Category Archives: Minutiae and me…

Single Wanderers in the Grocery Desert

Standard

shopperLately, I’ve started to pay more attention to my kin at the grocery store – those of us who wander in single-shopping mode, often perplexed by things like the overwhelming choices in the orange juice section. Pulp? Some Pulp? No Pulp with Calcium? Good Lord.

We don’t often make eye contact, we solo shoppers. We’re on a mission. In my case, it’s get it done and get out fast. But a recent mailing of $1 off coupons from Giant Eagle had me all over the damn store. I normally buy store brands, but w/ a buck off, I bought Kellogg’s Mini Wheats in Cinnamon Roll flavor. Seriously. But I’m digressing. (Hey, I saved nine bucks.)

There is a certain camaraderie between the singles when confronted w/couples who are not only arguing about some unresolved issue and taking it out on innocent produce, but also blocking any passage in their self-absorbed oblivion. I’ve caught many an eye-roll and exasperated sigh from fellow singletons when trying to negotiate around these folks. I’m fairly certain I recently had a silent communion w/ a guy as we said in our thought bubbles, “Thank God I don’t have to deal w/ that cra*anymore!”

We do peek in each other’s carts. I’ve learned to bite my tongue when about to comment on another single person’s items. Early on in fresh post-divorce mode, I talked to anyone and didn’t have much of a filter. I’d point out my 20 cans of Fancy Feast and case of wine and laugh while gazing at their head of lettuce, light bulb and cheese singles. It usually didn’t go over well.

I continue to chat w/ people in the wine department, advising them on a good red or nice Chenin Blanc. Most people like to talk about wine and some look petrified they’ll make a wrong choice, elevating a wine purchase to that of a new vehicle. So perhaps I offer them some comfort. I certainly enjoy myself.

Maybe we should have a secret handshake or club? Single People’s Grocery List Outpost #35. Come and share your grocery list and pet peeves. I’ll pour you a glass of wine.

Love Me Some Paper Products

Standard

Inspired by some daffy experiences in consumerism lately (Dear God, Christmas shoID-100149804pping!? I’m never doing that again. Ever.), I decided to bring back the SPGL blog. Honestly for me, single-person grocery shopping hasn’t gotten any easier or fun, but I make an effort to record some of my weirder thoughts for possible use later. Like a recent trip to Sam’s. I went for calcium. You know, the kind that comes in the huge barrel that may still be going strong after my demise. But here’s what else I ended up buying. Keep in mind that the budget’s very tight right now, but I avoided reality nonetheless and I had a $5 coupon to use…

  • Calcium 600 mg. + Vitamin D3, 600 tablets  – I have no idea what “D3” is but I did read that it’s good to have D along for the ride.
  • Charmin, 36 rolls – I believe that’s self-explanatory.
  • Paper Towels – Lots of rolls. See above.
  • Kleenex, cute designer size, assorted colors, 10 boxes – Yes, of course I know there are cheaper, generic brands and  the bigger, boring boxes have a higher tissue content, but I don’t give a damn. I like my little boxes of the super-soft line. Right now you can blow your cute designer nose in every room in my house.
  • 2 lbs. strawberries – I hate it when fresh fruit isn’t in season and seriously expensive, but these were reasonably priced.
  • Set of three non-stick skillets, 8″, 10″ and 12″ – “He Who No Longer Inhabits” took most of the good cookware and tools. I began to worry that the peeling coating from the “Teflon” pans he rejected might be killing me. Plus they were a gorgeous orange and $24.95 for the set.

Paper Product Love
After she reported her Sam’s trip, my pal and I actually had a 10-15 minute convo about how excited we both were that we now had multiple rolls of TP and paper towels. Remember when you lived in a college apartment or your first place and toilet paper was almost a luxury? Another friend, who I would never suspect of such nefarious deeds, recently admitted she used to steal TP from a hotel that was near her apartment. (She “paid them back” years later, in kind. Seriously.)

When you get down to one roll of toilet paper for two bathrooms, don’t you start to feel all poor again? I do. So when I brought my new package of Charmin into the house, it was a good day. Similar feelings arose for the Bounty paper towels, but it’s not as deep a love.

