Today: breakfast with Kim and Paul at Alps, attempting (and failing) to redeem our Groupon at Meatloaf Bakery. Just-off-the-highway White Castle lunch, as there is a time and a place for tiny steamed burgers, and that time is “on your way home from a holiday weekend”. Home in the late afternoon, triumphant in our minimally stressful drive and also in the Browns’ last minute victory. Moped time for Shane, knitting and macaroni and MI-5 for me. Nothing foodworthy to write about, really – just that we’re home safe and happy to be here.
Tonight I had an intense craving for – something. I didn’t know what, though, except that it didn’t exist in my kitchen. It wasn’t a frozen pizza or a sweet potato or something bad for me. I maybe wanted a burger? but I didn’t want to spend $10 on one, nor did I want a greasy-gross fast food burger.
This waffling continued for upwards of an hour as I looked through my Yelp bookmarks and chatted with Jackie about how we were both hungry but didn’t want to make or order something for our lonesomes. If I’d been in Alexandria, we would’ve ordered a pizza from Monterey and then hung out with Harper all evening.
Photo by JackiePants
Instead, I ordered Chipotle: a burrito “bowl” with rice, sauteed veggies, green salsa, shredded cheese, and oh so good carnitas. Chipotle prides itself on the freshness and quality of their ingredients – especially the pork – so while I know it isn’t the best or most local choice, it does still feel like a responsible and delicious one. And I was super happy with my meal, which is half the battle these days.
Remember what I said about Thursdays? It might be Friday, but tonight was very much like a Thursday night for us.
Shane has a very busy weekend ahead of him: tonight’s the first session in the Beer Judge Certification Program, and then tomorrow he’s off to Springfield, Ohio, for the day to watch his brother O R I N in his first power-lifting competition. Between work and BJCP, he had to run around getting the oil changed and filling up the gas tank, so there were few options other than a fast food dinner.
My evening and weekend plans are much more low-key, so I’d planned on making dinner but took little convincing when Shane offered to pick up a sandwich for me on his way home. While I waited for him to return from his errands, I raked up a giant leaf pile:
That’s about half the front yard, plus all the leaves that have accumulated in our quarter of the driveway so far this fall. I’m tempted to email this photo to my landlord to see if it’ll help expedite the leaf removal, which is not our responsibility. I am, however, pretty proud of the pile and of the raking blister that did not get in the way of my plan to knit the rest of the evening.
I consider myself an enthusiastic omnivore and yet I haven’t been in a meat-eating mood for most of the last two months. And if I haven’t been in a meat-eating mood, I emphatically haven’t been in a meat-preparing mood. I’m not sure why this is, exactly. It’s not that I’m turned off to meat – or any meat in particular. I just don’t feel like it.
There are, of course, exceptions. Last night’s stew, for example, or the tacos al pastor on Taco Tuesday. I almost always have meat when we go out – mostly because I feel like I need to have protein, and non-meat options are often heavy pastas, which I enjoy but know I shouldn’t eat.
Long story short, we were going to have pork chops and roasted parsnips tonight, but I had zero interest in either. Shane had a late lunch, and so wasn’t particularly hungry until later, when I did. not. want. anything. in. the. house. but was getting increasingly hungry. He suggested Subway, so we split a $5 footlong, which absolutely hit the spot. Sometimes it’s nice to just not have to make a choice, you know?
Let’s just get something out of the way here: I have an ice cream problem. I would eat ice cream every day if I were allowed to do so. And this summer, I’ve been doing just that.
It doesn’t even have to be good ice cream! I am an equal opportunity ice cream eater. It just needs to be cold and creamy, and maybe have a crisp and crunchy cone at the end. I love an amazing scoop of Jeni’s, but I am also super happy with a soft-serve cone from McDonald’s. I love cheap ice cream treats straight from the waxy paper wrapper, and I love splitting a giant scoop from Washtenaw Dairy. I love ice cream enough to forgo beer in order to save my calories for a cone later. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on who you ask, Shane shares my passion for ice cream. And soft-serve. And, occasionally, frozen yogurt.
After a light dinner and some puttering, we rode our peds up to Dairy Queen, where we discovered that they have introduced Mini Blizzards! They’re still a diet busting 300+ calories, but as an occasional treat, they’re pretty damned good. I had cookie dough, and Shane’s involved heath and caramel. So good, you guys. But maybe I should stick to popsicles for the rest of the week to make up for the splurge.
Let’s not talk about how terribly I ate today, OK? Too many cocktails + painfully hot weather + a solo evening while Shane was braving frighteningly foul weather at the 13th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival equals a hungry and unmotivated E. It was the kind of night that required ice cream, knitting and a lot of crime drama reruns. All of those things happened, but healthy eating did not.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, I was pretty obsessed with The Tea Party, a now-defunct Canadian band heavily influenced by blues, prog rock, and various flavors of world music. They last toured the States in 1997, when I happened to catch them opening for Jimmie’s Chicken Shack at the Barrymore in Madison. I was blown away – literally, in fact, because the bass was so intense that I had to go stand in the lobby. It’s pretty accurate to say that for the next 3-4 years, I listened to their music almost exclusively. I met the band in Paris in 2000 and followed them “on the list” for a couple of European dates while studying in London. When I got back from London, I found myself in a Tea Party-free wasteland, and so made several whirlwind trips up to Canada to go to shows and meet up with fans from the Sister Awake listserv.
