A quick Bite with Go Fug Yourself’s Heather Cocks

A quick Bite with Go Fug Yourself’s Heather Cocks

One of the joys of SPC is that it gives Laura and I an excuse to get in touch with just about any parent we feel like you might want to meet and invite them to do a Quick Bite. So what the hell took me so long to reach out Heather Cock, co-creator of the ridiculously funny Go Fug Yourself? How was I to know that Heather is the mother of twin boys? The hounding began as soon as I heard.

For those of you who are currently missing out on one of the most addictive bits of online candy, go now. And you’re welcome. Daily looks at the highs and lows of celebrity fashion are fun to check out, without a doubt, but it’s the commentary by Heather and her online partner Jessica Morgan that is pure crack. They somehow manage a perfect balance of scathing and sweet. I’m a particular fan of their imaginary conversations between celebrities. This one between Claire Danes and Billy Crudup still cracks me up. One of the absolute highlights of my career at FASHION was when we made it on one of their regular features called Fug the Cover with our cover of Mary-Kate Olsen.

Even though she must be busy as all get out running her site and running after her boys, Dylan and Liam, Heather was quick to agree to our questions. I love her point about parenthood bringing out an obsession with perfection and an acceptance of the impossibility of perfection. We’ll have to have her back again once her boys are spending more time with her in the kitchen because I needthe recipe for Utterly Deadlies caramel brownies.  – C.M.

Heather and her adorable family. Husband Kevin holds Dylan and Heather’s got twin brother Liam.

Q: What is your earliest food memory?
A: Weirdly, it’s a cocktail memory. I remember one night helping to set the table — I must have been about four — and after a few trips back and forth from the kitchen, I took a swig from my tumbler of ice water. Except it wasn’t mine. It was my dad’s scotch on the rocks. I think I may have done a spit-take. I wonder if that’s why, to this day, I hate scotch and whiskey. To me they taste like gasoline. I also have memories of mom cutting my bologna into shapes for me; of going to my sister’s softball games and getting a Dinosaur Egg jawbreaker; of going to a divey place afterward to get the same delicious grilled cheese sandwich; and of course, of our family birthday tradition, chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. And if my mom is reading this, well, then obviously I remember lots and lots and lots of delicious vegetables.

Q: How did you learn to cook?
A: Mostly by helping and watching. My father was a great instinctive cook, the kind of person who doesn’t always need a recipe, or who can modify them on the fly and have it be even better. I am not that person. But I did like pitching in, and eventually really got into it through baking, which is the ultimate in cooking for people like me who always have to follow directions. When we lived in England growing up, we went to an American school that was part day school, and part boarding school, so my sister Julie would often have her friends who were boarders come stay for the weekend. And being five years younger, I was always desperate to seem really cool and awesome, right? So I’d bake for them. I think that almost became a draw in and of itself — “Come to the Cocks’s, because you’ll get cupcakes.” That triggered the sense of self-satisfaction from putting together something delicious that people enjoy, and as I got older that spread to making all kinds of other things as well. It’s not ALL about ego, of course, but I think that’s certainly part of what’s addictive about cooking, or really doing anything that’s for public consumption. I mean, how many writers REALLY write without caring whether anyone is reading? It’s fun to please people. Food is a big way of doing that. Unless you are serving them, like, anchovy broccoli casserole with tripe sauce.

Q: Do you still cook any family recipes? Do you get your kids in the kitchen?
A: Oh, yeah, all the time. We have a ton of food traditions. Our special-occasion recipe for mashed potatoes, we got from a friend when I was maybe ten years old and we still make it; ditto a chocolate kahlua cake recipe that came to us when I was fourteen, which has become kind of my signature dessert, along with these ruthless caramel brownies called Utterly Deadlies. My dad and I used to make mincemeat pies every Christmas season for desserts, and I still do it even though I am the only one who likes them. We always did bangers and mash and caramelized onions for Christmas Eve, and I carried that into my marriage, along with barbecuing the Thanksgiving (and Christmas) turkey on the charcoal Weber. In fact my dad was the center of a lot of our traditions because he loved cooking so much, although my mother’s spinach dip must get some props here too.

Q: Do you get your kids in the kitchen?
A: My kids are fascinated by cooking. They love watching us do it, and they spend a ton of time at their mini play kitchen. But they’re only just two years old, so I haven’t done much that’s participatory with them yet, beyond sitting Liam on the counter a couple times and having him whisk pancake batter. They also, regrettably, like to fiddle with the knobs on the oven, which I fear will lead to either fiery death or Baked Hand.

Q: What do you wish your kids would eat that they refuse to touch?
A: Everything. Anything. My kids are in a really weird eating phase. Both are underweight; Dylan in particular has always been below the fifth percentile in weight, partly because he was a preemie, but mostly because he never really liked to drink a whole lot so he didn’t get the fast weight-gain in the early months that a lot of babies get. Neither of them responds to meats at all, unless they are in nugget or stick form. I wish they’d eat proper meat, but they seem to get bored of chewing, IF they put it into their mouths at all. They’re not bad with fruits and veggies, happily, which is something I could stand to learn from them. So let’s stick with “non-processed meat” for this one.

Q: How do you handle pickiness?
A: Well, because the twins were nine weeks early, we’ve had an almost clinical obsession with their food intake since hour one in the NICU. That’s not a great thing, because it means it’s really hard to let go and just let them decide whether they’re bothering with meals on a given day. They’re two and they’re still in 12-month pants, if that. Half the time Dylan will be playing basketball outside with his shorts around his ankles. So for me, pickiness sometimes translates to panic that he will never crack 25 pounds, which is of course ridiculous — he is not going to enter second grade only weighing 25 pounds — but there you have it. All of that is to say, it’s a mental struggle for me to separate run-of-the-mill toddler pickiness from, Oh My God, My Child Refuses To Eat. There’s this temptation to just keep throwing food at them until something sticks. I’m working really hard to be like, “Okay, this is dinner, take it or leave it,” and not give in to any hissyfits, and not care if they decide they don’t want to eat it, and not offer them one of everything in the house. This is not Las Vegas, and I am not a casino whatever-you-can-eat buffet chef.

