Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stop and Smell the Basil

It has cooled off here, but it's very humid.  Yesterday I woke up at 5 with sinus pain and that sharp pain on the right side of my face that indicates the beginning of a migraine.  I learned in Niagara Falls that the best remedy for this is a Benadryl and an OTC migraine pill, so I got out of bed and downed them.  That took the edge off, but I was still tired and had a queasy stomach and a headache until the afternoon, so I was moving a little bit slower than is normal for me.  I made some turkey meatballs and then rested a bit.  Then I made some pasta sauce.  I whizzed our farm share chard in the food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic.  I chopped up a bell pepper and a large onion and cooked all of this in a little olive oil, then added a 12 ounce can of tomato paste and enough water to make it the consistency I wanted.  I also put in some oregano and basil.  There was enough for supper last night and lunch today. 

After I made the sauce, I made a batch of lemon vinaigrette. I am loving the salad greens I brought home the other day--they are so good!  I had two salads yesterday and will have another couple today.  I decided to wait to make the slaw I was planning with some of the cabbage from last week's farm share. The cabbage will keep and I want to use up as many of the greens as I can.

The scallions that I planted a couple of weeks ago are getting tall now.
The basil is filling out.  It's been in that window for a year or so now and did pretty well over the winter, even if it did look a little scraggly for a while.  When the little flower clusters appeared at the top, I pinched them off and now the plant is getting a little bit fuller.  I used some of the leaves the other night in the chicken curry.  Soon we should be getting basil from the farm and the U-pick field, so I won't be using this plant as much.  I have to say, though, that it is quite nice to be standing there and to smell the basil.  Some people stop and smell the roses, but I stop and smell the basil.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Repeat After Me

Chowder again in the soup kitchen.  This week we served 91 firsts and 45 seconds.  It was busy with everyone running around and it was hot.  I was happy because it has cooled down here--from 90-ish on Monday to mid 60s today--hurray!  But it was still hot in there and everyone felt it.  We were all a little bit ragged by the time we were done--everyone was dragging.  Next week is the July 4th holiday, so we will be closed.  No chowder next week, but I think there will be more the week after.  I was worried about making chowder on a hot day, so I am glad it cooled off and everyone loved it, so it all worked out.  I had some chard again this week, so I used that along with onions, bell peppers, celery, carrots, garlic, some bacon, and potatoes, along with the white fish.  I added half and half and light cream, black pepper, and parsley.  It was crazy at first and we were serving fast.  I had some concerns about having enough food.  There was one steam table pan that did not have as much broth--it was more like a stew.  I'd started serving from that pan, so there was some room.  I grabbed a half gallon of milk from the fridge and poured it in, then began to serve from the next pan while that heated up.  I could have stretched it more if I needed to, but as it turned out, that was enough.

We have a new Panera that opened in the next town over and they have been donating stuff 3 days a week, so we had some beautiful breads to go with the chowder.  I was able to bring home a loaf of lovely oatmeal bread, too. 

There was a huge donation of mixed salad greens from a local organic farm as well, so diners got to take lots of bread, bagels, and salad stuff today.  There was enough for volunteers to take some, too, so I took a couple of bags of greens.  We didn't get any salad stuff in our farm share this week, although we did get cabbage, so I will be making more slaw, this time with a lemon vinaigrette for dressing.  I can either mix in some of the mixed greens or have slaw with one meal and salad with another.  It's that time of year!

Supper tonight will be leftover chicken curry from last night.  I used broccoli, peppers, onion, carrots, and chicken.  I had half a jar of Thai curry paste (red) and a can of coconut milk, so I dumped that in and served it over brown rice.  There's enough for tonight and I have just remembered that I found a bag of beans in the freezer last week.  They're from the U-pick field at the farm last summer.  Maybe I'll add some of those to the curry.  And there's salad and oatmeal bread, too, if we want it!  Hurray for leftovers!  I would not want to be cooking again today.  Instead, I will put my microwave to very good use and then get to my book!  I saved a mindless knit shop cozy mystery for tonight!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fundamentalist Food Fanatics and the Cult of Kale

I am currently reading Emily Matchar's new book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity.  It is a much-needed analysis of some of the cultural changes we have seen in the past decade or so.  Many facets of DIY culture and the new domesticity are intertwined throughout the book, but she does have a main focus in each chapter and I have just finished her chapter devoted to food.  So far I would say that the entire book is well worth reading, and the foodie chapter is no exception.

I should start by saying that I do not think that foodie/food snob culture is necessarily a bad thing.  There are serious problems with the industrial food system and anyone who wants to find alternatives to that system should be empowered to do so.  I try to minimize my exposure to processed and industrial foods myself.  I think eating real food is healthier for me, my family, my community, and the environment.  It is important and empowering to know how to prepare food.  I am completely on board with all of those aspects of the foodie culture.  I also applaud the fact that foodies help small businesses by supporting local farmers and artisanal food producers.  This is a great way to boost local economies, to support local families, and to strengthen communities--all very important and admirable. 

My problem comes in when these activities are turned onto a form of religious zealotry.  I understand why this kind of thing happens--and not just in food cultures.  I have been studying and observing food cultures for years and what amazes me is how the details change and the overarching behaviors do not.  I get it that at a societal level, we have reached some kind of turning point.  People have lost their beliefs in corporations that have simply gotten too big.  We have watched as any kind of commitment or even lip service to the idea of the public good is scrapped in favor of profits at all costs, no matter who gets hurt.  Everything is measured in dollars.  Clearly, people were surprised (I do not know why--it was quite clear that this was coming) when the bottom dropped out of the economy and remain increasingly nervous at the lack of significant bounce-back.  We see that by every indication, the health of people in this society is deteriorating--toxins, pseudo-food, etc are certainly contributing to ill health for many people.  We are polluting our environment with industrial agriculture and creating antibiotic resistance and superweeds.  There is much to be disturbed about.  So it seems quite logical to try and avoid such systems in the first place.  This is better for individual health and for society.  It makes sense that people want to do what they can to help themselves.  But as so often happens, stuff gets out of hand. 