It was on one of those trips that I first encountered Timbits.
I had driven from Rockford to Sarnia, arriving just in time for the show, then met up with a bunch of SAers and continued on in the Red Car Caravan to London, where I spent the night at Lynda’s. I was sick, and was up half the night coughing my lungs out, but somehow Lynda and her parents (who I just met that night) put up with me. In the morning, a bunch of us made a trip to Tim’s – as ubiquitous in Canada as Starbucks is in most major metro areas here – and the native Canadians had a good time watching me figure out my money.
It’s such a funny and random memory – but as a result, I associate Tim Horton’s with these road trips to Canada and with the fun Canadians I met each time I crossed the border. Other than this nostalgia, however, I can’t think of a single thing that differentiates Timbits from, say, the donut holes from Dunkin Donuts, other than that Timbits come in a more interesting array of flavors. This morning we picked up a box of 10 for road trip snacking – two Dutchies (raisin and apple), two chocolate, two honey cruller (less overwhelmingly sweet than the honey dip), and four sour cream (rich and flavorful) – and a couple of iced coffees. Good stuff, and enough sweets to bring on a rush of nostalgia – or maybe that was just a sugar high.
We hit the road for Rockford tonight, where we’ll be spending the weekend visiting my family, meeting our new nephew, and having the last of our wedding receptions. According to Google Maps, the distance between our house and my parents’ is 320 miles, or an estimated drive of 5:46, with an hour gained by crossing into the central time zone. Tonight, however, it took closer to 7 hours.
First, we hit construction just outside Ann Arbor. Then we hit stand-still traffic that continued past Kalamazoo. THEN the traffic cleared up just in time for a huge storm to break, dramatically reducing visibility and slowing us down to a crawl. The rain let up just outside Indiana, and we had about 90 minutes of smooth, weather and traffic free driving through Chicago – incredible! And THEN, near Marengo, the sky turned black as an apocalyptic storm rolled in with heavy rain and lots of lightning. With no shelter and our destination less than 20 miles away, we pressed on, in part fueled by our cravings for Beef-a-Roo.
Have I mentioned Beef-a-Roo here before? If not, I sincerely apologize. I also sincerely apologize to anyone who lives far from this northern Illinois mecca of fast food, as you’re missing out on something truly special.
Beef-a-Roo is a Rockford institution that has been dishing out quality burgers since 1967. Each of the nine locations around the Rockford area has its own identity and decor, but all of them serve up killer milkshakes, sandwiches, salads, and fried things. Despite the titular ‘beef’, Beef-a-Roo is surprisingly vegetarian-friendly. The Veggie Club may have cemented my love for the chain in the years when I was veg but was dating a dedicated meat eater.
photo by slworking2
Having renounced my veg ways, I now crave the Cilantro Lime Turkey Club – turkey, havarti, veggies, and cilantro-lime mayo on a doughy roll – along with their various chicken sandwiches and, of course, the cheddar fries. As pictured above, their cheddar fries come in a soft-drink cup, with the distribution of melted cheese basically requiring the use of a fork. Soooooo good.
Beef-a-Roo doesn’t have the cult following that In-N-Out Burger has, and I really don’t understand why – except that Rockford isn’t quite the destination that California is. Alas, more Beef-a-Roo for me! Tonight, having weathered the storm and the too too long drive, I enjoyed every last bite of my Cilantro Lime Turkey Club, and then helped Shane finish his Jamocha shake. I figure we earned it.
I don’t really know why we haven’t been cooking much this week, apart from the fact that we were gone on Tuesday. Maybe it’s the nice weather and trying to exercise after work? Maybe I’m just not feeling inspired by the recipes we picked while feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the weekend’s leftovers? I don’t really know.
Tonight I prepped at SELMA, while Shane stayed home to exercise and chill out. As it turned out, he made dinner – a simple pasta with sauteed onions, garlic, and tuna – while I picked up fast food on the way home. I had planned to have dinner at SELMA, but the combined forces of wanting to get home early and also feeling woozy conspired against my desire to eat the souffle that Lisa and young Charles were working on when I left.
We’re going to visit friends and family in Cleveland for the weekend, so I think I’m going to give myself a pass on updating unless we eat something really excellent.
Does this ever happen to you? Every few weeks, I get to a point where I just really don’t want to think about food. I don’t want to make it. I don’t really want to eat it. I certainly don’t want to be responsible for deciding what it is that I don’t particularly want to eat. That was me tonight. I was famished, but had no idea what would hit the spot. After planning the week’s meals and dropping Shane off at another working dinner, I went to Plum Market in hopes that something would jump out…and nothing did. No delicious beet salad with soft and tart onions. No dilled turkey salad with slivers of almond. No wheat berry salad with dried cherries. No grilled vegetables. No entrees that looked remotely appealing.
So I ended up at McDonald’s. And you know, it’s this kind of night when I’m glad that McDonald’s exists. I got a salad and an ice cream cone, both of which were just right. It’s easy to understand how this could be a significant lifestyle choice, however – if you have neither the time or inclination to cook, fast food is soooooo easy, and 50 Chicken McNuggets for $10.00 seems like a great deal for you and your family. There was a time in my life when this was the way that I ate. It was cheaper and easier to grab a sub or fries or Taco Bell than to make dinner when my ex and I ate totally different things and were on totally different schedules. I didn’t think about the consequences for my body or for the planet. I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious, but I’m glad that’s not the case now, despite the occasional indulgence.