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Christy Catherine Marshall

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March 20, 2006

Susan Thacker I know a lot of you out there are looking for some inspiration in the kitchen. With kids, it’s easy to fall into a cooking slump when the demands of shopping, preparing, and cleaning up after meals — day after day — can wear down even the most energetic mom (where is she?)

That’s why I’ve invited author and mom Susan Thacker of Texas to rejuvenate us with her awesome idea of sharing the mealtime madness with a friend or two. In fact, she wrote a book on this topic called Supper Swapping. Her story has already been featured on the Dr. Laura radio show, a homeschool magazine, several newspapers, and she’ll be highlighted in the June issue of Family Circle. Way to go, Susan!

If you’re from the Lone Star state, you can also look for her in the Texas insert of an upcoming Southern Living Magazine. So, we’re privileged to have a chat with this busy author!

Welcome to Mom 2 Mom Connection, Susan. I’m so glad you could stop in. OK, I must say I’m intrigued with this whole idea of supper swapping. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Hi, Heather. Supper swapping is when friends trade meals. You don’t necessarily eat together. It’s a concept that can be used by people who hate cooking because then they don’t have to cook as much. Or it’s for people who love cooking because then they get to try new recipes and share them. There are all kinds of benefits, including saving money, saving time, upgrading meals, and having a growing friendship.

Sounds like this would appeal to a lot of us — whether we like being in the kitchen or not. Can you tell us how you got started with supper swapping?

I was talking to my friend on the phone one day, and she asked me if I wanted to come over to her house and cook a bunch of food to freeze. I said, “Not really.” You see, I didn’t like to cook. Then I thought about it and said, “Hey, why don’t I cook for you early this week and then you cook for me later in the week?” She said, “O.K., What do you want to eat?”

I can still remember how hilarious it was when I took the meal over there, and her husband looked blankly at us like we were nuts. Heather, my husband acted the same way when she brought her meal to us.

That does sound funny — he probably wondered what in the world you two were up to! Do you have any thoughts on what it is that hinders many women from preparing home-cooked meals for their families?

That’s a huge question. Our whole culture is changing. More women work. Kids have more structured activities like sports and different lessons, and that’s a fact according to a study by The University of Michigan. So women are in the car a lot. I also think that we have access to more ready-made foods today. So it’s tempting not to cook.

I can relate to being in the car a lot. If we’re not careful, we can have activities planned for every night of the week. Do you have any tips on how moms can get kids involved in the kitchen?

Yes, I think we can nurture the love of cooking by first making the family dinner an event each night, so that children have a positive association with food. Young children will emulate their mothers as they play with pots and pans. As they get older they can help by washing vegetables and participating in menu planning.

Do you usually have a sitter when you have company over for a meal, or do you prefer kids to eat with your guests?

They eat with us. I’m a firm believer in date nights, but our home is centered around the family. So, when we have big dinners, everyone is there. The kids get excited about company because the food is more extravagant, the candles are set, and the house is actually clean!

Well, Susan, you’ve given us a real SMORGASBORD of ideas here. Do you have any last words to help inspire us to dish up a springtime feast?

Sure, here are three springtime tips:

1. Start small and enjoy — Only trade one easy meal a week with a friend who reciprocates at first. On the day you receive your meal, take the kids to the park instead of cooking!

2. Make your cooking day fun — Do some of the food prep while the kids are asleep the evening before so cooking can be relaxing. Entertain yourself while you cook. Open the windows, listen to music or a book on tape. Make snacks for yourself while you cook.

3. Serve dinner outdoors and make dinner an event — Linger at the patio table after dinner and let the kids play in the yard. Springtime gives us the opportunity to unplug and tune into family.

These are great ideas. I hope everyone who’s stopping in to read this today will also go visit Susan Thacker at her Supper Swapping website.

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Susan will be back tomorrow to tell us more about how she contacted dozens of top chefs around the country to compile her book. And she’s even promised to share with us one of her favorite recipes from The Post Oak Grill in Houston. Sounds delicious!

🙂




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