Sometimes your days don’t go as planned. I thought I’d get up, feed the pets, and head to the Dollar Tree to get our foster kittens some sardines to soften their tender feline hearts.
The thunderstorm scared the cockatoo, and the rain must have slowed me down as I finished feeding the pets and having a coffee on the porch at 10 a.m.
But Sunday is the day of rest, so that’s okay.
I headed to the Dollar Tree and spent $9.
Three cans of sardines
1 small box of generic golden crisp cereal or “sugar crisp” as it was called in the 1980s
1 four-pack of individual boxes of cereal
2 packs of Chips Ahoy sandwich cookies
2 bags of Cajun gator dill potato chips
1 jar mayonnaise
Then I went to the Grocery Outlet where for $14.75 I got everything else in the photo. Now, note, this is all processed breakfast foods and various snacks as the teenager starts band camp tomorrow and I know she will need to get something in her system at 7 a.m. and she will come home starved.
So snacks. And cereal. And Pop Tarts.
When I got home the teenager and I decided to try the Doozie cookie bar and the Sour Patch Kid cookies.
The results were exactly as I expected.
The teenager loved the Doozie bar. It was a cookie dough bar— so if you love edible cookie dough this was a nice treat. I thought it was too big for one sitting, that the sweetness got to be too much. I’m sure the teenager disagrees.
I purchased three of these for 29 cents.
Now the Chips Ahoy cookies, with Sour Patch Kids, were definitely a purchase for me. I bought them at the Dollar Tree.
They tasted like sugar cookies with candy in them.
I ended last night with a delightful (super super delightful) tapas of succulent olives, hummus, blue cheese and pita chips with my neighbor.
Tonight I’m ending the night with blisters from going for my evening walk while wearing flip flops and feeling a little guilty for taking advantage of my DQ reward points to get a free chicken strip basket at Dairy Queen.
I have gained 10 pounds since the pandemic started. I am happy to say that my daily steps have tripled, but I haven’t used my dumbbells for anything other than doorstops, and I suppose I should go ahead and cancel my gym membership. Because I’m unemployed and I don’t want to go pay someone for something I can do at home without a mask.
If only I could stop the junk food habit.
But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to touch on two topics. I’m going to briefly touch on what I love about the business and non-profit environment here in the Lehigh Valley.
Then I’m going to sing the praises of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab and report that our adorable pseudo-Russian Blue kittens, now about nine months old got neutered today and are still stoned out of their fuzzy little minds.
Life in the Lehigh Valley
So, I grew up in the Slate Belt and then moved to Bethlehem for my college years at Moravian College. I’ve always loved the diversity of the Lehigh Valley region, the diversity of urban vs. rural, the infrastructure, the businesses, the farms, the corporations.
Today, I attended a meeting with the person in charge of corporate giving for a major corporation that has offices all over the world, and a huge influence historically and currently in the Valley.
I attended that meeting as a representative of Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and supported one of the founders of the organization in this important private conversation we were having.
And suddenly I was awestruck again.
Periodically, I am annoyed with the Valley for the same reasons that I love the Lehigh Valley. But today I felt enamored.
The Lehigh Valley, in part because of its proximity to the ports of New Jersey and the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the local highway infrastructure connecting it everywhere, attracts a wide variety of businesses while hosting some economic mainstays—like Air Products, Just Born Candy, Martin Guitar and Crayola.
We have two major hospital networks competing madly locally— St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Hospital.
But the region, despite having three cities just about touching (and Allentown, with its population of more than 122,000, is the third largest city in the state), is amazingly small. It’s not that hard to travel from one end to the other and people seem to know everyone, especially in the business world.
Or maybe it just feels that way to me because I spent 15 years as a local journalist.
So, here I am in the meeting, immediately recognized as the former Development Manager for ProJeCt of Easton, helping sell this two-year-old non-profit to a potential major funder.
I even dressed up for the Zoom— and then the person we were meeting dialed in, so I got to put on makeup for my stoned cats.
But because of the “smallness” of the Lehigh Valley, this very busy executive took more time than she had to to meet with us. As a result, we all left with an increased understanding.
We have a better fundraising plan regarding this corporation and this person learned more about how all the anti-trafficking organizations here in the Valley work together.
But what impressed me was the willingness of this individual to work with the “little guy.” That is something that makes me proud to live in the Lehigh Valley.
Therescued kittens have been neutered
I rambled quite a bit on that earlier bit.
Today, the teenager and I left the house at 7:30 to transport the kittens to FURR for a low-cost neutering.
Stephanie, the woman from FURR we have been working with, was even kind enough to place Fog and Misty on the backseat of her car with their cat carriers facing each other instead of in the big cat pile of carriers in the back of the car.
