When you are deciding what to put into that brown bag for your children's school lunch, are you aware that this indispensable paper product is celebrating its 100th birthday in 1983? It's officially called the self-opening sack (SOS), and the first one was made in 1883 by Charles Stillwell, who invented a bagmaking machine. Unlike earlier versions of the paper bag, the SOS had pleated sides and a square, flat bottom. Later, stronger paper, called kraft (from the German word for strength), was invented.
About one-third of ''brown baggers'' are schoolchildren who continue to favor peanut-butter sandwiches, while adults opt for meat. There are increasing numbers of brown baggers who prefer salad. Other bag contents might be raw vegetable snacks; fruit; nuts; cheese; granola mixtures; and, of course, a sweet , such as brownies or cookies.
Many bag lunches require little effort and can be assembled the night before. Some sandwiches freeze well and a cache of them in the freezer can save valuable time. Label the sandwiches and use within one month. Frozen sandwiches can be packed in the morning straight from the freezer and will thaw in time for lunch.
Think about school lunches when you are preparing other meals. Save cold roast, poultry, and meat loaf for that purpose. Some leftovers - such as extra pasta for salad and cold cooked vegetables for mixed salads to eat as is or to accompany cold meat or chicken - are excellent in a bag lunch.
Here is a sampling of filling selections for sandwiches that will freeze well. It is better not to use salad dressing or mayonnaise in sandwiches that are to be frozen, since it tends to separate and soak the bread.
Mix equal parts softened butter or margarine and cream cheese. Spread thickly on two slices of bread. Fill with any of the following mixtures: * Chopped chicken, almonds, and raisins. * Deviled ham, chopped mustard pickle, and mashed egg yolk. * Mashed kidney beans and chopped dill pickle. * Roast beef spread, chopped gherkins, and Dijon-style mustard. * Flaked tuna and chopped mustard pickle. * Ground lamb, minced fresh mint, and chives.
Salads make a practical item for the brown bag, either to be eaten as is or as an accompaniment to cold sliced meat or poultry. Make it ahead and place it in a plastic container in the refrigerator. For tossed vegetable salads, you might want to put the dressing in a small jar or bottle and pour it over the salad at lunchtime. Brown Bagger's Broccoli-Peanut Salad 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon Italian dressing 2 cups washed and diced broccoli 1/4 cup pickle relish 1/2 medium onion, diced 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
In a bowl, thin mayonnaise with Italian dressing. Add remaining ingredients except peanuts. Toss to coat with dressing. Add salt and pepper. Add peanuts just before serving. Serves 2 to 3 generously. Chicken Waldorf Salad 2 cups diced cooked chicken (or turkey) 1 large apple, cored and diced 1 cup diced celery 1/2 cup mayonnaise 2/3 cup walnuts 1/4 cup diced onion 3 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine chicken, apple, and celery. Toss to mix. Place remaining ingredients in an electric blender. Cover and blend at medium speed 1 minute or longer until smooth. Fold dressing into salad. Makes 4 cups.
Pickled vegetables have a tang and a crunchy quality that contrast well with a brown bagger's sandwiches. Dilly Carrot and Zucchini Sticks 1/2 pound carrots 1/2 pound fresh zucchini, unpared 1 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup cider vinegar 1/3 cup diced red onion 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Cut carrots and zucchini into 5-inch sticks. In large saucepan, steam carrots just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Do not cook zucchini. Stand vegetables upright in a plastic container.
In small bowl, combine broth, vinegar, onion, lemon juice, oil, dill weed, salt, and garlic. Mix well. Pour mixture over vegetables. Cover. Turn container over several times to distribute ingredients. Store in refrigerator. Graham-Banana Squares 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 1/2 cup wheat germ 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup mashed bananas 1/3 cup peanut butter 2 tablespoons oil 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (6 ounces)
In 9-inch-square baking pan, mix crumbs, wheat germ, sugar, soda, and salt. Add bananas, peanut butter, and oil. Mix until thoroughly blended. Spread evenly and sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven 30 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Cut in 2-inch squares. Makes 16. Crunchy-Munchy Cookies 1/2 cup butter or margarine 2 eggs 1 cup chopped dates 3/4 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 cups crisp rice cereal 1 cup chopped pecans 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 4-ounce can shredded coconut
In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. In bowl, beat eggs well and stir in dates, sugar, and salt. Pour into skillet. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat.
Stir in cereal, pecans, and vanilla. With hands, shape mixture by teaspoonfuls into balls. On waxed paper, sprinkle coconut. Roll balls in coconut until well coated. Let stand on waxed paper to harden. Makes 3- to 4-dozen cookies.