Another reason to be “unchained”

I love their sandwiches (and their kettle cooked potato chips), but I had long suspected, based on the content of the irreverent/quirky/look-how-hip-we-are metal signs adorning every square millimeter of wall space inside most of their restaurants, that the owner/founder of Jimmy John’s was on the Libertarian/Republican end of the political spectrum.

Looks like I was right.

Now, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and political views, but when money is put into action to support those views, everyone involved in the chain of hands through which that money has passed is, in some small way, culpable in the outcome.

Put in more tangible terms, Maricopa County’s “tough on crime” sheriff (profiled last year in an excellent New Yorker article) is a big part of the racial profiling brouhaha going on with Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. “Jimmy John” Liautaud was a major (if indirect) contributor to Sheriff Joe’s re-election campaign. And the money he donated came in part from me eating submarine sandwiches.

They’re damn good sandwiches, yes. But if by eating them I’m helping to contribute to the racist xenophobia overtaking the country, then I think I can forgo that small delight.

The owner of the franchise on Hennepin Ave. says protesting in front of his store “only harms hardworking local business people such as ourselves and our employees.” I can see his point. It is likely directly impacting business at this particular, independently-owned Jimmy John’s franchise, while (probably) having absolutely no impact whatsoever at the corporate level.

However, when you buy into a franchise, when you hang up all of their crazy signs and sell their products and promote their identity, you’re also contributing to a perpetuation of the parent company’s values and philosophy — in addition to, again, contributing financially to whatever entities the corporate ownership supports.

It’s easy to get overly self-righteous (but, then, I suppose all self-righteousness is “overly”) in a situation like this. Glass houses, etc. I’m not claiming to be above reproach. Just trying to be more aware of the ways I’m not.

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A thought…

As the past few days’ receipts pile up on my desk, I realize that at the moment I’m more committed to doing what this blog is about than actually doing the blog. I suppose if something has to give, I’m focusing on the right one, but at the expense of engaging whoever is reading this. Fortunately SLP’s been picking up some of my slack (and her posts are usually more engaging anyway).

Last night I was at Target Field for another Twins game. I felt good about my decision to have a Kramarczuk’s brat and a Summit EPA. Not as good about later having a slice of the obviously frozen Palermo’s pizza and a Bud Light. (Never have I been so keenly aware of how awful light beer is.)

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A few more thoughts, Day 7

I would like to elaborate on some things that STA mentioned:

First, we went to the coolest kids’ (and adults-trying-to-relive-their-childhood) book store EVER: Wild Rumpus. It’s where I found (but didn’t buy…maybe it should be a birthday present–hint: June 29) the Scary Clowns book that I mention here. Yesterday FWA and I picked up the second Lemony Snickett book and STA managed to find a choose your own adventure book,  Return to Atlantis. Sweet.

Second, we went to a small tea and coffee shop a few doors down, where I bought some espresso beans. FWA and RJP exclaimed (rather loudly and repeatedly), “Eww, it smells gross in here.” I replied, “Oh, you’re just too young to appreciate the joy of coffee.” I had the guy grind them for me because I don’t think my grinder does a good enough job grinding beans for espresso. I made a latte at home this morning and it was fairly decent. I still need to experiment more with my technique (how long to brew my double shot + my milk to espresso ratio). Even though the beans are expensive (about 8 bucks for 1/2 pound), I liked the store and the guy. Plus, buying these beans is still cheaper than going out for lattes everyday. And, I don’t see myself giving up my latte habit anytime soon.

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Day 7 receipts: the quest for lasagna ingredients

Tonight’s dinner plan is more pantry clean-out. We have some lasagna noodles that have been sitting on a top shelf for more months than I care to recall (most were past their somewhat meaningless “best by” date), and we also had some Bertolli marinara sauce on hand, along with the rest of the romaine lettuce I didn’t use with the In-N-Out-esque burgers. We have a favorite lasagna recipe that we haven’t made in a while, so we decided to get the rest of what we needed during today’s family outing (which was taking us to the Linden Hills area for ice cream and books).

Our plan was to get most of the necessities at Linden Hills Co-op, and then head over to Clancy’s for the turkey sausage (if necessary). The co-op had a good selection of most items, but a pretty meager offering of meats, so off to Clancy’s it was. Unfortunately, while Clancy’s offers some excellent options, there was no straightforward Italian sausage, turkey or otherwise, and I just got the feeling that apricots might throw off the flavor of the lasagna. That, combined with the queue, apparent lack of credit card payment options, and a pair of increasingly rambunctious kids, ruled it out for us.

Where to next, then? We considered Everett’s but they’re closed on Sundays. So we resorted to the nearby neighborhood Supervalu store, Bergan’s. Two things struck me at Bergan’s, first, though I’ve usually thought of it as a tiny neighborhood market, after the co-op and Clancy’s it seemed positively cavernous. And second, disappointingly, there was no Italian turkey sausage! I settled for Klement’s fresh Italian pork sausage (mild… boo…), and thus the shopping was complete.