The fear that seems to underlie much of this culture saddens me.  The author spoke to women (and the non-professional foodies are almost all women) in the book who had enormous feelings of guilt for not doing enough--in one case because she had to give up the foodie, everything-homemade, grind-my-own-flour, bake-my-own-bread lifestyle when her marriage broke up and she had to take a full time job in the wage labor force.  What this points out is that living as a food fundamentalist means that food is your full-time job--and it can be an exhausting one.  Frankly, I cannot imagine the kinds of questions you would have to ask another parent about what's in their kitchen before letting your kids go over to play at a friend's house, for example.  One woman said she was accused of child abuse for letting her kid have some Cheetos.

A lot of this is also just another form of self-surveillance under the ideology of motherhood, which I did my thesis research on 20 years ago. The specific forms this cultural pressure took were different then, but the underlying cultural phenomenon was exactly the same.  The fact is, no mother can protect her children from every bad thing.  I am sure that it is comforting to think that in a world in which kids get gunned down at school, the environment gets more toxic, and the consumer-driven culture we are used to is crumbling, we can protect our kids if we just feed them enough locally grown, organic kale chips!  I would like to say to these panicked parents that kale chips probably won't do any harm.  But they won't stop bad stuff happening to their kids, either.  Life happens to all of us and that includes really crummy stuff.  There are good reasons to feed kids and adults alike locally grown organic produce. But if someone eats a Cheeto, they are not a bad person and the world will go on.  And some day in the not-to-distant future, kale chips will be a memory and there will be another food fad to take their place!

I do wish that the author had spent a little bit more space highlighting the class issues involved in this fundamentalist foodie lifestyle. She alludes to it, but it isn't addressed in as much detail as I would like.  Again, I think foodie culture does a lot of good things as I said above and those who can make good food choices should do so.  But when there is a moral judgement associated with food choices, that can have consequences for people who do not have the same level of choice.  This idea, for instance, that obese people simply lack willpower can inform public policy and when policy is built on ideas that are clearly wrong, we suffer as a society.  For people who live in food deserts or who have little money for food, choice is a luxury.  In my local supermarket ad, for instance, nectarines are on sale this week for $1.99 a pound.  Blueberries were $2.50 a pint last week.  Ramen noodles are 22 cents a package.  For a lot of people, those facts will limit their choices.  And of course, cheaper whole foods are available, but if you do not have cooking facilities, tools, or skills, those are not a realistic choice, either.

Finally, Matchar takes to task the male professional fundamentalist food fanatics and their sexism.  This I was overjoyed to see.  I cannot tell you how annoyed I get when some guy enters a largely female domain and everyone gets all fluttery and twittery, "Look!  It's a MAN!  A MAN is cooking!  A MAN is knitting!  Ooh!"  Yes, it's a man. It's several men, actually, and they are often making silly pronouncements and factually incorrect statements about how cooking and feeding others makes us human (Michael Ruhlman)and how feminists drove women right into the arms of processed food producers (Michael Pollan).  Cooking and spending hours each day talking about and preparing food is their job.  They have chosen this career.  It is working well for them.  They can afford to spend hours in the kitchen because they get paid to do this.  Presumably, they enjoy it.  That's great.  I am always glad when people can enjoy the work that they do.  Some women who are fundamentalist foodies love it too.  Many do not.  That doesn't mean they love their families any less or that they are less human than Mr Ruhlman or that they are lacking in some way.  It just means that they have other things to do--and that should be fine with the rest of us, not a source of moral judgement.  But of course, the rock star, guru status that these guys enjoy can only be maintained if the guilt is spread on thick.  Happily, some of us are not buying the crap that they're selling!

As for Pollan's claims that feminism is to blame for all of the food ills we face, he is simply ignorant of the facts or chooses to ignore them.  Certainly he is guilty of shoddy scholarship/research.  Processed food became popular in the post WWII years for one thing.  Women in the 50s were in the kitchen opening up boxes and cans to "cook."  And, the employment rates for women actually went up in the 50s.  I had to cite this very well in my thesis because it goes against the popular imagination and the phony nostalgia for times gone by.  These were not careers and the jobs were mostly part-time, but money was needed to accumulate the trappings of a suburban lifestyle and women took jobs to get that money.  It is unfortunate that a supposedly enlightened liberal male person has to fall back on false arguments and demonization to try to make his case. And naturally, if he is so careless with the facts in this instance, one wonders about the rest of his argument.

I am someone who just has a problem when anyone starts essentializing and making grand claims about THE thing that will save us all.  I think we all have to recognize that people are different and live in different circumstances and have different needs and interests.  I am very interested in food--both from a practical perspective as well as from a food culture perspective.  I have been for years.  Food as an identity marker is really quite fascinating to me and this is one example.  But I am not a fundamentalist fanatic about it.  I am not a zealot.  Yet I have people who are shocked when they learn that I do not garden because they assume that I have a desire to grow my own food.  I hate gardening.  So I joined a CSA a couple of years ago so I could get good food, support a local farmer, and not garden.  When I was not able to do that, I did the best I could at the grocery store.  That's the thing--we all do what we can and that will be different for everyone and at different times.  I like to cook, but I like to cook simple stuff that I throw together.  I don't follow a recipe, I don't track down obscure ingredients, I don't spend hours shopping for food, and I don't spend hours in the kitchen.  I like cooking in large quantities early in the day or in my Crock Pot so I can have the rest of the day free for other stuff and use leftovers on subsequent days, when I don't have to cook at all.  And once in a while, I even eat Cheetos!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pandora's Lunchbox

