Category Archives: Food

Part Three: Success!

The other day, with a few containers in our bag, we made a trip to the Gardiner Co-op to check out their bulk food section. We wanted  to see how easy it would be to use our own containers. We considered this a scouting trip and only brought a couple of containers.

We found that the Co-op has a small but practical bulk food section, with items such as rice, beans, and lentils, among other things. These are staples in our house, and we eat them, in one form or another, every week.

We needed chickpeas and black beans, and the clerk cheerfully weighed our empty containers before we filled them. We didn’t feel at all odd or as though we were asking him to do something that was an imposition. In fact, he acted as though it were a normal request. So all in all, we felt bringing our own containers was a smashing success, and we will definitely return to the Co-op. Here is what we came home with.

The big container with the black beans once held peanuts. (Yes, we do love peanuts.) As it turns out, this container is the perfect size for getting bulk food out from the bins without spilling anything on the floor. The jar that we used for chickpeas was a little too small, although Clif did avoid any spillage.

Although the peanut container is made of plastic, it is sturdy and fits easily in our cupboards. For now, at least, we will continue to buy peanuts in that packaging as we will be reusing the containers for bulk purchases. When we have enough of those containers, we will have to reassess how we buy peanuts.

A day after we went to the Gardiner Co-op, we went to our local Hannaford grocery store to find out about their bulk food. Their selection is not as practical as the Co-op’s and runs more toward treats—chocolate-covered peanuts, granola, and sesame sticks, to name a few.

However, I am a person who, ahem, loves treats, and let’s just say that of all the food that comes in wasteful, non-recyclable packaging, treats are at the top of the list. So I am totally into bulk treats.

But there was a bit of a snag at Hannaford. When I asked a clerk whether it was all right to bring in our own containers for bulk food, he hesitated before saying, “Yes, but we don’t weigh the packaging.” This means that you have to pay for the cost of the containers when the food is weighed.  H-m-m-m, I’ll have to think more about that one.

Finally, on a different but related subject, here is something that should go into the Green Hall of Fame. After going to the Gardiner Co-op, we met our friends Alice and Joel at a local Mexican Restaurant. They always order enough so that there is food leftover for a meal at home. And here is what they do.

They bring their own containers from home, including the cardboard ones for the condiments. And Alice assured me that she finds plenty of ways to use the little condiment containers.

Do we have awesome friends, or what?

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Ten Movies in Five Days: Having Fun Is Exhausting

The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) is over, and yesterday, we dropped off Dee at the bus station so that she could return to New York City. Afterwards, we returned to Winthrop, whereupon we collapsed on the couch and took a long nap. Why we should get so tired after a week of having fun is beyond me. Old age? No stamina? At any rate, we were wiped out.

But what a great week we had! As the title of this post indicates, we saw ten movies in five days. Waterville, Maine, is very lucky to have this film festival to bring a cultural spark to the area. It is also a boost to local businesses. Central Maine is not a destination for tourists, and while we have a slight influx of summer people who come to this region’s lakes, we do not have the great number of visitors that coastal communities have. During MIFF, the owner of one small cafe noted that they had made an extra several hundred dollars each day because of MIFF. For a small business, that is a big help.

And speaking of small…one of the things I especially like about MIFF is having the chance to watch really small movies that I probably wouldn’t see anywhere else, not even at Railroad Square. We saw two such movies last week: The first was Waiting for Barcelona, Finnish filmmaker Juho-Pekka Tanskanena’s beautifully-shot documentary about immigrants. The second was Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, in which a little girl is accused of being a witch and is sent to a witch camp. Set in Zambia, I Am Not a Witch is a haunting fable suffused with magical realism. 

Between movies, we, of course, had to eat, and in downtown Waterville, we discovered Itali-ah Restaurant and Market.

From the snappy cocktail

to the sweet little bread basket and fabulous olive oil

to the pizza with its perfect sauce and crunchy crust,

it was love at first bite. So good, so good! Itali-ah even has gelato, one of my passions, and we stopped in twice for a cool, creamy treat on a hot summer’s day.

Now that MIFF is over, and we aren’t seeing two movies a day, you might think we are at loose ends. But fear not. Two new movies have arrived at Railroad Square. They are Leave no Trace and Sorry to Bother You.

Always something happening in Central Maine. And in between, we even manage to get a few things done.