No Food
Notice there was only one edible item in that Sam’s run? So I spent $71.65 and could make a grilled strawberry sandwich in my new skillet.

But I still have 34 rolls of the good stuff left.

Big Box Grocery vs. Single Peeps

Standard

Don’t you hate it when you start reading and following a blog and they don’t update it for months or even years? Me, too. But I’m guilty as charged – my last post was in early May and we’re cruising into August. Bad blogger, bad blogger! I thought I’d squeeze in an update before taking a hiatus. More on that later…

Mr. Sam’s Big Bulk Extravaganza

I hadn’t belonged to the Big Grocery since He Who No Longer Inhabits was around. Couldn’t afford the membership and didn’t think a single person benefits much from the bulk theory. But a Groupon lured me in, especially since it came w/ a free rotisserie chicken, pizza and cookies. My first trip, I bought:

  • 14 lbs. of large Milk-Bones – The only issue I have is storage. I have them stashed all over the house in weird containers.
  • 36 rolls or toilet paper – If you’ve never been near poverty, you don’t know the joys of buying that much TP at once. As I’ve mentioned before, paper products wreak hell on single people’s budgets, but going w/o is not really an option.
  • A zillion rolls of paper towels – See above, except the the ecstasy of TP abundance part – I can’t get that excited about Bounty. But I hate to run out.
  • Comfort bras – Hey, they came in a two-pack at a good price.
  • Some food items – Maybe a couple hundred tomatoes in a package, the free cookies, etc. I was suddenly in a “Big Box Introvert-Response Mode” and had to leave the warehouse and decompress.

Recently, I added my pal Sarah to my membership. They allow other people at your address to be on your account. We don’t live together, but I doubt they care. We did tell them we were “heterosexual life partners” just to give them something to talk about on a cig. break. Sarah and I split a 2-pack of Cheerios and a package of TP. If we were dating, we decided these trips could be a Friday Night Date Night activity.peaches 812

Moving on…

I mentioned the hiatus above. This blog’s been super fun and I’ve loved the reader response. But it’s kind of life-stage specific, as least for me. I’m fairly used to being single now and my grocery-buying habits are becoming sort of mainstream and not worth sharing. SO…I’m giving this blog a long break. I may pop back on just to see if you’re paying attention. But I’m going to start one from one of the topics and zillion domain names I’ve felt the need to register.

I’ll let you know when it debuts and hope you’ll come along for the next leg of the ride!

Thanks for reading!

I couldn’t hang up the grocery list w/o a shout out to my WA state pal who gave me the original idea for this blog. You know, the one who had gum, bag o’ lettuce and banjo picks on her single people’s grocery list? Thanks, J!

N.

P.S. I added the peach pic because it’s that time of year and it’s one of the best pix I’ve ever taken!

I’m Not Cat-Food Munching Lady…Yet

Standard

I bought the pup some new, fancy treats when I went to Whole Foods. They’re natural, organic peanut-butter flavored cookies. I realized as I was doling out a couple that they are made “for you to share w/ your buddy.” Uh, no, I don’t think so. I’ll admit the cookies look kind of tasty compared to the liver-flavored blobs I use for training, but I’m not going to eat them. I’m trying to raise my dog to not eat or beg for human food, so why would I encourage us sitting down and enjoying a treat together? It’s weird enough that we’re sharing a bottle of fish oil caps.

Grilling Out

As I sit here hoping blizzard-y winds don’t blow my house down, it’s amazing that just four days ago, it was in the 60s and I grilled out. Before you say, “Well, I grill out all winter!” I can assure you that out here on the tundra you wouldn’t get a charcoal grill lit, take the time to let it burn down and then attend to it while the food cooks. Your nasty bits would freeze off.  Trust me.

Here’s what I grilled:

Parboiled redskin potatoes ahead. Sliced them in thick slices and added leftover roasted carrots. Later I took the onion slices from the marinade on the pork and sautéed them. Took a sheet of foil, sprayed it w/ olive oil spray and made a packet w/ the vegetables. Placed it on the cooler side of the grill.

