This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and Maple Lodge Farms #FamilyFirst sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.
A couple weeks ago, the kids and I got the chance to head down to the city for an afternoon of fun together with Maple Lodge Farms. The goal of the day was to invent a signature sandwich for our family.
Life tends to get real busy, real quick. I look at our calendar on a daily basis (I actually just re-did them yesterday and it’s been on my mind ever since). I see day after day filled with activities, including those that we’re always doing together – Oliver’s baseball game, Anna’s soccer game, Oliver’s baseball practice, swimming lessons for each of the kids. On top of those, there are the birthday parties, the school events, and commitments with extended family. The list is never ending. And while we are a family that always goes everywhere together (just ask Anna and Sophie how many mornings they had to be up at 6:30 to watch a hockey game last winter), I realized that the days spent together doing all the “right” things for our kids, aren’t always quality days.
It’s been a month of realizations for me. Between Bo’s Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses requiring me to take stock of the types of food I’m keeping in the house and feeding to the family, and now accepting that just doing lots of stuff with the kids doesn’t equal quality time with them, this afternoon spent focused on family and food that’s naturally from the farm could not have come at a better time. It was obvious that this was important to the folks from Maple Lodge Farms as well. I didn’t realize that they were still a family run company, and have been for over 60 years now. Their motto: keep things simple choose natural, and if you want to get a family around the table you make things taste good. I couldn’t agree more.
Having the kids in the kitchen with me has always been important. As soon as they could stand, they were on a stool beside me helping to dump in flour or eggs. Something I hadn’t been doing with them though, is giving them the reins to create on their own. That’s now changed.
As soon as we walked up the stairs at Liaison College, we were greeted with dozens of smiling faces, including one very happy chicken. Tables were set up for each of the families, and the kids beamed to see their very own chef aprons waiting for them. I got excited at all the different types of Naturally From The Farm chicken to use in our sandwich: oven roasted, jalapeno, black garlic and peppercorn, and hickory smoked bacon, all of which are made with simple, natural ingredients. On top of that, there was tray after tray of fresh veggies and fruit, and even some gummy bears that Anna zeroed in on, but then, what sane person can resist those?
This day wasn’t about me though, it was about remembering to put family first, and handing the reins over to the kids. The first thing we did was brainstorm what kind of sandwich they wanted to make. Oliver was desperate to make a Sonic the Warehog sandwich (such a boy answer), but Anna has an issue with wolves right now, so I did my best to convince him that a dragon could be just as cool. The last thing I needed was Anna having nightmares about a sandwich.
So, with theme decided, it was time to fill it up. The kids didn’t want to go crazy flavour wise, it was all about sticking in their comfort zone. We started loading up our sandwich with oven roasted chicken and hickory smoked chicken bacon. A side note here: these two products are now staples in our house. The kids have finally let go of the bologna that was requested three days a week, and now only ask for oven roasted chicken sandwiches. The same goes for the bacon. It tastes incredible, and it is SO much healthier than pork bacon. I’m solely using it for our weekend breakfasts, in our caesar salads, and on my BBQ chicken pizza.
Inside the sandwich, the kids piled on the flavour: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, peppers, mayonnaise, and some spicy mustard. Now it was time to have some fun. Anna made an eye with an olive and some cheese, and Oliver cut teeth out of a piece of cheese. We sliced up a strip of bacon to make spikes running down his back, added sweet pepper strips for fire breath, and then the kids painted scales on their dragon with their fingers and some diluted food colouring. Just like that, the “Sharp Toothed Flame Thrower” was born.
The kids weren’t done though, they also got to present their sandwich, and give a little interview calling out their Mom (and professing their love of all things gummy bears, I’m still not sure how we managed to keep them out of the sandwich… oh wait, yes I do – because Oliver and Anna just kept eating them along with the extra chicken bacon they asked the nice chefs to make for them).
This was an afternoon that I will always appreciate having had the opportunity to experience. It reminded me to get down at eye level in life with the kids and not just watch them go through it from the sidelines. Cheers to always putting #FamilyFirst in our lives, and in our kitchens!