Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time around the table

I remember having a conversation with my sister a few years ago about goals. She had recently come back home from teaching in Alaska and had decided that she would take a break from teaching and stay home with her children. She decided that she wanted to set some goals for herself - things she could do to help serve her family and those around her...one of those things was to learn to cook. Now, I'm sure she wasn't a bad cook prior to this, but when working full time, you definitely tend to just throw things together last minute. And since their family was taking a major pay cut with her no longer working, she needed to learn to cook on a budget.

As I've recently become a stay-at-home mom for the next several months, I've decided to make a similar goal. That said, I've got high expectations for myself and huge shoes to fill. If you've spent any time at all with the Vander Stoep family, chances are, you've sat down to a seriously good meal. I come from a family blessed with many, many great cooks! My gramma Vander Stoep always had an amazing garden and made some great meals from the bounty. She also was known for her cinnamon rolls, pies, and I have no memories of having store-bought bread at her house...she hand-made every loaf (which, by the way, my mom does too - I only remember a couple of times having store bought bread while growing up). My mom just might be the best cook I know, though it's probably a toss-up between her and my Aunt Charity. My mouth is watering right now thinking of some of the meals I've eaten, prepared by their hands.



Meals were important in our family. My mom was always up early to pack us a lunch for school and often made us a hot breakfast, as well. Dinner time was spent around the table where we all gathered to enjoy one another's company and talk over the day. While the meals were nutritious and well-rounded, I don't remember ever hearing the word "diet" come out of my mom's mouth. Health was important, but there was never any pressure whatsoever to look a certain way and maintain a particular body shape. We lived an active lifestule and with our meals there were vegetables a plenty, but having a bowl of ice cream after dinner was also fairly common.

Now that I have children to feed, I want to pass on to them similar values. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. I hope they learn that it is a blessing to be enjoyed, but not worshiped. I also hope they don't take the opposite extreme in worshiping a perfect body, where they are willing to go to extremes to get that body. Both extremes are so prevalent in our American culture, so it isn't going to be easy, but I hope I can follow my parents example in how I raise our children.Food can be an idol whether it be an obsession over fast-food or an obsession that you only eat organic and judge others that don't (in my opinion). :) I'm not saying organic is bad...it's great - it's just not of eternal value.

All that said, I've really been enjoying cooking for my little family. It's been fun sitting down to plan the meals ahead of time, which not only helps with grocery shopping, but it solves the problem of figuring out what to make the night of, which was always my least favorite part of cooking in the past. I hated opening the fridge and staring in, racking my brain for ideas, never having all that I needed on-hand for any one recipe.

I thought I'd leave you with a favorite family recipe, in honor of my gramma. It's called Dutch Mess and is perfect for those who have a garden full of veggies ready to be eaten. Sorry that I don't have any measurements...it's up to you to decide quantities! :)

Salad:
-Lettuce - lots
-Any veggies and other salad toppings you have on-hand (tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, sweet peas, broccoli, peppers, sun flower seeds etc.)
-boiled egg
-Fried potatoes
-Bacon

Dressing:
-Mayo
-Vinegar
-Sugar
-Seasoning Salt
-Pepper

Cut plenty of lettuce, add salad toppings and dressing and mix together. Fry bacon and potatoes and add to salad while very, very hot. They are supposed to wilt the lettuce a bit. That's it! It's simple and trust me, this is oh so good!
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