I marinated a pork tenderloin in:

  • soy sauce
  • 6 oz. of chocolate stout (drank the rest while grilling)
  • lemon slices
  • thyme (still had some in my herb bed)
  • 3 lg. smashed garlic cloves
  • onion sliced into thick rings
  • honey

I wish I’d been able to marinate the meat overnight, but I did it for about 6 hours. Then poured out the marinade and grilled it. I like to get a good seared crust on all sides and then move it to a cooler spot. It’s usually a bit underdone, but I don’t have a problem w/ pink pork.

Grocery List Oddities

It’s been forever since I did a big trip to the store since I was sick for three weeks. I mostly ran out to Dollar General to grab o.j. or some take-out somewhere. I have filled in some of the gaps, like creamer, tomatoes, fruit, etc. But I really need to buy tons of stuff.

Some of the odder items on the list include:

  • Milk-Bones (always!)
  • 9V batteries – I’ve been in chirping, dying smoke alarm battery hell for several days. I know I should have replaced them all at once, but only had a couple on hand. Don’t run out and have one go nuts at 4 a.m. Just don’t. Stock up.
  • Shoelaces for running shoes – my shoes look like something I found in a dumpster.
  • Pepto-Bismol tabs
  • frozen stuff – Supposed to get a big work assignment the last two weeks and I need to have frozen meals on hand because I usually don’t have time to cook.
  • unscented baby wipes – No, no surprise baby announcement. I use them on the dog’s feet after she rearranges my mulch in the flower beds.
  • parchment paper – I’ve transferred this item to five successive grocery lists. Can’t find it at a couple of the usual places. I mostly use it for homemade pizza.

OK, that’s enough minutiae for all of us. The dog is even rolling her eyes about my lack of a life…

It’s Not Speed, It’s Medication…

Standard

My last entry was on 2/23 and I lamented that my cold was demanding salty, sugary, fat-laden fare. That was week two of being sick, which has now morphed into the fourth week and the sinus infection from hell. So, I’m on my second week of antibiotics and the OTC decongestant. I did notice a surprise benefit from the OTC drug – it’s kind of like speed (for those of you too young or innocent to remember – like legal diet pills, etc. Yeah, let’s go w/ that)  as far as curbing the appetite for the above mentioned demon foods.

Craving Veggies

I found myself craving vegetables and turned off by the idea of pizza.  I actually threw out some cookies. I know! So I had the following for dinner Tues. night:

  • Grilled chicken breast – I’ve grown to like my little Forman grill, although I hate cleaning it. My friend who gave it to me said, “That’s what the dog is for.”
  • Roasted carrots – If you’ve never roasted vegetables, you’re missing an easy, tasty way to get that pyramid in your body. I toss sliced carrots (an inch thick or use baby carrots) w/ olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 20 min. at 400.
  • Swiss chard w/ pine nuts – This is a new veg. for me. I recently made a soup w/ it, but chopped the leftover swiss chard into 1″ ribbons, sauteed them in olive oil w/ garlic, then tossed w/ toasted pine nuts.

I’m amazed at how healthy and tasty it was!

Fresh Roasted Coffee

Budgetary concerns have me buying grocery-store brand coffee lately. Boo. It sucks. If you read this blog, you know I’m a coffee snob. After my dr. appt. this week, I stopped at Whole Foods for real, freshly roasted coffee. WF is where I’d shop if I were rich. I love that store, but can only afford short, infrequent forays or my house would be in foreclosure.

I made a pot of El Canto Espresso (Mexican) this morning. OMG, what a difference! This coffee was roasted on 3/4. That’s right, ROASTED earlier this week. Not in 2011 and sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

I made it out of WF spending less than $100, which never happens. Of course I avoided the wine dept. and only bought the “bargain bin” cheese. They’ve started cutting small pieces of the cheeses that go for $16.99/lb. into tiny chunks so you can try them. Great idea. I got a Spanish bleu.

