A Matter of Taste




A typical school lunch. Would you eat this?

A typical school lunch in USA. Would you eat this?


School lunch Italy

School lunch Italy. Which lunch do you want?


In the 1950’s my brothers and I walked to and from elementary school four times a day. Why four times? We went home for lunch.

No child walks home for lunch these days.

And the food police, food scolds, and clueless politicians wonder why kids are over weight these days. HARUMP!!!

My school had a kitchen and a lunch room, mostly for children who rode the bus to school. My brothers and I ate at school a few times. My high school had a kitchen and a lunch room too.

These were real kitchens with real food being cooked. The school food I ate as a child smelled and looked like real food and was served on real plates and we used real utensils.

Fast Forward To My Teaching Days

There were no lunch rooms let alone kitchens in the public schools where I taught. Some school districts did have them, but they were mostly high schools and/or rural school districts.

The first few years I taught school in the public school system most children walked home for lunch.

Lunch time was no less than sixty minutes; a nice break for both children and teachers.

However, some students never went home, preferring to stop at the nearest small neighborhood store to buy candy and potato chips for lunch. Some children went home to an empty house and no lunch.

1 lunch
So Begins the Age of Institutional Food

So the powers that be, including the federal government, decided that it would be better if children had a hot lunch. Not a bad idea. However…………..

………..No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Problem was there were no kitchens or lunch rooms in many or most public elementary schools.

Nevertheless, in its infinite wisdom the federal government decided to contract with large companies – often times donors to their re-election coffers – many times located hundreds of miles from the school. These companies made and sent pre-made frozen lunches to schools.

Pre-packaged lunches and dinners is a multi-million dollar industry!

Other institutions like hospitals, retirement homes, and jails also buy a substantial amount of food from these food factories.

Thing is, we don’t know when these frozen meals were prepared. They are over cooked in the first place. Then we do not know how long they sit in the freezer before being shipped to the school. When they get to the school they also may sit in the school freezer for several days. To make sure the lunch is even blander and unappetizing the food is reheated again at the school.

By this time any taste and any nutrition normally found in food is purely unintentional.

What Could Go Wrong?

Since there were no kitchens or stoves in the schools the government also had to send huge microwaves to the schools to ‘cook’ the stuff.

Schools had to shut down their gym for at least ninety minutes a day to nuke the food, set up portable tables, and line up the children to pick up their container of food. In a few schools children have to eat lunch on the classroom.

Thus the 20 Minute School Lunch Was Born

1 lunch 4Many schools had so many children they had to be fed in shifts. This led to the 20 minute lunch period.

How insane is that? How healthy is eating that fast? You certainly do not have time for manners or to linger over tasting good food.

Children went straight from class, were herded in long lines to pick up their aluminum foil dish and plastic utensils, and given 20 minutes to NOT eat the free meal because most of the food is thrown in the trash can.

Our tax dollars at work.

Institutional Insanity

So now we now have children who pretend to eat unappetizing and tasteless food at warp speed, who have less time to exercise (walk to and from school and less recess time) and who waste more money and food by throwing away most of it anyway!!!!

Hypocrisy On Parade

school lumch


As if all of this isn’t bad enough these lunches also break every food rule the U.S. of A. government tells us to follow.

How many ways can I spell hypocrisy?

These meals are heavily laden with salt and fat. Fresh fruit and vegetables are seldom used except for corn and wheat. Low cost meats are used and to disguise the taste they are heavily covered in gravy.

Why Institutional Food Is So Unappetizing and Tasteless

thIt is not just schools that serve poor food.

Unfortunately the system I describe above is basically the way we feed people in many institutions in America, including hospitals and retirement homes to name a few.

I have become more acutely aware of this since I began visiting my brother who lives  in a good and decent retirement home. My brother hates the food and complains to me every time I am with him. He says it has no taste.

Institutional food is not for sustenance. It is for convenience and to save money.  To hell with our children and our loved ones.

Unfortunately the pre-made and frozen foods have been around for over thirty years now. It will be hard to change back.

Change – Can It Be Done?

In a few places there are some signs changes are taking place. I did not find any changes in schools. But there are some hospitals making changes.

Hopefully change will occur over time in all institutions.

One of the first issues in providing good food is training of staff in cooking skills including how to use cooking tools. When all you have done for years is place an order and then simply take pre-cooked meals out of the box and heat it actually fixing a meal is scary.

Cost Is An Issue

Another stumbling block to serving real food is cost. Fixing real food means hiring more employees. It takes fewer employees to re-heat frozen food

However, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin things are changing.


