Vegetables...

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Vegetables...

Vegetables…nope. Few of us eat enough of them. Neither do our kids. It’s that nagging thought hanging over every grocery store trip and meal prep. Why is this so hard? And why is there such a disconnect between what we think we should eat and what we actually cook up for ourselves and our family?

I think there are at least four reasons (excuses?) that we offer up to ourselves to justify ignoring the most universally agreed upon nutritional proposition of this generation. And I think there is one more that I suspect we believe but don’t want to say out loud. These reasons have varying degrees of legitimacy, and the solutions have varying degrees of difficulty. But let’s walk through them and see if we can find some places we can grow and some baggage we can leave behind...

1.       Vegetables are kinda gross. Now, personally, I don’t feel this way, but I understand why a lot of people do. And the reason begins with genetics. Scientists have discovered that while 25% of tasters, like me, have very little resistance to bitter tastes (which are especially high in green veggies), 25% of the population are considered “super-tasters” and are extremely sensitive to these bitter compounds. The second reason is often texture. Everyone knows the feeling in your mouth of overcooked brussels sprouts or broccoli. That slimy, mushy mouthfeel with those bitter flavors can make you think you are eating a bowl of pond scum. Mmmm…delicious.

2.       Vegetables are hard to cook. It is true that for some veggies, there is a narrow window between “raw” and “mush.” And it seems like other veggies take FOREVERRRR to cook, and if you are starting dinner at 5:30 or 6 pm, you don’t really want to be sitting down to eat at 7 or 7:30 with kids to get to bed, dishes to do, and the rest of life to live before collapsing in a heap.

3.       Vegetables are boring. This normally comes down to us not being exposed to a variety of vegetables, and being hesitant to buy things we haven’t eaten or cooked before. While there are plenty of adventurers among us that will try new things without much provocation, most of us feel some barrier of entry to trying new things, whether that is food or activities or learning new skills. So instead of venturing out, we stick to what we know. If I had to guess, I’d say most of us serve broccoli (probably frozen), corn (canned or frozen), canned green beans, maybe a salad, the occasional mixed vegetables, or begrudgingly, frozen peas. Some of us have ventured out to asparagus in the Spring, brussels sprouts in the Fall or cauliflower in the Winter…with varying degrees of success.

Am I close? The problem is, of course, if we are trying to eat vegetable at most dinners, we pretty much are repeating the same dishes every week. And that is boring.

4.       Vegetables are expensive. So here is the real rub, right? Produce is not cheap, it spoils pretty fast, and it just doesn’t seem to be worth it. Are there ways to save some money by shopping around, buying seasonally, and getting creative with CSA’s and other local farmers? Yes, of course. However, we may need to address something else here that is more foundational than hacking the veggie economy. Maybe we are asking for too much. Maybe expecting excellent, healthy, fresh food to be cheap isn’t reasonable. If that is the case, are we stuck?

5.       Vegetables aren’t really that important. Come on, you can admit it. We’ve all thought it at times. Despite the research and news reports, I’ve gone through seasons of my life where I was lucky to get one helping of veggies every day, never-mind five! We live long stretches of life eating and feeding our families “meat & potatoes,” easy meals that are heavily processed, carry out, pizza, or fast food. And we are surviving just fine…right?

Over the next few blog posts, I want to expand on these five arguments and look for solutions that fit busy schedules and tight budgets. I think all five of these are valid explanations to our vegetable aversion, but they might not be the end of the story.

In the meantime, I want to hear your vegetable horror stories. What was (or still is) the vegetable you cannot stand? And if you have one, a funny story about trying to choke it down. We are not alone, people! We can conquer our vegetable fears together!

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Jeroboam's Underground Wine Club - Episode 1

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Jeroboam's Underground Wine Club - Episode 1

A new video series from Ogo Initiative in partnership with Russo's Market. Eric & I are going to taste wines from around the world to introduce you to varietals, locations, and wine styles from all over the globe so that you can find wines you will love faster.

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The 2016 MI/IPMLTYTINM Award goes to...

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The 2016 MI/IPMLTYTINM Award goes to...

