The Daily Cup – What is Good Food?

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An elderly gentleman sat in a fancy restaurant with his family. His wife had passed away just months earlier and his son and daughter wanted to offer a change of scenery. Service was impeccable and eyes grew wide as dishes were placed in front of the dining guests, one at a time. The first bites were evidently most enjoyable. The elderly gentleman began to eat in his usual, slow and composed manner. He was a very distinguished fellow. After a while, as the waiter began to serve wine, the person sitting to his left asked, “Are you enjoying your meal?” Without so much as a pause to allow the waiter to walk away, the otherwise quiet elderly man blurted out, “My wife would have made a much better dish!” – This is a true story, as related by the man’s daughter-in-law.

American author Kurt Vonnegut said, “You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”

What is good food? Is it like art, “In the eye of the beholder?”

Good food begins with the delectable sandwich or chocolate chip cookie that saves the mood and brightens the day in the nick of time, and reaches to the most sumptuous dinner. Not everyone makes a good sandwich or chocolate chip cookie!

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The Daily Cup – Snooze The News

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We want to know what is going on in the world, near and far. Being informed helps us decide how to act and how we feel about the days ahead. It helps us plan for the future and avoid unsafe situations. So we watch the news and read the papers. In addition to this, the news fills us in so that we can have constructive conversations with others on the topics that matter at the time. One day a week, for a while, cut down on your news exposure. Pick up the paper anyway, but read it later. You will not miss out too much; news tends to be redundant. But watch how it changes how you feel. Here is a trick to make this more appealing: when you would normally be reading or watching the news, make it a point to sit down with a comforting snack and beverage and select something of an entirely different nature to read first, before you get to the news. See if you can create a new, uplifting ritual, just one day a week. In other words, cut the time you would normally spend reading or viewing the news by half and spend some of it immersed in something different. It could be as simple as just sitting with your coffee and truly savoring it.

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Food & Drink 101 – Do-it-Yourselfer’s Sandwich Platter

If you are a do-it-yourself kinda person, you’re probably also rather keen on taking on every single aspect of a picnic party, including preparing your own selection of sandwiches. It is a matter of temperament. Some people thoroughly enjoy having a hand in every single detail, especially when it involves preparing the food.

If you are new to this, you might feel like you need a small nudge of inspiration to get you going. For instance, how do you know how much meat and cheese to purchase at the deli? And what sort of bread should you get? Here are some simple pointers to build an appetizing sandwich tray like a pro. First, the Mars and Venus question… yes, men and women truly have different tastes in sandwiches and overall buffet fare.

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Research shows that women eat more from the side dishes and veggie trays than men. In addition to this, women are more likely to favor sandwiches that include fresh lettuce and tomato. Finally, always according to research, women choose white and pink meat sandwiches (poultry and ham) over red. What does research tell us about men? Definitely carnivores, and red meat is a favorite. Side dishes are not as popular with men. When planning to get the ingredients you need to make your own party or picnic sandwiches, consider the percentage of men to women you expect at your event. Of course, you will probably prove research wrong in some instances and it helps to know individual preferences when possible.

Grinder buns are usually a favorite. They are easy to handle with one hand, while standing around chatting and holding a beverage, for example. They also tend to stay moist longer. You can get these at your deli counter. You might want to call ahead if you need many.

When getting your meats, ask for thin slices. Why? Remember that a sandwich is essentially a layered food. As such, it provides the most enjoyable biting experience when the layers are dynamic and slabs of cold cuts are simply not as appealing to the eye or palate. Thin meats, on the other hand, can be bunched up in the sandwich, giving it volume and texture. That’s just a little structural food science for you!

Last, but surely not least, we must answer the initial question (we got sidetracked in delightful preparation): How many sandwiches and sliced meat and cheese do you need? In general, plan on 1 1/2 sandwich per person. Considering the number of guests is the easiest way to determine how much deli meat and cheese to get. Simply think about how much you would want in your own sandwich and multiply. Also, cut the sandwiches in 1/2 to display an assortment of bites that are large enough to satisfy, yet conveniently sized for easy handling.

Ho! And since not everyone likes lettuce and tomatoes on their sandwiches, you can serve some of these on their own dish with a sign that says “For sandwiches only.” In fact, this is a very appealing way to serve your sandwiches since having a hand in the final product adds undeniable pleasure to the experience.

Food & Drink 101 – Drinks in a Wagon

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The Daily Cup – My Day Without U

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Ha! This is not what you think. While it is a good thing to tell a loved one you had a long day filled with thoughts of reuniting for dinner, this Daily Cup is about sharing your day, with a twist. We invite you to play a dinner-time game. By the way, it’s even more fun if you make it a slightly festive or different dinner. It could be pizza night, or if you have children perhaps you can let them pick sandwiches, or play this game while sharing a creamee after dinner. Here’s how to play: You’re going to talk about your day, but first randomly select one letter of the alphabet that cannot be in any of the words you use to describe an event that took place today. As an alternative, you can draw from a pouch filled with Scrabble letters. Each person takes a turn and a different letter is chosen for each one. If you want to get creative and substitute funny words to avoid the chosen letter, go for it. This requires some thinking. For school-age children it offers great spelling practice while being totally relaxed, even silly. As they get better at this, they can actually develop more confidence in their use of language in general, and a new appreciation for it. Have fun!

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Food & Drink 101 – Choosing

In the previous Food & Drink 101 article, we reviewed two practical ways to serve beverages. Today, we focus on a few time-honored tricks to choose like a pro when ordering at the deli counter, and also to help little children make their selection.

