The Camel’s Back Broke

Two weeks ago I wrote about grocery shopping on-line. Basically I wrote, I do not like it. The plain and simple fact is I want to do it myself. There are many pros and cons to selecting this banana or that banana (I never pick up a banana bunch and put the whole thing in my cart). Selecting bananas may have to be a post all of its own one day (or not). It’s not just bananas, but everything in my cart is selected with attention to cost analysis, nutritional information, taste, and familiarity with a product (just a few factors to consider).

So, when the store (on-line) says it has Charmin Soft in multiple sized packages, I was quick to add one to my cart, but I included a note to the shopper. I requested that I would be happy with whatever size bundle of rolls were available as long as it was Charmin Soft. I did not want Charmin Strong. (Don’t ask what’s the difference. Just know it matters to someone.) The camel’s back began to fracture when I pulled Best Choice (a very generic brand of this grocery store) pack from the bag. I looked at this package with such disappointment, but tried to remind myself to be grateful to have any.

The next item completely broke the camel’s back. I could not even summon an ounce of gratefulness. Let me explain. You already know I am a fussy shopper. I try to use healthy ingredients (most of the time). We don’t often have ground beef, but when we do, I try to use lean beef. I had ordered 3 packs of ground sirloin, 93% lean. I got 3 packs of 73% lean hamburger. That did it! I just can’t do this anymore!

The next day I announced I was going to the largest grocery store in town (hoping they would have the most selection available and they had strawberries on sale 🙂 ). I would put on double plastic gloves and wear a face mask in order to pick my own groceries.

Fast forward to my arrival at the grocery store. My heart raced as I entered the store, breathing was difficult (not because of the mask). My eyes darted from side to side as I avoided other shoppers. I found the arrows and began my journey into a wondrous land.

Here are 5 chopped red peppers.

Produce was first – I quickly filled the bottom of my cart with red potatoes, russet potatoes, leaf lettuce, arugula, Gala apples, strawberries, and ten (yes ten) red peppers. (What does a person need with ten red peppers? A person can chop them and put them in the freezer to add to dishes when there are no red peppers in the produce bin of the fridge.)

Up and down the aisles (always following the arrows that some people think are optional) selecting this item and that item which have been on my on-line list but never in my grocery bags. I felt like the kid in the candy store, but my “candy” was salt-free diced tomatoes and garbanzo beans. More and more were added to the cart because I could. I have never had such a full cart in my life! No one could see the smile on my face behind my mask.

As I checked out, I spied a sign: Senior shopping from 7-8 a.m. every day. This was not going to be my last trip to this store. I don’t need to rush back too soon, I am pretty well stocked for a while.



I Miss It


Some people see it as a chore. I see it as a challenge. Sometimes it’s an adventure.  Sometimes it is inconvenient and interrupts my day, but I don’t think of it as a chore.

I am not allowed to do it the way I like to do it. I create a list. I search through my resources to develop a plan. Once the plan is set, I am off and gathering.

What is this not-a-chore for me? Grocery shopping! Every Sunday, I select the recipes for the week. I note what needs to be bought for each recipe. I jot down what needs to be replenished. I check the grocery ads, jotting down possible items that are on sale.

With my list in hand, I head to this store, then that store, maybe one other (it has a good sale on something I love). I am not a one stop shopper. One store may have better produce, but it doesn’t carry salt-free tomatoes products, so I have to go to another store to find just what I want. In the produce aisle, I carefully pick out my leaf lettuce, fragrant strawberries, snow-white cauliflower, and bananas with varying shades of green and yellow.

That used to be my shopping routine. Now, I have to use apps to order groceries on-line and hope I can get a pick-up time. So few times are available, so I have to get up at midnight when the window opens for scheduling.

It pains me to leave the produce picking to someone else. I scour the app looking for the items I used to easily pick up and drop into my cart, but they are not there. I look for replacements, they are not there. I hope that when the shopper goes to collect my choices they are on the shelf.

There is no joy in on-line shopping for me. I long for the day I can go back into the store and select my own groceries. All I can say is I miss it. (sigh)

There’s a Hole in My Bread, Dear Liza!

