So, might I ask how you filled in that blank?? I know what I was thinking as I wrote it. Did you hear a popular, ingrained slogan in your head when you read it? I can even hear the music from the jingle. Or how about ____...the other white meat? These are just popular catch phrases that emerged as part of our foods industrialization, there is so much to discuss in this can of worms. AND, this is what I am not going to talk about today. In our Blog Camp Goes to MIT course we have been doing some heavy lifting. The topics have been difficult, not so much things that any of us were unaware of, but more so, an in depth dissection of the topics that has left all of us feeling a bit battered. So when Julie suggested a little lighter reading before our next topic, industrialization, which I am leading, I was able to exhale. Just what the doctor ordered, a little reset before we move on.
So literally, what's for dinner?? It is a common question and one that we have to answer daily. Not only is there the cultural side, what are our family rituals associated with eating, but then there is the practical side, what to cook each day while maintaining both yours and your families interest. I can tell you that there have been a couple of very helpful things for the latter. Both Pinterest and Facebook have helped keeping the routine cooking blues away. I am part of two dinner groups on Facebook and daily we ask 'what's for dinner?' Everyone posts their meal plan and then there are a vast number of oohs, ahs, and I never thought of that's, and recipe sharing commences. I know there are a lot of folks out there who get tired of seeing their 'walls' or 'feeds' filled with food, consider this;
"But food is never just something to eat. It is something to find or hunt or cultivate first of all; for most of human history we have spent a much larger portion of our lives worrying about food, and plotting, working, and fighting to obtain it, than we have in any other pursuit."
"Food--what is chosen from the possibilities and how much time is allotted to cooking and eating it--is one of the means by which society creates itself and acts out its aims and fantasies. Changing (or unchanging) food choices and presentations are part of every society's tradition and character."
In some cases, food has simply become a means to an end. People will hit the grocery store, purchase something that looks tasty and easy, and never give a second thought to where it came from or how it was produced. Others take one step further and make the conscious effort to utilize the wholesome, healthy advertising on packaged goods in an attempt to make more informed decisions. Still others are even more aware shopping local farm stands, butchers and bakeries for their foods. The one stop shop convenience gone, but more confidence about what is going into your food is worth the extra minutes of traveling. This multiple shop shopping also establishes a ritual to obtaining our food. As an interesting exercise, take notice the next time you are at the grocery store at what is contained in the carts around you. It is very eye opening to the diversity of our food culture.
This summer we moved a huge hutch into the kitchen from our front porch. One of the downsides to our lovely house is a huge lack of storage in the kitchen, the most frustrating being no pantry. This piece of furniture fit perfectly and is now a bursting pantry. With this new availability of space we ramped up our food storage over the summer. We canned masses of produce. What we did not grow ourselves we picked up locally to preserve the taste of summer in these approaching darker months. I then also began to fill the shelves with necessary bulk items, so that I am less likely to run out of things and have staples on hand to make meals without an extra trip. That said, I am not a huge planner in advance. I like to decide what's for dinner based on how I am feeling that day. So, many times I still end up hitting the grocery store daily. There has been a recent study that indicated that those who shop daily tend to eat healthier, though I am not certain how in-depth the study was, it was certainly great justification for my habit.
B and I work together both on the farmstead and in our business, and we take 99% of all of our meals together. With the kids on different school schedules, they each get their breakfast separate, but we are with them in the kitchen chatting about the day...or grunting as my pre-teen may do, she is not much of a morning person and is off to school at 6:30 am. When I introduced our 'linner' last year, it was a big hit and something that the kids look forward to. A good mini meal, that includes a treat. It also aids in reducing complaints at dinner time. Our dinners we eat as a family, we discuss the day and gather around the television to watch some recorded series that we are viewing together. Our first foray into this was watching The Waltons series from beginning to end. Though it may not be ideal to have a meal that is partially plugged in, it is family time that leads to lots of bonding and discussion. Inevitably, when the meal is finished, it leads to each kids snuggling one of us on the couch, which we are enjoying so much right now as those days are surly numbered.
So what's for dinner in our house? Fresh food, consciously prepared with a few mainstays and new ideas added in. It is family time, companionship, learning about what foods we eat and why. It is more than a means to an end, it is enjoying the ritual not only of eating, but gathering ingredients and preparing. So for us--- relationships...it's what's for dinner.
**Above quotes from Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser