When Sandy comes to play…

We’re partaking of an extended vacation to western Massachusetts, my husband’s fatherland. We hedged our bets that a big storm was not only unlikely, but virtually impossible. I’m learning I can’t trust virtual reality.

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I’m at the in-laws, so I don’t have much to do by way of preparation in terms of safety and lighting and trees falling down. so I’m doing what I do best…bake!

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The only real problem is that I’m working in a fully omnivorous, traditionally New England household  and things like nutritional yeast and Vitamixes are dirty words, nevermind plant-based, vegetables, and vegan. but it’s remarkable how well we’re managing.

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And we slip a little in times of travel and hurricanes.

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And stink bugs. I wouldn’t want to be out there either!

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So, as we ride out the storm, we’ll all be enjoying onion and olive flatbread, these chocolate chip cookies (sort of, again working with what we have), and lots of lentil soup.

Traveling Vegan

Hey all!  We’re trekking across the country by car, plane, and boat so this post is little off the standard.  I haven’t had much time in the kitchen and photo ops have been few with my arms full of luggage and children (my phone left uncharged doesn’t help much either), I do however have loads of information to share!

While packing I was wary of my first cross-country trip as a vegan and nervous about finding plant-based food along the way that would be satisfying and healthy, so even before we left I loaded up our carry-ons with food galore.  Here’s a portion of the list:

*pistachios
*crackers
*squeeze applesauce
Product Details
*wasabi peas (also provided entertainment when my 2-yr-old insisted on licking one)
*protein bars, larabars, zbars- oh my!
Product Details
*veggies and hummus
*Justin’s Maple Nut Butter travel packs
<em>Justin's Nut Butter</em> - Almond <em>Butter</em> Squeeze Pack <em>Maple</em> - 1.15 oz....
*clementines
*flax crackers
*vegan chocolate (a must)
<em>Chocolove</em> Dark Choc W/Almonds & <em>Sea Salt</em> 3.2 oz (Pack Of 12)
*protein powder (to be added to a cup of soymilk purchased in the airport terminal)
Garden of Life <em>Raw Protein</em>, Original, 22 oz
*coconut water powder (add to water for electrolytes to prevent travel dehydration, tastes like fun dip when in powdered form!)
Product Details
*Primal Strips Jerky (BBQ- AMAZING, Teriyaki- ok, Shiitake- blech)
<em>Primal Strips</em> Texas <em>BBQ</em> Vegan Jerky, 1 oz (Pack of 24)
*homemade baked goods
*vitamins and supplements

I know there was more but I have been on the road with 3 kids for 5 days and everything is a bit of a blur.

Here’s a great article I found about airplane regulations and packing yummy vegan meals- some great ideas!

What’s In, What’s Out
There are plenty of snacks, treats, and spreads that get the “all clear” for the friendly skies. According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) guidelines, all solid food that is wrapped or in a container is allowed, as is whole, unpeeled natural food. However, if you dig into an apple while waiting in line to check your bag, you’ll have to wrap it up before hitting the security checkpoint. All liquids and semi-liquids (juice, coconut milk yogurt, hummus, and the like) should be placed into containers no larger than three ounces (the same as shampoo and soap). And with two tablespoons to each fluid ounce, you can bring on six tablespoons-worth of peanut butter without batting an eyelash. Yum.

……Pack frozen vegan enchiladas in a plastic container and with sauce in a two-ounce cup—by the time you’re aboard, you’re ready to eat.

 

More words of wisdom on road tripping vegan:

My Travel Food Philosophy:

Aim for Zen-like simplicity, bring along the bare minimum you need to produce food, be creative & flexible, do your research, think ahead, and take advantage of opportunities.

And don’t forget the can opener. Opening cans with a key and a paring knife or your trusty Boy Scout knife gets old fast. Fortunately can openers are available everywhere. Except maybe on camping trips.

Planning is important, but so is spontaneity when travelling. You might find yourself in an area where there are plenty of fast food restaurants and convenience stores, and not much else. Even those places will have something you can eat if you adopt temporary amnesia about organic, non-GMO, and food additives. Taco Bell and Subway are well known examples of fast food outlets (I wouldn’t call them restaurants) where you can get something veg and filling to eat in a pinch. Every town in North America has at least one supermarket, and many have delis where you can buy salads etc.