Are you hearing the tune from the title? If you need a refresher you can hear it here. That’s the dilemma I faced when I pulled the bread out to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

My cheese will melt through and stick to the pan. 😦 A light bulb moment, make a grilled cheese and tuna. The tuna can stop the cheese from escaping. I open a pouch of sweet and spicy tuna, squeeze as much of the liquid out, then realize the tuna won’t stay together. It will flake and fall through the hole.

With what can I fill the hole, dear Liza? Another light bulb moment, how does an avocado, tuna, grilled cheese sound? I can strategically place the avocado over the hole and it will prevent the tuna from falling and the cheese from melting through. Perfect!

I assemble this tasty treat on the griddle. I’m a little concerned when it comes time to flip the sandwich that all the insides will fall out. I set the stove temperature to a low medium heat and wait. I know that if I want the cheese to melt (and I do), I must heat the bread slowly.

First cheese, then avocado over the hole, followed by tuna, more cheese with carefully placed avocado.

I do a little edge check. The bottom is golden . . .  it is time to flip. Holding my breath, I use my widest spatula and my free hand to support the sandwich. Flip! Siz-z-z-z-le! A few tuna crumbs fall out, but they are tucked back in to be encased in melty cheese.

Once I take it off the stove, the sandwich must rest a minute. This gives the cheese time to firm up a little. If I cut it immediately, the cheese would ooze out onto my plate. Finally, the moment of truth, how does a grilled avocado, tuna, cheese sandwich taste? Let me answer that with one word, YUM!

There’s a hole in my bread dear Liza, but I fixed it with an avocado. And it was great!

Can Do

Taking stock of the refrigerator contents, I determine that we will have the creamy spinach enchilada leftovers for dinner, but I need something else to add to the plate. Previously, we’d had steamed broccoli to accompany the enchiladas. There was no broccoli in the fridge, plus I like to change things up on the second go-round of a meal.

A cauliflower was waiting its turn to grace our table in the veggie drawer. Mexican riced cauliflower would be the perfect side for this Mexican inspired meal. Plan made, recipe retrieved, ingredients gathered.

I knew something was not right the second I clamped the can opener onto my can. The clear liquid that oozed over the edge would not be found in a can of black beans. This was a can of garbanzo beans! The labels of the two cans were identical except for the name.

See what I mean? I know I should have looked more carefully, but this time I just reached and grabbed. Won’t happen again.

“I guess you will be having garbanzos added to your salad,” I inform my husband, and I explain why.

“Good!” he replies. “I like garbanzos.”

But the next day, I am flipping through pages of recipes, I discover a Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup recipe that I’ve not yet tried. I don’t remember printing this, but I have all the ingredients needed. Sorry, no more chickpeas on the salad. They are going into the soup.

When did chickpeas and cauliflower become a pair? Since the beginning of the year, we’ve had Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry, Chickpea Cauliflower Chowder, and now this soup. They’ve all been good, but I am a bit surprised at the combination appearing in recipe after recipe. I will have to see what other recipes are out there with these two ingredients.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup. The soup was supposed to be pureed, but someone in my house doesn’t like food pre-chewed, so no pureeing here.

A Dutch Restaurant?

A new restaurant opened last week.

There is no sign on the building, but there is a clue in the window.

Welcome to Van Gogh’s Eeterie!

Come in, sit down, and have a look around.

The cuisine is not like any other in town. Perhaps you would like a taste of

Dutch dishes:

  • Sweet or savory pannenkoek (Dutch pancake)
  • Broodjes (sandwiches)
  • Stampots (potatoes mashed with additional vegetables)

Not to your taste?  Then try some Indonesian-Dutch cuisine:

  • Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice)
  • Sate Platter (chicken skewers with peanut sauce)
  • Laap pa (fish salad)

Or would you rather sample something from each type of cuisine?

What ever you decide, you will find Van Gogh waiting.



Noodles or Zoodles?

I want them.
I need them.
I love them.
I’ve got to have them.

Noodles, tasty noodles:





Angel hair.

They say they are carbs,

They say you shouldn’t eat them.

But . . .
I want them.
I need them.
I love them.
I’ve got to have them.

Zoodles to the rescue!

Zucchinis spiralized

Creates a healthier alternative.