Every year I give out a very special award that comes with absolutely no benefit or prize to the winner. I call it the “Most Important/Influential Person in My Life this Year that I’ve Never Met” Award. It goes to the person who’s work or ideas have been a dominant and consistent presence in my life in the previous year. A clear indicator that a person has the qualifications has been that my friends and family can guess who I’m about to quote or refer to before I finish my sentence. Past winners of the MI/IPIMLTYTINM Award include:

1999-2009 (Lifetime Achievement Award): Brennan Manning: Author & Theologian

2010: Andy Gullahorn (@andygullahorn) & Andrew Peterson (@andrewpeterson) (Co-Winners): Singer/Songwriters

2011: Alton Brown (@altonbrown): Cook, TV personality, Author

2012: Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee): Entrepreneur, Author/Speaker, Wine Nerd

2013: Peter Rollins (@peterrollins): Philosopher & Author

2014: Brene Brown (@brenebrown): Author, “Researcher/Storyteller”, Thought Leader

2015: Jon Acuff (@jonacuff): Author, Professional Smart-Aleck.

For 2016, the award is going to Madeline Puckett (@winefolly), graphic designer turned wine nerd & writer, the co-creator of www.winefolly.com. She, and her team, have done more to not only help me understand the world of wine, but have given me tools, categories, and language to help me teach others. Her no BS, common sense, relaxed style of communicating and stunning ability to capture a complex idea in a picture or series of graphics is thoughtful and sincere, without a hint of pretentiousness, somehow straddling reverence and playfulness for her subject. Her style, more than anything else, has informed my priorities in how I try to teach: Shoot for authenticity and clarity first. If it happens to be funny, clever, articulate or insightful, that’s gravy.

Madeline, thank you. Thank you for the contributions you have made (and continue to make) to my life and my work. I’m saving my pennies for your complete set of maps, and I cannot tell you how many people I’ve shown and recommended your book to. In 2016, you were the “Most Important/Influential Person in My Life This Year That I’ve Never Met.” Congratulations!

All the previous winners have continued to have an incredible impact on my life, and I go back to their wells of wisdom and encouragement often. I highly recommend their books, their websites & their creative work to anyone, especially those who find themselves around the kind of work and play that I do. But today is Madeline’s day, so if you have any interest in learning more about my favorite beverage, check out the endless wine knowledge available at www.winefolly.com and pick up her (and co-author Justin Hammack’s) book, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine

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"You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits!...

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"You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits!...

"...Parfaits maybe the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!" - from a dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden.

Julie and I both had a rare day off together in the house today, and I walked downstairs to see her basking in the cool glow of the refrigerator, looking like a woman who knew what she was looking for mere moments before opening that cooler door. I said, "let me take care of lunch, go study..." Now, this story is not to sing my praises as a loving husband (*cough* humblebrag...), but to identify that frustrating moment of staring into pantry shelves and refrigerators with this combination of hunger, boredom and frustration that inevitably comes when you feel like you eat the same 5 foods for lunch every day. You ever been there? ESPECIALLY when you are trying to eat healthy. 

You can't always change what’s in the house at the moment, but you can get creative with what you do with it. So, I grabbed a couple of Chobani Greek yogurts, a gluten-free granola bar (I'm currently experimenting with an anti-inflammatory diet), some raw almonds, and the remainder of a pint of strawberries and half pint of blueberries. I didn't think I had enough fruit for the two of us, so I grabbed a pear out of the fridge and chopped it up. I cut the granola bar into little 1/2 inch cubes, and roughly chopped up the almonds. 

Then I grabbed a couple of fancy brandy snifters, because, you know, why not? I layered it up, and then yes, I even threw a little dollop of whipped cream on the top to make it special. (You gotta have a little fun, right?) Julie's face lit up like it had its own refrigerator light on it!

I understand this isn't groundbreaking stuff...and that is kind of the point. If you spend a couple minutes being thoughtful, you can turn a chore into a moment. We eat those same foods every day it seems (minus the whipped cream...honest), but today it was fun. Besides..."Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's go get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait."? Of course not!

So, eat thoughtfully this week. Turn a chore into a meaningful moment. Maybe even splurge on a little whipped cream.

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The Paella Problem

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The Paella Problem

Last night I had the opportunity to help a wonderful woman who was looking for a “paella” spice blend. For those who may not know, paella is a delicious, aromatic rice dish from the South of Spain, that features, among other things, saffron. Saffron comes in delicate threads from the crocus flower, and is the most expensive spice in the world, by weight. That’s because to yield 1lb of dry saffron it requires harvesting 50,000-75,000 flowers!