That made me happy. That the brothers could see each other.
On the way home, I stopped at Grocery Outlet as the teenager had announced that cheap instant coffee was garbage and we were going to need more Nescafé.
And then the teenager filled out an adoption/foster application with FURR on her phone in the parking lot.
Because we need more menagerie.
Oz enjoyed being my main baby today while the kittens were gone.
And I also did my nails.
And it seemed like it took forever until it was time to retrieve the boys. They are both about 9 3/4 pounds. They are Feline Leukemia negative. They have their shots now, nails trimmed, flea meds and deworming.
And they are ridiculously mellow and stoned right now. I think Fog fell asleep with his head in the water bowl.
There are several reasons why I love vegan cooking, but there are also several reasons why I won’t go vegan.
Why I love vegan cooking:
When done correctly, it usually features fresh, whole foods.
Gaz Oakley, the avant garde vegan. Look him up on YouTube.
It’s a great way to empty the fridge.
It reduces the impact of seasonal allergies by lowering the body’s production of phlegm.
Why I won’t go vegan:
I have a high metabolism and I require an unusual blend of macros higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates than a lot of my peers. To reach those macro goals via veganism requires a large amount of food.
I can’t drink my coffee black.
I was vegetarian for eight years, which ended when I was diagnosed was gestational diabetes at the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy. I remained primarily vegetarian until my daughter was about 18 months old. At that point, I started craving bacon cheeseburgers even though I hadn’t eaten red meat in a decade and I hated bacon.
Why I went vegetarian:
I hate touching meat.
I hate modern factory farming practices (luckily I live in the middle of some great family farms and can buy milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, honey and meat from them if I want to be ethical).
It’s so healthy, when you’re not living on refined white carbohydrates— which I was.
Why I stopped being vegetarian:
The teenager is a huge carnivore. As a preschooler she told my mom she had to go shoot a bear so she could eat the ham out of him.
A French cookbook. A friend brought me a cookbook in French, from France. I had to cook the recipes.
The onset of anemia, which is when I started craving bacon cheeseburgers.
Today I experimented with some vegan cooking. Do not try this at home until you read this whole post.
A few weeks ago, I made vegan tacos with sweet potato in the filling. They were so good! (Recipe here) So I wondered if pumpkin tacos would be similar. The answer is NO!
I heated some corn tortillas— 3 — because you know what’s worse than a vegan pumpkin taco, three vegan pumpkin tacos. It reminded me of the vegan hot dog recipe that recommended steaming and sautéing a whole carrot and placing it in a bun and eating it like a hot dog.
Don’t do it.
Then I filled each tortilla with some canned pumpkin, organic black beans from the Grocery Outlet, and lots of lettuce that I got on clearance for 50 cents at Lidl, 10 days ago.
And I sprinkled each with fresh lime juice.
I ate them. But never again.
My second vegan experiment today involved making my own creamy, tangy hot sauce.
Now this, my lovelies, I encourage you to try.
Vegan Black Bean Citrus Hot Sauce
In the Nutri Ninja (or high powered blender or smoothie mixer) combine:
Hot peppers to taste— mine were from my mother’s garden and may have included habanero. I used about the equivalent of one cup.
1/2 can organic black beans, rinsed—mine came from the Grocery Outlet
About 1/2 clove diced garlic
Juice of one small lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
A few tablespoons water
Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil—I like the cold-pressed imported from Lebanon that I buy at Forks Mediterranean Deli
If you try it, let me know what you think.
Nala approved, she kept sticking her head in the dirty Ninja cup.
So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.
The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.
The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.
I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!
So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.
Tonight’s meal featured:
Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)
This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.
There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.
It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.
Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.
Yesterday was a very nice Sunday. We went out to the backyard to enjoy a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade. We had a big bags of lemons and Meyer lemons.
We rescued a baby sparrow, and set in up in the parakeet cage in the backyard. That way his momma could still feed him but he’d be safe from wild or domestic animals. My mother-in-law thought he was a day or two away from flying.
Yes, I let the teenager capture a baby bird. Watching his momma dote on him was beyond precious.
And then he crawled out of the cage and hid between the garage and the fence.
For dinner I made an exquisite vegetarian ramen dish to use some of the fresh ginger I bought at Tucker Provisions. I based the recipe on one I found in Bon Appétit.
I mixed up the ginger, some carrots and some cabbage in my Ninja. I sautéed everything with garlic, coconut oil, fresh chives and some spices. I mixed a sauce of apple cider vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil and vegetable oil and poured it over everything. Then I toasted some sesame seeds in the mix.
