Foodie Tuesday: Food Appreciation Day
Jul 26th, 2011 by Nancy

This came across my screen from EcoSalon, and it compelled me to echo Anna Brones’ sentiments about the the simple pleasures in simple fare.  I realized, however, that I could never write as well as she does, or travel to Sweden for inspiration, so it seems best to just pass along her words.  Here you go:


by Anna Brones, July 20, 2011

I’ve been traveling for a few weeks, and in doing so have failed to keep up with the latest and greatest in food news that seems to inundate the blogosphere on a daily basis. But a girl needs a break every now and then, and so the computer has been off, and the brain partially so as well. Fortunately, we all need sustenance, and although I haven’t been keeping up to date on what’s new in food, I have been eating a lot of it.

This is relaxing eating. Summer enjoyment. Sitting down with friends and family and enjoying everything from basic open faced sandwiches to fancier fried chantrelles. Not fretting over what to throw in the stir fry for dinner because I’m exhausted after work. No, this is food for the sake of food.

Sometimes I will ask for a recipe and jot it down in my red Moleskine, sometimes I just sit and enjoy, not thinking about what went into making what I am eating, and sometimes I get riled up and launch into a diatribe on the failings of the American and global food system – trust me, it’s part of the dinner table charm.

I’ve also been scouring every daily newspaper that sits next to my cup of tea and skim through the food section where there’s always a new recipe. Really they just make me want to throw dinner parties. And then in the evening I feel a pang of jealousy as I watch trailers for the new television series by one of my favorite Swedish food personalities, Tina, thinking to myself, “I want a cooking show too.”

What I’ve come to realize is that even taking a break, I still can’t get away from food. None of us can. No matter where we are or who we’re with, we have to eat. You may be a freak about it as I am – every meal I eat I make a mental list of how easy it would be to make at home and how I could even tweak it – but when it comes down to it, food culture permeates all of our everyday lives.

Unfortunately, we often don’t take the time to enjoy it.

I read an article during one of my famed tea and morning newspaper sessions about the author of the new cookbook Mat Under Bar Himel (Food Under an Open Sky). Beyond the poetic name that seems to sing summer and vacation ( it’s on the shopping list for before I head home), the author Michael Krantz points out that eating outside is a way to better appreciate our food and our friends. “When you eat outside you’re forced to talk to each other in a different way. When you’re inside, there are a lot of other distractions,” he said to Dagens Nyheter.

Combine that idea with the fact that we know that eating is better for us when we’re in positive social settings, and it’s no wonder that summer fare tastes and feels so wonderful.

I won’t even attempt to make any arguments about how Swedes are more conscious about what they eat than Americans – they are also facing a staggering obesity epidemic, fast food burger chains are on the rise, and a trip to the grocery store tells you there are plenty of refrigerators stocked with prepared foods ready to be thrown into the microwave.

And yet, there’s a consciousness about food that hangs in the air, not what it is or where it comes from, but that it’s important to eat, three times a day, every day, and that sometimes, it’s worth investing a little time in making something good. Even those who don’t like to cook peruse cookbooks to put together respectable dinner parties. Food has a certain level of importance and deserves our attention. Which is why the Swedish refrigerator and pantry tends to be stocked with the essentials: hardtack, dense bread, yogurt, meat, cheese, butter, vegetables and most likely a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or table. Basic but essential.

And when it comes to eating that essential food, time is valued. Breakfast, even as small as coffee and a macka (open faced sandwich), is a must, lunch breaks are lunch breaks, to be had in the break room instead of in front of the computer, and on weekends, dinners often get a little glorified, if nothing else, to celebrate the days off.

There is nothing extraordinary or trendy about this approach to food, on the contrary, it’s very simple. This is what makes it so that food and the enjoyment of food plays an integral role in everyday life, instead of being a mere after thought. Which means there’s thought put into which sandwiches you make to take on your afternoon outing, and an insistence on finding a good spot to sit down with your coffee thermos and enjoy the sun. The time to eat, even when you’re not eating anything fancy, is not to be taken lightly.

So forget complex recipes, forget the latest gluten-free baked goods, just take some time to eat good, simple food with friends, maybe even throw in a bottle of wine for good measure, and give honor to the sustenance that your body needs.