Sacred Heart’s kitchen now serves meatloaf made of hamburger from Vic and Mary Price’s Out to Pasture Beef in Fall Creek, chicken from Eileen McCutchen’s Angel Acres in Mason, pork from Jim and Alison Deutsch’s Family Farm near Osseo, and lots of other locally sourced items.


Sacred Heart isn’t alone in seeking reform. Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit health group, sponsors more than 35 farmers markets and has partnered with a farm group to provide local produce at 22 of its Northern California facilities. Other hospitals have cracked down on junk-food vending machines, started their own on-site gardens, or followed Sacred Heart’s lead by committing themselves to food from local sources.

From Utne Reader and by Marc Eisen, from The Progressive
March-April 2011


th 1Food and Memories

In a poignant essay Darra Goldstein writes about her mother, who was a good cook cook, entering a long-care institution and having to eat institutional fare.

I took a phrase from her essay for the title of this post – “Thriving in old age isn’t simply a matter of nutrition—it’s a matter of taste.”

She writes:


But even in her diminished state she discerns what tastes good and what does not, and she responds accordingly.

This experience is shared by many people who find themselves in institu­tional care at the end of their lives. Yet hardly anyone is speaking about better food for the elderly. Their eating habits are not a public health issue, like type 2 diabetes or childhood obesity. But providing pleasure through food is not frivolous; what and how we eat are crucial to the quality of our lives.

[ Snip ]

Swedish studies have shown that the foods served in old-age homes make a huge difference in the way people feel, even those suffering from dementia. Familiar foods can stimulate memories and improve cognition. The aromas and flavors of times past enable us to reconnect with the world, reawakening appetite not only for food but for life.

[ Snip ]

Thriving in old age is not simply a question of calorie counts and nutritional supplements. People of all ages deserve to enjoy their meals. Food should not be seen solely as sustenance, a means to keep people alive, but also as an opportunity to connect people in their declining years with memories they hold close. [From UTNE Magazine.]

[All emphasis mine.]


To that I can only say, ‘Amen.’


Featured Recipe   Apple Raspberry Sauced Pork Chops



Ahhhhhh, fall is on the air. Today’s recipe is part fall – apples, and part summer – raspberries. A marriage made in heaven. Best of all it is a quick and easy recipe with loads of flavor.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 pork boneless pork chops

1 Granny Smith apple

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Sauce

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons almond extract

2-3 tablespoons butter

½ cup raspberries

Juice of 1 lemon


Here is what you do:

Wash the raspberries. Wash and slice the apple. Squirt some lemon juice over the slices to keep them from turning dark.



Salt and pepper the pork chops to taste. Dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.


Heat the olive oil then add 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.


Place the chops in the melted butter and brown on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side, unless your chops are thick.



Place the chops on a baking sheet and keep warm.


Since this is a fast moving recipe I like to set up an assembly line of the ingredients so that I can work lickety-split.


Drain the butter from the skillet.


Add the vinegar and the extract to the skillet. Heat until the liquid reduces and begins to thicken.


Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the butter and shake until butter incorporates into the sauce. Then add the raspberries.



Place a pork chop on each plate and add some apples to the side. Ladle the sauce and raspberries over all.


Serve with rice pilaf and a salad.

Bon Appétite

4 boneless pork chops          $3.99

¼ cup flour                         $0.08

1 Granny Smith apple            $1.15

1 tablespoon olive oil            $0.34

2 tablespoons butter             $0.26

Salt and pepper

For the Sauce

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar   $0.60

2 tbspns almond extract      $0.48

2-3 tablespoons butter        $0.26

½ cup raspberries              $3.99

Juice of 1 lemon                 $0.59

Total cost = $11.74
Cost per person = $2.94

Quote of the Day

Too many people just eat to consume calories. Try dining for a change.

John Walters


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It’s Too Darn Hot


More Proof For Eating Protein


meat steakRegular readers here know that I am big on high protein diets. That means I believe that red meat and other high protein foods are best for overall health.

This belief though is counter to what much of the food and health industry believe.

I have written several posts on this topic the most recent being a little less than a year ago in We’ve Got It Bass-Ackwards.

Now there is even more research that says that a high protein diet boosts cardiovascular health (lowers blood pressure) as much as quitting smoking or getting more exercise.



We studied seven amino acids — arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine. Glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine are found in animal sources, and a higher intake was associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness.

