Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PieFection - Soccer Balls In Africa

In June of 2008, our nephew and all around great kid Spencer Thompson completed his Eagle Project. His goal was to supply village schools in Ghana with new soccer equipment. When he told us what he was doing, we jumped at the opportunity to support his cause. 

With the support of his family, friends and troop, some help from Mariott School of Management MPA students and sponsorship from PieFection and Real Salt Lake City (the local pro soccer team), Spencer organized his project and gathered the necessary supplies. With deflated soccer balls distributed among the many suitcases of BYU students, as well as his own, Spencer flew to Africa with his father, Jeff, who was in charge of the Ghana study experience for the MPA program. For a week he distributed soccer balls and supplies to excited children and teachers in village schools in Ghana.

I'm getting some statistics from him and will post them soon. With donations from PieFection, he was able to supply 2 village schools in Ghana with 10 soccer balls each.

We're so proud of Spencer, and thank him for the opportunity to serve. Here are a few pictures of his experience.

Folowing up on this post. Spencer delivered about 200 soccer balls to 18 village schools and 2 orphanages. That's a lot of soccer and a lot of happy children!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Family Day

We've posted a few articles or links regarding eating together as a family. Here is one more site that we like to go to every once in a while. 

Family Day is sponsored by CASA, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. We heard about them a few years ago when their study made national headlines by pointing out that children who eat dinner with their families have a lower risk of drug abuse and get better grades in school. Here is their mission statement:

Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children (TM) is a national movement to inform parents that the parental engagement fostered during frequent family dinners is an effective tool to help keep America's kids substance free. Family Day reminds parents that Dinner Makes A Difference!

Here is the link to their website:  http://casafamilyday.org/familyday/

As always our goal at Piefection is to give you the tools to effectively manage dinner time without sacrificing home made goodness. We hope you enjoy eating together!

2 PieFection Tips

Here are a few cooking tips that you may be interested in using with your PieFection purchases. Feel free to add your own to this list!

1. Microwave it! PieFection meals are frozen and some take a while to cook through. If you don't want to wait, you can take the frozen solid meal, remove the cover, turn it upside down and run hot water on the bottom of the pan. This will loosen the bond and you can pop the meal into a glass pie pan or casserole dish. Cover with cellophane, poke a few fork holes into it and defrost in the microwave.

2. Bread Round Sandwiches. With the exception of Corn Bread, you can use all of our bread to make delicious deli style sandwiches. Thaw the bread round and put it flat on a cutting board. Slice it the length of the round, so that you have two large, flat rounds. Fill with deli meats, dressing, lettuce, fresh onions, fresh tomatos, avocado slices, bean sprouts, and anything else you like on a sandwich. Put the "lid" on it, slice into sandwich "wedges" use a fancy toothpick to hold it together (just like they do at the deli!) and voila! The perfect party sandwich. Don't forget the mug of soup!

How do you cook PieFection?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Power of Eating Dinner Together

Last year we posted an article on our website about the latest study from CASA, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. In that study, research showed teens in families that eat together 4-5 times a week are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. One part of the study points out that when a family eats together, it offers an informal and less threatening way for parents to get involved in their children's lives. 

One of our goals at PieFection, part of our mission if you will, is to create a way for families who are pressed for time to have meals together, to facilitate this exchange of thoughts and daily activities between parent and child.

We found another article in the Winter 2009 BYU Magazine that offers supporting research and insight into how eating dinner together also benefits the parents. The following are some excerpts from "Making Dinner Together Time". 

When Jenet I. Jacob (BS ’97) was growing up in Orem, Utah, her mother was adamant that the family sit down together for dinner every night. “Even if I wasn’t going to eat, she would say, ‘Sorry, part of being a Jacob is that you come sit with us,’” she says.

Over the years she thought a lot about her mother’s dogged insistence. Why should dinner matter so much when the family was together plenty of other times? Jacob concluded that her mother knew intuitively what researchers now know through scientific study—that something as simple as family dinner can have powerful benefits.

“Some researchers call it the ‘family sacrament,’ and it really is that important,” says Jacob, now a family scientist in BYU’s School of Family Life.

The benefits of family dinner for children have been well documented, but after recently completing a study of IBM workers, Jacob and BYU colleague E. Jeffrey Hill (BA ’77), associate family life professor, now tell us that family dinner benefits parents as well, especially parents who work outside the home.

“If you’re able to make it home for dinner, you feel less conflict with work intruding on your family life and you feel more in control of things—and that translates into a feeling of success,” says Jacob.

Researchers began reporting the benefits of family dinner about a decade ago, focusing mainly on how it affected children. Studies show that children in families that eat dinner together at least three times a week have better grades, lower rates of addiction, less depression, healthier eating habits, and fewer eating disorders.

But still, only about one-third of American children actually eat dinner with their families regularly. The obstacles are many, with parents’ long working hours at the top of the list. Jacob and Hill cite research showing that tension between work and family life is a significant problem for many people, and they wondered whether family routines and rituals would make a difference. Drawing on family resilience theory, which investigates strategies families use to adapt to stress, they hypothesized that regular family dinner would help offset the negative effects of long working hours. Hill had helped create an extensive survey taken by 41,769 IBM employees, and he got permission to use portions of the data.

-Enjoy the entire article at http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2355
-For the article we posted last year, go to http://www.piefection.com/savetheworld.html

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Comfort Food (Part 2) Eddington's

My first job was busboy for a famous soup restaurant in Minneapolis. Many of you who are from the Twin Cities know this incredible eatery - Eddington's. I worked during Christmas Break, 1982. My family had moved to Minnesota the year before, and I was still getting used to the bitter cold winters that make the mid western state famous. 

