Scout’s PlanetBox “Shuttle” holds a peanut butter sandwich cut and stamped with a Sweet Spirits (Día de Muertos/Day of the Dead) Cookie Cutter/Stamp. The organic carrot and watermelon radish accents were cut with a tiny heart cutter and the large end of an icing tube. The circles and heart are “glued” on the sandwich with dabs of peanut butter. The groovy blooms are included in the Ateco Flower Cutters, and the hearts are from Wilton’s Mini Romantic Cookie Cutter set. The Shuttle is meant for smaller appetites and snacks. But, I find that layering chips or, in this case, Trader Joe’s Pretzel Thins and organic dried rose petals from Herbs by Diane underneath the sandwich allows me to pack a full meal for Scout in a more compact package. I know rose petals seem a little crazy for a fourth graders lunch. But, since finding a local, trustworthy source, they’ve become my go to for adding a shot of dye-free, colorful, fun.
Día de Muertos has always held a sweet fascination for me. Having lost four dearly loved, older family members in quick succession when I was barely in double digits, the idea of a holiday based solely on remembrance has always struck a tender note in my heart. I’ve been able to save my memories of my grandfather, great aunts, and father by holding them close and revisiting moments with them often over the years.
Two weeks ago, I lost my oldest brother to cancer. I was blessed to be able to be back home in Raleigh and spend precious time with him just before he passed. Thomas lived with passion and grace until the end, and kept his appetite and humor. That wicked sense of humor had me and my other two brothers in tears as we egged each other on weaving tales of family hijinks and dusting off long forgotten memories. And, I was struck by how often food played a key role in the stories…Mom’s banana pudding, stops at Wilbur’s on the way to the coast, Mama Wa making homemade mints, family dinners at the Ranch Motel. The days went by in a blur and with a succession of dishes dropped off by friends, supplemented with take-out from Thomas’ favorite joints.
Food and life and love and loss are so beautifully woven together. I can’t look at a Hershey’s with Almonds without catching a faint whiff of my Papa’s Old Spice. And, though we know it’s technically a flaw, no one in my family would dream of making a meringue pie that didn’t weep like Aunt Tene’s used to. I’ll never make pimento cheese without thinking of Thomas. I guess this is a big part of why I love to cook. It connects me to the people I came from, and let’s me share a part of them with Scout. It keeps me wired to the ones I love.
I’d enjoy hearing some of your food memories…feel free to share them in the comments. And, please click the button at the bottom to head over to Zoe’s Lunch Box to see what spooky delights she has in store. It’s bound to be a treat! But, come back tomorrow for a special post and details on how to score a discount from PlanetBox.
Not pictured is Scout’s cloth napkin, peppermint EO hand sanitizer and an insulated Klean Kanteen of ice water. I use two different ice packs to keep Scout’s lunch at a safe temperature. A sheet of Cryopak Flexible Ice Pack for Lunch Boxes goes underneath her lunch, and a PlanetBox Cold Kit travels in the mesh pocket of the case. And, everything…and, I mean everything, gets labeled with one of Scout’s Mabel’s Labels.
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