Category Archives: Food

Healthier Kids

I was visiting a school and kids at a table just outside the gym door were selling treats to raise funds for a class outing.  “Will you buy something?” they entreated.  

“What do you have that’s healthy?”  I asked.  They were stymied. They had a wide variety of chocolate bars, chips and baked goods for sale.  They suggested a fruit juice box but a quick check of the label revealed it was packed with sugar.  The only healthy thing I could find were sticks of cheese.  The irony of the sales table being just outside the gym door where the kids take their Physical Well Being classes wasn’t lost on me. 

There were lots of positives to the kids’ sales venture. They were learning how to interact politely with the public, how to handle and count money, the importance of managing costs and profits and they were working together to achieve a goal.  Could they had learned those things just as well if their sales table had featured fruits and vegetables, popcorn, yogurt, sunflower seeds, pistachios and whole grain or rice crackers? I understand those things might have been hard to sell.

It will take some doing to get kids to think healthy treats can be just as delicious and satisfying as unhealthy ones.  But it’s a change of perspective families, schools and governments need to work at seriously if we are going to combat childhood obesity and promote more healthy lifestyles for kids.   Thinking about what kinds of things we sell for fundraisers- cookies, candies and chocolates might be a good place to start. 

Other posts………

Eat Like You Give A Damn

Healthy Environments- Not Gyms or Arenas

Food Rules

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Filed under Childhood, Education, Food

Ordinary Grace

“For the blessings of this food and these friends and our families, we thank you.” That simple table grace spoken by a young boy named Jake is the key event in William Kent Krueger’s book Ordinary Grace. Jake stutters terribly.  But when he offers to say grace at the meal following his sister’s funeral he is able to pray in front of a large group of people without stuttering once.  

Jake volunteers to pray because his father who is a pastor is getting ready to say one of his usual  long-winded theologically correct table graces and his mother who is pretty angry at God about her daughter’s death shouts, “Can’t we just have an ordinary grace?”  Her son Jake obliges. Jake’s ordinary grace brings his mother comfort. 

Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell

Although many people no longer say grace I think the ritual can be meaningful whatever your religious affiliation or even if you have none.  It acknowledges the gift of food because we know not everyone in our world can take that gift for granted. When my brother who works in the agriculture industry says a table grace he always includes a thank you to the farmers who have grown the food. 

When we lived on the Hopi Indian Reservation before traditional meals were served, a small portion of food was taken from each dish and placed in a bowl which was set on the ground just outside the door.  One of the things that action demonstrated was a willingness to share food with anyone who might pass by.

Family of artist Andries Van Bochoven Saying Grace- 1629

Saying grace provides a way to acknowledge gratitude for the food we will eat, gratitude for the people whose efforts have brought it to our table, gratitude for our relationship with those who share our table and our willingness to share our food with others.  Saying a simple grace no matter what our religious beliefs can be a meaningful and comforting ritual  just like it was for Jake’s mother in Ordinary Grace. 

By the way Ordinary Grace is a great story of  a boy coming of age in 1961. The book is suspenseful and well written. 

Other posts………..