 

Heat, Color, and Making the World a Better Place

At last the rain has come, and the temperature has dropped to 75° Fahrenheit. A big relief. But the rest of the week was so hot and so uncomfortable that today I feel a little woozy, as though I’m recovering from the flu. We have no air conditioning in our house—in the past, we’ve never needed it—but if this hot trend continues, we might have to reconsider.

Though it was hot, we had our Fourth of July gathering. While we didn’t solve the problems of the world, we did have this luscious ice-cream cake that Alice made and brought. How good it was!

Despite the heat, my gardens are looking good. Most of my plants are very hardy, and I hand water when it is needed. As I’ve written previously, because we live in the woods, I’ve finally given up on the notion of having gardens with bursts of flowers. Instead, I’ve succumbed to hostas, which have their own quiet charm. However, as this picture indicate, there is a bit of yellow to liven up the green of the hostas.

And a few astilbes, too.

Out back, where there is a bit more sun, we have a little more color—some orange to go with the yellow, and I really like the way the flowers look against my blue fountain.

Here is a closer look at the lilies.

Finally, I want to let my blogging friends know how much I appreciate your understanding about why I feel down in the dumps about this country. Near or far, I feel as though I have found a group of kindred spirits, who, through your writing and your philosophy, make this world a better place.

Many, many thanks!

A Day for Flowers, a Bike Ride, and Nachos

In the United States, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

There were flowers from Mike and Shannon,

and flowers from Dee.

The day was sunny and warm, just perfect for a bike ride, our first of the season.

We rode our usual route of eight miles, and except for some slight knee pain, it was go, go, go for me. For the past few months, I have been faithfully riding my exercise bike, and yesterday I saw the benefits of this, ahem, boring workout. It’s been a long time since I have started the biking season feeling so strong and ready to go. I am very hopeful that by midsummer, we will be going on longer bike rides.

After our bike ride, we stopped at the little park by Maranacook Lake. So green and pretty this time of year.

How to end this sunny day? With Clif’s nachos, which are far better than any we can get in central Maine.

All in all, a good Mother’s Day from beginning to end.

 

Five for Friday: When Bad Weather Comes, Eat Pie and Muffins!

Another week, another nor’easter. This mourning dove illustrates how we Mainers felt as we  cleaned the snow from our driveways and walkways.

Yet not all hope is lost. Do you see what I see when looking at this picture? Snow and branches, yes, but also little buds. Clearly, the tree thinks spring is coming even if the weather says otherwise.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that nor’easter number four is predicted for next week. How much bad weather can one region get before it starts to feel like showing off?  I think we crossed that threshold two storms ago, and still the storms come. Right now, there is some debate as to how fierce the next nor’easter will be. It all depends on how close to land it is. May it be far out to sea, away from ships and people.

At this point, some readers might be wondering what the heck a nor’easter is and why we dread them so. Here is a definition from  AccuWeather: “[T}he main difference between a hurricane and nor’easter is the size of the wind field. According to NOAA, a wind field is the three-dimensional spatial pattern of winds…Hurricanes have a narrow field of strong winds with a concentration around the center, whereas a nor’easter’s winds are spread out…For example, a hurricane may only have a 30-mile radius of a strong wind field around the center, while a nor’easter may have a 100-mile radius of a strong wind field from the center.”

Simply put, a nor’easter is a winter hurricane with a very large wind field that can cause a lot of damage. We are right to fear them.

But let us turn our thoughts away from nor’easters and instead focus on one of my favorite subjects—food.

In the U.S., because of the way we order our dates—month and day rather than the reverse—we had pie or pi day on Wednesday, March 14. Pies are one of my favorite things to make and eat, and in honor of pi day, I made an apple pie. I bought local apples—McIntoshes—that had been perfectly stored so that they were still slightly tart. Our friend Mary Jane came over to have pie with us, and I even convinced her to take a slice home. After all, one pie for two people is a bit much. Not that we couldn’t eat it all, but we certainly shouldn’t.

Another kind of pie is pizza. Before digging into the apple pie, Mary Jane, Clif, and I went TJ’s in Monmouth to have some beautifully cooked pizza.

Then, to gild the lily, Mary Jane gave us some donut muffins, which we had for breakfast the next day. With a hint of nutmeg in the batter and the sugar and cinnamon on top, those muffins were utterly delicious. Many thanks, Mary Jane!

To conclude: The weather might be frightful, but when the food is good, somehow things don’t seem quite as bad.