Post # 90 Snack Time!

February 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 90 Snack Time!

When my brother and sister and I were small our mom seldom fed us dessert with each meal.  Dessert was a special treat reserved for “occasions.”  Holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc. were the usual times.  However, being little kids, we were always hungry.  I’ve long believed that a little kid’s job is to eat and grow.  That’s it.  So that long stretch from dinner to bed time to breakfast was particularly trying for us.  Mom always gave us a snack about an hour before bed time.  The snack normally consisted of a couple of cookies, but other times would be a small(!) piece of cake, or a small brownie.  If my sister had made fudge (later on that would be me), we might have a small piece of that.  Sometimes it was a bowl of popcorn, or a handful of sweet cereal (think Cap’n Crunch.)  In that sense, it took the place of dessert, and soothed our stomachs until breakfast.  Brush your teeth and off to bed!

Recently, I was wandering through one of those discount home goods stores, you the know the type.  As is my habit, I was looking at the kitchen items.  It isn’t that I need anything, god knows.  I was just curious what was out there that they were trying to palm off on an unsuspecting public.  I had to laugh when I saw a small kitchen machine that made mini-Pop Tarts on a stick!  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Pop Tarts.  I’ve made my own, although not for a long time.  They’re sort of along the same lines as fried pies.  But I’m like Alton Brown in this idea:  Never buy a kitchen machine that has a single use.  It’s not efficient; it’s too expensive; and you’ll never get your money’s worth out of it.  Having said that, I have bought single-use machines for the things they say they make.  I’ve always lived to regret it.

But it set my mind to thinking about snacks.  So many times, we (read that: I) buy store bought snacks when we could just as easily make our own.  In most cases, it’s just an investment of time as long as you keep ingredients on hand.  At one time in my culinary career, I was trying to master the art of baking cake.  I kept all the ingredients in my kitchen at all times, and I got to the point where I could throw a cake into the oven in fifteen minutes.  It always turned out good.  It’s the same idea for snacks.  Keep the ingredients on hand, and you can make your own snacks rather than buying them.

What constitutes a snack?  Strictly speaking, a snack is any very small meal in between the main meals, ie, breakfast, lunch, dinner/supper.  The reality is so much more than that.  A snack is not supposed to be designed to fill you up, just tide you over.  It’s not supposed to be a nutritional mainstay, but can be the building block for a very nutritional diet.  That being said, a snack can be anything.

So what’s your favorite snack?  For me, bar none, Oreo Double Stuff cookies.  Three of them, no more or less.  I’m not a milk drinker, so I have them with water, or orange juice, or Pepsi.  I’m certain that it goes back to my mom giving us a snack of cookies before bed.  But I like tons of stuff for snacks.  Many times, when I’m writing into the early hours, I grab a snack to get to sleep.  It’s hard to sleep on an empty stomach, although far too many people do.  I like cold cooked meats.  I like vegetables.  I like cake.  I like crackers.  I like chips of various types and flavors.  I like sunflower seeds.  I like toast.  I like tortillas.  I like just about anything as long as it doesn’t involve too many steps to prepare it.

I’m a very moody eater.  What I eat largely depends on my mood.  If I make a huge pot of soup and when it’s ready I’m not in the mood for soup, I order pizza.  OMG!!  Cold pizza first thing in the morning is one of my favorite breakfasts!!  When I was single, I used to order a pizza just to put it in the fridge for the next day!

In today’s world, most people are trying to find a happy balance between what is good for you, and what is easy or convenient.  Time is at a premium in our society.  Frozen snacks, or pre-made snacks are easy and convenient.  Unfortunately, they’re not usually good for you.  You can spend a lot of money and get convenient snacks that are good for you, but it just adds another layer of complexity to the whole experience.

One other thing to consider, too, is what is the snack for?  Are you making a party snack?  Are you making a snack for a particular diet?  Are you making a snack for a three year old who’s in love with dinosaurs?  Have you got time?  Have you got ingredients?  Have you got patience?

I’ll close for the moment, with a story and a promise.  When I was in my late teens, I went over to a close friend’s house in the mid afternoon.  She was a friend from school and church.  We were good friends, and her parents and I were on good terms, as well.  I walked into the kitchen, making jokes, being normally loud and obnoxious.  Her mom thrust a plate of green jello squares at us.  We were both taken aback, but picked on up.  They were like small squares of rubber.  I actually tried to bounce one off the counter.  However, when we bit into them, the most heavenly taste of lime exploded in our mouths.  It was a recipe that was currently popular where you added unflavored gelatin to whatever flavor of jello you had on hand.  When the mixture set, you cut it into squares, chilled, then served.  Good good stuff.  It was a snack.  It wasn’t meant to fill us up, but to give us a good time and tide us over till dinner.  And it was done so nonchalantly.

In the next few posts, I’ll be talking about snacks and giving recipes and asking for recipes.  I’ll talk about nutrition, ease of prep, all the fun things.  I’ll even try to help you schedule time so you can make a bunch of snacks to freeze and have on hand.  So let me know what snacks you’d like to learn about.


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