I would arrive early because I would go into the city with my father (my first carpool experience). Imagine the comfort I felt as I left the cold street and walked up the warm, hardwood staircase to the level where the original Eddington's was located. The smell of garlic and butter would fill my nostrils as the bread sticks were being pulled out of the oven. The aroma of large sugar cookies would compete with the savory scents of wild rice soup, or Wisconsin Cheddar soup. These were (and still are) hearty soups, so thick that you can devour them without even using a spoon - just a supply of 4 or 5 soft bread sticks for dipping. As I write, I miss this food almost as if it were a family member!

The large dining area would start to fill with loyal patrons at around 11AM, as lunch break started. By the time noon arrived, there would be a line that stretched from the soup counter all the way back to where the stairs started, down the staircase and out the door. Eddington's would turn 4-5 tables every day at lunchtime. The busboys were very busy! I learned a few things working for Eddington's. 

First, it is amazing the kind of emotions that a warm bowl of comfort can create. My family was in Minnesota this past August for my sister's wedding, and we all (7 siblings with spouses and children plus Grandma and Grandpa) converged on Eddington's for dinner the day after the wedding. It was just expected - part of the week's agenda. We could hardly wait! The happiness of sitting all together in that restaurant and enjoying food that we had loved for over 25 years was an important, emotionally bonding experience that was an essential part of being in Minneapolis that week (no offense to my sister and her husband - you guys were the main event!).

Second, the smell of a delicious meal warms me almost as much as eating it! It goes back to walking in from the school bus to the smell of cookies fresh out of the oven, or walking in the door after a tough day at work, to the smell of dinner cooking. Its called comfort food for a reason. The aroma feeds the anticipation of putting that food in your mouth and sooths the senses. 

Finally, I learned about hard work and rewards at Eddington's. I saw hundred's of business men and women come into that downtown restaurant. This was before the age of cell phones (pagers were a shackle reserved for the very busy of the day - doctors, lawyers, sales execs). People connected for a respite from the hard work of their day to enjoy an hour of pure, uninterrupted comfort. No emails or text messages to answer. Just good food and good company for one hour!

My feet killed me after each day, and my forearms were sore from carrying tubs full of dishes back to the washer. For a skinny 14 year old boy this was a work out! Yet, I was never unhappy with the work I was doing. Perhaps it was the bowl of Wisconsin Cheddar and the pile of bread sticks I would dig into after my work was over that comforted me, that soothed my aching muscles. No... it was the food, no "perhaps" about it!

What are some of your favorite comfort food experiences? Please share your stories with us. We look forward to hearing from you!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Comfort Food (part 1)

What is it about food? When we think of almost any special occasion in our lives, food will be a part of it.  Our earliest memories are often of helping our parents “cook.”  My kids still come running when they hear the mixer start up, certain that cookies or homemade bread are on the way!

When challenging times come to the ones we love, we bring food.  Birth, death, illness, all seem to beg to be swallowed with a healthy dose of comfort food!  It is as if by nourishing the body we can nourish and bless the soul.

Our families need comfort and stability.  As life continues to spin faster and challenges bang at the door, we need to nourish bodies and souls. Fast foods and eating on the run will choke our arteries, our relationships and the way we remember our lives.

How can we bring our families to the table and offer comfort, stability and a place to reconnect in an increasingly fractured world?  We’d love to hear your ideas for connecting with your families at mealtimes!  Drop a comment and let us learn from you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eating Out, Spending More...

From the desktop of Mr. PieFectionist:

Some of our favorite restaurants have been missing our entourage of late. They miss seeing us walk in the door: two crazed parents and five hungry children after a busy day working, doing homework, cleaning the bathrooms, running the errands, folding the laundry, attending the recitals, cheering on the sports stars, etc, etc, etc!  

Our favorite eateries are missing the convenient take out orders. This is the typical scenario: "Honey, I'm going to need to work until 7 tonight. I know you've been working like crazy all day, and now I'm going to add a few extra hours of insanity. How about I just stop and get take out on my way home? Yeah, Chinese sounds great! The Feast Package? Double the Orange Chicken?"

Most importantly, these wonderful eating establishments miss our debit cards, credit cards, check books, and cash! Sure, going out to eat is a wonderful solution to an incredibly busy day. Its terrific when a polite young person comes to your table and takes your order, brings you your meal(s), and cleans up after. Terrific right up until you see the bill! 

Look at your typical family neighborhood restaurant menu. Meals that are meant for one person. Children's menus that are wonderfully fun but over priced. When all is said and done, with deserts and drinks, a family like ours is out at least $50 bucks! If we eat out or order take out like that for just one night a week, that's $200 a month! What could you buy with $200?

For starters, you could buy a lot of groceries. You could buy the ingredients of those expensive meals and probably make something for everybody in the family at a fraction of the cost, with leftovers. I'm not doing any scientific experiments here. This is just basic math. Even I can do basic math (some would argue that point).

Of course we all can't cook like the underpaid kitchen crew at the strip mall restaurant chain (who would want to?). And there's still that little problem of where do you find the time to cook? And who's going to clean up that mess! What about the homework! and the laundry!

Flash to this little scene: The laundry is folded, the homework is done,  the errands are run, piano is being practiced in the other room, the bathroom is clean, and dinner is warming in the oven. Preparing the meal was as easy as pulling the items from the freezer and popping them into the oven. Clean up will be even easier, as you toss the disposable aluminum pans into the recycle bin (or the garbage, whatever works).

The PieFect ending to a wonderful day.