That’s all I have. Being sick is incredibly boring, so I’ll spare you.

Chicken Sausage Pizza? Yes, Really.

Standard

Unfortunately, I haven’t curtailed my holiday level eating. So unless I’m going to become a sumo wrestler or try out for a new reality show, “Bariatric Place,” I better cool it. I think I’ll start by not buying whatever pops in my head or see at the grocery store. But still on a food austerity program, I try to use up what I have on hand and only buy essentials like bread, wine and dog food.

Chipotle Chicken Sausage

I’ve talked before about my affinity for gourmet chicken sausages. Ideally, I like to grill them on charcoal, but I’m not firing up that grill in the snow drifts. So having a couple left over from a dinner earlier in the week, I decided to make that main attraction on a pizza. Yes, I know it’s not pepperoni or “real” sausage, but it’s a decent substitute and more interesting.

As you’ll recall, I don’t mess around making my own dough/crust. That’s what the gourmet cook “who no longer inhabits” used to do and I see no reason for it. But I do get creative and all gourmet on your a** w/ toppings. Here’s what I put on this one:

  • Store brand spaghetti sauce – not much, just enough to coat the crust
  • Sautéed fresh spinach and shallots
  • Sliced chipotle sausage w/ cheese
  • Bagged mozzarella
  • Fresh mozzarella – cut in 1/2 in. cubes
  • Chopped fresh Greek oregano ( under the snow in my herb bed – It Lives!)
  • Toasted pine nuts

I popped the oregano and pine nuts on top when I pulled it out of the oven. Just follow the directions on the prepackaged crust for time/temp it’s usually 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

OT RED ALERT: Pal Sarah just told me Trader Joe’s now has CRUNCHY Cookie Butter!! I couldn’t concentrate on anything after I heard that. I felt like Keith Richards when he finds a new supplier! Yowzer. I bet Sarah will work her magic w/ that stuff.

Nothing Says “Happy New Year” Like Bacon Cookies

Standard

My excellent pal Sarah and I hung out on New Year’s Eve. For food choices, the menu was simple –  steamed shrimp w/ salsa verde, bean & ham soup I made from the damn interminable ham from Xmas (“Holiday Hogs”) and maple bacon chocolate chip cookies. Yes, you heard that correctly and more on it in a minute.

For beverages, S brought some apple pie-flavored jet fuel and whipped cream-flavored vodka. I had some cheap rose brut sparkling wine, chocolate stout and some other choices. See, told you it was an easy menu and so nutritious!

Cookies From God

Back to the cookies which are the most amazing things I’ve eaten in a while. I got the recipe from Bitchin’ Kitchen on the Cooking Channel. Being mesmerized by them on Nadia G’s show, I decided it would be the NYE highlight. Here’s the link to recipe:

(I believe in citing and giving proper credit to sources – AS YOU ALL SHOULD!)

Milk Chocolate Chip Maple Glazed Bacon Cookies

S and I substituted dark chocolate chips because milk chocolate is lame. Make them your way, but be prepared to start looking at them like Gollum looks at the Ring – you’ll get really weird about them, I promise.

The Batman

After consuming some alcohol, snacks and The Cookies, we decided to watch “The Dark Knight Rises.” I’ve been a fan of this series and had high expectations. But feeling particularly dumb for not being able to follow it, I asked S if she was. Nope. I don’t want to give full credit to the pie and whipped cream booze because I think the movie was rather convoluted. We didn’t finish watching it.

The next day, I saw that TNT was running the second Batman movie, so I watched it to see if it would help me keep up. After that, I did finish the third, but wasn’t wild about it. Oh, and when did people start calling him “the” Batman?

It was a tolerable holiday thanks to the company and the wonder that is bacon…

Looks innocent, doesn't it?

Looks innocent, doesn’t it? Photo credit: Sarah: Co-conspirator

Holiday Hogs

Standard

hamWhen there are just two people getting together (the Mother Unit and I) for a holiday, buying festive food should be simpler. Not really. I made hopefully the last foray into shopping land today for a few food items. I decided to get a ham. Ham doesn’t rock my world, but I like making bean soup w/ the ham bone. You have to go through a lot of ham to get to that bone. She Of The Slight Frame will have to take home many lbs. of ham.