Because if we all have to eat, every single day, why not make it an enjoyable routine?

Images: Anna Brones

Nancy here again…

EcoSalon points out that this is the latest installment of a weekly column, Foodie Underground, that I highly recommend.

Here’s hoping that this summer we all have the opportunity to share, with friends and family, food under an open sky.

A Day in the Life
Feb 1st, 2010 by Nancy

BoltI spend many waking hours and more sleeping hours than I care to admit working on the lunchbox biz.

This blog is meant to reflect that which I’m passionate about, including (but not limited to) good food, waste reduction and running a small biz.  I’ll readily admit I’m passionate about at least a few other things (starting with my family), but I’m inclined to keep them clear of my ramblings.   However, I had a day last year that definitely involves my family, and has absolutely nothing to do with the biz, but was so…noteworthy…that it warranted a posting.  It happened on a no-school day – President’s Day, maybe? – and involved not only my crew but a handful of local families.

Happy reading.

The Participants:

Me, home for the day.  I have three kids: Delainey (10), at Kayla’s house; Noah (8) and Evan (6), both  who are at home with me.

Lisa, also home for the day; she’s mom to Hannah (10), at Kayla’s house, and Mason (8), Roscoe (7), and Alex (6), all at home

Kayla (10) and her little brother Kai (5), both at Kayla’s house with Delainey and Hannah

Fisher, Noah’s friend, at his own home

Alexandra (10), friend to all the girls, and her mom Joan, also at their own home

My husband Mike, at the high school where he teaches, overseeing a chess tournament

The action:

Yesterday: Lisa suggests that we take a bunch of kids to the dollar theater to see “Bolt”.  They don’t get many opportunities to go to a movie in a theater, and we’re happy that it’s something ALL the kids might enjoy AND it’s at a very attractive price.

Today, 9:30am: Noah complains of general malaise; I give him a dose of Tylenol, figuring he’s just tapped out from a long weekend and will rally with the extra attention anyway, but the Tylenol won’t hurt.

11am: Lisa calls me – Mason is on task to complete his homework, but has two pages to go and will not be allowed to see the movie until he finishes.  He’s digging in his heels, and Lisa wants to know if I’m going to the movie and could take Roscoe and Alex so they don’t get punished for Mason’s transgressions.  I agree to this; I have no interest in seeing Bolt but (as most parents would know) that doesn’t really have any bearing on the day.   Since I first have to deliver Evan and pizzas to the chess tournament around noon, I can make it to Lisa’s in time to scoop up Roscoe and Alex for a 2:10 movie.

But what about the girls? Delainey wants to get together with Alexandra, and they may want to see the movie, and Hannah and Kayla might also want to see the movie, so I add it up: me+Noah+Roscoe +Alex+3 girls will fit in my van, but only if Evan agrees to stay at the chess tournament, and he’s undecided; I can’t manage a 4th girl, and since Lisa can’t go anywhere until Mason finishes his homework, we’ll have to see if Joan can drive.

11:15: I try to call Joan, but that call is interrupted when my cell phone rings.  It’s Delainey calling from Kayla’s: she wants to know if I reached Joan to confirm her get-together with Alexandra.  I tell her I haven’t yet, but there’s a possibility we’d all be able to go to see Bolt, but it hinges on having another driver, which could be Lisa if Mason comes through or Joan if she and Alexandra are interested.  I agree to call her back when I know more; she has to check with Kayla and Hannah to see if they’re interested in the movie too.

I call Joan back: Alexandra’s itching to get together with Delainey, and any other friends would be just great, and yes, she might be interested in the movie, and yes, Joan thinks she might be able to drive.  I count again: me+Noah+Roscoe+Alex±Evan (pending chess) leaves me room to spare, if Joan could drive all the girls.

11:25: I call Delainey back, and she says they’re all interested in going to the movie.  I agree to stop by Kayla’s house and scoop up all three girls, deliver Kayla and Hannah to Lisa’s house and Delainey to Alexandra’s, do the pizza run to the chess tournament, return to Lisa’s and get the boys at 1:45, then take them to the movie.  Kayla and Hannah, meanwhile, will walk up to Alexandra’s when it’s close to movie time and Joan will drive all four girls.

Easy, easy, easy.

11:35: I call Lisa back, and she says Mason’s definitely NOT going to the movie because three other friends just arrived and Mason is playing with them and she is certain he will not get his homework done in time (and probably won’t care either).  I tell her the plan with the girls, and she figures it will work.

11:40: Fisher calls, wants to play with Noah.  I count again: me+Noah+Fisher+Roscoe+Alex±Evan (pending chess) would still fit, so I offer to take Noah to Fisher’s now, then to swing back to Fisher’s house at 1:30 to get them before I go to Lisa’s to get the other boys to go to the movie.

11:40: I load up the van with the trail-a-bike (so Evan can get home from chess with Mike), and Noah and Evan, and go to Kayla’s house.  I go in to get the girls, and there stands Kai, who also wants to go to the movie.  I count up again: me+Noah+Fisher+Roscoe+Alex+Kai±Evan (pending chess) will still fit in the van, so I say sure, he can play at the Lisa’s while I go deliver pizza to the chess tournament, then I’ll pick him up and take him with everyone else to the movie.  Besides, he’s altogether too cute and good-natured to refuse.  So Noah, Evan, Kayla, Hannah, Delainey, Kai and I pile into the van and we go to Lisa’s house.

11:45: I drop Noah at Fisher’s house with instructions that I’ll return for them at 1:30.

11:50: Joan calls, tells me that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to drive after all because she’ll need to be around for her son’s activities later that afternoon.  I tell her that the girls will probably understand, and perhaps even Lisa will be able to drive if Mason gets his act together.

11:55: I drop off Kayla, Hannah and Kai at Lisa’s house with the promise to return for them at 1:45 and instructions for Lisa and Joan to work out the girls’ transportation to the movie.

12:00: I drop Delainey at Alexandra’s.

12:25: Now with only Evan in tow, I get pizza, go to the high school, and join Mike and the chess team for lunch.

1:15: Evan has decided he wants to go to the movie, so we load up and head to Fisher’s.

1:20: I call Joan to confirm the movie transportation plan.  She doesn’t think it will happen as Delainey and Alexandra have now made other plans.

1:25: I call Lisa to tell her that those girls will not be going to the movie after all.

1:35: I pick up Noah and Fisher, and (after doubling back to get Noah’s glasses) we head for Lisa’s.

1:40: Lisa tells me Kayla and Hannah were so disappointed that they wouldn’t get to go to the movie after all that she has agreed to throw Mason and the two remaining friends of his in HER van and she will deliver Kayla and Hannah to the theater if I will keep tabs on them.  I agree to this.

1:45: I reach Lisa’s house, where Roscoe, Alex and Kai pile into the van with Noah, Fisher and Evan, and we head to the theater, following Lisa’s van with Hannah, Kayla, Mason and his two friends.  After half a morning of scheduling and rescheduling, we are FINALLY ON OUR WAY TO THE MOVIE.

1:55: Noah (in the front seat) announces to me he feels awful and thinks he might throw up.  I check, he looks ashen.  I hand him the trash bag and figure that two hours sitting in a dark movie theater won’t kill him or anybody else.  Ultimately, he does not throw up.

2:05: We arrive at the mall and hike over to the theater ticket window, where we meet Hannah and Kayla, whom Lisa has just dropped off.

2:08: the 2:10 showing of Bolt is sold out.

The two ten showing of Bolt is sold out.


2:09: I call Lisa and tell her the news, and she cracks up.

2:10: Lisa doubles back to the mall, picks up Roscoe, Alex, and Kai.

2:11: I return to the van with Noah, Fisher, Evan, Kayla and Hannah, then on the drive back I try and call Fisher’s house (as I don’t want Fisher to be at our house with Noah in his condition), but as I can’t reach Fisher’s parents I call Lisa and ask to leave Fisher there.

2:25: I drop Fisher off at Lisa’s.

2:35: I drop Kayla and Hannah at Kayla’s.

2:40: Noah, Evan and I return home.  Noah immediately heads for bed.

The necessary postscripts: I’m usually not this cavalier with a sick kid.  Noah was low in the morning, but rallied; he was low on the way to the movie, but the prospect of FINALLY getting to the theater had just too strong a pull on him.

Lastly, these are all wonderful kids and I’m happy to take them to the dollar theater when the opportunity arises.  Most of the time the outing does NOT turn out like this one did.

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