“All seven amino acids, and particularly those from plant-based sources, were associated with lower blood pressure.


A higher intake of protein from animal sources was linked with lower levels of arterial stiffness.



The types of food that might be on such a diet include: a 75 gram portion of steak, a 100 gram salmon fillet, or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk.


1 long 4


Some vegetables that are high in protein include: mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and corn.

You can read the entire article by clicking this link: High Protein Foods.



Featured Recipe        Sausage with Peaches





It’s Too Darn Hot

The last couple of weeks have been hot and humid. In other words, it is too darn hot for me.

Therefore, I have not been inclined to slave or even work over a hot stove. So I have been eating a lot of charcuterie or cold dishes like sandwiches and cold cuts.

Charcuterie is just a very fancy French way to say, ‘I don’t have to cook!!!’ Joking aside, charcuterie is basically eating cold cuts.

But I get tired of cold cuts for dinner every night. Sooooooooo………….

I peeked into my fridge and saw some Bob Evans sausage patties and some peaches. So I thought, ‘What the heck! Let’s see what I can do with these ingredients.’

I live dangerously like that all the time.

I looked in the pantry and saw cinnamon and brown sugar too and a recipe was born.

Let me know what you think.

This is what you need for 2 people:

6 sausage patties*

2 peaches

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

Dash or two or three cinnamon

A bit of EVOO

A bit of butter

*You could use maple syrup sausage. I think that would be heavenly!



Here Is What You Do:

Wash and slice the peaches.


Heat the olive oil and butter till hot.


Add the sausage patties and brown on both sides.


Push the sausages to one side of the skillet to keep warm. Stack them on top of each other for more room if necessary.

Add the peaches and sauté until warm and just browning on the edges.


Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Heat until the brown sugar begins to melt and becomes syrupy. Add a bit more butter if necessary.



Place the sausages on a plate and spoon peaches any syrup on top.

Serve with a salad.


Bon Appétite

6 sausage patties                  $3.22

2 peaches                             $0.84

2-3 tbspns brown sugar         $0.15

Dash cinnamon                     $0.10

A bit of EVOO                       $0.26

A bit of butter                       $0.13

Total cost = $4.60
Cost per person = $2.30

Quote of the Day

Dear Weather: Stop showing off! We know u’re HOT!



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Do You Agree With Me?


I love this TV ad. The geese are just magnificent.

However, I have a gripe with Verizon.



Verizon is rewarding people for dropping Verizon for another supposedly better cell phone company.

The reward is a hefty $300.

That is bas ackward. That is SOOOOO stupid!!!!!!!!

You never reward the bad guys and gals! You should never reward those who abandon you; who left you; who jilt you.

What Verizon should REALLY do is reward  $300 for anyone who has been a loyal customer through thick and thin for at least six (6) consecutive years or more.

Where’s my reward, Verizom???

Just ‘sayin!


Featured Recipe        Peach and Prosciutto Bruschetta



It has been a wet, wet, wet, WET summer. The last few weeks have been brutal with temperatures in the 90’s and stifling humidity in the 90’s as well.

I hate to cook on days like that.

So I don’t.

I either eat out or I fix no-cooking dishes.

A friend at one of the offices I deliver candy to gave me a half-dozen fresh picked Georgia peaches. They were so good: sweet, fragrant, and chin dripping juicy.

I used one making Peach Quesadillas.

Then I made today’s recipe……..a fantastic no cook recipe.

It is so easy I did not even do step-by-step directions or pictures today

This is what you need for two:

2 or 3 pieces prosciutto*

2 slices of bread*

1 peach

About 6 tablespoons goat cheese*

Extra virgin olive oil

A few fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


* You can use any kind of bread that floats your boat. You can use any kind of ham you desire. You can sub cream cheese for the goat cheese.

Here is what you do.

If necessary, slice the bread and lightly toast.

Spread the cheese over the toast.

Place a slice or two of prosciutto on top of the cheese.

Slice the peach and add 2 or 3 slices on top of the ham.

Sprinkle some olive oil on top and salt and pepper to taste.

Add a small basil leaf or two on top.


How is easy is this?


Bon Appétite


2 or 3 pieces prosciutto                   $2.78

2 slices of bread                            $0.33

1 peach                                        $0.50

6 tablespoons goat cheese               $1.40

Extra virgin olive oil                         $0.48

A few fresh basil leaves                   $0.10

Salt and pepper to taste

Total  Cost = $5.59
Cost per slice bread = $2.80

Quote of the Day

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.

Alice Walker


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