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Last Night’s Dinner…the SLP version

In my last entry, I mentioned that I was enlisting FWA in my mission to shop for dinner. He wrote down the list (and added a few “treats” for himself and RJP) and then walked with me to Oxendale’s. My frugal heart is proud to announce that we only spent $5.14 to supplement the food we already had at home.

In STA’s entry he mentioned that I made muffins and rice. For the muffins, I used the old box of Jiffy corn muffins that I found in the cupboard. I added fresh corn, chopped/canned green chiles and some shredded cheddar cheese. I thought they were pretty good. Next time I will put more batter in less muffin tins and add even more fresh corn to the mix.

For the rice, I sauteed some diced onions in olive oil, added a cup of rice (about half long grain and half jasmine. That was all we had; I worried that STA might complain about mixing the rice, but all he said was, “this rice tastes really good!”), and then poured in 2 cups of chicken broth. Even though I really like the flavor of onions in the rice, I hesitated a little in putting them in. FWA and RJP would be eating the rice too and I could already hear their yelling echoing in my head: “WHY DID YOU PUT ONIONS IN THE RICE? I HATE ONIONS!! I WON’T EAT IT! I WANT PLAIN RICE…WITH SALT…AND BUTTER…AND NOTHING ELSE!! Since I am a troublemaker (and a risktaker), I decided to put the onions in anyway. At one point during the meal, FWA asked, somewhat suspiciously, “Mom, what are these white things in the rice?” I sweetly answered, “hmmm….I don’t know what they are. Why don’t you try them and see if you like them.” Amazingly, FWA didn’t resist; he tried them. I don’t really think he liked them, because he didn’t eat that much more of his rice. But he didn’t scream or carry on or fling himself on the couch, all the while yelling that I had ruined his life by making him rice with…(gasp) onions, so I would consider the onion-rice effort a success.

Oh, one more thing: We are out of long grain rice. It seems like now might be a good time to try brown rice again. Can we do it? Will the kids eat it? I am aware of the benefits of brown rice over white rice, but I don’t really like brown rice. Is it a matter of just breaking that habit of eating/enjoying/wanting white rice and learning to embrace the healthier habit of eating/craving brown rice? Maybe we should try eating some local rice–some Minnesota wild rice? I wonder about what sort of responsible options we have for purchasing fair trade wild rice–after a brief google search, I found this (somewhat outdated) article about Minnesota Fair Trade Wild Rice at the Wedge Co-op.

Here’s an interesting youtube clip that I came across about the significance of wild rice for the Objibwe people:

And here’s a different take on wild rice in Minnesota:

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Another day, another receipt

We won’t be exhaustively scanning our receipts from every store (if that wasn’t apparent already), but since we went to a new place today — at least, new for the blog… we’ve been to Seward Co-op a few times before — I thought it would be good to capture a snapshot of today’s experience.

The meal plan for tonight is Thai red curry with chicken, basil and broccoli; we’ll also be using some ingredients we already had (as SLP noted earlier). Thai red curry has been an on-and-off staple of our on-and-off home cooking for the past several years. It’s never quite as good at home as it is at some of our favorite Thai restaurants, but it’s still pretty good. More reliable than my consistently underwhelming efforts at Indian curry.

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Last night’s dinner…

SLP planned this meal as a result of cleaning out the pantry. She prepped everything and cooked the rice and the chile corn muffins. I cooked the bean-pepper-corn… whatever you’d call it, and the guacamole was left over from a couple days earlier. (Note that the guacamole managed to stay relatively green and fresh looking thanks to the vitamin C in the lime juice.)

We’ve made this sort of beans and rice meal often when we’re in a rush or trying to stave off a run to the store. It’s probably one of the healthiest meals we make, too. I like to experiment a bit with the seasonings in the beans. Typically I use a mixture of chili powder, cumin, minced garlic and about a tablespoon of salsa (believe it or not, I prefer Pace Picante, medium, even over some of the “fancy” brands). This time I incorporated the rest of the canned green chiles SLP used for the corn muffins, along with a little lime juice to add some acidity. Unfortunately the lime juice also added some other flavors that didn’t totally “work,” but mixing in some guacamole made it all better (as it always does).

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Cleaning out the pantry

Today, after finally feeling like summer is beginning, I decided to clean out our pantry (or more specifically, our food cupboards). So far I have tackled our biggest food cupboard–the one with our canned goods, kids’ lunch food, bread and chips. Here’s one immediate observation: we have too many opened bags of chips. Following the theme of “I hate wasting food,” our inability to almost ever finish a bag of chips or pretzels really bothers me. Almost all of the half-finished bags that I found today are tortilla chips. Potato chips are a different story; we always finish our bags of potato chips, especially the cheddar and sour cream Ruffles. Now that’s another type of problem. What do they put in that “cheese” to make it so addictive?