Always carry an emegency food supply – protein bars, nuts & seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, crackers, chips, fresh fruit, water – enough to keep you going for a day, just in case there’s no other food available.

It pays to find out ahead of time where the natural food stores and veg friendly restaurants are located along your way.

 

And I LOVE this blog on eating out anywhere vegan, no matter the country.  So cool!  Totally worth a read.

So there it is.  Hope all is well out there in blog land.  I’m off for a morning run on the pier and then a day on the beaches of Lake Michigan.

Veggie Grill Recipe

I tried a delicious salad at the Veggie Grill and needed it again, I scoured the internet, found some recipes, modified a little and this one is VERY close!

My Version of Veggie Grill’s “All Hail Kale Salad”

INGREDIENTS – (serves 4)

Gardein Crispy tenders (I can buy these at Smith’s in my area, check the internet to find them in yours. These are the BEST, you can trick carnivores with these babies)

16 cups Kale (about 3 big bunches)

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups corn salsa (recipe below)

2 cups red cabbage

10-16 Tbs chopped walnuts (just depends on how many you like)

3 cups Ginger Papaya dressing

Ginger Papaya Vinaigrette (1  1/4 quarts this is so yummy)

1 oz fresh ginger root or (1 T gound)

1 cup lime juice

1 ½ cups fresh papaya  (about one large Papaya)

½ cup rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sea salt

2 cups canola oil

1 cup water

1 ¼ cups evaporated cane juice

Corn Salsa (1 quart)

8 cups Roma tomatoes

1 cup red onion

½ cup cilantro

1 cup roasted corn (I used Costco frozen corn, spread on a cookie sheet and toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes on broil)

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 oz. lime juice

Method:

Kale:

Remove spines from kale chop, rinse and dry. Place kale in large bowl add 3 cups ginger dressing and Quinoa, toss thoroughly, make sure all kale  is coated. Refrigerate overnight (this step infuses the kale with the ginger papaya dressing and makes it a lot yummier)

Ginger Papaya Vinaigrette:

Peel ginger root and papaya, combine with all ingredients to blender (except oil) blend until

smooth. Slowly drizzle oil while continuing to blend until dressing emulsifies, add to container and

refrigerate

Corn Salsa:

Chop cilantro, in large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well

Final Salad:

Mix 4 cups marinated kale to plate, swirl ¼ cup raw chopped cabbage around

kale, topped with ¼ cup corn salsa, 2 Tbs walnuts 4 crispy tenders

 

 

Cows, Disney and Kale Chips

Last week Andrew and I went to Long Beach to meet our friends Colin and Jenn and their 2 year old Liam. Although it was the first time meeting them, it felt more like a reunion. Colin and Jenn are vegan, have been for awhile and have helped me be a better vegan mom to Andrew. It was such a delight  to be around like-minded people and it gave me joy to see Andrew devour everything Colin handed him without question. It must be exhausting for Andrew to eat. He scrutinizes every label, he basically doesn’t eat anything I don’t make from scratch, wait it is exhausting for me to feed Andrew! Colin and Jenn introduced us to a few new favorite things

  1. Veggie Grill. If you don’t have one of these restaurants in your area, start petitioning to get one! I can’t convey how good the food was with words or pictures, but here is one pic to give you an idea. This place will satisfy carnivores!
    All American Stack, steak strips with Onion rings and sweet potato Fries, Buffalo Wings with Ranch dipping sauce

See better photos and like them on Facebook at http://www.veggiegrill.com/\

  1. Colin told me about VegNews magazine awhile ago and I love it


This magazine comes every other month, has great recipes, fun facts like:

Cows have BFFs—really a study measured the heart rate of cows who were isolated, paired with random cows or penned with their preferred partner. Those alongside their best friend exhibited reduced levels of stress compared to those who were with a stranger-cow.

 and excellent articles. You can subscribe and get an online newsletter: http://vegnews.com/ I just got a yummy recipe for Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

that I can’t wait to try, you can see it here, http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/211087/5e7d1eceb2/379000935/f9858e713c/  if you make it let me know how you like it!

