September 9, 2009

Food, glorious food!

I swear I spend fifty percent of my time thinking about food. Add a couple of percents to that fifty now that school is in session. Summer time is fairly easy when it comes to feeding the family. I just make a big protein-rich salad every morning and stick it in the fridge to cool for supper. Other than that everyone just forages...and forages.
Now that school is in I have to think about 'litterless lunches'. I have to make sure there is bread thawed for breakfast or get up early to make pancakes or porridge. I have to make sure they have something filling like loaves or muffins for an after school snack (my Kitchen Aid mixer is my trusty sidekick during the school year) otherwise the kids will come home and eat all the bread I'm saving for breakfast and lunches; when I'm working and too busy to bake I have to make sure there are ingredients for something they can make themselves. I make a big pot of soup/chili/stew every week, which becomes, on the second night, the dinner waiting warm on the stove, ready at any time for the family going in five different directions at different times. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I realized long ago that if I wanted to have a great amount of control over what my children eat, I'd have to spend the time, the money and the energy required to satisfy my own standards. My teenagers spend their own money on junk food and going out for lunch, but when they eat at home I insist they eat well. My daughter said only this morning that she will remember this line of mine all her life: "Do you have any protein in that lunch?" I told her that I first heard it from my own mom.
"Real food" was a term I heard repeatedly from the time I was a small child. According to family lore, it was all packaged soup and Velveeta in our house before my mom became enlightened by some university students boarding at our house who started teaching her how to make granola. One Christmas my mom requested the book Recipes for a Small Planet. I remember being secretly so happy to discover that I could afford the book, and so I bought it for her. I learned to regret it when she presented us with bowls of what my brother and I called 'vulgar wheat'. When she introduced us to tofu, she served it raw, and I thought if I poured enough soy sauce on it it would eventually taste okay. Needless to say I ended up with a quarter of a bottle of soy sauce on my plate, and was no further ahead with the cubes of cold soy protein.
It wasn't all 'weeds and seeds' (as my dear departed Nana used to call it) and experimental forays into 'health food', however. My mom is a fabulous baker, and we regularly enjoyed homemade bread, cinnamon buns, cake, and lemon meringue pie. We devoured roast beef and mashed potatoes on many Sundays, spaghetti and meatballs, and what mom called 'egg pie', which was plain quiche and very good.
Nevertheless, as a child, I was always hungry. My mom used to think there was something wrong with me because I ate so much. My childhood friends like to tell embarrassing stories about me - about how I used to open their cupboards and say, "What have you got to eat?" Back then I probably spent about fifty percent of my time thinking about food. Nothing really changes, does it?

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