ACORN SQUASH SOUP
This rich, creamy sweet soup is better the next day, and stays warm in the right container.
¼ cup butter
Coarse grain salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Meat from 1 store-bought, cooked rotisserie chicken-torn, or diced
Melt butter in large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat.
PITA SANDWICH KIDS LIKE
1 pita bread cut in half
Open pita bread halves and add 1 tsp. mayonnaise, 1 tsp. mustard, half of the meat, avocado, sprouts and tomato to each pita half. Sandwich vinaigrette should be added over top last. Wrap sandwich immediately.
So, here we go – back to school. I won’t lie. I will miss summer, the staying up late, sleeping late, non-structured days at the pool or beach.
And whether I like it or not, soccer practices and games, homework, early bedtimes and structure will dictate our family days and nights.
I think I will have a harder time adjusting than my children. My almost three-year-old will start preschool and attend three mornings a week. My daughter Zoë begins first grade, and my son Alex will be in fourth grade. I will have a lot of free time, something I have talked up all summer long. I just feel that fitting all of our family’s things into each day is going to be as challenging as getting into my button-fly Levi’s I used to wear to Pearl Jam concerts in the early 90s. That is to say, nearly impossible.
Nearly. It can be done, with a little work. The kind of work that I avoided all summer long.
This is when I turn to food. I don’t mean eating sixteen Godiva truffles in five minutes, but planning dinner, organizing lunches by shelves in the fridge or pantry, and defrosting and marinating two days out. This gives me the sense of control I need, even if it does involve structure, at least it’s on my terms.
It’s not just that, when I plan ahead, we eat well. When we eat well, we can meet the pressures better. And who are we kidding, there is a lot of pressure, I don’t care who you are. Either someone puts it on you or you put it on yourself.
Rescue me from that pressure, food. Hearty, tasty, home cooked food. Packing lunches (even for my own flesh and blood) isn’t one of my favorite things, but when I pack good food they happen to like into their lunches, I recognize who they are when I pick them up. When they don’t eat the lunches I pack (it could be a meal worthy of an Olympic athlete), they look and act like trolls under a bridge at pick up time, begging me for after school snacks filled with sugar and carbohydrates, usually the same snacks they’ve tried to paw off their friends at lunch time. No kid will benefit from what they don’t eat. I have the scratch marks to prove it.
So I do what I’ve gotta do. I bribe, they bargain. They plead, I negotiate. Some days are better than others. I make pita sandwiches but also add one of those 100 calorie snacks to the package. On another day, I’ll use whole wheat bread for their sandwiches but add a small bag of chips to the lunch sack. I also pack hot soups they like, but give them an oatmeal raisin cookie.
I tell my kids, if you end up trading your lunch, just don’t tell me. If your friend Noah says to me: “Great soup, Mrs. G!” I promise not to wonder why. Furthermore, what other kids have in their lunches, I don’t want to know. Who needs to compare themselves to others? We, as a family, come to agreement on what goes into the lunch sack based on favorites, circumstances, and quirks. And guess what? That is perfectly okay.
If the thought, energy, and justification of making school lunches drain me, getting into the kitchen to make dinner fills me up. There is nothing like peeling, chopping, sautéing and serving at the end of the day to revive me from everyone’s everything. No matter how loud the house gets, no matter how many baths need to be taken or how many minutes we need to read, the sounds and smells of the kitchen is my sanctuary.
I enjoy it while it lasts, because ten hours later, it all starts over again.