But this is a story about the wonderful woman, not saffron. The store didn’t have the spice blend she was looking for, and so she started to leave, saying “oh well, I guess I’ll make something else for dinner.” I stopped her and asked, why don’t you just make your own spice blend? She looked at me like she had never considered that as a possibility…because it wasn’t part of her recipe. I whipped out my phone and googled “common ingredients in paella” and within a few moments, she had picked up the spices she was lacking and was headed out the door. 

While we were searching, she asked, “How will I know how much to use?” This is a very good question, especially when freelancing with powerful (and expensive!) spices. But when it comes to cooking (not baking, that is a whole other story), if you are searching for an objective, “right” answer, then it is a lousy question. The better question to begin with is, “What do I want this to taste like?” Recipes are not exams that we pass or fail, they are one person’s collection of ingredients that they found tasty and wanted to share with others. Preparing “authentic” dishes is interesting, I suppose, but it isn’t really that important.

So instead of starting with the idea “I’m going to make paella,” say “I want a warm, fragrant rice dish with a little spice and citrus to go with shrimp and chicken (or whatever). Start there, and search for those flavors in ingredients you already have. Get on line and look at five or six different takes on paella, paying attention to what they have in common, the kind of technique they use to cook it, and making note of any choices another recipe made that look interesting to you. Then start building a flavor profile of the ingredients you decide are important to you. You can use the ratios other recipes use as a starting point, but the real guide will be your own taste! 

If most people use a teaspoon of garlic powder, but you love that flavor, put in 1 ½ teaspoons…If you don’t like your food too spicy, cut the cayenne in half. If the idea of spending $23 on ¾ of an ounce of saffron seems ridiculous, don’t buy it! But don’t let it stop you from making your take on a dish that was inspired by paella. The first goal is to make delicious food. If it happens to be authentic-ish (we are in Michigan after all), that’s cool, too. 

We can do this people. There will be mistakes (ask my family). But there will also be amazing creations. You may end up creating a dish that ends up being passed down in your family for generations! (at least until your great-grandchildren look at it decide they have a better take for their taste). Whatever the results, just promise me one thing: instead of looking at a recipe and asking, “what is this supposed to taste like?”, ask “what do I want this to taste like?”. If it’s delicious no one will complain that you left out the saffron.

 

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New Year's, Eating Healthy, Starting Again, & Embracing Cliches

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New Year's, Eating Healthy, Starting Again, & Embracing Cliches

I've come full circle on resolutions this time of year. After years of eye-rolling and dismissing this cliched tradition, I've come to embrace it...even in it's most predictable area: how I eat. Every year my resolution begins with the same qualifier, "This year it will be different because (enter perfectly legitimate extenuating circumstance here)." But as I round the corner on the last leg before my 40th birthday, I am both suspect of my ability to do this year differently, and yet compelled to try again. So on one hand you have Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr's truism, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." And on the other hand, "It's not how many time you get knocked down that count, it's how many times you get back up." Of course, the first person to coin that phrase was General George Custer...so...

Anyway, I'm starting this year with a famous quote from Aristotle: "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." There is certainly a nobility in getting back in the ring and fighting the good fight, but if the conventional definition of insanity is "doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results," then it seems that our father's advice to "measure twice, and cut once" may be as applicable to potatoes as it is to plywood.  

Maybe there is something to MLK Jr's quote, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." And if I take an honest measure of how my food choices reflect my values when I'm stressed or emotional or busy, maybe I can recognize and work on why I eat before I zero in on what I eat (or don't eat). 

The frustrating thing about resolutions is when I fail the same way year after year. It's frustrating because I can here my Dad's wisdom in my ears: "The only bad mistake is the mistake you make twice." So this year, it really will be different, because I'm not starting over; I'm starting again. I am going to use the wisdom I've collected from my failures and mistakes this last year to, at the very least, fail in a different way this year. Maybe something will click and I'll better understand my unhealthy relationship with peanut butter or Diet Coke. Maybe I'll come to grips with why I still can't drink V8 juice without gagging. Whatever may come, I want to eat more thoughtfully this year, staying in the moment with my food in the same way I want to stay in the moment with my family and friends. 

I guess we can all agree the old adage is true: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool my 39 times..." Ugh... All right, well, Happy New Year anyway. Lets be thoughtful with how we eat, humble in our victories, and gracious in our defeats. Embrace the Cliche!

Ben
 

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My Spiritual Godfather...

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My Spiritual Godfather...