3. Ranch Kale Chips. I have made plain ones before and love them, but found these at whole foods and couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I figured out how to make my own—unfortunately I ate them all before I remembered to take a picture.

Ranch Kale Chips (Andrew approved)

1 cup raw cashews

1 bunch of kale, spines removed, torn into 2×2” (about)

¼ cup water

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 tsp rice vinegar

Method: blend everything in your Vitamix until smooth, coat kale with mixture, place on tinfoil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Cook on 275 for about 20 minutes, or until kale is crispy, I had to turn mine a few times to get it crispy on all sides. Next time I am going to throw the whole mess in a dehydrator for a few hours to get a more even crisp.

We also spent a few days in Disneyland and learned what the vegan options are—not many.

  1. Plain Mickey Mouse pretzel (we had more than 1)
  2. Popcorn (not healthy, but so tasty)
  3. Best Meal was in Carnation Café on Main street, they had a certified Vegan Burger, it was ok, Andrew thought it was outstanding, but that was because he was starving.
  4. I had a “veggie” sandwich in Adventure land and it was GROSS.
  5. We found Vegetarian chili in Frontierland, that you could make Vegan by holding the cheese and sour cream, but didn’t get to try it
  6. Blue Bayou  had a Portabella meal, but we didn’t try it

ETW: Smashburger (Spoiler: appropriate for Vegetarians, not Vegans)

Call me gross if you will, but pre-vegan life I enjoyed a good hamburger, I’m not talking McDonalds or some other processed crapburger. Smashburger WAS my favorite burger joint. I usually ordered from the kids menu because their burgers are massive. 

My husband eats out A LOT for work and is always dining with clients. Imagine my glee when he told me Smashburger had a vegan black bean burger that he customized with grilled onions and avocado (indeed, google searches say there is such a thing). It was starting to sound like the stuff vegan dreams are made of.

We went out for a family dinner a few weeks ago and had a round of said black bean burgers sans mayo and cheese and topped with bbq sauce, spicy mustard, grilled onions and avocado. These veggie burgers are not the kind of pre-formed frozen patty lameness that you usually find at restaurants, they are handmade and smashed to spicy delightful goodness.  Literally THE BEST VEGGIE BURGER I EVER ATE.

I could only finish half of the bean burger and think if I were to go back (which I’m not) I would have shared the entree with a member of my family. We also had smash fries, and flash fried asparagus and carrots (hey, we were feeling glutinous). Man it was all soooo good.

At the end of our too good to be true visit I talked to a member of the staff about what goes into the Black Bean Smashburger (insert horror here) yes, they are handmade, yes they are insanely delicious, but they use eggs as a binder. More google research shows they may or may not also have cheese in the burger…. Something that I specifically questioned staff about and they denied. A further perusal of Smashburger’s website shows that all of their buns include either eggs or milk. 😦

Notice: this is all my fault for not knowing these things to begin with and not the company’s fault. Had I gone online and researched their allergy page and their nutritional information (cholesterol listed for this item, dead giveaway), I would have been informed. Yes, this is a lesson to me to research, research and research some more before dining out. However, I will note the menu does not tell you whether the black bean burger is vegetarian, vegan or anything else for that matter. It simply states it’s a black bean burger.

I know, I can hear you all telling me now, “What did you expect?” I expected the stuff that dreamy black bean burgers COULD be made of.

A plea to Smashburger: have you heard of flax eggs? They actually work! Also, a hamburger bun that is egg & milk free would be nice. And how on earth does a black bean burger have 640 calories and 33 grams of fat???

Saggy Buns

The quest for a yummy, nutritious, cruelty free hot dog bun has been a frustrating and at times seemingly impossible task. I did find one brand at Walmart that was full of garbage but it was vegan so I let Andrew have it for an occasional treat, but they no longer carry it. I bought some at WholeFoods for a ridiculous price that were absolutely disgusting. I wouldn’t even feed them to my dogs (I let the chickens have them). Then I decided to try and make my own, I have seen my mom make rolls, I figured same principles apply so I whipped up a batch of sour dough and got this

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Saggy Buns

Oso liked them

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Andrew did too, they tasted fine, but they were not a good hot dog bun. The quest was put on hold last week when I  went to DC and NYC on business. I had to work from my hotel room, but the view was incredible

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I did take a break or two 🙂

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I have a friend back east that  also went plant based in Feb, she is a nurse and planted one of the seeds that grew into my own conversion and she introduced me to two new loves. One has Andrew’s stamp of approval, the other I ate before he had a chance to taste,  let alone stamp.