I recently read the book, Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner.  I went into it expecting that I knew the basics of the story--over the years the food system in the US had become industrialized and now food is turned into what I have for years called “pseudo-food.”  Basic food is deconstructed and then reconstructed using industrial components and ingredients.  There is very little oversight on this and things have only gotten worse as profit trumps human well-being.  Food is now yet another consumer good and one that is often harmful to human beings.  Indeed, that was the all-too-familiar outline of the story that Warner discusses in far greater depth in her book.  I was shaking my head throughout, wondering, as I have for years, why the insanity of this system seems to be overlooked by so many people.  Whenever there is any attempt to regulate food in any way, people start screaming about the government, nanny states, Big Brother, and freedom.  This is ridiculous.  People do not seem to realize that “freedom” is already being taken away from individuals while at the same time, it is being handed over to corporations.  We do not have “freedom of choice” in a meaningful sense when we are continually bombarded with misinformation through advertising.  We do not have freedom of choice when we are told that we don’t have the right to know what is in our food because “nanny” food corporations prefer to pat us on the head and reassure us that there is no proof that anything they try to feed us is harmful.  Sure, there’s no proof because they won’t allow studies.  That certainly is one way to go about it--stick your head in the sand and hold out your hand to collect obscene profits.  Look the other way while industrial food systems and factories pollute communities and sicken people--if you’re the CEO, you collect your bonuses in a different part of town anyway, so it’s not your problem, right?  Spray herbicides on crops grown from herbicide resistant seeds and help hasten the evolution of superweeds--just another opportunity to develop and sell more poison to spray on the plants and that just means more profits--great system, huh?  It is a perfect system if you are trying to maximize profits for shareholders with complete disregard for any consequences that may result.  Big Brother is already helping to determine the limits of “choice” by subsidizing products that help to make people sick.  Corn, soy, sugar, big ag--all heavily subsidized with tax dollars.  What do you think ends up on the shelves in your grocery store?  I continue to find it mind-boggling that we actually pay to help people get sick in a country that has an inadequate (to put it kindly) health care system and makes is difficult for people to have access to affordable health care.  So it’s OK for the government to subsidize the foods that cause chronic illness, but not to subsidize the health care that’s needed as a result?  Yeah, that’s pretty smart.

There were some things I was not aware of before reading this book.  I was not aware that synthetic vitamins were such a toxic and environmentally problematic industry.  I did not know how many flammable and otherwise hazardous materials were used in the industrial reconstruction of food and how many components of these materials are actually added to pseudo-food.  I knew there was lots of junk, but I was unaware of how much hazmat-suit kinds of junk.  Warner recounted one episode in which a tanker truck full of such a chemical jack-knifed on the Dan Ryan Expressway near Chicago.  This was a huge problem and the highway had to be shut down.  It’s OK to eat the stuff, though.  Sure, you’d be eating it in small quantities, but all those small quantities add up over time and who knows how small quantities of many different toxins will interact with each other.  But as long as the corporations say it’s so, food gets the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) designation.  So much for oversight.

The weird thing is that some of these governmental agencies came into existence to address the adulterated food that used to be common--unsafe additives and sawdust in bread, for instance.  Now we have flammable chemicals and vitamins produced from a component of coal tar instead of sawdust.  I am not sure this is progress!

One of the things I found interesting, but not surprising was the fact that most (if not all) of the food scientists who work in industrial food and who were interviewed in the book were not people who actually ate those foods on anything like a regular basis.  Quite the opposite, in fact--they were foodies who liked to cook and/or eat local, artisanal food.  The prevailing attitude seemed to be that since not everyone could eat like they did, they were actually doing people a favor by trying to improve pseudo-food.  In their minds, it seemed, real food was a privilege not afforded to every human being, just some of them and they did not question the ethical and moral implications of this.  They accepted it and looked at their work as a game or a puzzle to be solved.  The solution, though, was (necessarily) aimed at increasing the bottom line, nit increasing the health and well-being of any potential eaters.

That attitude, of course, illustrates pretty well the kind of food system we have in the US and it leads us right up to the limits of the author’s final argument in the book, when she reminds us that it is not the food industry’s job to provide us with healthy food.  As absurd as this seems, it is true and only serves to highlight the madness of the system.  The food industry exists to maximize profits.  That is all they are there to do.  They are doing this quite well.  They have their profits and people and communities are left to clean up the messes that result--environmental damage, health damage, etc.  So as the author says, it’s our choice to play within the system or not.  I agree with that in theory.  The best way to bring down a corporation is to dry up the profits. Those who can should work to do just that--they are the ones who have a choice and this is what I try to do myself to the extent that I am able. Unfortunately, the food scientists were also correct when they said that not everyone can eat like they do.  Without an adequate income, places to purchase real food and the knowledge about how to prepare it, far too many people are stuck in the world of pseudo-food and the problems that result.  They have no freedom to choose otherwise. 

As with other large social problems that people like to argue about in this country, personal responsibility is a component. Some people claim that it is the only issue, which is silly, in my view.  Human beings have never really lived completely as individuals--we are social animals and have always relied on others. Thus, I can never understand why social, cultural, corporate, and governmental responsibility never enters the argument for some people.  It is long past time to remove the blinders, take a good hard look at reality, question assumptions, and broaden the conversation.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Staying Out of the Kitchen, 'Cause I Can't Stand the Heat!

I have just finished 2 1/2 hours in the kitchen, using stuff that needed to be used and laying in a supply of food to last at least through the weekend and probably into Monday.  It is supposed to start getting hot and that means I don't want to be anywhere near any heat-emitting devices!




Yesterday morning I meant to get some beans soaking before I left for the soup kitchen, but I realized as I was walking to MCHPP that I'd forgotten, so Bill said he'd do it.  He changed the water once while I was gone and I changed it a couple more times later in the day.  Last night I put them in the Crock-Pot and asked Heather to turn it to the low setting at about 10.  I turned it off at 6:20 this morning.

I made refried beans and included corn cut off the cobs and a large grilled pepper from the freezer, plus another pepper and an onion.

 I decided to use up the rest of the milk that I had by making a light jalapeno cheese sauce.   This can be mixed with the beans instead of using cheese.  I also put a container of plain cooked beans into the freezer.



I cooked the beets we got at the farm on Tuesday.

I sliced a zucchini, a summer squash and an onion.  I minced some garlic.  I cooked it all in some olive oil and then added a little bit of chopped Napa cabbage and some Italian seasoning.  I had a lot of Napa cabbage.  I'd brought home half a large head from MCHPP on Monday--it had come from the farmer's market.  Then we got a head on Tuesday when we went to pick up our farm share.

As I was cooking the zucchini and stuff, I thought of doing some potatoes, garlic, onion, and cabbage, so I chopped everything up, cooked it in some olive oil, added water, and cooked until the potatoes were done.  I will probably have these with some cheese sauce on them.  That used up the rest of the half head of cabbage.

Finally, I made my slaw--cut up the head of Napa cabbage we got at the farm the other day, cut a bunch of scallions from some of the pots in the window (they needed a trim anyway).  Cut up a couple of carrots and snipped some basil leaves.  I used the rest of the limes I had to make a lime vinaigrette and poured it over. 
 

We have the bagels I brought home yesterday to use, and a couple of tomatoes that came from the dining room yesterday, so I will make bagel pizzas tonight using the tomatoes instead of sauce.  I will use the last of the salad greens we got from the farm to make a salad for myself, and there are all the other veggies I cooked.  That will conclude the cooking portion of the weekend!   I would rather be in front of a fan that the stove when it starts warming up!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Few Chowder Prep Photos

Made fish chowder again in the soup kitchen--guess there is a lot of fish left, so there will be more of that to come next week.
Had to cut up fish into large chunks--it flakes when it's cooked, so no need to be too precise. We had about 35-40 pounds of fish.
I used the bacon bits but not the butter.  That is light cream and I also used a half gallon of milk and a quart of half and half.
We used most of these peppers in the chowder, but 4 or 5 went into the salad.  Annette had asked me if I could use some greens, since there are a lot of those coming in as well.  I used chard.  That worked out quite well--diners liked it.  I also put in carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and potatoes.  Served 137 meals today.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Veggie Pancakes and a Growing Scallion Crop

I usually cook on Wednesday mornings.  I cook food to keep in the fridge that can be grabbed and heated up, if necessary.  I make sure that I have something prepared for Thursday supper, because I don't want to have to cook again after I come home from cooking in the soup kitchen.  Usually I will make something that I can have Wednesday and Thursday nights for supper.  I also make separate things that can either be combined with other foods to make a meal or just eaten as is.  I've noticed that I like getting things done before lunch because it means I don't have to watch the clock later in the day and stop whatever I'm doing to go cook.  It seems that it just naturally works out that I cook on Wednesday mornings and then again Friday mornings.  Once in a while I will do something on Saturday morning as well.  Mondays and Tuesdays we either eat up the odds and ends that are left or I make something quick.  In the winter this might be a Crock-Pot full of soup or some pasta or something like that.  In the summer, it could be a salad.  Monday we had a bunch of leftovers, so we ate those and had some salad with it.  Yesterday I had a huge veggie salad with tuna, cheese, and hard boiled eggs added, and Bill had a hard boiled egg, some toast and a huge fruit salad.  I was thinking about making some scrambled eggs with potato, onion and chard tonight, but then it dawned on me that if I made veggie pancakes, I could get them done and have enough for tomorrow's supper as well, so that's what I did. I whizzed up the chard we got from the farm yesterday, an onion, some garlic, a pasilla pepper and a jalapeno in the food processor with the steel blade.  Then I switched to the grating blade and grated a couple of carrots and a few potatoes.  I dumped all the veggies in a big bowl and mixed them up before adding 6 beaten eggs and about a cup of flour.  Then I decided to throw in some oatmeal, too, for a little more oomph.  We can have a couple of the pancakes with some pita bread garlic bread and some fruit.

I also made Bill some sweet and sour kohlrabi and apples.  I think I've mentioned before that Bill is not quite as enthusiastic about the idea of salad as I am, so I often cook various vegetable medleys and add a little dressing or something and he can eat them cold.  He can have the kohlrabi hot or cold while I have my salads!

I also have some milk that needs to get used, and a couple of cans of pumpkin in the cabinet, so I made some pumpkin pudding.  One of the cans was enough for a double batch.  It's full of good stuff, except for the sugar and there isn't very much of that in a serving, so this can be eaten as dessert, a snack, or with a meal.

I was going to cook the little beets we got yesterday at the farm, but decided to wait until Friday for that so that we don't have too much food that needs to be eaten all at once.  I will make a big batch of slaw on Friday as well, using that Napa cabbage.  I think I will cook some dried beans overnight in the Crock-Pot tomorrow night and do something with those for the weekend.   I have great northerns, small reds, and pintos--maybe I will do a mix of reds and great northerns--guess I will decide tomorrow morning when I get them soaking :-)  It's going to be warm this weekend (ick) so possibly a bean salad is in order.  I have some corn on the cob that I can use for that and my grilled peppers in the freezer.

I started a new pot of scallion ends last week when we got a bunch of scallions in our farm share.  As I used the scallions, I just stuck the ends in the dirt where they keep right on growing and I can snip them off as needed.  Bill took this picture yesterday, and the taller ones are the ones that got planted first.
They start growing pretty quickly once they're planted.  I have a celery end and some baby bok choy growing in water in the kitchen.  I have more small pots of scallions already, so I think that any future scallion ends will get planted in smaller pots and taken to MCHPP for clients/volunteers/staff to take if they want!

Tomorrow I will be making fish chowder again in the soup kitchen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Colorful Farm Share

We did our farm share pick-up today.  We got three pints of strawberries, which are already gone.  The mix-and-match assortment of salad greens included hot mustard today, so I made sure to get a lot of that along with the salad mix, endive, and escarole--I LOVE the hot mustard greens!!!  We also got a bunch of salad turnips, a beautiful head of Napa/Chinese (depending on your dialect) cabbage, a couple of kohlrabi (we could choose purple or green and naturally, I went with the purple), beet greens with baby beets attached, and mix-and-match chard/kale/baby bok choy.  This time I got all chard.  I like chard raw as well as cooked (and if I am honest, I have to say that I like it much better than kale, even though kale is currently enjoying rock star status in the world of foodies). I will be having a big, beautiful salad for supper tonight.  I made some more chili-lime vinaigrette this morning, so I am all set.


I was able to try out my new greens bags, which I finished less than an hour before we left.  The other day I was looking at some of Bill’s photos of previous years at the farm and he mentioned that he didn’t like the fact that plastic bags were in the photos.  “Can’t you make something to use instead?” he asked.  Bewildered by the fact that I not only had not already made something, but had not even thought of it, I did a check of the stash to see what was available in cotton.  I had a good bit of worsted weight kitchen cotton type yarn in shades of orange.  I also had a ball of a really thick cotton that looked kind of rope-like.  I have had it for years and had no idea what on earth I would do with it.  I do not even know where it came from!  I made basic bags with large knitting needles so the resulting fabric would have plenty of air holes. They also had to be stretchy.  The mix-and-match stuff is grouped together in totes on the shelves.  There are tongs and metal bowls and we go in and fill the bowls with as much of each thing as we want.  I had been dumping the contents of the bowls into plastic grocery bags.  This worked OK, but the leaves would stick to the plastic and I knew that they could not stay in the bags for too long.  My new bags worked out great!  They stretched quite enough for me to get the bowls in and the greens dumped into the bags.  The greens can now breathe and the cotton will absorb some of the moisture from the leaves and they will stay fresher longer.  No more peeling leaves off of the plastic!  Yay! 

As we were leaving, we exchanged greetings with someone who was just arriving.  We were all smiling.  Bill said, “Everyone is happy when they come here.”  He’s right.  I can walk around my local grocery store and see harried people rushing around and looking stressed.  I have never seen a harried, stressed, rushing person at the farm.  People take their time.  They stop to watch the chickens.  They chat with people.  Kids play on the swing or in the sand box.  Soon we will be going into the U-pick field and greeting the sheep and the pigs on our way.  And at the end of that experience, there is amazingly delicious, beautiful, simple food.  What a great thing!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Award for MCHPP

I went off to the food bank this morning to do my usual shift.  There were lots of strawberries (honestly, I have never seen so many strawberries in my life as I have over these past months at MCHPP!). And it is time for lettuce from local farms--yay!  It is so lovely and tastes so amazing! 

The food pantry coordinator and I had a chance to chat about doing a food demo--the focus will be salads--slaws, veggie salads, salads that make up a meal, etc.

And I learned today that MCHPP won the Good Shepherd Food Bank Beacon of Hope Award. Yay!

 It is nice to see them getting this recognition.  As with food banks/pantries/soup kitchens everywhere, it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated volunteers to make the place run and we have a great bunch of people and a very supportive community.  This place is an amazing community resource and I am so glad to be a part of it!

Beacon of Hope Award

Every year we honor a partner agency and its staff and volunteers for the incredible work they do in their community. Recipients of the Beacon of Hope Award are not only partners who help end hunger in Maine, they're also leaders and innovators who serve as an example of excellence amongst peers.
- See more at: http://gsfb.org/help/partner-agency-resources/conference/#sthash.inBsVtov.dpuf

Beacon of Hope Award

Every year we honor a partner agency and its staff and volunteers for the incredible work they do in their community. Recipients of the Beacon of Hope Award are not only partners who help end hunger in Maine, they're also leaders and innovators who serve as an example of excellence amongst peers.
- See more at: http://gsfb.org/help/partner-agency-resources/conference/#sthash.inBsVtov.dpuf

Beacon of Hope Award

Every year we honor a partner agency and its staff and volunteers for the incredible work they do in their community. Recipients of the Beacon of Hope Award are not only partners who help end hunger in Maine, they're also leaders and innovators who serve as an example of excellence amongst peers.
- See more at: http://gsfb.org/help/partner-agency-resources/conference/#sthash.inBsVtov.dpuf

Beacon of Hope Award

Every year we honor a partner agency and its staff and volunteers for the incredible work they do in their community. Recipients of the Beacon of Hope Award are not only partners who help end hunger in Maine, they're also leaders and innovators who serve as an example of excellence amongst peers.
- See more at: http://gsfb.org/help/partner-agency-resources/conference/#sthash.inBsVtov.dpuf

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cream of Odds and Ends Soup

Yesterday I visited my friend, Nicki.  She'd gotten some cookbooks from the library and our conversation turned to food (what a surprise!).  She mentioned chicken salad and I thought to myself, "Hmm, chicken salad sounds really good.  And I still have plenty of chicken left from the other night!"  So today I made some chicken salad, using some of the basil, scallions, and garlic shoots from my windowsill "garden."

This morning I was thinking about what to make with the chicken salad sandwiches.  There were some things that needed using--a few ears of corn, a few potatoes, and some celery from MCHPP, about half a can of evaporated skim milk, and the broccoli, which was what we had left from last week's farm share pick-up.  I decided to use the odds and ends to make a creamy soup to go along with the sandwiches.  I chopped an onion, the celery and the peeled broccoli stalks, having set the florets aside.  I cooked these in some olive oil (I remain amazed how often I begin any cooking session with some variation of chopped onion and other stuff cooked in olive oil!).  I added 4 largish peeled and chopped potatoes and some water.  I brought the water to a boil and cooked until the potatoes were just soft and I added the broccoli florets and the corn which had been removed from 3 ears.  I let it cook for just a few minutes more, then used my immersion blender to blend everything.  I added the evaporated milk, some garlic powder and black pepper and let it heat up for just a minute.  I added some extra sharp cheddar cheese to the bowls of soup, let it sit for a few minutes and stirred to melt. 
The corn can fly all over the place when I am cutting it off the cob, but because there is usually some on offer at MCHPP, I use that rather than buying frozen or canned most of the time.  I find that it adds a nice crunch to bean salads and stuff too, when it's used right off the cob.  So to minimize the mess, I place a shallow, wide bowl in the sink--it's one I found in the attic when we moved in here and it comes in handy.  It says "pasta" on the bottom, but I never use it for that!  Anyway, I stand the ear of corn on the stem end in this shallow bowl and just cut off the kernels.  They fall into the bowl and hardly any fly out, but if they do, they land in the sink and not on the floor.

Happily, there is enough soup and chicken salad for lunch tomorrow.




Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mocha Yogurt

I eat a fair amount of yogurt.  Usually I buy vanilla yogurt in quarts and I add fruit, walnuts, and toasted oatmeal to this.  Sometimes I cannot resist some of the flavors--especially in the Greek yogurt--and I buy a little cup to eat without anything added.  I try not to do this too often because I don't like the waste generated by those little plastic cups and foil lids. The Greek yogurt is a little too thick to work well with all of the other stuff added in anyway.  Plus, since I eat a lot of yogurt, it is simply more economical to buy the larger containers.  One day I saw some cafe latte Greek yogurt and I bought a cup.  It was good.  The other day I found myself wishing that I could find coffee yogurt in a large container.  Then it dawned on me!  "Duh," I thought to myself, "I can make my own coffee yogurt."  So I added some instant coffee to the bit of yogurt that was left in one of the containers.  I let it sit overnight and had it for breakfast yesterday.  It was great.  As I was eating, I thought, "It's too bad this wasn't mocha yogurt, because it would be even better with some chocolate in it."  Another "duh" moment followed and I headed into the kitchen and proceeded to make some mocha yogurt. 

Into about a cup of vanilla yogurt I added about a tablespoon each of instant coffee and baking cocoa powder.  I stirred this up well, let it sit in the fridge until this morning, when I added my usual stuff and ate it.  Delicious!  I have to go make some more.

You can, of course, vary the amounts of coffee and cocoa to taste.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Crock-Pots to the Rescue!

