“Let’s redefine our after-school snacks” — that’s a headline I read recently. It was a very fact-laden article and very wise and very in-step with the smoothie culture in which we live, and very hip; I also daresay, very complicated, and therefore very overwhelming and very filled with “newspeak” as George Orwell would put it—just like the rest of our world these days.
My idea? How about we “undefine” our after-school snacks? And maybe lots of other things, too. When it comes to food and cookware, I pretty much emulate my grandmother. She was born in 1906 and most of my pots, pans and spatulas are from her sister, my late great aunt. They are tough and no-nonsense; they cook evenly, and are still intact though they are old. My aunt lived a long, long time; as did my grandmother, as did my grandfather. Know what they had in common? They didn’t feel the need to “redefine” anything to suit the latest and greatest. They would listen patiently and then cook us succulent bacon in their cast iron pans to go with the over-easy eggs.
After school at my grandma’s consisted of nothing “redefined.” Apples, oranges and bananas sat waiting in a bowl, undefined except to be called “fruit” and perhaps by today’s standards “unrefined.” A homemade applesauce or chocolate cake stood ready for a slice to be cut. Whole milk poured freely. You know what element differed in all that? Here it is: we raced in, hot and sweaty, from being outdoors, grabbed our undefined and unrefined snack and raced out again. Nuff said? Probably not. You see, when we were young, youth meant action. Running, skating, rolling, twirling, jumping, climbing, hopping and generally goofing off. No one defined it for us — we made it up ourselves. No one told us what to do; they just shooed us outdoors. We ran around like happy little puppies and we ate a lot.
Caution: Old Fogie Alert. No one bought us our own TVs, video games, Disney channels, or phones to watch. No one made us smoothies. No one. In fact, we had to crank the handle like a hundred times if we wanted ice cream, even. That’s a good example of calories out before calories in. In my opinion, today we over-define and over-think. We set ourselves up for failure. We build a giant wall of fancy choices and it crushes our joy. We push overcomplicated recipes and create yet another rat race to run. Though good and good for you, if they make you feel burdened with yet another chore; that’s no good at all. It gives you another labyrinth to navigate, another series of parental hoops to jump, another cache of expectations to fulfill. Know what comes of that? Stress. And maybe bingeing on Ho Ho’s.
Feeling overwhelmed? Overwrought? Instead of that 10-step recipe for an after-school snack, try grabbing your kids or grandkids and heading out for a long game of Tag or Mother May I? You can roll around in the grass and belly laugh. It’ll be fun. You’ll probably be so hungry afterwards that you’ll want a plain ole banana and a slice of chocolate cake. Wash it down with a glass of tap water or whole milk. That’s ok; you’ll be just fine. My granddad lived till he was ninety-one; tall, lean, and handsome—bacon grease and all. The secret to life and snacks? Simplification—good for the body and good for the soul.
The garden was overgrown…
Of electric night
Amy Jo Barker