what they want and not end up with bits of one thing in another bowl. It happens!
Hose everything down ... including the Younglings.
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