Sticky Fingers cookies. The owner/creator won cupcake wars two years in a row and she has a cookbook, which is on its way to my house.

 Ozery Morning rounds Andrew approved.

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$3.99 for 6 rounds. These are so soft and chewy and filling and delicious and Andrew approved. My friend bought me two bags to take home, I accidentally ate them all before I even made it to NYC, so I went on a hunt to NYC Whole Foods—they weren’t there, thankfully I found them in Utah. As I cleared the shelves, I noticed they also make—you guessed it—a hot dog bun. Delicious. Andrew approved. 

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ETW: Jason’s Deli

We live just down the street from a Jason’s Deli – I know, it’s a chain and not everyone loves that, but we take what we can get around here. We love that they use fresh ingredients and the kids meals are not only affordable but relatively healthy. In fact, I used the bag the other day to collect lettuce, spinach and garlic scapes from the garden and thought it pretty fun that the bag said “REAL FOOD” on it. The menu has “V”s next to everything that is vegetarian, but as we have quickly learned, that means cheese and possibly mayo. BUT, and that’s a good but, they are really good at substituting. The new girl took it really slow and the people in line behind us were moderately annoyed, but we got what we wanted and will probably go back again because it was TASTY!

Here is the menu. And here is what we ordered:

  • 2 identical kids meals – Peanut butter and jelly on wheat, with apples (that looked disgusting), and apple juice. Lots of those ingredients were organic, if that matters to you.
  • Freshca Sandwich – not on the regular menu, but ever so tasty. I think it had tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts and pesto (probably not 100% vegan), on herbed foccacia. It usually has asiago cheese on it, but we subbed in mushrooms for that, which were fantastic.
  • Zucchini Grillini – ordered with no cheese and extra hummus. It was good but small, and the hummus a touch spicy with the double dose. I might sub something else onto it next time.

There are a few other menu items you could get away with and if staying in, the Salad Bar had a pretty good variety of goodness. I presume most things could be made without meat, namely salads and wraps.

Family Matters Most

 It’s Tasty Tuesday

and I have felt like screaming and crying and breaking things because on Sunday I found out someone I love dearly has cancer. This person also has a history of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. He is absolutely lovely and feeds the possums that live in his shed apples. How can you get a lovelier person than that? You can’t.

I wish I could go halfway across the world and become some neurotic plant-based care taker and make everything better, but life doesn’t work that way. So I keep dosing on healing frankincense essential oil like its xanax, and huffing lavender oil from the palms of my hands to calm myself.

Now that I’m more sane, I’m hoping to spread some gentle nurturing seeds and do lots of praying instead.

and did I mention that my spouse is out-of-town on a business trip? and I have 2 black toenails like I do after nearly every race because they don’t make a running shoe in a nine and 3/4, and my toddler keeps stepping on those very toes? Good thing I painted them purple before the race.

and I haven’t had anything tasty yet today.

On top of that, I have had family in town for 2 days (6 very loud, very loved people staying at my house, Amanda – they loved your African Peanut Stew). and we were all out all day today going everywhere that people don’t go when they live on a remote beach in a fabulous beach-house in Mexico (sad, isn’t it?). Why I didn’t plan my meals better is beyond me. Let me say eating out plant-based can be really challenging sometimes….

For breakfast at IKEA options were: bacon, eggs, fried hash-browns, fried french toast sticks, high fructose corn syrup masquerading as maple syrup and crepes (milk & egg) with lingonberry jam that was looking a bit congealed. I was just about to settle on orange juice alone when food servers plonked down a steaming tray of Normandy vegetables behind the perspex and started assembling the salad bar as I neared the front of the food queue. Yes, I ate frozen-re-heated Normandy vegetables and a very sad little salad without dressing for breakfast.