Zoodles, tasty zoodles.
I want them.
I need them.
I love them.
I’ve got to have them.
And no guilt attached!

Earrings! by Judith Viorst inspired the format for this poem.

Every Day

Sometimes I step away from the old tried and true recipes and try new foods for dinner. Chickpea and cauliflower curry was one adventure that we will have again. But there are some things that never change at dinnertime.

At the top, ingredients for the dish at the bottom.

Every day I make my husband a salad for dinner:

  • It begins with lettuce, It might be : red leaf or green leaf or romaine or arugula or spinach, but never iceberg.
  • Now the add-ons: shredded carrots, radish, celery, red pepper, olives (sometimes black, sometimes green), green onion,  avocado, feta, last of all, roasted sunflower seeds, but never tomatoes.
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dress the salad, but never bottled dressing.

Every day this salad is prepared. Occasionally I will have one too. If I don’t have salad, I have a small bowl of fresh fruit. The bowl might be filled with: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, honeydew, pineapple, or peaches from my backyard tree. Or perhaps a combination of two of the fruits. Every day salad for one and fruit for another are part of our dinner.

What do you have every day?

Souper Sunday

Last year I had to google the term “soft foods” because that’s what the oral surgeon told my husband to eat after his tooth extraction. Now I know what to do following a tooth extraction. My goal for Sunday was to prepare a couple of soups to have on hand for this week of soft food entrees.

First on the list was Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Soup with Goat Cheese. I used jarred roasted red peppers, but I did roast the cauliflower.  I am always amazed how much the vegetable shrinks when it is roasted. This soup was finished in no time. I used a stick blender to partial puree the soup.

Next on my list was Creamy Chicken Soup with Orzo. Another quick soup to put together after chopping the carrots, celery, and onion. Both soups boxed up and ready for duty in two days.


Since my chewing will be limited, I decide to go with a Thai theme for dinner. Chicken satay, fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce. Monday night will also include chewing. Doing while I can with no pain.


Adventures in Dining

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When one travels the same route multiple times a year for many years, one tends to know where to stop for each meal. However, when one alters the start time by five hours, one must find new eating establishments.

A simple search of “best places to eat in (insert name of city) on the phone yields choices one would never discover on their own.

Hungry for some barbecue? Check out Watson’s Barbecue inside the Tucumcari Ranch Supply store in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Soon Google maps calmly gave directions that led us right to the store. We had to laugh at the sign as we parked.

Opening the door found us in another world. If there is something you need, you can find it here. It’s not just a ranch supply store.

We followed the signs to find the barbecue spot. Soon our order was placed. While we waited, the owner came out with warm samples of green chili apple cobbler. It was quite good! Lunch arrived and we filled up on Frito pie (chili over Fritos) and a barbecue brisket sandwich. All meals included a cookie for dessert, so we had no room for the cobbler. Watson’s Barbecue did quite a bit of carry-out business while we ate.

Then it was time to get back on the road. Gallup, New Mexico was our destination for the night. We were able to return to 505 Burgers for dinner. I wrote about this burger place here.

The next day we were again looking for someplace for lunch.  Google found another fun place. Think Eagles song and here are a  few lyrics to remind you, “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona . . ” Yes, we were at that corner because there’s a restaurant on the corner too, the Sipp Shoppe.

Green chili chicken soup was the soup of the day. Spicy, but oh so gooood! Another winner in our book of where to eat while traveling down Highway 40. In fact, we ate there on the return trip too.

Sometimes it does a body good to get out of the usual routine.

Every December

Every December

My kitchen fills with sweet scents

of sandbakkel* cookies.

(*pronounced like sun buckle)

Reindeer prance across

the lid of my box of tins,

tiny, fluted tins.



Butter softening,

Tins sorted into three lines

To rotate baking.




Old Mix Master from

Grandmother begins mixing.

First, softened butter.



Sugar is added.

Flour addition thickens dough,

use muscles to stir.




Thumbs push and press dough.

Bake until golden brown, cool.

Will cookies crumble?




Some cookies shatter when pressed.

Who will eat those? Me!



Sandbakkels to share,

Sandbakkels to enjoy with

my morning coffee.



Every December,

these Norwegian cookies keep

traditions alive.

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