Friday, December 20, 2013

Queen of Sandwiches

Last night I didn't cook dinner; as I always do one night each week, I just threw together some sandwiches for the boys. Thursday is pizza day at the big boys' school, so they've already had a 'main' meal by the time they come home, and the toddler had leftovers for his lunch, too.

Dinner for lunch! Lunch for dinner! IT'S TOPSY-TURVY TIME UP IN HERE.

I made the older boys pretty much the same kind of sandwich they've been eating a lot lately - sliced turkey, cheddar cheese, and baby spinach with mayo and mustard.

This time, though, they were watching me make the sandwiches (usually I pack lunches very early in the morning, before they're even out of bed). Their input was both welcome and surprising, and reminded me that I should be involving them in the process more than I have been - even if it does mean the process takes longer.

Five year old requested honey mustard instead of regular yellow mustard, and wondered if pickles were possible. It never occurred to me that he'd want such strong flavours - he's the pickiest of my children, by far - but he loved them.

The 8 year old asked for sliced tomato and 'some of that fancy mustard'. A word on the fancy mustard - friends of ours shipped us a selection of mustards from Mrs. McGarrigle's for Christmas. (No, this is not a sponsored post, although I wish it were, if it meant a lifetime supply of their products because OH MY). Anyway, my favourite of the bunch is "Hot Whiskey", and who would put that on a sandwich for an eight year old? But I slopped some on, figuring I could eat the sandwich myself once he tasted it and hated it.

But he RAVED about that sandwich. RAVED. He was still talking about it this morning, and feeling slightly mournful that toasted bread for sandwiches is just not possible in a lunchbox. He also asked me to make sure I put "all those ingredients" on the week's grocery list so he could eat lots of "those delicious sandwiches" while he's on Christmas break.

I am The Sandwich Queen.


We're going on break now until January 9th. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter and love.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to the M&M Show

*taps microphone, clears throat*

Is this still on?

It's been a long time since I've been a Lunch Lady - it's been a very hectic fall for me! Here's what happened that's kept me delinquint over here:

1) I'm chair of the School Council/ Parent Association. I know, I'm a pretty big deal.
2) Our school Fundraising Coordinator quit prior to doing any actual fundraising, so I took on the role for our magazine campaign (no, not the icky one that makes kids sell x amount of subscriptions to win a crappy prize, the one)
3) I co-coordinated a silent auction.
4) I went to Toronto for four days for Blissdom Canada.
5) I went to the in-laws' for Thanksgiving.
6) I ran the school's book fair.
7) Our SC/PA Treasurer was away for five weeks and so I was acting Treasurer.
8) I've been busy recipe writing over at the Yummy Mummy Club.

But I've missed you, you wonderful lunch-obsessed people! Thank you to the lovely guest posters - in case you missed it, how to organize lunch for three older children when you're days away from giving birth, and also how to put your kids to work making their own lunches, by the seven year old Mr. M. You two saved my vegan bacon, so thank you!

Vegan bacon, what is THAT? Gross. Sorry for the visual.

So it's been a busy fall and early winter, and we've been trucking along as usual over in my house; the kids are still coming home for lunch, and their general lunch of choice is a) bagel with cream cheese or b) bagel with peanut butter. Hey, if it's not broke...

But last Friday was a PD day. I'm not sure why it was a PD day, with only two weeks left of school, and a few days off in the month of November, but since I'm not working outside the home it's not a big deal for me. In fact, it's nice, because then I don't feel the urge to change out of my sweaty yoga clothes immediately and make myself pretty for school drop off, because yes, I'm THAT mom who always has makeup on and hair done at drop off. Hey, the one time I didn't have makeup on, someone thought I was gravely ill.

In any event, it was a PD day, and I decided to whip up some pancakes for lunch. I have been feeling like a happy little elf this month, and in the spirit of Buddy the Elf I decided to throw some mini M&M's into the batter. Awesome, right? M&M pancakes! The boys were appropriately thrilled and dug into their stacks.