“Let us fast, then - whenever we see fit, and as strenuously as we should. But having gotten that exercise out of the way, let us eat. Festally, first of all, for life without occasions is not worth living. But ferially, too, for life is so much more than occasions, and its grand ordinariness must never go unsavored.” – Robert Ferrar Capon 

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A prayer for the day...

“O Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron's beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true men (and women) - to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve Thee as Thou hast blessed us - with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Amen.” 
― Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

 

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Table Reflection #4: Summer's Here! . . . Yay?

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Table Reflection #4: Summer's Here! . . . Yay?

Observations for Families with School-Aged Kids

Today is the first day of Summer Break in our house. The first day of kids in the house all day…aaaalllll daaaaay… and it also marks a change in our shopping and eating habits. (We also have an added challenge as we try a dairy/gluten/processed food free summer with the kids). Here are some observations about how I adjust for the dog days:

1. You cannot keep enough fruit in the house. We just plan on a mid-week trip to Ken’s Fruit Market every week.

2. If you do not cut up the raw vegetables, they will not get eaten. Having peanut butter & hummus available helps as well.

3. Eggs: If you boil them they will disappear, but you will be picking up piles of egg shells all over the place. I’m in the camp that unless you have very special dietary issues, dietary cholesterol can basically be ignored, so eggs are a great protein snack during the day.

4. In general, we have a list of foods the kids can eat (in moderation) without asking permission, until an hour or so before dinner. We believe it has helped preserve what little sanity we still have left.

5. Take advantage of a later bed time by pushing dinner back an hour. I love having a little more time for dinner prep, maybe including the kids a little more, and a more leisurely time at the grill…Summer is the perfect time to really practice SLOWING DOWN, and enjoying your time together.

6. Take advantage of the local growing season to try new vegetables. They are never going to be any tastier than they are now. For instance, I just saw a really simple technique for Caramelized Endive that I’m excited to try! (Cue Wife’s eyes rolling).

7. Speaking of local growing…get the family out to a local farmer’s market – or even better, a local farm! Confession time: I wish I was the kind of guy that religiously visited farmer’s markets. I really do. It seems so romantic and Americana…but between my kids lack of vegetable appreciation and my lack of patience, reality rarely lives up to the dream. But at least a few times in the Summer, I want my kids to meet the farmers, see heirloom varieties, and smell the dirt that is still on the crates. Anything that keeps the kids closer to the earth is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

8. Make the Summer a regular celebration! When the asparagus came in, we celebrated! As the strawberries come in, we celebrate, when the blueberries come in, we will celebrate… tomatoes, corn, watermelon…all the way to the apples & pumpkins in the fall. My wife loves to take the kids picking. I love that she loves to do it so I don’t have to.

9. Celebration doesn’t have to = 3000+ calorie meals! Keep it simple, let the food talk, and if you’re still hungry, eat another piece of fruit…not another bratwurst. Contrary to everything I was taught growing up, not every celebration has to end with, “I’m so full…I guess I’ll just have ice cream to fill in the cracks…” (Cue paperwork being submitted to have me disowned).

10. Finally, these days may be long…but this season will be short. My word for this year is “savor.” If you want to make your Summer more meaningful, resist the urge to cram more stuff into each moment. Instead, try to stay present in the moments you have. Stretch them out. Slow them down. Put one more log on the fire. Say “yes” when you’re tempted to say “no.” And remember, just when you are about ready to raise the white flag, school will be here to rescue us again.

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Table Reflection #3 - Memorial Day Dinner

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Table Reflection #3 - Memorial Day Dinner

I had an epiphany cooking this week: I think most of us look at meals as something we possess rather than something we experience. And at the risk of creating a distinction without a difference, I want to dive into our language around the table and see if it tells us anything about how we view mealtime.

Here are the three most frequent questions I get when I cook for people:

What are you making for dinner? or What are we having for dinner?

Is this dish/recipe/idea yours (or did you get it from someone else)?

Can you give me that recipe?

The implication of these three very common (and appropriate) questions, is that dinner is, in reality, a commodity. It is a thing that we can make, possess, steal, & give to others. We can reduce the event of a meal to the contents that are put on the plate. Consequently, the answer to the question, “how was dinner?” is a commentary on the quality of the food.

Now, as someone who teaches people to cook good food for a living, I am deeply invested in creating healthy, delicious food that doesn’t stress out the cook or disappoint those eating it. But I am also reminded that most of my most memorable meals had very little to do with the food I was eating.  It was the time and place that lined up perfectly with what I needed at that point in my life. It was the company and conversation that fed my soul while I ate. It was a savored moment that captured a piece of my personal history in an unforgettable way.