For lunch, I thought I had it in the [brown] bag. Kneaders is a Utah based bakery with fabulous breads, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. In the drive-thru, I ordered the veggie avocado on 100% whole wheat, minus cheese, minus mayo, plus cranberry sauce, plus sprouts, plus cucumber. I have had it before and it was divine. 10 minutes down the road I open my box. My sandwich was covered in giant turkey breast chunks, mayo and cheese, but also had lots  of lovely sprouts and cucumber?!? I removed the offending ingredients as best as I could only to find the lettuce on the sandwich rather crunchy with dirt. Totally inedible. Sad day Kneaders, sad day!

The starvation breakdown: Costco food court. Smoothie, or shall I say sugared frozen fruit syrup?

Dinner: the Burger King drive through – I kid you not. My only redemption here after lots of repentance is that yes indeed, they do have a veggie burger. It doesn’t have added cheese, but I’m not entirely sure it’s vegan, even without the mayo. Will you believe me if I told you I didn’t eat any of my daughter’s onion rings? Well, you shouldn’t because I’m lying through my teeth.

So right now I am drinking a giant very bitter kale smoothie through a metal straw that my sister-in-law gave me in hopes my body doesn’t form some sort of act of rebellion against me for today’s transgressions.

Thank goodness my mom was able to impart some wisdom on me today. “You don’t have to do everything all the time Somer.” I have been like some over-achieving Vegan Mormon do-gooder. Baking artisan bread, making almond or cashew yogurt, making every possible version of a DIY Larabar, cooking fresh wholesome meals for every meal for my family every day, taking meals to sickly neighbors, drinking gallons of green smoothies, eating ridiculously large salads, grooming my excessively furry dog by myself.  Do you think there is a possible market for sheared Portuguese Water Dog fur? Anyone want to knit a cozy sweater? I swear he is half sheep! We are seriously considering buying the flowbee for him. No, really, I’m not kidding.

I have also been desperately planning and hoping for my own organic garden in our yard to offset the cost of purchasing organic at the store (recent thallium contamination in our city water supply overrode that decision, at the city meeting regarding the issue, the presenters told local residents not to garden at all, or to even let our children run through the sprinklers. Good times). In the meantime my kitchen has been torn apart while our plumber installed a reverse osmosis drinking system with an additional activated alumina filter to remove the toxic thallium from our drinking water. I am tired of going all Erin Brokovitch on the issue and can’t really pull off her look anyway. Do I need to move? Does anyone want to buy my house?

Yes I am a bit worn out and frazzled at the ends. So today – instead of losing it all or changing resolve to still eat well – I bought things. Lots of convenient easy things. I bought almond milk, soy milk, I also bought chocolate soy milk (I can’t help myself). I bought Whole Soy yogurt, and Amande almond yogurt, I bought a massive jar of natural peanut butter because I can’t keep it in stock in my pantry and because even though I really want to make this version at ohsheglows, I’m not really that together or that cool right now. Maybe I can just get some of her amazing osmosis vibes by looking at her beautiful photos? I gave in to my 3-year-old and we bargained on Clif Kids Ropes over traditional fruit snacks. Not sure I really won there, but I keep telling myself they are at least healthier not dip dyed in red #5. I bought 100% whole wheat bread and some Ezekial sprouted english muffins. I bought vegan fruit and nut bars instead of larabars because they were only .50 cents each. I bought some beautiful melons and looking at them on my table I keep reminding my flat self that I don’t need plastic surgery like everyone else in Utah to feel better about myself. I am beautiful just the way I am. And I am going to try to stop chasing skinny and stop trying to lose that last 5 lbs.

I even bought pre-chopped, pre-packaged Kale for my smoothies. I was super stressed about coming up with something fabulous to post on the blog today, but I decided that my family matters most, so I spent a few hours playing with my kids instead. So I’m abusing the blog in order to do a healing cathartic post. Sorry. I’m going to foodie blogger hell for sure. But at least I won’t be stressed over making-every-single-thing-from-scratch-all-the-time when I get there. If anyone wants to join me, I’m the one with my hand stuck in the dairy free chocolate chip jar.

Farmers’ Market, Alameda

We took a quick trip to California for Matt’s work and so I could visit my family. We spent a day with Jen, and while we planned on taking pictures of the experience, mostly we chased two rambunctious toddlers. The after pictures were the real treat as we discovered what we’d found. We ended up making freezer jam that afternoon and it was lovely and SOOO easy. Look for a post about that, and hopefully, if you don’t already, you will soon be taking whatever fruit you can find and making freezer jam to add to everything, mostly yogurt in our house.

Going to the Farmers’ Market gave me hope that one day I, too, might be able to enjoy fresh produce. Probably not the variety and quantity available in the Bay Area, but at least it will be fresh. (I bought cheap strawberries at the store yesterday and while I still used 7 pounds of them, they were nothing like the sweet, tender, fresh goodness we enjoyed from the market.)

(And jen, if you have any pictures or words of rebuttal to add, please do!)

Neighborly

farmers-diner-logo
Two summers ago, while visiting my in-laws in Massachusetts, we made the trek up to the Farmers Diner in Quechee, VT. Not only did we enjoy the food – standard diner lunch fare – but more importantly, we loved the concept. We went home with a bumper sticker that says: “Think globally, eat neighborly.” The restaurant boasts of “Food from Here.”

I was flipping through a library book today, a new cookbook titled “Outstanding in the Field.” It is a compilation of recipes resulting from an extraordinary shift in dining, in which the proprietor (author and chef, I think) began hosting Farm Dinners. Every harvest season for over a decade, they would hop in their bus, drive all over North America, and host meals on farms using the farm’s and other local ingredients to make the meal. Anyone with reservations could attend, and everyone came. Last year, nearly every venue was sold out. I love the idea, I love the desire to share food that came from “here,” wherever here is.

This is where my rant actually begins. I live in Utah. I know where there is a local Goat Dairy, and a few other farms and cheese makers within 100 miles, but the only farm stands are set up by what I have to presume is a giant collective employing high school students selling overpriced, not even organic, and often imported, produce. You can go to the famous roller mills of Footloose fame, but even the grain you can purchase there comes from a four state area. There is such a small “local” market (and apparently demand) that the actual goods seem to be more for novelty’s sake than for feeding’s sake. I’m not saying there just isn’t much, but really, there is none. I can’t even be a beggar here.

So tonight, on our annual trek to see Christmas lights downtown, we began discussing why I find myself frustrated here. After flipping through this cookbook, I was again frustrated that I couldn’t do that, that I couldn’t find local eggs, or mesclun greens, or heritage turkeys, or anything really, that I could feel good about as local produce*. And finally I realized one of the big challenges that I think is plaguing America. I know, we all have our soapboxes, and here is mine. We aren’t neighborly anymore. As we try really hard to keep up with our neighbors and to accumulate so we’re independent, we lose our need for neighbors. No longer do we borrow Joe’s weed-eater or saw, because we just got the nicer, newer one for ourselves. No longer do we knock on Bill’s door and ask for an egg, because mostly we’re not so sure about Bill, and without the egg, we have a quick substitute of swinging by the drive through or by one of the WAY TOO MANY markets on the way home. And oh, the markets. Within 3 miles of my house, you could go to an Albertsons, a Smiths, a Sunflower Farmers’ Market, a Good Earth, a Whole Foods, a Super Target, a Reams, a Macey’s, a Dan’s, and a Harmons. And yes, those are all grocery stores. And no, that isn’t all of them.

As a society, we have worked so hard to be independent and self-sufficient, that we no longer need our neighbors. I no longer need to rely on a neighborhood bakery for my bread, or the butcher for my meat, or even my neighbors for their wisdom, help, or canning parties. I can do it all myself with my very own tools or at one of my dozen grocery stores, thank you very much, and I think that is one of the saddest realizations of my day.

*Sure, we have the farmers markets in the summer full of standard fare, but if you want anything on a day other than Saturday after the fourth of July or after Halloween, sorry. Out of luck. And even then, there is such a rush on the farmers market with variety, that it’s a zoo and often ridiculously overpriced (think novelty foods rather the feeding foods).