No sooner have I cooked a meal and the fam has devoured it, I find myself scratching my head: what shall I cook for the next meal?
As a mom, I have to think about food a great deal of the time -- I need to procure it, store it, cook it, serve it, clean up after it. Further, my job description includes that it be timely, healthy, tasty, and appeal to the different family members.
Let's meet the players, shall we:
There are picky eaters: "But, MOM! You know I don't like..." That's not much of a problem in my family -- they're pretty good about eating a variety, willing to try new things, and mostly appreciate my cooking. I do occasionally hear "MOM, you're the best cook!" Music to my motherly ears...
There are hungry starving masses, who walk in the door "I'm starving! What can I eat. NOW?!?" They can't possibly wait for dinner...
There are the sceptics: "What's in this -- what are these green/brown/red/purple things?".
Plus, I frequently get asked the question of "What's for dinner?" in the middle of the afternoon, and woe to me if I don't have an answer...
There are the condimenteurs (my own term), who feel everything tastes better if you add salt/sugar/ketchup/peanut butter... For crying out loud, can't you just taste it first without ruining it?...
And last, but not least: "Is that all?" and "What's for dessert?"
So, I've started writing about my family's adventures with food.
When I was in college, I read Francis Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet, and it rang very true for me, and I promptly became a vegetarian -- to save the planet! That lasted less than a decade: when I was pregnant with my first child, I started craving meat, and realized my body needed the protein, iron, etc. I still love vegetarian food, and prefer a diet that's not too centered on meat, but believe that humans are squarely in the omnivore category.
Last year, my eldest daughter (in college), who knows and thinks a great deal about food and is also an excellent cook, suggested I read Michael Pollen's In Defense of Food and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Excellent books, very thought-provoking.
So we're trying to eat more local food (we buy a weekly CSA box & farmer's markets), we've always enjoyed Alaska's wild harvest (salmon, blueberries, etc.), plus there's the good old grocery store. I personally don't tend toward extremism, and can't see my family repeating Kingsolver's experiment of eating only local organic food (much as I admire that, it's very difficult here in Alaska) -- but I'm becoming more and more aware of how our food is produced.
Middle child Wolf (high school freshman), was assigned to read Pollen's writing in his science class this week. Bravo to the teacher: what an excellent assignment -- great discussions! Like the rest of our family, this child is always thinking, questioning, wondering.
Yesterday over dinner I witnessed the following exchange with dad:
son: "Are organic vegetables really better for you?"
dad: "Marginally. But organic is better for the planet."
son: "I can see that. Less chemical fertilizers and pesticides, right?"
Alleluja, the next generation is on board! One meal at a time...