Tag Archives: meals

Turkey Time

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We all have our Thanksgiving memories to cherish. As children, we look forward to the super-sized, special meal. And as we get older, we watch our loved ones prepare the meal, picking up tips for when it will be our turn to prepare our own Thanksgiving meal.

When I was young, Grams always gave me the impression that a turkey took at least twelve hours to cook. She would rise at the crack of dawn, or before, and start shuffling around in the kitchen. By the time I got up, I was met with the sight of her wrestling the stuffing into the gaping carcass.

Once the turkey was in the oven, she began the other dishes. A huge pot of potatoes on the stove, sweet potatoes going into the oven, and the good old green bean casserole being thrown together. And last, but not least, the cracking open of the can of jellied cranberry sauce, plopped into a dish with no attempt to hide its can-shaped appearance.

The carving of the bird never went well, even though it had now cooked three times longer than it should have. Grams would call Dad to carve, but then proceed to tell him just how it should be done. She’d finally just take the knife from him, eventually resorting to using her hands to tear it apart. If that wasn’t appetizing, I don’t know what was!

Although I don’t make the Thanksgiving meal like my Grams used to, I did learn some things from her. Remember to remove the innards from the bird BEFORE cooking. A turkey does not need to cook for TWELVE HOURS. If you must resort to using your hands to carve the turkey, wash them first and DON’T lick your fingers as you work. Bon appetit!

Breakfast Anytime

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Last night I had breakfast for dinner. I know a lot of people do it, but I don’t do it very often. Something seems wrong about it, but at the same time intriguing. You grow up having certain foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you never think about why things are the way they are when it comes to menu choices. In North American culture, it somehow seems like you might be breaking some rule if you eat pancakes for dinner, or pizza for breakfast. But in any culture, how did these ideas of eating certain foods at certain times of day become the rule?

First, let’s consider the egg, a common breakfast food. It makes sense that they would be consumed in the mornings, just after they were laid, when they were nice and fresh. A good source of protein, and easy to cook before you have to get off to work. After doing some research, I discovered that in European folk lore, the egg represented the sun, so it makes sense that you’d eat them when the sun comes up. The egg also represents life. But an egg consumed at lunch or dinner can still represent life and provide good protein, can’t it?

In the olden days, people consumed mass quantities of food for breakfast, which might have included many foods we now consider dinner foods. A large meal was needed to get them through a long day of very hard labor. Remember that these were the times when there were no tractors to plow the fields or harvest the corn. A wood fire had to be stoked early in the morning in order to cook, boil water for bathing or laundry, and keep the house warm. Breakfast was the largest meal of the day, and for good reason.

Lunch is often a meal on the go. The most typical lunch food seems to be a sandwich of some sort. It makes sense, as many of us have to take our lunches with us to work or school. Sandwiches travel easily. Most of us don’t have time to cook a meal at noon, when we’re most likely on a limited lunch hour. Just something to grab and get back to our busy lives.

Dinner is often the only time that we are home, and have time to cook and enjoy a meal without too many time constraints. We take time to prepare family favorites, and pack it in, shortly before going to bed. That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? But it’s what we do. Are we storing up energy to sit on the sofa, and then go to sleep?

But we’ve all gone through those times in our lives when we ate just about anything, whenever we wanted to. I’m thinking the high school and college years, mostly. Leftover cold pizza for breakfast. Cake for breakfast. Eggs and bacon or cheeseburgers and fries at 2:30 in the morning, after a late night out. Pop for breakfast. Cereal for lunch. So why can’t we eat what we want, when we want to? Who says we have to eat shortly after we wake, mid-day, and shortly before we go to bed? Some recommend eating small amounts when we are truly hungry throughout the day, and not eating a large meal at dinner time. It’s all our mindset, cultural upbringing, and habit. So there’s really nothing stopping you from trying eggs for lunch, waffles for dinner, pizza for breakfast, or cereal for dessert.

 

Shades of Ed

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Each generation, as they become young adults, dreads becoming anything like their parents. As the years pass, some see the wisdom of their parents, and strive to be just like them. Others see the mistakes made, and do their best to do the exact opposite of whatever their parents might have done. I think we all end up with a good balance of our ancestors hiding somewhere within us. This can be both good and bad.

As a kid, I remember watching as my dad got ready to eat his dinner. We’d all come to the table, ready to eat, and dive right in. Not dad. Nope. He would first take out a stack of slices of white bread. He was not quite ready to commit to putting the twist tie back on, limiting the number of slices readily available. So, he would leave the bag open, but set the stack of slices on top, somewhat delaying access to more. It was the early 60’s…white bread was big. WONDER Bread helped to build strong bodies 12 ways, you might remember.

So, with his bread stash at the ready, he would then begin to load his plate with food. Whatever it was, there was a lot of it. Dad was big on eating, and big on getting us to eat. Dad was just big! After the filling of the plate, he would enter the seasoning phase. Salt, pepper, hot sauce, steak sauce…whatever the taste du jour. Usually there was something to munch on on the side, such as green onions, or maybe fresh jalapeno peppers. Date ate them raw, and whole, just like a carrot stick! He did like to dip the onions in salt, so he would put down a napkin and make a tiny salt mound on it for dipping.

While all of this preparation was going on, my brother and I were already at least halfway through our meals. In the early years, we watched in wonder, but as we got older, we started kidding him about the process. (My family was big on sarcasm, and we became little smarty pants at an early age.) Once he finally started to eat, you could tell right away he was serious about it. He followed each bite of food with a bite of bread (a very bad habit I have spent a good portion of my life battling!) He would work up a sweat as he ate, mostly from the hot sauce, or jalapenos. We used to joke with him as to how he might consider using a slice of bread as a hankie, and wipe his brow with it.

After all those years of watching dad’s dinner rituals, you’d think I’d be a speedy eater, just to protest my parent’s habit. And there are times when I AM a speedy eater. Having been a teacher, you learn quickly how to inhale your lunch in about 10 minutes, because it’s all you have. And loving food, as I do, I tend to gulp and finish my meals fairly quickly. BUT…I have noticed that in recent years, I have started to go through my own pre-meal rituals. Yes, I find myself taking the time to arrange everything, season, cut, butter, and finally eat. My God, I have become my father! At least I don’t stack the white bread!