Take the time to happily prepare a meal for someone | NevadaAppeal.com

Take the time to happily prepare a meal for someone

Brenda Smith
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal An antique tractor sits in the field with fresh cabbage at Smith and Smith Farms on Tuesday in Dayton.

To have good food you must grow or seek out the best ingredients. We pretty much all know that. But while some good food you can just pop right into your mouth, all good food is not convenience food and what actually makes good food great food is the care and love that goes into the preparation of food.

You can do nothing nicer for someone than to happily prepare a meal. Advertisers try mightily to convince us that food needs to be quick and easy, no muss, no fuss in the kitchen. I think that is baloney. While we all have those days we need a quick meal, we should take the time more often than not and prepare our families good food. Of course, all family members can be involved in some way. I read the following rules from an inspiring cookbook, biography “Memories of a Midwestern Farm” by Nancy Hutchens. These golden rules pretty much sum up how I feel about cooking and preparing food. I also liked that the author gave me permission to use my hands. I always felt guilty about using my cleaned hands. I know that this is not acceptable when in a commercial setting but preparing food for your family – I like it.

• Make your kitchen a sanctuary for everyone – Mother used to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. No one was ever told to leave the kitchen because we were “busy” cooking.

• Start with the best fruits and vegetables – When you grow your own food (or know who grew it), you know how it was treated. Like children food thrives on love.

• Use recipes as suggestions, not formulas – Mother wasn’t concerned about following recipes; instead she taught me how to communicate with food – listen to it, and feel it.

• Use your hands when you can – Our electric mixer didn’t do much good when we cooked for hay hands or had family get togethers. Mother would stick her hand up to the elbow in a big bowl of coleslaw and stir. As mother put it, “Don’t be afraid to touch it if your hands are clean. Just think how much happier anybody is when they get a pat.”

This is such a good cookbook I would recommend it. Look toward using all good food that can be obtained from gardens or farmers markets this time of year. So sit down and plan out a nice home-cooked Sunday dinner, you and your family will all love it. One of my goals this time of year is to eat as much of an entire meal that I grew as possible. I usually get at least to 90-percent and occasionally get a 100-percent meal that came from our farm, including the animals that we raise for food. Now if you don’t have a farm, check out the farmers market and see how much of a meal you can prepare from buying directly from the farmers. In July, while my cabbages are ready for harvest, the lettuce is a little more difficult to come by, so no farm dinner is complete without a good coleslaw.

Carolina Coleslaw

• 1 head of cabbage, trimmed quartered and cored

• 1 medium sweet green pepper, seeded and minced. Can use green and red

• 1 medium size sweet onion peeled and chopped fine


• 1 cup sugar

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon dry mustard

• 1 teaspoon celery seeds

• 1 cup cider vinegar

• 2Ú3 cup vegetable oil

With a sharp knife, slice each cabbage quarter very fine; combine with pepper and onion; toss in a bowl to mix.

Mix sugar, salt mustard and celery seeds in a small sauce pan; add vinegar and oil and let come to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over cabbage and stir to mix. Cool and refrigerate.

• Brenda Smith is one Smith of Smith & Smith Farms in Dayton. Visit them Wednesdays at the Farmers Market or call 246-0193.