We apologize for the slight delay in Bring It posts, but due to THE FREAKING OLYMPICS, our nighttime blogging hours are seriously limited. Amidst all the TV watching, however, life, and eating, goes on. We are, in fact, at the height of Bring It season with all the shoveling, snowshoeing, skiing, aprés skiing and general warming up from the cold that’s going on here in the heart of the Polar Vortex.
As mentioned in Lunch Deconstructed, prepping and toting the midday meal can take me down. But a fresh new philosophy has come to my rescue. With apologies to past presidents it goes something like this: “Ask not what you can make and bring for lunch. Ask what lunch you can make from what you bring.” Or, more simply, instead of letting lunch prep bring you down, pack all your favorite food into a bag and figure out what to do with it when you get there. This is a win all the way around. First, you minimize chafe in the morning. Second, you have lots of options for picky eaters and changing moods/appetites. Third, aforementioned picky eaters learn the essential life skill of making their own lunches.
Bringing all of the elements and prep tools sounds complicated, but as I learned recently from Bring It master (and fellow ski racer parent) Pennie Rand, it’s not that tough. You just have to have a kit. Hers is a canvas bag stuffed with a Thermos, jars, loaves, cheese, veggies, fruit and little containers of bonus quelque chose as well as cutting boards, cloth napkins, and stylish wooden knives that make her look like a Scandinavian picnic goddess. She’s like the sport version Ina Garten, who knows that part of the fun of a meal is making it a social activity.
At a recent ski race, when Pennie handed my cold, hungry parents a hearty cracker topped with brie and baby spinach (vs. the bag of day old muffins I had grabbed at Shaw’s on the way to the race), they accepted and nearly teared up. When she followed up with a slice of whole grain bread smeared with peanut butter and Nutella, I’m pretty sure they wanted to trade me in.
This past weekend I got a glimpse of real Bring It pros in the ski lodge during Dartmouth Winter Carnival. By 8 am “Carnie” parents were trouping in with plastic storage bins full of food, and assembling an armada of crock pots on cloth-clad tables. Ski lodges, when they turn a blind eye to such large scale picnicking, are a venue more suited to crock pot warmery than crock pot cookery. Things like meatballs, chili’s and stews, are staples.
When lodges forbid profit-stealing crockpots you have to be a bit more creative. One dedicated ski parent stands hot dogs in a wide mouth Thermos then fills it with boiling water. She fills another Thermos with chili and brings a baggie of shredded cheese. At lunchtime each kid fishes out a dog, puts it in a bun from her kit, tops it with chili and cheese then finishes it off with foraged ski lodge condiments.
It is with no particular fondness or pride that I recall the free saltine/ketchup/relish ski lodge condiment sandwiches from my youth. Comparatively the DIY chili dogs would have been quite a feast. But so would some salami and cheese, a few slices of turkey, avocado and salsa wrapped in a tortilla or pretty much anything dipped in Nutella. As winter wears on, get fresh, be creative and for goodness sake invite everyone to the make-your-own-darned lunch party.