Norman Rockwell and the Mennonite Connection

A Prayer For A Golf Tournament

A Prayer for the New Year

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Filed under Food, Religion

A Whole Lot of Organ Music With Your Pizza

dave-and-marylou-organ-stopWould you like to eat too much mediocre pizza at picnic style tables while an organ with 6000 pipes serenades you?  Then Organ Stop Pizza is for you!  Yesterday we had another one of those unique kitchy experiences that comes with the territory when you are an Arizona snowbird.  organ-stop-pizza-mesaThe Organ Stop Pizza Place in Mesa has two massive rooms upstairs and down squished full of long tables and benches, a salad bar, icecream bar, and a walk up counter where you can order pizza.  It also features the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre organ built in 1927 in Denver Colorado and rebuilt in the 1970s to provide entertainment for pizza patrons in Arizona.  organ-stopThe organ rises up above the audience on a rotating hyrdraulic elevator and all kinds of added instruments spread around the venue are manipulated from the organ console including dozens of different drums, bird whistles, cymbals, tambourines, wood blocks, bells, chimes and even an accordian. o-canada-organ-stopThe music on our visit was mostly show tunes from movies like Star Wars, Frozen and Sound of Music but also included stirring renditions of the American anthem and God Bless America during which most of the patrons jumped to their feet with mouths full of pizza and beer and put their hands over their hearts. They even played the Canadian anthem in acknowledgment of the many snowbirds in the audience. No one stood. Shows how patriotic we Canuks are. Check out the Canadian flag in the photo. There is a light show of sorts as you are entertained and the organist Charlie Balogh, who was very talented, took a break from the music to announce birthdays and other special occasions being celebrated by patrons. dave-ball-team-organ-stopWe were at Organ Stop with some of Dave’s slow pitch teammates from Manitoba and it was very hard to talk to each other with that organ music exploding all around you. So we skipped the ice-cream bar and retired to Eric and Joyce’s home in Gold Canyon for Schwann’s ice-cream, chocolate chip cookies and chance to really visit.  There was lots of laughter and interesting conversation. When we left the Organ Stop there was a very long line of people waiting at the walk up pizza counter. Our early arrival meant we’d avoided that.  It was an experience to visit the Organ Stop, but one I’m glad I didn’t have to wait in line for and something I only need to do once. I had a sore throat the next morning from trying to talk over the music.  I should have just closed my mouth and listened. 

Other posts…….

Hi Ho Tonto!

Funky Asheville 

MaryLou’s Castle

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Filed under Arizona, Food, Music

First Par With First Visitors

golfing-with-the-sungsWe’ve already been golfing three times since we arrived in Arizona. There’s a nice little course nearby with great twilight rates. We’ve been golfing with our friends Tom and Sylvia who are the first guests we have welcomed to our rented home.

me-and-sylviaI wondered how my golf game would be since I don’t play very often, but I haven’t been doing too badly and today I got my first par after sinking a nice long putt on the eighth green so I was pretty happy about that.tom-cooks Tom and Sylvia are setting the bar pretty high as far as being guests goes since Tom is a professional cook and has been making all these amazing meals for us.  Last night it was pork and rice, panfried shrimp and Chinese vegetables. dinner-timeThe night before it was steak and lobster. Looking forward to seeing what will be on the menu tonight.  

Other posts……..

I Golf For the Scenery

The Waste Management Golf Tournament

Dinner in Arizona With Uncle Herb

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Filed under Arizona, Food

Chicken Noodle Soup

How did Grandma make her chicken noodle soup? That was the header of an e-mail I sent my aunts recently.

 Last year I published a blog post in which I included some stories about my grandmother’s chicken noodle soup. I talked about Grandma bringing me a jar of her special soup when my son was born. I mentioned that my Dad had sometimes delivered jars of his mother’s soup to neighbors using a little sled pulled by his dog. I also described a story my younger son had written about his great grandmother’s chicken noodle soup. 

A Manitoba author writing a book about various cultural groups and their unique foods read my blog post about Grandma’s soup and wanted more details. After we chatted I agreed to contact my aunts. I thought they might have more information about my grandmother’s soup. Indeed they did! Spread out in three different cities my five aunts conferred by phone and then my Aunt Mary combined their findings in a lengthy e-mail

My aunts who provided the information about the soup are shown here wearing the kinds of aprons and kerchiefs Grandma would have worn while cooking

My aunts who provided the information about the soup are shown here having fun dressing up in the kinds of aprons and kerchiefs Grandma would have worn while cooking

Besides receiving a detailed recipe I learned other interesting things about Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. She only used hens well past the egg laying stage. Their heads were chopped off on a chopping block. Next the feathers were plucked after which the hairs on the chicken were singed in an alcohol flame. It was a matter of some skill to divest the chicken of its innards. Entrails were fed to the barn cats as a treat. The chicken was cooked in a large pot of boiling water along with peppercorns, star anise, a cinnamon stick, bay leaves and large bunches of parsley tied together with thread.

 aunts in apronsGrandma made her own noodles drying them on a laundry rack and saving the water in which she boiled them to starch my Grandpa’s shirts. She got flour for her noodles by bringing wheat from their farm to the mill for grinding. The eggs for the noodles came from her chickens and the milk and butter from the family cows. Sometimes Grandma would devote an entire day to making noodles so she would have a ready supply for many months. A village tradition was to give gift packages of noodles at Christmas. Till she moved to a nursing home my grandmother continued to receive noodles as gifts from a niece she helped to raise after her mother died in childbirth, and from a cousin she and my grandfather sponsored to come to Canada after World War II.

