Category Archives: Food

Grocery Store Guilt

I am aware that being a “Reward Member” at my grocery store  isn’t just a way to sell me discounted gasoline and get me in on sales. It is a way to track what we purchase and get data on the buying trends of customers.

Husband and I probably  purchase of some of the more exotic items at the Cash Wise store here.  Who else buys all the celery root in the produce department two days running?  Cake yeast? I  have bought every pack the store had  each week for the past month.

There is a limit, though, on how much celery root and cake yeast a person can store. We tried to grow celery root in the garden last summer but it didn’t work. We use it in soups and stews and roast meats in place of celery.  I found 14 lovely celery roots at the grocery store last week and diced them, blanched them,  and froze them. We have enough now until next winter. The store hadn’t stocked them for ages, and I was delighted to find them. I also have enough cake yeast to last for months. Now I feel irrationally guilty and anxious.

I worry that  because of our exuberant purchasing,  the store will stock all sorts of celery root and cake yeast and it will all go bad because we don’t need to buy any.  That will make me feel guilty because I hate the thought of food going to waste.  I also worry  that due to poor sales of celery root and cake yeast, the store won’t stock them anymore after this, and when I need them I won’t be able to find them.

I realize as I type this just how ridiculous this is, how very little I really have to worry about, and what a lovely life I have. I guess that is the hallmark of anxiety-the irrationality of it all. I have baked for years using dry yeast, and I can always use regular old celery in a pinch.  I think the marketing people who track our purchases will find us hard to fathom.

What would someone tracking your purchases surmise about you?  Would it be an accurate reflection of who you are?

Burger & Fries

Once a month, after I volunteer at Loaves & Fishes, I drive east on 98th Street on my way back to 35W to get home. Imagine my excitement to see that the Denny’s there has been sold and will be a new Snuffy’s coming spring.  While the Edina Snuffy’s isn’t actually that far from me, it’s not convenient to get to so I don’t think about it often.

But a Snuffy’s where I have to drive right by it? I’m thinking I’ll be having Snuffy’s take-out once a month from now on.  Veggie Burger, fries and a malt – either Oreo or Brownie or the Dreamsicle.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Do you have a favorite take-out place or meal?

Birthday Raclette

YA loves cheese more than almost anyone I know. When we came home from China, I was prepared for the possibility that she would be lactose-intolerant; Asians have a higher percentage of lactose-intolerance than Caucasians.  I never needed to worry about it; as soon as YA began to eat solid foods, cheese was one of her favorites.

Cheese sandwiches, cheese fondue (her godmother makes a wicked fondue), cheese sticks, lasagna, curds, nachos.. if it has cheese, count her in. After I experienced raclette (melted cheese poured on top of food) in Switzerland, I got a raclette machine for us.  Pretty soon YA had an opinion on the difference between Swiss raclette cheese and French raclette cheese (she prefer the Swiss as it has more “bite”).

Every year for our Family Day celebration, she chooses a fondue lunch at the Melting Pot in downtown Minneapolis. She likes the original Swiss fondue recipe followed by a dessert fondue.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when she requested a raclette lunch for her birthday celebration – despite the fact that we almost never eat any meals together these days due to our conflicting schedules.

We had a nice salad of greens, pomegranate seeds, pears, walnuts and vinaigrette then the raclette! We like our melty cheese poured over cauliflower, little potatoes, baguette and also sweet gherkin pickles.  It was a wonderful lunch and I was happy to stay inside rather than go outside in the freezing temps.

Do you/did you have a favorite birthday meal request?

Riled Up by Language

Yesterday I got all worked up (again) when “pescatarian” defined as a vegetarian who eat fish. If you eat fish you are not any kind of vegetarian.

So I was happy to read this footnote in Death From the Skies by astronomer Phil Plait:

“One of the best ways to tick off an astronomer – and it can be fun sometimes just to see how he reacts – is to mix up the terms meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite.  The very best way to tick off an astronomer is to call him an astrologer.”

Guess I’m not the only one who gets riled up by language.

What are you NOT?

Beaded Warthog Pub Fare

The baboons have banded together to open a pub – The Beaded Warthog. Now we need a menu.  Here’s a favorite I’d like to serve:

Toasted Cheese w/ Chow Chow

1 nice slice of bread, maybe sourdough
A couple of pieces of cheese – gouda would be good
2-3 Tbs of chow chow relish (or a nice chutney)

Lay the cheese out on top of the bread.
Toast the bread until it’s toasty and the cheese a little bubbly.
Spread the chow chow over the cheese.

What would you like to serve at our pub?

The Beaded Warthog

Last week Steve commented that he thought there was an interesting story as to why I have a beaded warthog. I’ll let you all decide.

About 15 years ago, I traveled to South Africa to do a site inspection with a client. Like usual, I arrived a day ahead to make sure everything is all set for the client. The next morning, after I had met with the hotel and the ground supplier, I got a call from the States.  The client and the account executive couldn’t get out of Cincinnati due to a huge ice storm.  By the time they would be able get to South Africa, it would pretty much be time to turn around and head home.  Believe me, traveling to South Africa is a long haul, so you don’t want to go there to come home  immediately!

So the next six days were almost like a vacation including great food and even a little shopping time. I had already found a Nelson Mandela t-shirt for YA (this trip was the week after he passed away), but since there wasn’t a client, my driver and I started taking time to stop at roadside stands as we drove around. It was at one of these stands that I found the beaded warthog.

It’s very common to find beaded animals in South Africa. The locals use reclaimed/recycled wire to sculpt the bodies and then use little glass beads to do the decoration. Elephants make up the majority of these beaded souvenirs, but you can also find giraffes, lions and rhinos.  I had never seen a warthog before (and haven’t since either) and it struck me as hysterical because the missing client worked for the swine division of a husbandry pharmaceutical company.  I forked over the money happily and added it to the little store of items I had bought for the client.

When I got back to my office, I called the account exec to let him know that I was doing some good notes and also sending the gift items to the client. Since I thought the beaded warthog was so funny I mentioned it specifically.  There was an awkward pause and he said “You know, she doesn’t have nearly as good a sense of humor as you.”  When I pushed him about what he meant, he broke down and said that she was very sensitive about the pig connection and he didn’t think sending the warthog would be a good idea.  He was worried that this would hurt my feelings.  Ha – just the opposite – I got a great insight into a client I hadn’t worked with before AND now I have a beaded warthog!

Have you ever had a gift go wrong?

Common Problems with Eclairs and Cream Puffs

Husband went to the college library last week and took out Practical Baking, a comprehensive compendium for the budding commercial baker. The book outlines in over 800 pages in very scientific and practical terms, all the baked goods one could possibly create, and all the problems that could occur, such as why icings and toppings might run without stabilizers, why puff pastries blister and flake, and why your Napoleon sheets are tough or break easily when handled. Husband was interested in the section devoted to common problems with hard rolls.  The book addresses common problems for every imaginable baked good.

The book also contains a suggested 6 month course of home study to become an accomplished baker.  Weeks 9 and 10, for example, are devoted to perfecting biscuits and muffins.  Husband brought the book home because he  really is interested in common problems with hard rolls (It is a concern specific to people from Sheboygan, WI), and also because it is so funny in its seriousness.

What how-to manual would you like to write?  What how-to manual would have made your life easier? Ever had an authentic bratwurst on a Sheboygan hard roll?  (You know what they say, its not the brat, its the bun!)