After some failures, (some) success

I was worried about what our vacation might do to this blog, its mission (or whatever you’d call it), or at least to my own motivation to participate in it, and not without reason.

It wasn’t just that we broke down and shopped at Super Target for some “necessities” prior to leaving. It wasn’t just that, despite our “unchained” successes during most of the trip, the circumstances of three days in suburban Chicago at the end of the trip all but dragged us to both McDonald’s and (again) Target. It was that I was already weakening on the overall objectives (perhaps because they were never clearly defined), and ten days’ disruption of the “new way” would make it easier than ever to slip back into the old.

Fortunately, our return home was not accompanied with a return to the chain stores, but it was accompanied by the return of one unwanted behavior: kitchen laziness, i.e. a frequent willingness to resort to takeout for dinner. In just a few days’ time, we got takeout from Crystal Garden (Chinese), Dominguez (Mexican), Gandhi Mahal (Indian), along with numerous lunchtime visits to 3 Tiers and Nokomis Beach. We stayed local and non-chain, but we were falling back into old habits where excessive consumption of both money and calories were concerned.

Yesterday marked a return to the Linden Hills area, for a dual mission of entertaining the kids and purchasing dinner ingredients. This is always a mixed bag: the kids were adequately appeased (for a while) with the Lynnhurst wading pool and a stroll through the Lyndale Rose Garden and Peace Garden. They were placated with Sebastian Joe’s ice cream and a brief stop at Creative Kidstuff. They got to complain in colorful ways about the strong aromas at Coffee and Tea, Ltd. But on the downside, we didn’t get to leave with another loaf of delicious Great Harvest bread (they close at 1 PM on Sundays), we paid way too much (again) at the Linden Hills Co-op (why is it so much more expensive, even than the Seward Co-op?), and we didn’t escape without at least a few tantrums (some by the kids). And of course there’s the nagging feeling that we’re not really doing ourselves or the world any favors by shopping in the elite environs of southwest Minneapolis.

We did, however, succeed in making one of our old favorites that we haven’t had in years: Grilled Pizza with Spicy Italian Sausage, from a 1997 issue of Bon Appetit. Back in the early 2000s we made this several times every summer, but it’s been ages, and we both missed it.

We took a shortcut on the crust, which in retrospect was a “fail”: while the premade crust we purchased at the co-op was quite tasty, it was ridiculously expensive. This pizza is pretty labor-intensive as it is, though, especially after all we had done in the afternoon (and considering it was already nearly 6 PM when we got home), and making the crust from scratch just didn’t seem prudent at the time.

This was the first time I’d made pizzas with our gas grill, and the kids’ cheese pizza, made first, was charred past their point of tolerance; then I erred too far in the other direction with our own pizza. But ultimately it was still a delicious and satisfying conclusion to a busy, and mostly non-fail, day. (Bonus non-fail: we picked up the hot Italian sausage at Clancey’s and it was excellent.)

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