Every now and then I get a little envious of the creativity of my co-workers' lunches. I have noted a couple of people making "salads in a jar" on occasion. All they need to do is gently shake the glass quart jar to mix the ingredients, grab a fork and enjoy their healthful creation. Maybe these lunches were inspired by colorful photos shared on Facebook or Pinterest or another social media outlet. In this week's column, I was inspired by the work of my dietetic intern and a staff member who made salads in a jar when I was at a conference.
Do you start your day with a cup of coffee or two? Many people do. I remember the "egg coffee" that accompanied the traditional Scandinavian church dinners in my hometown. A raw egg was added to the coffee grounds before the coffee was cooked in a big pot on the stove. As a kid, I thought it was strange to waste a good egg on coffee. However, the effect can be explained by science. The albumin (egg white protein) pulls the impurities out of coffee and clarifies the coffee. The "egg coffee" was typically less bitter and had more caffeine.
Technically, our calendars inform us it's spring, even though daffodils and tulips are hiding below the soil in my neighborhood. The birds probably are wondering if they missed summer. Spring puts me in a cleaning mood, even when snow still is blanketing the ground. In the kitchen, spring cleaning usually means scrubbing surfaces and cleaning out the refrigerator and other appliances.
"What was her first word?" my older daughter asked as she held our neighbor's toddler granddaughter. "Da-da," the mother of the toddler replied as she glanced at her husband, who grinned. "Guess what my first word was," my daughter said. I was silently chuckling at this exchange because they probably thought she was going to say, "Mama." "My first word was 'hot'!" she exclaimed.
I remember going to my daughter's preschool for "Green Eggs and Ham" day. Yes, the food was dyed green in honor of the Dr. Seuss book that inspired the menu, and the kids were quite excited. Unfortunately, I associate green ham with moldy ham, but I ate the emerald-colored ham and eggs, and forced a smile. Although my daughter was a fan of the book, I don't remember her eating the green food very readily. I have been a big fan of eggs ever since I was a preschooler, and that's a long time ago.
"Do you want to have lunch with me?" I asked my son. "They're serving pork burritos, chips and salsa, a salad and dessert." "What are the other options?" my son asked. This was odd. When does a 22-year-old guy turn down a free lunch? I know he likes the foods on the menu. "Sorry, it's a set menu with no other options," I said. "Would you rather go to another place?" We went somewhere else and he had a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.
I grew up in a coffee-drinking family. I guess that goes with my Scandinavian heritage. I think I started drinking coffee at about age 11, about the same time I learned how to drive a stick-shift pickup. I wasn't a particularly good driver, but I could drive around a farmyard without hitting any sheds or the barn. I could make a mean cup of coffee in our percolator from an early age, though. Most people had a thermos full of hot coffee next to them in their vehicles. You could grab the attached cup, fill it and never let yourself get low on caffeine.
"What's for dinner, Mom?" one of my daughters asked on a weekend evening. I was in the middle of a house project, and I hadn't even thought about dinner. Then I heard the click of our dogs' nails on our wood floor as they trotted around nervously. I glanced at the clock and saw it was approaching 5 p.m. They wanted their dinner, too. I had seven mouths to feed: four humans and three dogs. I filled the dog bowls with dog food and got the dogs settled with their dinner.
"I had to go to the grocery store at 6 a.m. to pick up two more packages of deli turkey because somebody left the first two packages on the counter," my husband noted one morning. "Well, when in doubt, throw it out, right?" he added. "Yes, that's the rule," I said. I was happy I wasn't that "someone" who left the perishable food on the counter overnight. I always feel bad about throwing away food.
As I was shopping for some cold medication in a pharmacy, a couple of bolts in a hardware store, some cards at a dollar store and tile in a home goods store, I came to a realization: Food is everywhere. We typically shop for food in a traditional grocery store near our home. Sometimes I am tempted by the food items as I stroll around other types of stores.