I cooked the ramen. I made some egg drop in the ramen water, and scooped the mix out of the water with a slotted spoon.
Then I placed the vegetable mix over the noodles.
The meaty bits in the photo are Golden Island Korean Barbecue Pork Jerky. I found them at the Grocery Outlet. The teenager enjoyed them. It was a way to add extra protein. Tasted more or less like every other kind of jerky.
And to round out the evening, I poured a stiff drink (mint whiskey and Diet Coke as that’s the only alcohol I have in the house) and watched TV and binged on Double Good popcorn.
So I’m a pound heavier today but the time with the teenager was worth it.
This morning, I tried the other Siggi yogurt Ibought at the Grocery Outlet. I couldn’t wait to try it as it was strawberry rhubarb. The smooth, not sweet yogurt might be my new favorite brand.
I said I’d keep everyone informed of my Grocery Outlet experimental purchases. For a snack before bed last night, as I was hungry and logged my food on Fooducate and saw I was high on carbs and low on protein, I grabbed a Siggi yogurt and a tablespoon of Van’s gluten free banana nut granola.
The only time I ever enjoyed eating plain yogurt was when I traveled in Yemen and they served plain yogurt and the best damn honey I ever tasted for breakfast.
Surprisingly this yogurt was good. I could definitely taste the cinnamon though not the banana, which is a good thing because I don’t like fruit in my yogurt. I think they put just enough banana in to keep the yogurt from having that strong tangy taste. 10 grams of carbs, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, and 11 grams of protein. Nice.
I will definitely buy this again if I see it.
I bought the granola at Grocery Outlet in late December as a Christmas gift for a friend who was testing his sensitivity to gluten looking for an answer to some ongoing health issues. Then he upset me, so I ate it. I can be bratty sometimes. I let him open it on Christmas Eve, but he had to work that day so he asked me to keep it for him. He never asked what happened to it.
I was pleasantly surprised with this product too. Many commercial granolas don’t taste like anything.
I am famous for my homemade granola, having given it as a gift at the holidays. It’s a knock-off of the Imus Ranch Cookbook recipe, read it here: Variation of Granola Recipe.
My bedtime beverage tonight is Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nite Valerian Tea, which i swear by, but tonight it’s 90% so I iced it.
And for the record, I flossed my teeth tonight. I’ve been lazy about that lately.
Many years ago, I used to blog every meal I made, in part because I had friends in far away states who wanted my recipes. Also because I am frugal. I also kept the blog because I never cooked the same meal twice and I wanted to preserve my best dishes. Even if they were an accident.
My neighbor and I went to the Grocery Outlet last night, which is normally one of my favorite grocery stores for three reasons.
You can find the strangest items there and try them because of the reasonable prices.
The good prices on food, some of which is very high quality stuff that would cost a kidney at another store.
The owner of our local store is super involved in the community, promotes the success of local kids and supports the food pantry at the non-profit where I serve as development manager.
Last night I purchased $63 worth of food which ranged from organic strawberries to spaghetti squash, fancy chicken to fish nuggets.
It took all my self-control not to try it all last night as soon as we got home.
Then this morning I ended up on a two hour phone call with my traveling companion M catching up and discussing many of the topics I have touched on recently in this blog.
The teenager woke to the discussion of social unrest and the Coronavirus.
So at 11, I made a scrumptious brunch. And I think I purchased all of it at the Grocery Outlet:
Fresh pineapple cored and cut by the teenager
Sea Hale Maple Pecan mix
Betsy’s Best nut butter
Thoughts from both of us (the teen and I) on each item:
Great Midwest Cranberry Cheddar— the teen said if you had the cheese by itself it had a yummy sweetness. I couldn’t taste the cranberries but it was a really nice, creamy cheddar.
Sea Hale Maple Pecan Mix—I love the Sea Hale mango trail mix. A lot. These were little bags, great price at 50 cents each. I only bought one because they didn’t have much protein so I assumed that meant not many nuts inside. Turns out, it included dried fruit, apples and cherries. It was delightful. The teenager thought it was really good, super sweet and loved the dried fruit. We definitely want more of those.
Kii Naturals Fig, Black Sesame and Golden Flax Crackers— at first I thought man these things are chewy but then I realized I was eating the dried fig in the cracker. I loved the mix of super crispy and chewy. And the blend of sweet and savory. Teen labels them strange. “Not a bad strange, just strange.” I thought they were magnificent with the cashew butter. The teen thinks they are best with mild cheese. A tad expensive even at $2.99 for the small box.
Betsy’s Best Cashew Butter with coconut and chia— incredible. Creamy, coconut flavor a thick mouth feel due to the chia. The teen refused to try it. Delicious and I think the price was very reasonable.