Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Noon Meal is Still In the Bag

Eating meals in the field during harvest is a long standing tradition in GriggsDakota. When I was young, the meal was packed in cardboard grocery boxes. Everyone stopped and ate together somewhere along the edge of the field. We used real plates and silverware, drank coffee out of cups that was poured from Thermos bottles. Mom and I took everything home to wash in the sink by hand, no dishwasher. There were no wipes for hand washing, so a squirt bottle of hot soapy water was prepared with a rag to wipe off the dirt. Mom brought out hotdishes, which our city visitors called casseroles. There were buttered bread sandwiches, usually made with homemade bread. There was a pie or two in the box for dessert that we baked in the morning. Peach was my favorite. When I was a teenager I remember making chocolate milk shakes and filling pint jars to take out to the field for supper. They tasted especially good with ham or cold roast beef sandwiches in the evenings when the wind was blowing hot and dry. 
Compared to those days, what we do today is easy and we appreciate our dishwasher.
I first told you about Harvest Meals a few years ago and showed you how to wrap frosted cake or bars without having them stick to the paper. We no longer stop to eat together, but a friend is welcome to eat with the driver if there is a buddy seat.
 I write names of the front of each bag. Mostly, the meals are all the same, but some workers have preferences such as no coconut, that I try to keep in mind. Also, they can have one sandwich or two, one cookie or two, etc. Every year, I learn something from the experience of packing hundreds of bags meals. I have learned how to use instant mashed potatoes to keep fillings from being too drippy. 
 This year I bought small foam boxes which I have found to be a fine insulator between the cold things such as bags of carrot sticks or fruit, and the hot items. 
The foam box usually contains dessert, such as a piece of cake. The cold food and snack bags that might contain a little chocolate go into the bag first, then the foam box, then the hot items such as sandwiches or corn on the cob.
 After preparing the hot sandwiches and wrapping them in foil, I heat them in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes to be sure that the food will stay hot as it is transported. Into the top of the bag it goes, bags go into an insulated carrier which is loaded with a cooler full of drinks into the pickup.
My family is all smiles when the bags are delivered. 
The meal is washed down with a soft drink that the field worker chooses from the cooler. The cooler is packed full of good choices: water, pop, fruit juice, sports drinks, iced tea. Even after months of harvesting, the Ag Analyst and the gang are always looking forward to the next bag meal in GriggsDakota.

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