We've all heard by now about grazing; it's the way yuppies eat. Too hellbent on mobilizing upward to stop for proper meals, yuppies grab a bagel on the fly in the morning, a cup of yogurt after their workout, slave through lunch, eat a hot dog on the street in midafternoon and stop for a little Chinese carryout on the way home from the late movie.
Nutritionists and diet experts have for years been expounding the virtues of five little meals a day rather than three big ones and the salutary effects of keeping the digestive system constantly running on low rather than in fits and starts. People with ulcer problems have long been advised to keep the tummy a tad full at all times. And of course, babies are born grazers. On the average, they can't go more than two or three hours without a fill-up.
With everyone so naturally programmed to graze, it's a wonder the three-meals-a-day business ever got established at all. I suspect it is the work of some Family Cook back when, who put her foot down about constant kitchen traffic and feeding demands and said from now on she was loading up the table three times a day and that's it.
But let's be honest, it never really took. What is the midmorning coffee break, or afternoon tea, or the after-supper ice cream cone but pure and simple grazing? We all know, from our earliest days raiding the cookie jar to our current cruising for canapes, that it is just as much fun to eat standing up as sitting down; maybe even more.
This Family Cook doesn't have anything against grazing, and, in fact, rather delights in the new word. Anyone who's ever spent a Saturday afternoon in a shopping mall can't help but be reminded of bovine chewing. But being enamored of junk food of nearly all kinds, we will not criticize.
Alas, there's the rub. Your average grazing fare is not what you'd call nutritionally sound. Anything that can be quickly grabbed and eaten is most likely loaded with preservatives. There's sugar in the chocolate cookies and the ice cream, there's fat in the hot dog and the egg roll. And yet, if we don't stock these easy-to-eat nasties in our kitchens, we are plagued by complaints of there being nothing to eat, which is the male version of having nothing to wear.
Surely, every family cook has heard this one. You've just been shopping, the refrigerator is bursting with raw chicken, celery and carrots, milk, peppers, hamburger, a nice veal chop, a bunch of broccoli, a fine new endive, a stack of juicy tomatoes and a couple of lovely cucumbers. The man of the house arrives home from work ravenous, flings open the refrigerator door, beholds its raw riches and says, "There's never anything to eat in this house!"
What he wants, of course, is to stick in his thumb and pull out a plum, or hopefully, a brownie, that he can devour on the spot before even taking off his coat.
Here, then, are some homemade grazables, moderately healthy and moderately easy, that it will not kill you to make or your family to eat. GRANOLA BARS (Makes 20 bars) 1 cup granola 1 cup quick-cooking oats 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup flaked coconut 1/2 cup chopped almonds 1/2 cup raisins 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 egg, slightly beaten 1/2 cup honey 1/4 cup butter, melted, plus extra for pan 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, combine the granola, oats, flour, coconut, almonds, raisins and brown sugar. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, honey, butter and vanilla. Add to the dry mixture, stirring until all is moistened. Spread in a well greased 12-by-7-inch cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until light brown on the edges. To serve, cut into squares or bars. GAZPACHO (6 servings)
Gazpacho is a good thing to make with what we call used salad -- whatever we didn't eat the night before. We toss it into a food processor, then add tomato juice until it looks like soup. If you must make it from scratch, you can. 1/2 head lettuce 1 medium ripe tomato 1 green pepper, seeded and cored 1 clove garlic, peeled 1 small onion, peeled 1 quart tomato juice 1 hard-cooked egg, finely chopped
Tear the lettuce into pieces and process until finely chopped in a food processor or blender. Remove to a large bowl. Put the rest of the vegetables into the processor or blender and chop finely. Add to bowl. Stir in tomato juice. Top with chopped egg. MICROWAVE MEATBALLS (Makes 24 meatballs) 1 pound ground beef 2 cups soft bread crumbs 2 eggs 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1 tablespoon steak sauce 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Shape into 1-inch balls and arrange in a microwave-safe pie pan. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high for about 20 minutes. Good hot or cold. CELERIAC REMOULADE 4 medium celery roots 2 cups cold water 2/3 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
Peel celery roots and cut into matchstick-size pieces. Place in a saucepan. Add 2 cups cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain celery root in a colander and rinse with cold water. Dry thoroughly and place in a salad bowl. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir into celery root and toss with fork to mix. Chill before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.
From "San Francisco A La Carte," Doubleday