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Trina Machacek: Thoughts of summer food

By Trina Machacek

Winter meals can be so hearty. Warm and hearty. Rich, warm and hearty. Summer meals? Not so much on the warm, rich, hearty.

Summer meals need to be cool. Cool and light. Cool, light and especially easy.

Not long ago I was in a food conversation about the need for more ideas for the easy part of summer food. To be quite upfront the conversation was with women who fix meals for herds of hungry farm workers. Husbands, sons, all sorts of family and hired men who work all hours of the day and night.

The talk was lively and fun and surprisingly a common thread became clear. Oh but before I gnaw that thread in two, let me take note of this tale of summertime food.

I didn’t grow up as a farm girl. I kinda wish I had, it would have made for a lot less hard lessons learned during very hot and very cold days.

One thing that apparently is common on farms is that the mid-day meal is big. Actually to my thinking that meal is huge. Farmers get up and going very early, working hard and giving it all they have and at noon they have dinner. Not to be confused with supper which is the evening meal and also kind of big but not mid-day supper meal big. This is still today a normal daily routine for numerous farm families.

My new farmer husband back in the day was one of these early working mid-day eaters. But! Yes a farmer tanned “but.” But nobody told me this was to be my new role. So come what I called lunch time I served wonderful PB&J and chips. He never said a thing. Just ate like four and a gallon of milk to wash them down and cooed at how wonderful they were. HAHA

I later learned how this dinner meal was perceived by my father, a phone company town guy through and through but a farmer/rancher at heart. He worked out of Ely, occasionally coming to Eureka to work on the phone system. That first summer I was married, he let me know that he was coming to lunch, which is what we town people call the meal in the middle of the day, and he was bringing a guy he worked with. 

Unknown to me he had in the past visited several rancher friends and had been treated to huge mid-day meals all over eastern Nevada. You know real meat and potato meals with hearty rancher wife food stacked on big tables with hungry working hands piling big plates with energy replacing goodness. That was the meal he was coming for and was apparently going to show the guy he brought over that his daughter served daily.

So over they came and into the yard around 11:30 a.m. The two men met my new husband at the gate as he was coming to the house for lunch, dinner, whatever… I proudly served my PB&J and chips! Not pork chops with pan gravy. Not flank steak and fried potatoes. Not pot roast and glazed carrots and fresh baked bread and apple pie for dessert — with home made ice cream.

No my ta-dah meal was set on paper plates and served with sun made iced tea. It was years later that I was regaled of the story that he humorously told around many HUGE mid-day meals at ranches over the years. I look back at it and still think I set a pretty good table. At least I didn’t use the heel of the store bought loaf of bread to make the sandwiches.

Back to summer food. It’s hard to keep a person fed when they are going all hours of the day and night, let alone keep the food interesting. Ideas flew across the table of tales of breakfast, lunch and even dinner burritos. Different ways to make and deliver goodness to the working souls.

Then this revelation came out. See it doesn’t really matter what it is. It’s eaten on the fly and always really appreciated. The common thread is — just get the food out. Be it a pot sticker and apple turnover or a big ole thick PB&J to be washed down with a jug of cold chocolate milk delivered to the field, tractor, and yes even to those on a horse. Delivered with caring hands. Yep, it’s all in the delivery.

Just a little added commentary, or summer food for thought if you don’t mind… I have just published my first real hold in your hand, (or see on Kindle) book. Hurray! They Call Me Weener-55 Short Giggle Producing Chin Wags is available on Amazon.com. Grab a PB&J and enjoy a copy! Thanks!

Trina lives in Eureka. Find her on Facebook, Instagram or at itybytrina@yahoo.com.