When we are eating at home, cooking has the opportunity to become an avenue or an obstacle for those kind of experiences. Dinner can be an event that we create, experience and witness. It is something we are part of, not just another thing we consume. So our disposition as we create and share this event can go a long way to determine how we feel about that experience.

And yet, I have three kids. I get it. There are many days when I look over at my wife and we say to each other with our eyes, “Let’s just get through this meal alive and get these people in bed.” There are many days, too many days, when I’ve dutifully and creatively pieced together a delicious meal that I am proud to serve, only to be bombarded with frustration, disappointment and anger as my kids pick around it and say mildly polite and passive aggressive things like, “this is…interesting.” And there have been many days when my guilt over throwing a frozen pizza in the oven has probably robbed me of what could have been a meaningful, memorable moment at the dinner table.

But lately, occasionally, I have remembered to slow down and savor the moments. I grilled corn on the cob last night and I smiled while I watched my youngest eat her favorite food so methodically that the empty cobs looked like they had been “de-kerneled” by a machine. I giggled as my family compared swapping their favorite parts of the meal with each other like the old trading card game “Pit.” I forgave myself for getting caught up in frustration for running out of propane and having to finish the steaks in the broiler. I flirted with my wife while we compared wine glasses to make sure we were splitting the end of our California Cab as evenly as possible. (It doesn’t matter because she always steals mine in the end!) And I got teary when my 7-year-old, after hearing about Memorial Day all day, prayed, “God, be with the families that have had to give more than they should have had to.”

So if you ask me how dinner was last night, forgive me if I forget to mention that I overcooked the first Michigan asparagus of the year. I’m gonna choose to savor the silly, somber, life-giving experience where we also happened to eat some food I cooked.

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Adding Value Starts With Living Values

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Adding Value Starts With Living Values

I was listening to a Seth Godin podcast today, and he posited: "Every successful business has a monopoly on something. Something the marketplace wants that no one else can offer like you can." It made me pause and think about Ogo. What does Ogo do that no one else can do?Certainly there are more qualified cooks and culinary teachers. And I've heard dozens of more articulate speakers on food, hospitality and the table. 

Ogo's mission is to help create meaningful moments through the medium of food--it's food for the table's sake, and table for the soul's sake. Ogo is unique, I think, in delivering practical and personalized solutions wrapped in a set of 9 values that are birthed out of and driven by the mission.  These values drive every conversation and decision I make with Ogo Initiative:

•   Listen well

•   Respond to opportunities with creativity and imagination

•   Craft solutions that are practical & personalized

•   Commit to the process of discovering why

•   Add value and reduce stress in the lives of clients

•   Have fun

•   Always take the high road

•   Prioritize the relationship

•   Judge success ultimately by the satisfaction of the client

If you feel stuck in the kitchen, bored over dinner, or frustrated that you cannot get it all done, I would love to have a cup of coffee and see if what Ogo does can help you create more meaningful moments around your dinner table. I promise you will see these values on display every step of the way.

Ben

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Table Reflection #2

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Table Reflection #2

Five months in to Ogo Initiative, there have been lots of surprises. Some of them pleasant, some less so. But one area that I thought would be a challenge has proven to be just as expected. Prioritizing what to do and when to do it is, I suppose, often a good problem to have. It means there’s plenty to do, and a lot of it is stuff I enjoy doing. It also means having peace with not doing things I would like to be doing (like blogging more!). It means learning to live life in seasons, to be content that the work in front of me is good work and to have the patience to stay present in the season that I’m in.

When I meet with clients and we talk about goals for their table, cooking and mealtimes, they are often surprised when my first questions are about their values, the season of life they are in, and how they envision mealtime fitting into their current reality. To create more meaningful mealtime moments, cooking and what we put into our mealtime has to slide into a realistic and healthy priority that matches our values and the season of our lives.

If I’m sitting across the table from a client, it means they have already decided they want more out of their mealtime (or they want it to cost them less!). If we are going to change what comes out of the kitchen, we must make changes about what goes into it. To get at this “well, duh” reality, I start by asking what we have to give: time, energy (either mental or physical), or money. Inevitably, many will answer “none of the above.” And my response is always the same: then our goal is not to change what we are doing, but to acknowledge that in this season, mealtime as it is properly reflects its value and priority in our life.

