After the Fact: Home grown

Boys eat a lot. Boys eat prodigious amounts of food from dawn ‘til past dark. By the time they reach their teens, it’s like having a plague of locusts visit your kitchen several times a day. And at night.

Patience, the resident great-granddaughter, just turned 10, and she’s not really a “picky eater” but she has to be coaxed or threatened with dire punishments if she thinks she can get away without eating vegetables or the crust around the bread of a peanut butter sandwich.

My three great-grandsons visited from Cheyenne at the end of summer. It seemed like we were going to the grocery store every day of their entire stay, but it was really only every other day. However, you wouldn’t believe how many bags of groceries came in from the car on each of those trips. We re-discovered kid foods like pigs-in-a-blanket and pizza and Frito pies, things that are not a staple in our usual fare. And they probably won’t show up at our table again until the boys return at Christmas or spring break. About the nearest concession made for Patience is the occasional “Lunchable” snack on a weekend. We do try to send “healthy snacks” to school, knowing that Patience undoubtedly eats as little or less at noon than most other kids unless they’re serving fruit, more fruit and another helping of fruit. 

There was no hot lunch program in the elementary schools I attended but most of us lived within walking distance and we had sufficient time to get home and back again at noon. Because only one high school served the entire community, we were introduced to cafeteria lunches. Other things unknown to us were free lunch and free breakfast. If your folks couldn’t afford to pay the cafeteria, mom made a sandwich, threw in an apple and sent lunch with you in a brown paper bag. And we drank water from the fountains, usually cold enough to chill your front teeth. Those cute, collectable metal lunchboxes with TV or cartoon characters on the cover weren’t around until I’d already finished college (where I ate 3 meals a day, 6 days a week in a cafeteria and gained almost 10 lb. in one year).

I haven’t baked fresh bread in years. I no longer make noodles, and even biscuits are rare. My tortillas always looked like deformed amoeba and the tacos would drip cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and other “stuffings” from the mismatched gaps. It’s just better to buy some things from the experts (who undoubtedly have some secret for creating almost perfectly round tortillas.) And to think, I even complained when Chris came home from the store with a giant box of Bisquick instead of the “just add water” pancake and waffle mix. In the middle of unbelievable bounty, we choose instant potato flakes and frozen carrots and the Big Mac or a Whopper. We may as well be eating the boxes. 

The one thing that’s grown in abundance in backyard gardens here is zucchini. And everyone has a zucchini story. I came home from work one afternoon to find a bag of them in my mailbox, with another, much larger bag waiting on the front porch. I had enough to make, and freeze, zucchini bread to last through Christmas. And beyond. I was reduced to looking up recipes on Google to accommodate all the zucchini squash given to me by assorted friends that year. Did you know you can even make “gummy worms” with zucchini and Kool-Aid?

Or you could start practicing gracious ways to say “no, thank you” to offers of zucchini, but you have to start before Christmas.