Let’s Go Shopping with the Inner Child

The end of the Thanksgiving leftovers brought in the beginning of a new shopping cycle. So be it.

I stopped at Aldi after acupuncture on Tuesday. Fruit (limited but lovely organic selections), some veggies, a pizza, some pumpkin for Oakley. OK.

At this time of year, Aldi brings in holiday goodies from Germany. Fancy chocolates; cookies; specialty cheeses; cakes and breads; crackers hum a chorus of temptation.

My adult self can tune out all but the the deep vibrato of the most celebratory chocolate. My inner child, however, needs noise canceling headphones.

I stood there with a bag of dark chocolate almonds in my hand. My early elementary self whispered,  Can we get these, please? 

Not a good idea.

Why? Almonds are good for you. So is dark chocolate.

True in theory, but what happened last time we bought a bag?

Shrug.

How long did the bag last?

Uhh… But they’re good for you. Look, they have dark chocolate and sea salt and they’re almonds!

If we eat it all in one shot, they’re not so good for you. I think we’d better put the bag down.

But–but..

PUT. THE. BAG. DOWN.

Sigh. 

The bag went back on the shelf.

Similar inner dialogs occurred in the seasonal isle with the sea salt caramels, truffles, and some crackers as well as the cheese section. We were able to compromise on some regular dark chocolate, a little extra fruit. That placated her.

We were able to get out unscathed, on budget, and with a minimum of bruised feelings. I made pasta for dinner (which makes her smile) and we went on to have a bit of chocolate for dessert, leaving us both at peace.

 

Reconsidering Aldi

No, dears, I’m not getting paid for this. I have simply developed a fondness for it after many years.

When we first moved out here, Aldi was the store of last resort. The turn off of the main road is at an unnatural angle and shared with two other businesses. The old building, now demolished, smelled odd. Many of the foods were processed overseas, and the labels read like the culinary world’s Periodic Table. I bought what I could comfortably (read: pasta) and dreamed of the post-construction days ahead when I could shop other places without fear of overdrawing our checking account.

As do other trying times, those passed. I drove past it with little thought.

Then in came the new building.

And in came reviews and raves from unexpected sources. One friend with a kid en route to college told me over several lunches that Aldi had started to carry organic and natural and gluten-free products. Another who runs in business circles of the highest order on the east coast posted several raves about it and how much she had cut her grocery bills. Then came the biggest shocker of all: my sister whose taste buds out-discriminate mine called and told me of a delicious dinner that she’d made with fish purchased there.

Oh, and let’s not forget my personal kryptonite: chocolate. Really good high-quality made in Europe chocolate.  Hubby brought a lot home before I caved and decided to give Aldi another shot for everyday shopping. We went there one afternoon, and well, he won.

Caveats:

  • Take a quarter and bags with you. The carts are chained together and can be freed for a quarter. This prevents loss and damages incurred by rogue carts roaming the lot. They do have paper bags, but they’re something like six cents each. Oh, and you have to bag your own purchases. But it’s worth it.
  • Take an extra bag or two. Remember the stories about shopping in Cold War-era Russia where people always carried bags with them so they could purchase food, clothes, etc. to make sure they didn’t run out in case of a shortage? You never know what you might find on special at Aldi, so be prepared. Not just food wise, but kitchen equipment, household goods, and chainsaws. Really.
  • Do extra scrutiny on the labels. I bought some salsa that had sugar in it. Some argue that sugar in tomato products lifts and balances the flavor. To me, you might as well pour it on ice cream. Also the nut butters have palm oil in them with no indication about whether or not it’s rainforest safe. Their grape supplier sprays them with sulfur to preserve freshness.
  • Be careful about the meat and fish for additives such as dyes and preservatives and where it was produced. Also be aware that the dairy products give no indication about GMO or antibiotic safety.

But that being said, their parent company is in Germany, and they usually have breads, jams, and soups manufactured in the EU, so that helps with the safety factor. They have a lot of gluten free offerings: corn-based pasta, mac and cheese, pizza (which incidentally gives two Weight Watcher friendly servings), and cereals and snack bars. The produce is a little hit and miss, but they are making strides with the organic offerings.

I mentioned the chocolate, didn’t I?

 

 

 

 

 

Meal Planning in the Face of Change

So as I write this, I’m waiting to hear news about a legal issue involving one of my friends that has life-changing implications. Will the judge hand down a ruling and end it promptly? Will the lawyers drag it out? So many variables hang in the air for this hot wet mess. I can’t say anything else, except that I wait the long wait with her in spirit.

It’s not unlike waiting for test results for potentially serious issues. I’m too far removed from the situation to do anything except send Reiki and keep some incense going, but am still less than thrilled for her. 