In an effort to make some room in my freezer, I removed a 5+ pound package of chicken breasts (bone-in) and a couple of quart bags of cauliflower that I froze last summer.  My plan was to cook this stuff today for supper tonight, but then I remembered that Bill had switched shifts with a co-worker and would be at work at suppertime, so we would eat our big meal at lunch as we do on the weekends. 

Before I left for the soup kitchen yesterday, I placed an acorn squash in my smaller (4-quart) Crock-Pot.  I turned it to the low setting and went off to make my chowder.  I think it was around 3 o'clock when I checked it and it was done, so I removed it from the pot, cut it in half, discarded the seeds and pulp and spooned out the flesh.

Last night I placed the chicken breasts and cauliflower into my large (7-quart) Crock-Pot.  I put the chicken on the bottom and then spread a package of herbs on top of that.  This time I used "poultry bouquet," which contained rosemary, sage, oregano, and possibly one other herb that escapes me now.  Then I added the cauliflower, a peeled and chopped kohlrabi that we got from the farm the other day, a chopped onion, and the last 4 or 5 carrots I had in the fridge. The crock was full. I turned the pot to the low setting and went to bed.  This morning, I put the veggies in one container and the chicken in another, after I removed the skin and bones (the bones just fell right out).  By the way, chicken done this way in the Crock-Pot makes excellent shredded chicken for Mexican food or pulled chicken sandwiches.

Now that I have made it a point to use some food from the freezer, there is some space in there.  That is good.  Another good thing is that the fridge is now filled with food that is ready to be heated and eaten.  I like the convenience of that and I like knowing that this convenience does not come with copious amounts of salt, sweeteners, and the other junk that industrial convenience food contains!  The fact is that while I generally like cooking, I like it in reasonable doses.  I do not want to spend hours every day cooking and sometimes I want some time off.  At the same time, I want to eat healthy food--because it's good for me in the long term, but also because I simply feel better on a day-to-day basis when I eat well.  So cooking larger quantities, making simple, basic food, and using my Crock-Pot allow me to have what I want--free time and healthy food. 

On another note, the scallion ends I planted the other day are growing.  I will have a few more to stick in the pot today when I make my salad.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fish Chowdah Day

I made cod chowder in the soup kitchen today.  We got a nice donation of big bags of cod and halibut from one of our local grocery stores and I used 30 pounds of that today to make the chowder.  I will be making this again in the weeks to come. 

I used onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, bell peppers and celery--cooked everything but the potatoes in some olive oil, then added the potatoes, some water and the cod, which had been cut into chunks.  I let this all cook until the potatoes were done, then moved stuff to the steam table and added some light cream, half and half, and some heavy cream--we had a little of each.  I had a couple of beautiful bunches of scallions from a local farm, so I snipped those into the chowder and sprinkled in a little pepper.  Oh yeah--there was some cooked, diced bacon as well.  I added some of that to two of the pots and left it out of the third one for those people who would prefer not to have the pork.  Funny thing about the carrots--we have not had very many of them lately and last night I was thinking that I hoped we would at least have a few to add to the soup.  I walked in this morning and there was a banana box full of carrots donated by a local farm!  Yay! 

The soup was so pretty with the colorful peppers, the orange carrots, and the vibrant green scallions floating in the yellowish white broth and people seemed to enjoy it a lot.  I had a diner come up as she was leaving to tell me that she never eats fish chowder--she doesn't like the smell--but she had two helpings today and loved it.  She said it didn't taste the way it smelled :-)

It was pretty slow today--we served 85 firsts and 35 seconds. 

When I left the soup kitchen, it looked like it would be nice and cool out--I always enjoy my walk home after cooking because the air is so brisk and refreshing after the heat of the kitchen.  But today things were deceiving!  It looked like there should be a nice cool breeze blowing and instead it was warm and kind of stuffy.  Oh well, it is June, after all.  Now I am home and can relax with some iced coffee and chocolate soy milk and a book.  I made the little frittatas yesterday so they would be already made for supper tonight and we will have that with fruit and cereal.  Simple!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mexican Mish Mash with Cornmeal Cakes

Somehow my freezer never emptied over this past winter and it remains as full as it was at the end of last summer.  I need to use some of that stuff up, so I have plans to do just that over the next few days.  I started today with some Mexican mish mash and cornmeal cakes.  From the freezer I removed a quart container and a half-full pint container of cooked tofu, beans, and veggies that I got from Bowdoin College via the soup kitchen.  I also took out a pint container of cooked pinto beans and a couple of the peppers we roasted on the grill a couple of weeks ago.  I chopped up one of the roasted peppers, a bunch of little sweet peppers, and an onion and put them in a pan with a little olive oil.  I cut the kernels off of two ears of corn and added that.  I cooked the veggies in the oil until the onion was translucent and then added the tofu and beans.  Chili powder, garlic powder and oregano were added along with a 12 ounce can of tomato paste and a couple of cans of water. I let it simmer for a few minutes and called it good.
I made some cornmeal cakes to go with it. 
Cornmeal Cakes
2 cups cornmeal
chopped roasted peppers and/or pickled jalapenos (I used both today, but have just used the pickled peppers in a pinch or have used fresh chilis)--these are optional
herbs if you want them (I didn't use any today)

Mix these ingredients in a bowl and add 2 1/2 cups boiling water.

Mix everything together well and spoon onto greased baking sheet.  Smooth out into an even thickness and bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, then flip them and cook for about 15 minutes more.
To serve, I just ripped the cornmeal cake into pieces and topped with the mish mash before heating in the microwave.  These cakes would also be good with some cheese melted on top.  I decided this morning that I'd better see whether I had any containers of pesto left in the freezer, since a new pesto season is almost upon us.  Turns out that I had one container left, so I thawed it out and added the Parmesan.  I might have pesto and cheese on one of these cornmeal cakes tomorrow.  Might be a good breakfast before I head out to make cod "chowdah" in the soup kitchen!

Speaking of tomorrow, we did a farm pick-up yesterday that included kale and chard and I had some baby bok choy left from Friday, so today I whizzed it all up along with several small sweet peppers in my food processor.  I cooked this with some onion in a pot and then used this with cheese and eggs to make more frittata "muffins," which will be eaten tomorrow for supper.  After I make all that chowder, I will have had enough cooking for one day!