   Grandma did not have a written recipe for her soup. She kept sampling it while it was cooking and adding things until it tasted right. The women of the village of Gnadenthal all made chicken noodle soup for new mothers. After a baby was born a family received many jars of soup. In this way the women of the village showed solidarity and support to the new mother so she didn’t have to cook too much while she was regaining her strength.

     One of my aunts remembers routinely having a bowl of chicken noodle soup as a ‘night cap’ with her father after evening church services. Another aunt recalls my grandmother telling her stories while she stirred her chicken noodle soup.

   The author who contacted me was delighted with all the information my aunts provided about my grandmother’s chicken noodle soup. My aunts were delighted to have a chance to recall and share their fond memories of their mother’s soup. And I was delighted to learn more about my family from their stories.

Other posts………

Tütjes- An Important Christmas Tradition

I Married a Talented Spitter

Introducing Visitors From India to Mennonite Food

 

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Bread of Life

Here is another one of the meditations I recently had published.

Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. John 6: 35

Author Nadia Bolz-Weber, the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado calls Jesus’ declaration that he is the bread of life one of the hardest of his teachings to accept and act on. She says we receive the bread of life when we eat it at a table that is open to all.

Christ of the Breadlines by Fritz Eichenberg

Christ of the Breadlines by Fritz Eichenberg

If we look at how Jesus shared bread or meals with people in his lifetime it can help us figure out how to respond to his statement in John 6:35. Jesus ate with people others hated like the tax collector Levi (Luke 5:29). He ate with people society had labeled sinners. (Matthew 9:10) He ate with a Pharisee, someone with whom he had significant theological differences. (Luke 7:36) He provided wine for a big wedding celebration (John 2: 1-11) and a picnic for a crowd of five thousand people. (Mark 6: 30-44) He had an intimate meal with his closest friends even though he knew one of them would soon deny knowing him and another would betray him. (Luke 22)

Kentucky Flood by Margaret Bourke White

Kentucky Flood by Margaret Bourke White- 1937

I did an online search and found dozens of non-profit organizations in cities across North America called Bread of Life. Whether they were in Halifax, or Brooklyn, Wichita or Sacramento, Boston or Houston all these groups had dedicated themselves to providing food for the hungry people in their cities. Like Jesus who shared bread without regard for social or religious conventions these Bread of Life organizations extend God’s mercy and love to those who need it most.

Other posts…….

What did Jesus Look Like? 

A Maori Jesus

Spacious Places in Hong Kong

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Filed under Food, Religion

Homegrown in Newfoundland

front-view-bonavista-social-clubWe had an amazing meal at the Bonavista Social Club in tiny Upper Amherst Cove, Newfoundland on the very last day they were open for the 2016 season. EVERYTHING they serve is homegrown. 

greenhouse-bonavista-social-clubThey have a greenhouse where the tomatoes for our salad and for the tomato sauce on our pizza had been nurtured red-lettuceand we could see the lettuce,  beet and radish plants in the gardenmixed-salad-bonavista-social-club that provided the other salad ingredients. pizza-bonavista-social-clubKatie the in- house baker and proprieter had made the bread sticks and crust for our pizza.view-bonavista-social-club Rhubarb from the garden was used for our rhubarb lemonade.

Katie's Dad whose woodworking shop is next to the restaurant made the wooden plates our food was served on.Wild partridge berries had been picked nearby to make our dessert- a partridge berry bread pudding. Eggs and milk from the restaurant’s chickens and cow were in the homemade icecream. Katie’s Dad whose woodworking shop is next to the Bonavista Social Club made the wooden plates our food was served on, and designed the warm wood interior of the restaurant.pizza-oven You can eat inside at the Bonavista Social Club and watch the wood fire oven in operation bonavista-social-clubbut it was such a beautiful sunny day we opted for the front porch. amherst-coveThis was our view while we ate! hiking-the-skerwink-trailWe had just done a steep 5 km. hike up and down the Skerwink Trail and so we had the appetites necessary to really enjoy the food.

Dave walks past some of the garden plants. See the wood pile in the background for the brick wood fire pizza and bread oven.

Dave walks past some of the garden plants. See the wood pile in the background for the brick wood fire oven.

The Bonavista Social Club provided a most memorable meal!

Other posts…….

A Memorable Meal

Eating Our Way Through Quebec City

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Filed under Food, Newfoundland