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Ordering sandwiches, wraps and salads for several people at the deli counter can be a challenge. The sight of fresh-made food immediately makes the mind jump from one favorite to another. Whether you are ordering with young children or with a group of friends, if you are on your way to a picnic or gathering you might feel like you just want to get it done and get on the road. And who could blame you?

Here is a simple strategy to turn your stop at the deli into a breeze, as much as possible. Not only this, but if you happen to stop during a busy time, this simple strategy can help the counter crew deliver your order in less time than you’d expect. One note: Wherever you shop for your deli food and baked goods, if there is a line, that is often a sign that this place is worth the wait. Now, here are a few tricks.

1 – Review the menu ahead of time – It helps to have a printed menu on hand, specifically for these occasions. Keep a few in the car and the kitchen.

2 – Decide – Have each person decide on a couple of selections. Having actually looked at the menu will help you recall what you wanted once you get to the counter, so you can shoot straight for the goal, so to speak.

3 –  And Children – For young children who might have a hard time making up their minds, verbally give them 2 choices for 2 different scenarios. Do this before entering the deli and place their order for them. For example: Do you like a chicken sandwich, or ham? (choice #1) and do you like a tuna sandwich or cheese? (choice #2). When  you get there, order choice #1. If the deli is out of certain ingredients, go for #2. And you already have enough info to improvise if need be.

Trick: When helping children make a selection, ask, do you LIKE…? Not do you WANT…? For many children, “wanting” does not connect well with envisioning a food experience. “Liking,” however, immediately awakens the senses.

Food & Drink 101 – Drinks in a Wagon

Our Printable Menu

We make party platters and cakes! Stop by or call 802-644-2069.

The Daily Cup – Pizzazz For Dinner

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Once in a while, we have family over for dinner for an occasion we feel worthy of our finest dishes and behavior. When gathering with friends, the atmosphere is usually more casual and when eating with immediate family, with a spouse or partner, or by ourselves, it is yet more relaxed, outside of those times when there is cause for celebration. This week, dress up the table out of the blue. This does not have to be anything extravagant. You can get colorful party napkins, make easy appetizers (sliced wrap sandwiches for example), add a cherry to beverages, adorn the table with a variety of salads in colorful bowls… in a word, make it noticeably festive for no reason at all. Let’s just say that you are celebrating your hard work and perseverance and all the ways in which you make a darn decent life for yourself just by virtue of your daily choices. Last but not least, place a bouquet of flowers on the table. Ho! There is one more thing: be sure to make a toast.

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Food & Drink 101 – Drinks in a Wagon

This begins a new segment on our Blog which, incidentally, we are renaming The Daily Cupboard. The Daily Cup segment will continue to offer thoughts on different perspectives to approach each day. Food & Drink 101 will be dedicated to food and beverage service tips, picnic ideas, party themes and just about any occasion when friends and family gather around food.

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Today, two practical ways to serve beverages.

1- Indoors: Containers help keep things organized. If you set up a self-help beverage bar, one way to do this with a touch of style is to use an old drawer. You can find one at yard sales, perhaps by taking apart a bureau, which in itself can lead to a creative recycling project.

Keep the drawer as is, if you find it pleasant to look at, or enlist the kids to make it colorful. To serve beverages, place the drawer on a large counter top or kitchen isle. Filled various buckets with ice and place them inside the drawer. Add an assortment of beverages within each container.

2- Outdoors: Add a rustic touch by carrying beverages out to your picnic or BBQ area in a child’s wagon. This can hold two or three sturdy buckets, filled with ice and beverages. Older kids who are strong enough will love being of service by replenishing the wagon and pulling it into place throughout your gathering.

Don’t forget to honor Vermont Beers and Wines at your summer parties!

We make party platters and cakes! Stop by or call 802-644-2069.

The Daily Cup – Food & Kindness

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Many towns have a food shelf box. Food is kindness when we feed the hungry, but isn’t it kindness, also, in all the ways it is served? The key word with food is, “service.” In restaurants, food is brought to the table. In delis, a person behind a counter has chosen this line of work for the moment, and serves food. Every time his or her hand is extended to place a sandwich, a slice of pizza, a doughnut, a salad and so on in someone else’s hand, this is an act of service and, as such, it is an act of kindness. Receiving food, in this sense, is an act of vulnerability. We get food when we are hungry. It is also an act of trust. We get it from places that have earned this trust. Food puts an interesting set of human relations dynamics on the table, doesn’t it? There is no specific thing to do with today’s Daily Cup. No specific “task” to accomplish. We’re just chewing on these thoughts. Something to think about over dinner perhaps.

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The Daily Cup – I’ll Have What She’s Having

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We all have our favorite spots where we eat and hang out with friends. We all have favorite go-to foods, the tastes and aromas that just mix perfectly with the spirit of the gang. This is our traditional food when Friday night comes, or the weekend, or the 4th of July. Here is what we suggest, just for fun. This week, if you plan on dining with friends, each order your food as you normally would. Get what you like. If you are ordering at a deli counter, you’ll want to keep each order separate for this exercise. Then, when the food arrives or when you get to your party venue with it, randomly switch plates or bags with someone else in the group. Even if you get something you’re already familiar with, this simple switching game has a significant impact. It creates a situation where you must make do with sudden change, but it also throws you a curve. We usually resist change. In this situation, since you are among friends, and you probably share similar tastes, change becomes an easy challenge to face, and enjoyable too. You never know, it could make you feel uncommonly daring the next time you face a real, sudden change of plans.

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