Plans for the use of more freezer stuff have been decided upon!  I will make space in that freezer before we get to peak veg season!!!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farm Share Pick-Up This Afternoon...

means salad tonight!  Yay!
This is Bill's salad, which is light on greens, just the way he likes it.  Mine was full of leaves, just the way I like it, with the radishes, sweet peppers and scallions mixed in.  It was all tossed with some chili-lime vinaigrette

It's very convenient how this farm share stuff starts just as my salad cravings kick into high gear :-)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Frittata "Muffins"

Yesterday we did our first farm share pick-up of the season. We were lucky to be the recipients of one of the shares given this year by Crystal Spring Farm to MCHPP.  We greatly appreciate this wonderful gift!

In the share this week were salad mix, spinach, broccoli, radishes, and baby bok choy (I could have mixed this with chard and kale).  Last night I used some of the bok choy in a veggie mixture that I made to go over pasta (along with the chopped bok choy, I chopped up an onion, a red bell pepper, a yellow summer squash, and a zucchini and cooked in a little olive oil until crisp-tender).  This morning, I used some of the broccoli and the spinach to make little frittata "muffins." These are quite handy because they are portable--very easy to grab and go when you need a quick meal.  Bill can take some to work for his supper tonight and tomorrow night.
They are also great because you can use what you have on hand.  This is what I did today, but they are different every time.  Use leftover cooked veggies if you want or whatever you like.  Add herbs of your choice--fresh or dried.
Frittata "Muffins"
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

broccoli stalk, peeled
broccoli florets
garlic
onion
a couple of carrots, peeled
pepper (sweet or hot or both), seeds and ribs removed
Cut all of the veggies into chunks and whirl in food processor fitted with steel blade OR chop finely by hand

Whirl spinach or other leafy greens in food processor with steel blade until finely chopped.  You will probably want to do this in batches.  Here again, if you don't want to use the food processor, just chop by hand.

Cook veggies in a little olive or other oil for a few minutes (if you used the food processor, cooking time will be shorter than if you chopped by hand).  You will want about 3 cups of veggies altogether.

Grease 12 cup muffin tins. Spoon a little of the veggie mixture in each tin.  Top with some sliced or shredded cheese. Beat 8 large eggs and pour over veggies and cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown.



Friday, June 7, 2013

Beverages Hot and Cold

I sometimes find it kind of amusing to watch myself hunker down and prepare for hot weather.  I cover windows to keep out as much sun as possible.  I place fans where they can be turned on quickly and make sure that at least one of them is blowing directly on me.  I place one in the kitchen window, which opens to the shady and cool back of the house.  And I make sure that there is always a supply of iced tea and coffee.
These salsa jars are perfect for making iced tea--one jar fits perfectly into my insulated stainless steel mug.

I drink the iced coffee with a splash of chocolate soy milk.  In the past, I have have bought extra bags of chocolate mint coffee at Christmastime to have iced in the summer--very refreshing.  This year I drank it all, but I think I will get some mint extract to add to plain coffee and see how that works.  Chocolate caramel and chocolate raspberry coffees are also very good iced.  I used to be able to get English toffee coffee in Fairbanks and Oregon and that is amazing both hot and iced, but coffee isn't quite as big a deal here, so the selection is somewhat limited.

I drink a lot of water in the summer, too, and I like adding lemon or lime to vary things a little.  Limes are often available in the food pantry/soup kitchen dining room when people don't want them, so I bring them home, roll them around while applying a little pressure (get more juice this way) and squeeze the juice into ice cube trays.  When the cubes are frozen, I pop them out into a bag.  In the summer when I want a little juice, I can just plop a cube or two into my water bottle.  I can also use the juice for vinaigrettes by simply taking out some cubes and letting them melt.

This weekend will not be so hot, though, so I may well be drinking more hot beverages.  A couple of months ago I went to a food demonstration at a local hospital where the theme was detoxing.  They handed us a small cup of "detox tea" when we came in, the primary flavors of which were rosemary and lemon.  The rosemary flavor was a little too strong, but I liked the idea, so the other day I made my own.  I snipped a 2 1/2-3 inch piece of rosemary off the end of a stem and tossed it in my cup.  I squeezed the juice from 1/4 of a lemon and then filled the cup with boiling water.  I let the rosemary steep for a couple of minutes before removing it.  It is quite good! I will probably try this cold, too, just to see how I like it that way. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chicken and Pasta with Veggie-Filled Sauce

Cooked chicken today in the soup kitchen.  As always, we separated the thighs from the drumsticks before sprinkling with some lemon pepper, garlic powder, and some kind of chicken seasoning that was on the shelf.  Into the convection oven the 5 pans went, where they cooked for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 400
degrees.
Then I got busy cooking the veggies--we had some summer squash, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, minced garlic, and a little bit of spinach.  For the sauce, I had some tomato puree and some crushed tomatoes.
This is about 1/3 of the veggies and while I got these done, I had the water started for the noodles.
I put the spinach in just before removing the pan from the stove and stirred it in just enough to wilt.
Then I cooked and drained 10 pounds of noodles, poured them into steam table pans, added the veggies, the puree and crushed tomatoes, some Italian seasoning, some basil and some parsley.  Stirred it all up and got a pan in the steam table and one in the oven to keep warm.

By then the chicken was done, so I moved that to steam table pans as well and two went into the steam table and one into the oven.  We even had 25 minutes to spare once everything was done cooking and before we opened.

We served this stuff with salad and applesauce and choice of desserts.  I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed their lunch.  It always makes me so happy when I can make stuff that is healthy and that people want to eat!  We served 100 first helpings, 46 seconds, and a couple of kid meals today.

Tonight for supper, Bill and I will have leftovers--we have some salmon, some slaw for me and some smashed potatoes with cabbage and onions for him.  Tomorrow when he gets home from work, we will do our first CSA farmshare pick-up of the season! 




Monday, June 3, 2013

Burgers and Some Last Minute Inspiration

It was a crazy day in the food bank. We were short-handed as two people couldn't make it in.  We had an astonishing amount of food that was left over from the Alumni Weekend at Bowdoin College--I guess the alumni were not very hungry this year!  Some of the food was used in the soup kitchen for lunch.  The rest of it got repackaged and given away.  There were rolls, bread, peanut butter chocolate chip bar cookies, sugar cookies, sausage, eggs, blueberry pancakes, hummus, chicken nuggets, three large meatloaves, two large pans of cooked fish fillets, blueberry cake squares, corn bread, macaroni salad, tofu, stir fry, vats of mushroom soup, squash soup, a chicken bean soup, chowder, pizza, plain cooked pasta, deli ham, salami, hard boiled eggs, and probably some stuff I am forgetting.  There was not a whole lot of produce to process this morning, though I did do some lettuce, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, and a few other things.  Other people did most of the produce today because it took us three hours to package up all of the food from Bowdoin. 