Knowing that I will make myself crazy if I dwell on her situation, I distracted myself, writing some bits for a newsletter. Lunch was balanced: salad and a little chocolate. So many times it’s not the change in and of itself that is crazy making; it’s the space before it happens that leads to the pit of what thens and what ifs.

In these times, yes, you still need to eat mostly healthy stuff. One of my wise women said it best: “Eat two big salads a day and don’t worry about the rest.” Everything that you shouldn’t be putting on a salad is fair game. Go for it. It will help take your mind off of it, whatever it is. 

 

  

 

Group Deep Breath

Currently in the soybean field, we are getting snow. A lot of it. And then there will be very cold temps and very bitter wind chills. By Wednesday, however, we will be back to a more moderate twenty-something. 

Yes, we will have a few days that will call for acceptance and adaptation. We will be OK, and the odds are good that most people will live.  But there’s always the inevitable flip into survival mode. You know, where instead of a fast trip to the store to grab an extra carton of milk or another pack of toilet paper just to be safe, people lose their blessed minds and buy cases of sriracha and five kinds of chips and, well, you get the picture. Like the lady at Target the night before the Blizzard of 2011 who threatened Hubby over eggs at Target. To hell with the Wal-Mart, Aldi, Jewel, Walgreen’s and two gas stations perhaps a mile away. Nope, those were the last eggs in her known universe. He graciously let her have them and grabbed some at one of the other stores. 

I had my deep breath moment this morning. Oakley sees the vet for his yearly once over on Monday (theoretically–we’re slated for a high of -12 with Kelvin scale-worthy windchills that’s going from St. Louis up into Canada) and of course I ran out of his Chinese digestive herbs and probiotics yesterday. So I considered a trip to Target this morning. We also walked at a local forest preserve, and as we walked, I felt the barometric pressure change and saw the dark slate cloud wall inch southwards towards us. Barometric changes make me feel as if I’m having a being chased by a tiger. I started doing my breathing exercises as my mind took off. On top of stuff for his tummy, I would then need…OMG…I need chocolate and frozen dog desserts and pizza and a rotisserie chicken and my own personal hygiene supplies and….

Breathe. No, Fran, want or need. You need stuff to keep Oaks’ tummy leveled out. You have enough personal supplies to get you through until Tuesday when you have acupuncture at the clinic almost across the street from Target. You could use some chocolate. Where could you go where you could get stuff for his tummy? Oh, yeah, the drug store two miles from my house.

So I went there, found some probiotics that are safe for the lactose intolerant, a couple of other OTCs to calm things down if need be, and some lovely chocolate. And spray cheese to get everything down Oakley without a fight. 

I was home in about a half-hour. Worth the extra money in this case. Hubby called shortly after I arrived with a story of going to the Target by his mom’s house. All the lanes were open and they still had shoppers in a holding pattern over Detroit Metro. He just went back to his mom’s, grateful for his tuna and soup. I also talked to my sister who lives north of the Detroit area. She and her husband had gone shopping yesterday at their Meijer’s and no carts were to be had. 

So we will be holed up for a couple of days. I’m grateful for my pantry and my freezer, and for basic cookbooks like More with Less and Laurel’s Kitchen to guide me through essentials such as bread should the need arise.

Now as the light slips over the western horizon, it snows. Let it. It will move out in divine right order. Oakley naps next to me with his tush pressed against my leg. I’m thinking chili for my dinner and turkey and pumpkin for his. I lift a prayer for the people and animals out in this. And let the day do what it must. 

 

Confessions

Not THAT kind. What do you think this is, Penthouse Forum? No, the confessions are related to food, dear.

Bless me, Gentle Readers, for occasionally your WolfMama eats frozen meals and canned soup. Not just any, mind you. They have to pass some pretty strict tests. Minimal ingredients, preferably organic, and nothing in them that sounds like it came from a chemical lab instead of a kitchen.  Amy’s Organics (no, I’m not getting paid for this) is my favorite brand. They fit my criteria. Archer Farms, one of the house brands at Target, has some pretty good pizza that comes from Italy with high quality ingredients.

I have a Costco membership. It can be good for a two-person-one-dog household. They frequently have good deals on canned organic foods and alternative milks. And cheese from Europe. And books. Must…have…books……

My favorite chocolate is Ghiradelli. Not just because of the flavor, but because each square has ridged edges, making it possible to enjoy a schmeer of almond butter or peanut butter on them. Sometimes I wonder what my excuse will be for this sort of behavior after I get on the other side of menopause.

Proponent of locally grown food that I am, I have never been able to find bananas or citrus grown in the midwest. I don’t get it. Or tea or coffee.    

I prefer storefront ethnic restaurants. Pointing and crossing fingers while hoping for the best usually works. 

Another confession of PMS-related foods: the peanut butter-potato chip sandwich. Not to be done often, just when you need the carby blast to kickstart your serotonin production. Works best without jam or jelly. Not bad with bananas.

So…what are your food-related confessions?