Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who Is the Government?

Speaking of school (Yes, I am being presumptuous and assuming that you read my last post. If you didn't, go ahead and click back. Read it. Bake the cookies. Come back and comment something nice. Then, read this post. Or, don't. Just keep reading. This blog works either way.)...ANYWAY...Speaking of school, a month or so ago, I was subbing for kindergarten and a funny thing happened at lunch...

You may have heard about the food fight over potatoes in school lunches. The USDA proposed school nutrition guidelines to limit white potatoes and other starchy vegetables to 1 cup per week. Ultimately,
the Senate moved to block the proposal by adopting an amendment that prohibits the department from setting “any maximum limits on the serving of vegetables in school meal programs.” (sources: NPR and The New York Times) In anticipation of this legislation, the local school changed its menu to eliminate regular French fries and tater tots and replace them with sweet potato versions. 

Without warning, the students found piles of orange-colored fries on their trays as they shuffled through the lunch line. A few of my kindergarten students mentioned that they didn't like or weren't sure of the new-to-them fries as we sat down, but I encouraged them all to "just eat 2" of them. That is my policy with any of the younger classes; I tell them that they don't have to like everything, but they do need to try 2 bites. 2 bites of green beans; 2 bites of stromboli; 2 bites of sweet potato fries. We joke that 2 bites won't kill them, and they might even like it after they try it. I told them that I *loved* sweet potato fries and that they were loaded with good things that gave their brains energy for the work we would do in the afternoon.

For the most part, my class was enjoying their lunch, but apparently, there was some discord as other classes filed through the line filling their trays. Soon, one of the lunch ladies came out of the kitchen and announced to the students that they would be serving sweet potato fries from this point forward. Her explanation included the phrase, "the government says" a few times, and emphasized that they were just following regulations. 

As the cook returned to the kitchen to fill more trays, one of my bright-eyed kindergarteners looked at another and asked, "Who is the government?" Deadpan, the other student replied, "I think it is the lady sitting down over there." 

I couldn't help it. I laughed. 

Then, I explained that the government was the group of people that we elect to make the laws for our country. I kept the discussion brief at the lunch table, but we discussed it a bit more when we returned to the classroom. I don't know how much of it the young minds absorbed, but I tried to keep it simple and make it clear that the lady at the end of the lunch line passing out apples and oranges was not the government. 

I am also trying to keep it simple with some canning that I have done with tomatoes from the garden. Hubs loves easy meals for lunches at that farm, and Sloppy Joes fit this criteria well. By processing garden tomatoes into jars of Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce to be added to browned ground beef, I am helping him create a meal that everyone will enjoy. We don't need the government to tell us that sweet potato fries make a great side dish. If he has time, he can make the Chili Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges that we love, but there are some good frozen versions of sweet potato fries on the market that are pretty convenient to put a wholesome meal On My Plate

1 gallon ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups bell peppers, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup vinegar

Combine tomatoes and vegetables in a large pot; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Process cooked vegetables through a food mill or sieve (this removes the seeds and peels of the tomatoes and creates a sauce consistency).
Return to the pot and cook down until reduced to about half in volume. 
Add remaining ingredients; cook slowly until mixture is desired consistency (about 30 more minutes). Stir frequently as sauce thickens; it scorches easily.
Ladle into sterilized jars and seal.
Process pints 20 minutes in hot water bath.
(If you are unsure of the canning process, there are many informative sites online. I am not a canning authority.)

1 comment:

  1. Lol, that is too funny. I can only imagine all the stories you have from kindergarten kids!


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