Our family uses the words "dinner" and "supper" interchangeably. I grew up where we had supper in the evening. It was a much smaller meal than dinner, which was always at midday.
One night last week our family was making small talk around the supper table, when out of the blue our lives changed forever. Our granddaughter and her husband announced that they would be parents this fall. Faces froze. Forks full of stirfry stopped in mid-air.
Then the yelling, laughing, crying and hugging started. What a celebration! With every new little one, our hearts grow a size larger, they bring something new to all of our lives that was missing, but we weren't aware of. This is great-grandbaby No. 19 and counting. I can't give you the parents' names because I'm sure that not all of their friends have heard yet, so maybe next month.
In two months I'll begin my sixth year writing for the Record-Eagle. I started with the hope that somehow I could encourage our older readers to eat healthier. I'm in that age group and know there's a fine line when cooking goes from a joy to a burdensome chore. The aim was to provide easier recipes with fewer ingredients, believing that less is more.
Shopping, preparation and cleanup are a big factor too, as energy and the food budget dwindle. I hope I haven't said so much about nutritional value that I've made you feel like you are eating in a test lab instead of your own comfy kitchen, or your La-Z-Boy. There's just so much more information on healthy eating, it makes sense to feed our minds and bodies so we can stay as well as possible. It's good to think globally, but to eat locally. Judging from your mail I believe I've hit the target at least most of the time. Please keep the mail coming.
I'm wondering if you are still proudly displaying your valentine alongside your easy chair, or on the dining room table. I am boasting a most unique gift this year -- a beautiful hand-crafted card standing alongside a can of Zingerman's Organic Slow-cookin' Grits, lovingly delivered by Fed Ex! It really twanged my heartstrings, my daughter knows me so well. They are the creamiest grits ever and if you can't eat chocolate, why not? Another daughter received her first beautiful online gift from her husband, the shopping is so easy, she's afraid it might have unleashed a monster. She's afraid to get the bill.
I hope if you have salt restrictions you are taking it seriously. There's nothing like a bowl of steaming hot soup on these snowy days; but canned soups are a no-no unless you can find the low-salt kind and they are usually not low enough.
Read your labels. I just pulled two from the pantry: Campbell's Tomato has 710 mgs in 1/2 cup. And who eats 1/2 cup? Progresso French Onion has 900 mgs in 1 cup. Swanson's Chicken Broth has 960 per cup, but boasts on the front label that it's fat free! Your daily allowance of sodium at the high end is 2400 mgs or 1 teaspoon, while the Institute of Medicine lowers that to 1500 mgs or 3/5 teaspoon. You get the picture, so if you have heart trouble or high blood pressure, watch it.
One of my readers told me about an organic restaurant on Grandview Parkway in Traverse City called Home Grown Organic Eatery. While daughter Vicki was here last month, we grabbed Molly and checked it out. Their chili took first in the vegetarian category at the recent chili cook-off, and they also make a pizza with a brown rice flour crust for those allergic to wheat. We had a nice visit with the owners, Chris and Tanya Winkelman, who are sold on organics because of the improvement they've made in the life of their son, who has MS, as well as the rest of the family.
We also met Friends at the LA Cafe in Lake Ann for lunch, where the food and coffee are super and we are treated like family. Where else do you get a good-bye hug?
It seems like winter is about gone so we can look forward to Easter. I am expecting to have daughter Sarah and her crew, Nolan, Emma and Lauren, here. They've not made it up all winter, so this will be great. I hope your celebration will be one of joy and hope with your family.
Presuming that you just might be having ham, here is a good way to use some of your leftovers in this casserole. Chopped ham is also great in macaroni and cheese.
Spinach Rice and Ham Bake
8 oz. processed cheese (Velveeta) cubed
1/2 c. milk
2 c. cubed cooked ham
3 c. cooked rice
1 10-oz. packagesfrozen chopped spinach (thawed and water squeezed out)
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cheese and milk. Microwave uncovered, on high for two minutes, or until cheese is melted. Stir until smooth. Stir in the rice, ham and spinach. Transfer to a greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes four servings.
You can substitute steamed broccoli for the spinach.
Parting Shot: So many people who go afield to search for happiness have left it behind them back home sitting on the front porch.
-- David Grayson
Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached via the Record-Eagle at 120 W. Front, Traverse City, Mi 49684; or by sending e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org