Feb 25, 2013

School Menus Have Changed

Back in the 70s the only choices for lunch were to pay 50 cents for what they served, or brown bag it. The menu did not vary from week to week. One day was burgers (aka mystery meat, and NO cheese), every Friday was sheet pizza, another day beefy macaroni, one day was fish sticks or patties, and the other day was always some sort of "spaghetti-like" thing. They were served with a boiled spoonful of mixed veggies, and a piece of bread. The ONLY choices were chocolate or white milk in a cardboard pint, and no cup or straw. Oh yeah, and those trays that look like a TV dinner.

Imagine my surprise when I got to junior high (9th/10th grade), and we could pay 75 cents for the lunch they served OR grab a pre-made tuna or egg salad sandwich, and a milkshake. WOW!!! I opted for the sandwich and milkshake because it took less time waiting in the long line and I to get to the computer lab as quick as possible.

THEN I got to senior high (11th/12th grade). For $1, you could get the regular menu, or grab a sandwich, or (best thing ever) SALAD BAR WITH NO LINE!!! No wonder I graduated as being 5'11" and only 148 pounds.

So what is my point here? I pulled up the menu available from my high school. HOLY CRAP!!! I am glad they are doing it. The students might not be learning what they need to in classes, but at least they can eat healthier, learn to make choices, and schools are taking other considerations to what they offer. They have vegetarian and gluten free options available to everyone.

Based on the picture at the right, you can get the "regular" menu, just an entrée, or even a "premium" meal (more expensive to make, but is still good). There is a Grab & Go, a Chopping Block, a Pizza Express, or even CUSTOM deli sandwiches. DARN, wish I had that option in high school. I'm glad they linked with their Junior Achievement program. Healthy options available, and work ethic. You learn a LOT from the cafeteria if you open you mind.

Most schools serve BREAKFAST. Their menu is better than the one than at a fast food restaurant, coffee shop, or donut shop. The only thing we could get at my school was a pint milk carton, but it is awesome to see schools try to help so many kids today.

As a bottom line, without making you scroll much more, even the recipes that they are making for lunch deserve your diligence. "Back in my day" they were all fast food type foods, but today are making Asian foods, noodle foods, Western Grilling, and Buffalo Spiced food. Check out what the kids are eating, ask them what they like... Not only can you understand them and their desires, but it might lead to to some more easy recipes to make at home.

Distracted Driving

I was recently walking my 2 dogs in my neighborhood, stepped off the road into a driveway, had to crouch down between an approaching car and my dogs to protect them, when she drifted off the road and hit me. She was reading a text message on her smartphone at the time, and "didn't see us." I ended up with some hip injuries, but at least my dogs were okay.

I thought about how things have changed since I started driving almost 30 years ago. Cars back then were lucky to have even an AM radio and that the locks, windows, and everything were MANUAL to use. Now? They are so digitally involved that you can't POSSIBLY process it all mentally. DRIVE. Now to step down from my soapbox, here are some facts about distracted driving.

Most American culture is focused right now on how "distracted driving" is related only to texting, but guess what? There are a LOT of things that are considered distracted driving. Things like:
  • Eating and drinking (I see this all the time)
  • Grooming (applying makeup or even shaving)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation/GPS system (which is why I don't have one)
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone, even hands-free/Bluetooth
  • Texting
Distracted driving can be classified in 3 ways; visual (taking your eyes off of the road), manual (taking your hands off of the steering wheel), and cognitive (using your mind for something other than driving). Whenever you do any of the above, you run the risk 23 times more likely that you will be involved in an accident. Simply reading a text means your eyes are off of the road for approximately 5 seconds. At a speed of 55 mph, that is equal to driving the distance of a football field while blindfolded. How safe is that?

Add to it, that most states in the US have laws about distracted drivers. There are different ones for adults and minors. Some are considered primary and some are considered secondary. Some states even ban the use of a cellphone at all. I suggest you go over to the Distraction.gov website and find out what the laws are in your area. Click HERE for direct link to the state law page.

Drive safe...stop distracting yourself from those around you...

Feb 5, 2013


It took my son asking me to take him to Taco Bell for dinner one night, to remind me of something I've forgotten,  sporks. I was born before man landed on the moon, and the first Woodstock but didn't get introduced to a spork until middle school in 1980. In elementary school, we still used metal utensils, but at middle school, that all changed. In high school, I stopped using a spork because I only went to the salad bar, and we were allowed to have forks. Hadn't used one since. But I digress.

Sometimes the mind wanders, and while walking the dogs the other night, I began to ponder the "history" of the spork, so today I did some "research." I'll summarize it below for some easier reading.

  • Spork is the combination of "spoon and fork"
    • The word first appeared in print in 1909
  • Another name for it is a Foon, a combination of "fork and spoon"
  • Almost identical items (terrapin fork or ice cream fork) were first patented in 1874
  • The "original" sporks also had a knife edge
    • The knife edge was removed for use in schools, prisons, etc.
  • See the link HERE for more information about the history
Sporks have been slowly resurfacing in popularity lately for campers, hunters, and people searching for an easier way to eat lunch at work. I suggest Industrial Revolution or Think Geek if you are searching for a good one.

Good luck in finding what fits your eating needs, and SPORK YOU...

Feb 2, 2013

Butcher vs Grocery Store

Think about the meat you eat and where it comes from. I fished for trout, bass, walleye, and even perch growing up. Hunted whitetail deer, small game, ducks, and pheasant (my favorite). I learned from my grandfathers and father how to clean game, filet, and butcher it by hand to provide dinner for a family.

In today's day and age, not as many people do it, they just "run to the store." Find a local butcher shop. Most modern butchers have all of the things mentioned above, fresh, organic, and are willing to wrap up the amount that you want. How much more organic can you get than by getting it from nature and not from a company that "prepackages" the product? Do you get to choose the amount you purchase?

True butcher shops have given way to having a "deli" counter in the grocery store. The deli makes it appear as fresh, offer a lower cost than pre-packaged, but to be honest, it is all similar, and most of the deli offer is sliced pre-packaged meat. A common phrase butchers have started using is "those that can't butcher, go deli." I watched the receipts from my last grocery shopping, priced it out with the local butcher and I would have saved $12.30 if I bought it from her. And, she runs "specials" every month which end up being less expensive than the grocery store.

But the key thing here is about "nutritional content." Fresh meat from a butcher is a heck of a lot lower than the "manufactured, processed, packaged" ones that you get at a grocery store. I'd rather have quality and nutritional availability than worry about all of that. Plus, I can purchase a smaller amount, saving a few dollars.

Gibbs Butcher Block
Another strong point to make, is that you can NEGOTIATE or BARTER with a butcher. If you desire a specific cut or trim, they'll do it; a grocery store won't, you get what you get. I am fortunate that I have a butcher shop nearby... find yours. Another benefit of a butcher is that they get their meat from local farms. I am fortunate that I can get fresh fish from Lake Erie, local beef, local turkey, local bison, and local pork. Ever have a cut of bacon from bison? Try it is you can. They also make over 200 recipes of home-made bratwurst. They hire county sheriffs on the weekends to direct traffic, that's how busy they get.

Spring is coming, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be out in the streams and fields... rod and bow in hand...