Mindful lunches, stress-free family dinners, a cool egg trick I never knew!
Good afternoon eaters and readers! Hope you all had a nice weekend. Two highlights from mine: 1) My daughter, who is home from college for a long weekend, made us perfect carbonara (above) and 2) we managed to get to Brooklyn on Saturday for a live recording of Smartless. (Start with this interview if you’re new to it.) Relatedly, the next episode of my own podcast will be ready in a day or two, and though I can’t promise I’ll be as appealing as Will Arnett, I can promise lots of Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day talk with a very exciting surprise guest. (Reminder that only paying subscribers have access to the podcast. You can subscribe here.) Oh! I loved all those lasagna updates in my inbox. Keep sending them my way or tag me on instagram so I can admire your handiwork. Herewith, your Three Things….
1. Operation Mindful Lunches
I feel pretty good about my vegetable life at dinner time, but I’ve recently realized I am not terribly consistent about getting produce into my lunches when I’m working from home. When I even have lunch, that is. Often my mid-day meal, if I remember to stop what I’m doing to actually have it, is just a forkful of leftovers standing in front of the fridge, or a handful of nuts and dried fruit or Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers straight from the bag — think a small plates experience gone very wrong. So I’m making a real effort to do what The Weekday Vegetarians taught me how to do at dinner: Start with the Vegetable, then build the plate from there. Head over to Dinner: A Love Story to see a few recent favorites. PS: I find that if I take time to have a real lunch, a mindful lunch, as they say, then I’m less likely to turn into a wolverine later in the afternoon.
2. Did you know this?
Lisa Steele’s The Fresh Eggs Daily book came across my desk recently and it is packed with info about the world’s most perfect food (imho), but this little gem below is what you might call news you can use:
“At the grocery store, where eggs are sold in cartons, it’s very easy to figure out how old the eggs are. Printed on one end of each carton, you’ll find a three-digit number from 001 to 365, which represents the packaging date…The number 001, for example, refers to January 1, and 365 stands for December 31. Using this code, you can tell when the eggs were put in the carton, so you’ll always want to choose the carton with the date closest to the current date.”
So that carton shown that I picked up at Trader Joe’s last weekend, was packed on January 25. Am I the last to know this little trick for optimizing egg freshness, aka optimizing happiness?
3. Stress-Free Family Dinners
I’ve written about family dinner for over two decades now and yet somehow the topic never tires me. Last week, I wrote a little retrospective on my top five key takeaways from the past eighteen years of feeding children. You can read the whole story here, but this post below is what I found all eighteen years boiled down to. For me, at least.
Number 1: The Food Doesn't Really Matter
This could also be phrased as: The Most Important Thing About Family Dinner is That it Happens. I’m a cookbook author, so we ate well in my house (and I don’t want to understate the draw of good food) but when I look back at 18 year’s worth of family meals, the thing I’m most nostalgic about is not how masterfully we could brown a pork chop or how impressive it is that my daughter can appreciate an authentic Cacio e Pepe. I think mostly about the four of us sitting down together night after night after night after night talking about what happened at school or what’s in the headlines, or, often, nothing really at all. Knowing we had that consistent, guaranteed respite, that safe space to disconnect from the world, a place to not be “on”…that gift is the lasting legacy of family dinner. (For me, too, by the way, not just for the kids.) There are four more points I want to hit in this story, but this is really the only one that matters.
There was some great advice from readers on this post, too, so if you have time, read the comments as well.
Have a great weekend!
I had no idea that egg cartons are stamped with a date. Thanks for that!
I made the trip from Philly to Brooklyn for Smartless!!! It was so fun!!! (10p show for us). Podcasts have been my thing throughout the pandemic…so excited for your next episode Jenny! And thanks for the mindful lunch ideas, much needed here.