I got home later than usual, ate some lunch, made a quick slaw using cabbage, a bell pepper, a red jalapeno, and some chopped onion.  I tossed it with some garlic powder, oregano, and a balsamic vinaigrette and stuck it in the fridge. I sliced some tomato and onion to use for supper.  I made an avocado spread by mashing a couple of avocados and mixing in the chopped ends of the tomato, some chopped onion, fresh basil, and garlic. Then I took off for the food bank again, where there was more Bowdoin food to package--frosted brownies and muffins.  When that was done, I packaged some diapers and then sat down and looked at a couple of magazines that Heather had brought home for me from the exchange rack at the library. 

I knew I was going to make turkey burgers served on pita bread with the avocado spread, sliced tomato and sliced onion, but I didn't know what I wanted to make to go with it.  Nothing was really coming to me, so I finished my shift at the food bank, walked home and gratefully sank into my chair.  A few minutes later, I decided to cut some corn off the cob and saute it in some olive oil with some chopped pasilla pepper, a chopped onion, some garlic, oregano, and a little chili powder.  As I was chopping the veggies, I remembered that I had a container of cooked pinto beans in the freezer, so I popped them out of the container and into a bowl, microwaved for a few minutes, then added them to the pot. It came out great, so I was glad inspiration struck, even if it was at the very last minute!  Tonight I look forward to a nice evening with my feet up in bed, a book and a cup or three of coffee!!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Potato Carrot Pancakes

I was playing solitaire this morning and thinking about what to make for lunch.  For some reason, while I was thinking about what I have in the kitchen, potato kugel popped into my head.  It is cooler today than it has been for the last couple of days, but not so cool that I want to turn on the oven for an hour to bake a kugel.  Still, the idea was appealing, so I decided to use the same ingredients and just make potato-carrot pancakes instead.
I ended up with 7 large pancakes, so there will be plenty for lunch and for breakfast tomorrow, too.  I will heat up some apple-gouda chicken sausage to go along with these.

Potato Carrot Pancakes
Note: This is how I made them today, but as with almost everything I cook, they can be endlessly varied to use what you like/have on hand.  I have made veggie pancakes using potato, carrot, onion, kohlrabi leaves that had been whizzed in the food processor, zucchini, and other things.  You could use kale or chard (just place leaves--and stems too unless they are really tough) in the food processor with the metal blade and whiz away).  Peeled shredded broccoli stalk would work well.  Add some cheese if you want.  Basically, shredded veg, eggs, and flour are the foundation--from there, add in what you like! 

4 medium-large potatoes
3 large carrots
1 onion
garlic and black pepper to taste
6 eggs
1 cup flour

Shred potatoes and carrots, chop onions, and place all veggies in a bowl.  Add garlic and black pepper and mix everything together.  Beat eggs, pour into veggies and stir well.  Add flour and mix in. 

Place a little bit of olive oil in a pan, spoon in some of the veggie mixture and smooth to an even thickness (the edges will be thinner and get crispier--this is a good thing!).  Cook on medium-high until bottom is nicely browned, then flip and cook other side--just a couple of minutes on each side did the trick for me, but do what works best with your stove.  I used very little oil, so didn't really have to drain on paper towels, but you can place cooked pancakes on paper towels to drain if you want.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Still Using Those Leftovers

What a difference a week makes!  Last week I was thrilled because it was chilly and rainy and I made a Crock-Pot full of split pea soup.  This weekend we are roasting, there are fans everywhere and I am oh so grateful for the leftovers I have from the grill!

The other night it was hot and I'd cooked in the soup kitchen, so Bill got to work on the grilled chicken breasts, removing the meat from the bones and discarding the skin.  I made some quick chicken salad and we had sandwiches, apples, carrot sticks and a little hummus for supper.  Yesterday I had a jalapeno hummus, chicken and cilantro sandwich for lunch and I expect I will have the same thing for supper tonight, because it was really good!

Last night Bill and I went to visit Laurie Graves, who blogs at A Good Eater  and her husband, Clif.  Laurie and I had met in person a couple of weeks ago when we were planning to meet in the middle--we live in towns about an hour apart, so we were going to go to what I have heard is a cute little town and have pizza.  The person who had connected Laurie and I in the first place was going too and is the busy mother of a toddler, though, and it was easier for her to stay at home, so we met at her house in Brunswick for lunch instead.  Laurie and I had planned to try the pizza place again, this time with our husbands, so we planned to meet there last night.  But Laurie called to see whether they have air conditioning and they do not.  Since it's a tiny place, and it was 90-ish out, it was quite warm in there, so Laurie very kindly invited us to come to her house for grilled pizza instead.  It was just lovely.  She has a yard that backs up against some woods and a beautiful patio--what a great spot it is.  Nothing fancy, just a peaceful, green spot to sit and watch the birds and look at the flowers--and eat delicious food!!  The pizza was great and she made a beautiful salad to go along with it. And she had made chocolate chip cookies for dessert--nice and chewy, just the way I like 'em!  We'd stopped on the way to get some frozen yogurt to go along with the cookies.  I wanted the vanilla with raspberry swirl, but they were out, so we had to settle for vanilla.  It was a really fun evening with some excitement at the end.

We had a few choices about how to get there, but being people who avoid the highway when we can, we chose one of the back routes.  On our way home in the dark, we were reminded how dark country roads are!  So Bill was driving and I was trying to watch out for landmarks and street signs.  We finally got back to the main road that was going to bring us to Maine Street when the blue lights started flashing behind us.  Bill pulled over and the cop said he was drifting.  He said this was usually due to either tiredness, drinking, or vehicular problems.  He said Bill didn't look tired or drunk (we'd both had water all evening).  So Bill told him that he was not used to driving on dark country roads.  The cop checked out his DL and registration, thanked us for our cooperation and sent us on our way.

I will use more of the chicken in some Thai curry this afternoon.  I do love my leftovers!