One working mom’s epic struggle to the dinner table each night.

From speed scratch to once-a-month cooking to slow food, there are so many dinner options these days. We’ve done them all, it seems.

Some of the paths in our journey to dinner were based on my job at the time –newspaper food writer, cookbook editorcollege professor. Other paths were dictated by where we were living – England, United States, with my in-laws.

The main detour in our journey was my daughter, an extraordinarily picky eater who, until the age of 4 ate just a handful of food items: macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, applesauce, sweet potatoes, fish sticks, raisins, cereal, pizza, ramen noodles, apples.

When it came time for her to eat vegetables like mommy and daddy, you can imagine her outrage. We began several months early with warnings. “When you are 4, you’ll be eating a few vegetables.”

At the time, we lived in England. There was a fennel bush at a cottage near our house. I showed Sweet Cheeks how to sneak a frond or two, and she loved the stuff. Hooray — a tiny victory in the battle to feed her carbon-based life forms!

Fennel was was plentiful, deliciously tender, and inexpensive. Thin pork scallops with fennel was one of my early triumphs – Sweet Cheeks ate this, and soon developed a taste for fresh fennel.

Pork Scallops with Fennel
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
6 pork scallops or thin chops
6 green onions, sliced
1 cup chopped fennel tops
Lemon juice
Salt to taste
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the scallops, turning to cook both sides. Add the green onions, cover the pan, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Add the fennel and toss to coat. Cook just until fennel wilts, then squeeze lemon over the meat. Makes 3 servings.