There were a few interesting food items that I found, hiding in the dark corners. I think they could be the inspiration for upcoming meals:

  1. 1 can of dark kidney beans and chili beans each. Hmmm….we must have been planning to make chili during football season. I also found two boxes of Jiffy corn muffins. I imagine that adding some of the fresh corn we have to this mix would work well with the chili. I bet our leftover guacamole and the jar of salsa I found could be helpful here too. It is a little bit cool and rainy today, so it might be nice to have a warm soup.
  2. 1 can of coconut milk, 1 unopened jar of red curry paste, 1 can of bamboo shoots. STA and I used to love making thai red curry–with a few added vegetables. This would go well with some fresh basil, tofu and the frozen peas that we have in the freezer…maybe some broccoli too (but I need to buy that at the store). By the way, where and how exactly do they grow broccoli? Here’s a random youtube video about a broccoli farm in Georgia. This clip discusses the labor that is needed to grow/harvest/ship broccoli. It focuses almost exclusively on one type of worker: the farm owner-as-worker):
  3. And, here’s another video that focuses more on what broccoli is:

  4. A box of Nilla wafers that I stashed at the top of the cupboard right after we declared a “no sugar zone” for little RJP. Little kids on sugar can be really scary. Of course the sugar embargo lasted about 24 hours, but the nilla wafers were forgotten until now. I think FWA and I might pick up some banana pudding and make the recipe on the box.

I have enlisted FWA to help me this afternoon. Our mission is to shop for dinner. Time to pry him away from the Wii (Super Mario Galaxy 2) so we can make our list!

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Some more reflections: Day Four

STA’s burgers and the margaritas were great on Tuesday night. My chips need a little work, however. I haven’t quite figured out that golden (literally) mean between soggy and burnt. Oh well, I will keep trying. As we were preparing our food on Tuesday night, I realized something that I think just might be crucial to breaking old habits and developing new ones: We make and waste too much food.

There I was, shucking the corn (well, actually, RJP shucked the corn. She was very proud of herself. She asked: “Do I have school tomorrow?” When I said yes, she excitedly responded: “Yeah! I’m going to tell EVERYONE that I got to peel the corn!!”) when it suddenly dawned on me: We still had lots of leftover vegetables, couscous salad and hot dogs from last night. How could we possibly eat all of the new food that we were preparing and finish up our leftovers? Wait, let me rephrase that: How could we possibly eat all of the new food and finish up our leftovers without our stomachs exploding? (And without ending up on the floor, rolling around and groaning, “I ate too much!” I like to reserve that unpleasant experience for just once a year: after Thanksgiving dinner. Since I was a little girl, it has been a SLP tradition.)

The only alternative to exploding stomachs seems to be to waste food, which happens frequently. I really dislike wasting food. Not because I am haunted by some “starving children in insert ‘third world’ country here.” Don’t get me started on that extremely problematic statement or the guilt-ridden/othering/colonizing ideology that undergirds it. I dislike wasting food because…hmmm? I want to say it is because I am frugal, but I am not sure what that means or why it bothers me. Oh well, let’s just say that I dislike wasting food. In our next shopping trip, we need to think about making choices that are guided by the goals of not buying or making more than we can eat. Uh oh. It sounds like these goals might require more planning. Sorry STA….

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Going local at Target Field

Last night the whole SLP/STA crew (us, the kids, and my parents) headed downtown for their first (and my sixth… or is it seventh?) Twins game at Target Field.

Is it possible to “go local” at a Major League Baseball stadium? It is at Target Field! The team frequently proclaims Target Field is the “greenest” stadium in baseball. I suppose it is good that they recycle 100 tons (or whatever incomprehensibly huge number it is) of trash per homestand rather than hauling it straight to a landfill (and assuming that “recycling” doesn’t mean loading it on a freighter for China where it will essentially end up in a landfill), but I find it somewhat difficult to take such environmentally-conscious claims too seriously.

But what you can take seriously is that there are local food and drink options aplenty at the stadium. Before the game I treated the kids to hot dogs from the Michelbob’s Ribs stand on Target Plaza (just outside the stadium at Gate 34). Sure, this company is based in Naples, FL, but they’re a favorite of Twins fans at spring training. Plus, the owners used to run Brewberry’s (although I’m not sure how I feel about all of that now that they’ve sold it to Michigan-based Espresso Royale).

Once inside, my favorite option, both for its excellent quality and its local connection, is a Polish sausage (or, if you prefer, a brat) from Kramarczuk’s. They operate a number of stands throughout the stadium. And be sure to wash it down with a Minnesota-brewed Summit Extra Pale Ale or Grain Belt Premium.

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