Friday, November 13, 2009

My Recipes & a Look at Modern Non-Foods

You will notice in my recipes that I use cans and cheese frequently. As we come into winter, my recipes change from fresh, seasonal foods, to casseroles, soups and other one-dish meals. Back in the "old days" people had farms with extensive gardens. The garden size was determined by how much food a family or community had to produce to feed everyone and the animals. All season long, the people ate off the land. Once fall came and the food was harvested, the canning began. Kitchens were full of women preparing food for storing for the long winter.

Ideally, I'd love to grow enough food to can to last me a whole season, but I don't have enough land. So I shop and read labels and buy cans of food with low salt and no added sugar. As much as possible, I add fresh ingredients or frozen.

If you live in an area where fresh food is available and affordable all year long, you can substitute canned ingredients for fresh.

I am also cooking for a daycare. This means that I have a strict budget to follow and only a certain amount of time to prepare meals. This prep time has to include clean up, too. I cannot leave the children for the amount of time it takes to prepare certain fresh foods and I'm not willing or able to sacrifice my evening hours doing so (though I still frequently do).

Switching gears now, let's look at modern non-meal non-foods. This is what I call things that have made their way from picnics and parties and special occasions to the dinner table. Here's a quick list of those I think of right off the top of my head:

Chips (all kinds, including Chee*tos, etc.)
Things that squirt out of cans or tubes
Bread-foods (crackers, pretzels, etc.)
Sweet beverages, fad coffee
Cereal in boxes made with tons of sugar and white flour

Ever see those Lunch*ables? They are a few crackers, some low-quality cheese and some chemical-laden bits of meat, tons of salt. This is a meal for a growing child?

Chips. Chips. Chips. Used to be an hors d'oeurvres, barely an appetizer, somethings to nibble while waiting for the barbeque or something in a bowl in a bar to make you thirsty so you'd buy a lot of drinks. Now we call them a side dish or snack.

Ball park food. My TuTu (grandmother) loved to go to Burger K*ng. She'd practically curl her toes in delite every time she bit into the Wh0pper Jr. She felt so bad, so free. Because "in her day," this was ball park food, something they were allowed only at a game. They NEVER saw a hamburger or hotdog on their supper table. Ever.

What are hotdogs? Really cheap sausage, imitating the really nice kind you find in, say, Germany. It is possible to find good quality meat in hotdogs these days, but you really have to hunt and pay for it.

What did kid food used to be, like in the 1950s? Liver and vegetables (spinach) and a glass of milk with an apple for dessert. What is it now? Instant mac&cheese, nuggets of "meat," chips and juice. How about breakfast? Oatmeal for breakfast, without sugar-syrup swirls and tons of sugar with mutilated oats, as in the packet kinds common these days.

Remember that boy from The Medicated Child? His lunch was a microwaved corn dog, Goldf*sh crackers, Gator&de and a cookie. I'm willing to bet that this was a "good" lunch for him since the TV people were there.

Why am I so stuck on nutrition right now? I actually always focus on it, I've just not shared to much before. I work with babies and kids every day. I talk with their parents every day. They look to me for guidance. They want to know what I feed their kids and they are often surprised. One mom actually consulted a nutritionist after I made a comment because she wanted to make sure she did the best by her child and she and her husband have turned the way they eat entirely around and it shows. I love making this difference. I am so proud of that mom because she took positive steps to improve the health of her entire family! This will be passed down to her kids and I'm even popping over to her blog for recipes now and sharing her cookbooks. I'm learning, too!

I focus on keeping myself fit and healthy. I will most likely be my daughter's only parent and I want to do all I can to give myself the best likelihood of being around for a good long time in her life. I want to be an active mom, to be able to romp and play with her, to take her to fun places like jump-houses, ice skating, etc. and participate with her. I want to set a good example for her to follow, too, because these are things she will pass on to her own children in the future.

Lastly, I love to cook. I love to experiment, to create. I love to eat. I love the way my house smells when I cook.

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