And that is just fine! If you are in that spot where the best you can do is frozen pizzas and take out most days of the week, you will be a better parent, partner and person by coming to peace that this is a season. You will be a happier, healthier person by spending your limited time and energy investing in the people across the table rather than the stuff sitting on top of it. The best thing I can do for you is bless you, point to the things we have to be grateful for, and pay for your coffee.

However, if when you look at what is important to you, where you spend your time, energy and money, and you find yourself out of line with your own values, then we can talk about how to match our priorities around the table to the season we are in. And that is what makes Ogo Initiative and the approach I take to the table so unique. There are no prepackaged answers. It would be much easier to market if I could tie everything up into a nice easy set of pithy formulas and recipes that work for everyone. But your life is different. Your circumstances are unique. Your gifts, passions and values cannot be anticipated and planned for ahead of time.

I want your mealtime to be more meaningful to you. So when we sit down for coffee, I want to hear your story, listen, and ask a lot of questions. And if you are already at your max, I’m going to do my best to let you know your best is already good enough. This is a season. You’re doing great. Pizza is a beautiful thing, too.

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Table Reflection #1

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Table Reflection #1

Occasionally, I want to take an opportunity to share some of the ideas that influence how I approach the table. These are more philosophical or experiential reflections rather than the more practical information I hope populate these pages normally. Here is today's Table Reflection:

“Rituals embody memories in communal time” – Krista Tippett

I was listening to a podcast interview of Krista Tippett, the host of public Radio’s “On Being.” She referenced the quote above, from her latest book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. It was in the context of religious experiences that people share on the faith calendar.

I found it such a succinct and powerful statement. And as true as this statement is of seasonal holidays or weekly church gatherings, it also illustrates the power of shared meals and the time we spend at the table. If we can see our meal time as a rhythmic opportunity to embody a shared memory: one link in the chain that bonds us together, we can begin to re-imagine mealtime as a meaningful, energizing part of our family life, not simply a chore to get through before we finish the day.

This is not meant to add additional pressure to make tastier or healthier food, but a reflection that every time we come to the table it is a gift we can be grateful for. Why is it then, when we have a mountain of table experiences with our family, do we see so few of them as a valuable, meaningful moments? I’m sure there is a percentage of these experiences we just take for granted, because that’s how most of our brains work. But I came across another interesting observation about how the brain works from Richard Rohr, the Franciscan Priest, who has done significant writings on contemplation:

“Neuroscience can now prove anything negative, fearful or hateful, the mind attaches to like Velcro…but here’s the opposite: anything positive, happy, joyous, loving grateful…those are like Teflon. If you have a grateful, positive, “isn’t that beautiful” moment, you have to savor it for a minimum of 15 seconds or does not imprint on the brain.”

Wow...what a thought! What if in the hurried, event-filled lives that we cram dinner into every evening, we simply aren’t taking the moment of reflection to savor the experience? And as a consequence, anything positive that could come out of that time doesn’t imprint on the brain and fails to make an emotional impact on our shared lives.

If only there were a culturally built-in opportunity to pause and reflect with gratitude on our time at the table. Oh wait, there is! What if one of the keys to creating more meaningful moments at the table starts with saying “grace” intentionally again? Not for God’s sake, but for ours.

So whether it’s over bowls of late night cereal, take-out pizza, or a chicken dinner, try taking at least 15 seconds as a family to soak in the moment. Smell the food. Look into the eyes of the people you love. Listen to the chatter. Enjoy the touch of holding hands. And for 15 seconds, let gratitude, love and joy imprint this moment on your brain.

There is so much more to savor here than food.

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Ogo Featured in Grand Rapids Business Journal

A little excerpt and link from another feature on Ogo:

Some of Ben Price’s favorite cooking moments are when he can change someone’s mind about a food they used to dislike. One time a woman told him, “I hate Brussels sprouts and these are delicious.”

“Those are the moments I love,” he said. “My favorite thing to cook for people is vegetables. What makes me excited is when I can change people’s perceptions about foods that had negative stereotypes around them. Teaching people how to cook whole foods in a healthy way is a blast.”

Price is looking to change perceptions about food all over Grand Rapids with his new business, OGO Initiative.

OGO, which stands for “organization, growth and opportunity,” is all about “home cooking, culinary education and nutrition encouragement with the intent of lowering stress and adding value to dinner time to create more meaningful moments around the table,” Price said.

http://www.grbj.com/articles/85082-kitchen-takeover-business-serves-up-fun%23

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