Somewhere around his third or fourth pancake, Mark frowned a little. "Wow," he said, "This is a really hard M&M. I think I should spit it out." I handed him a napkin, hoping I wouldn't have to go online about finding something weird in a package of baking M&M's.

"Hey, my tooth fell out!" Mark said, looking at his napkin. "I guess it wasn't an M&M after all!"

M&M Pancakes

3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, fork beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil
150 mL milk
handful of M&Ms - yes, that's an actual measurement. SHUT UP, it is so!

Mix together dry ingredients, then add the egg, oil, and milk. Stir until combined - a few lumps are fine, don't overmix. Fold the M&Ms into the batter. Drop batter by large tablespoons onto a hot griddle and flip when bubbles form and edges brown. Maybe don't serve to wiggly toothed children, unless they are desperate for a few extra tooth-bucks.

PS I mentioned this event on Facebook and some people misread it and thought *I* had lost a tooth, like a meth addict or something. NO, IT WAS MY NINE YEAR OLD. NOT ME.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All the small things

It's hard to believe we're in December already. That's approximately 60 days of lunches, if you're counting. Are you out of ideas yet? It's strange, but this year I don't mind the lunches so much. They used to be a thorn in my side but now I just get it done, you know? Children are creatures of habit, after all. So you can make the same things, over and over, throw in a new thing now and then, and you're good. Or at least that's how it works in my family.

Last week I made plain ol' egg salad but put it on soft, fresh white bread. Okay, so whole grain bread is healthier, but: Best. Sandwiches. Ever. Or so I am told.

A new treat now and then helps too. Last weekend we did an epic Christmas cookie baking session. We made these molasses ginger cookies that we make every year. I got the recipe out of Canadian Living magazine a few years ago and, seriously, everybody loves these cookies (Unfortunately, I can't find the recipe online now). They are the amazing and the recipe makes close to 100 cookies. I make the whole batch and then give them away as little tasty gifts over the holiday season.

We also made these Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint cookies. They are decadently delicious and so easy to make. Since my kid is nut allergic, I roll them in coconut instead of pecans. I also find they keep their shape better when you use a little less flour -- about a quarter cup less. A kid-sized thumb is perfect for making the indentation you need for the caramel, too. They are the perfect helping cookie and the perfect lunchtime treat while we count down the days to Christmas.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sea Change

If you want to see active hubris, look at this post that I wrote last spring.

HA HA! I actually thought my teenage daughter would want to continue packing lunch to school! But she doesn't - at all - and keeping her well fed is an ongoing challenge that I'm not doing a great job at right now. So we have a cobbled-together mess of peanut butter and jam sandwiches (permitted again after a whole childhood of being forbidden by school rules) and the occasional $5 to spend in the cafeteria and I don't know if we're going to make it.

Even if we could afford it - and we can't - eating fast food or in the cafeteria every day just isn't good for her. But skipping lunch - her other new favorite option - is even cruddier for her and this is a skinny kid ALREADY and what can we do? This is a hypothetical question, I suspect, because I think the answer is that we're just going to muddle through.

Her dad told me about getting an unexpected phonecall from her one lunch hour earlier this fall - she had gone out for lunch with a group of friends but the line-up at the restaurant was far longer than expected and could he come and take them to a further restaurant, please? So he did and told me later on that the girls - girls he's known for a decade -  all looked pale with exhaustion and suddenly lanky and tall and talked about how hard it was to get up so much earlier and how different the classes were and so full (after a childhood spent in a school with the same 90 kids) of strangers.

You couldn't get me to be a teenager again for a million dollars and my kid is going through it right now - largely with grace and largely with kindness and I'm trying to keep in mind that for all of the changes this brings into my life, it's even harder for her. And she is well worth figuring out the whole bothersome mess of school lunches all over again, with as much grace and kindness and peanut butter sandwiches as I can give.