Monday, October 22, 2007

Gooey Ketchup Lids

I just finished reading, A New Lease on Lunch published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The title - and the before and after pictures of the author's refrigerator - immediately perked my interest (of course). This humorous first person romp of Patricia Leigh Brown's quest for culinary redemption and rescue by Alice Waters had me in stitches. I thought about posting a picture of my own refrigerator but honestly, I'm too embarrassed. Before Caroline was born, I obsessively cleaned out my refrigerator every week. I would first pull out each drawer, empty it, wash it out with soap and water, and dry it before laying a piece of paper towel in the bottom of the drawer - neatly folded to cover every square inch. I would then re-stack the vegetables - greens in the right drawer on high humidity and root vegetables in the left drawer on low - and then move on to cleaning the glass shelves. These days, my refrigerator is a sorry sight. The maple syrup sticks to the shelf, the ketchup (yes, I have ketchup) lid is matted with red goo, the carrots and bok choy are in the same drawer, and just this morning, I spilled chicken broth on one of the shelves and only had time to haphazardly wipe it clean. The article though, is about more than refrigerator carnage. It's a story about how a mom of two boys (aged 16 and 13) shifted her family's diet and philosophy about food away from Freon-infused fish sticks and microwavable popcorn to one based on mindfulness and the bounty of the Bay Area's agriculture. Her story is one about flexibility, humor, and a willingness to try almost anything. On nights like tonight when I am burnt out on my dissertation and feeling too tired to pull something together for Caroline's lunch, I am inspired by Alice Water's beliefs as described by Ms. Brown that "good cooking is no mystery if you are guided by fresh, local, seasonal, organic ingredients and learn to follow your senses." The centerpiece for tomorrow's lunch? The last fresh, local, organic tomato of the season.
Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 23: Breakfast - O's, Honey Crisp apple; Lunch - fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, carrots, Butternut squash, 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - sweet potatoes

Childcare Center Menu, October 23: Breakfast - peaches, croissants, strawberry jam; Lunch - enchiladas, peas, carrots, honeydew; Snacks - sweet potatoes

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