Q: What’s your go-to meal on a busy weekday?
A: For my kids, usually pasta with peas and maybe some chicken hidden in there, or tuna stirred into Easy Mac (the microwave pre-portioned ones don’t have the fat that the boxed ones do). Tuna is a great way to sneak protein into the kids when they won’t eat all the awesome grilled meats we’re eating. The boys won’t eat it on its own but if I stir it into goopy cheese and pasta, then score. For me, I can throw together some chicken in the oven — brush the breasts with mustard and bread with either crushed cornflakes and flaxseed, or breadcrumbs, and bake for 20-25 minutes on 425 — and then make cous cous supplemented with whatever veggies are in the crisper, usually asparagus and red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, and some purple onion and peas. All those veggies fill you up without eating as much of the cous cous, and they thus stretch it a lot further so that there’s plenty for leftovers. Because really, THAT is my go-to on a busy weekday: whatever we had the night before.

Q: How has motherhood changed the way you cook? The way you eat?
A: It has made me more of a grazer, to my waistline’s detriment. Some of it is because the boys are really into jamming food into my mouth with adorably huge smiles on their faces, or because I figure if I taste it, they’ll see me do it and want some themselves. But I never eat enough to fill me up, so then I eat my dinner, too, and suddenly I’ve ingested a lot more than I thought. Motherhood has definitely made me think a lot harder about my own poor eating habits, and how I hope they don’t rub off on my kids, and how I can improve. It’s made me more interested in being creative, because creativity is what it’s going to take to get them to try new things. I mean, they won’t touch potatoes unless they’re in fry form. Potatoes! Nature’s most delicious veggie! They won’t TOUCH them. Crazy. And it’s made me a lot more cognizant of putting a well-rounded meal on the plate. The other night, I looked at Liam’s plate, and it was all starches. Parenting fail. But then again, motherhood has also made me a lot more forgiving of slips like that, because you know what? Not every meal is going to be perfect, just like not every day is going to be, not every bedtime is going to be, et cetera. Motherhood is this strange thing where you at once become more obsessed with perfection and more forgiving of yourself for your imperfections.

Q: Do you keep food secrets from your kids? ie. Fruit for their dessert and then chocolate for you after they go to bed?
A: Not yet. Someday I will. Our house is full of double standards at this point. Diet Coke for me, not for them; whenever they seem interested in it, I tell them they can’t have any because it’s special mom juice. One day Liam pulled a can out of the trash and said, proudly, “Mama!” Right now my food secret is that I can’t keep potato chips in the house without mowing through the bag, so I’m trying not to keep them in the house at all. Best to avoid temptation. I also tend to eat way fewer fruits and veggies than I try to make them eat, and I’m enjoying that we’re at a point where they haven’t yet noticed that and/or can’t call me out on it. Because I don’t really WANT to eat peas.

Q: What rules will you have when your kids are older?
A: Right now we’re working on not throwing their plates on the ground when they’re finished, and actually swallowing their chewed food instead of discarding it on the table or all over their shirts. As they get older, I’ll insist that they at least try everything on the plate — I don’t care if they lick it clean, as long as they give everything a fair shake — and of course that they chew with their mouths closed, use napkins, and try to sit up straight. However, I would seriously trade almost all of that for this spitting-out-food phase to end. It’s horrible. Restaurants are a grody affair. We rarely go anymore, because beyond ruining our meal, it ruins everyone’s.

Q: Why do I keep watching Nancy Grace even thought I think she’s a psychopath?
A: Self-sabotage? Kind of like, why did I just buy a bag of Tangy Carolina BBQ Lay’s even though I know I will then eat the entire bag in two sittings and then hate myself for it? Because sometimes you need something that’s so bad it’s good.

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5 Comments

  1. kate
    July 18, 22:49 Reply

    I can relate to Healther’s food/kids quandaries. Prem twins? Check. Tiny waists and pants falling down? Check. Mine are now seven and still wearing three-year-old clothes. Don’t worry, their tastes will become more eclectic in time. Just keep putting the interesting food on the talbe and they will help themselves eventually.

    We have had big wins with veggie sticks and dip, smoothies, and the divinely sneaky vegetable fritter 😉

    • Ceri Marsh
      July 19, 15:38 Reply

      Hi Kate,
      That vegetable fritter sounds good! Share the recipe?
      I’m sure many of our readers can relate to yours and Heather’s challenges with kids on the slim side. You’re right – all you can do is just keep putting good food in front of them and try to be patient. And, in Heather’s case, having a hilarious sense of humour helps!
      Thanks so much for writing in,
      Ceri

  2. Maiva
    August 04, 22:35 Reply

    Great interview!
    But Heather, I think you should be glad that your twins don’t like meat that much. They get plenty of protein by eating vegetables anyway, plus it’s healthier.
    Judging from your answers, you and your husband are very into meat and (unfortunately) not so much into veggies; maybe you need to use your boys as role models in this regard. 😉
    I’m not saying you should stop eating meat (though I myself am a vegan), just be glad your children are choosing the healthier foods by themselves and not the other way around – which is the main eating problem many parents have to face with their kids.
    Btw, I LOVE GFY – it’s getting better and better every week.

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