Looking at the half-hams, the smallest I could find was 8.8 lbs. How big are these hogs, anyway? That’s one big butt. OK, so I don’t know exactly where the ham is on the hog, but I try to disconnect from that aspect as long as I’m still a carnivore.

Holiday Items

Today, this is what I bought. Not strictly a single people list since I’m having company, but it reads like one.

  • Two nice bottles of white wine – An Albarino and a Torrentes, a bit above my usual $10 limit, but hey, it’s a holiday. I had some Prosecco from Trader Joe’s, but wanted some “regular” white.  (If you think you have to buy $$ Champagne or that dreadful other fizzy crap, try a Prosecco. Usually cheaper, but w/ the bubbly thing, it’s a fun Italian sparkling wine. You have to trust me on these things.)
  • Bailey’s Creme Brule Coffee Creamer – Coffee snob that I am, I don’t usually go for frou-frou, sweet coffee “enhancers.” But I had a coupon and also thought it would be good in the Kaluha knock-off I bought last week.
  • Pears – Needed those for the decorative holiday fruit collage I have going.
  • Milk-Bones – The pup might get a more fancy treat for Xmas, but these are a necessity.
  • A Brie-like product – The first time I’ve bought Brie since Bokhara, my cat, died. He loved the stuff. Again, a coupon and the Mother might enjoy.
  • Jeni’s Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream – Dear God, can you imagine? Can’t wait to try it.
  • More stuff I can’t recall or it’s too boring to list – This all added up to $103, which was surprising.

No Baking

I normally bake at least a few things at holidays. Not in the mood or no energy or both this year. But check out that ice cream above. And there’s wine…and ham…

Burning the Latte

Standard
"Medium" Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

“Medium” Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

After recently paying over $4 for a festive holiday latte at Starbucks, I’ve started making my own at home. Don’t get excited. I didn’t buy one of those insanely expensive new coffee/espresso/latte/single-serve machines. I use leftover coffee, a couple hits of Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup, cinnamon and fat-free creamer. It’s not bad. There’s no foofy foam on top or sprinkles, but it’ll do.

The other morning, I actually burned the latte. I was doing remote cooking in the style of  HWNLI (“He Who No Longer Inhabits” or the “new” Voldemort) and left the pot simmering away while I was distracted by the pup. My gas stove that goes from gentle simmer to fry the hell out of it in under 8 seconds made a boiling, sticky mess all over the burner. Lovely. I drank some of it anyway.

Carbo Load

What is it about this time of year, besides my rampant SAD (seasonal affective disorder – kind of depression “lite”), that makes me put every sugar-laden item in a five-mile radius in my mouth? Brownie bites are no longer satisfactory alone – they must have a scoop or TWO of peppermint ice cream on top!

This would be a good plan if I wanted to be a sumo wrestler. Reminds me of something a psychiatrist with whom I used to work (not as a patient, a colleague) said when I mentioned trying to lose weight. He said, “Maybe you should just revise your goals to become as big as possible.” I worry sometimes that he gave similar advice to his patients.

Fruit

In an attempt to cool it w/ the sweets, I had a clementine orange today. OK, let’s quit pretending that fruit is just as satisfying as a hunk of chocolate. Seriously. I love apples, but this time of year, they need to be baked w/ brown sugar or dipped in something.

To Ham or Not to Ham

Not unlike the masses, I think about buying one of those spiral-sliced, glazed (see brown sugar above) hams this time of year. If I do, I then have to eat 34 ham sandwiches even after splitting leftovers w/ my mother. But it’s often worth it for the bean soup I make w/ the bone. But now these suckers are like $4.99/lb. and of course the smallest you can purchase is 73 lbs. I may have to opt for another meat du jour this year.

Okay, I just proved my own point that most blogs go on and on with the most inane drivel disguised as interesting stuff. But maybe now you too are inspired to chuck the expensive latte habit and burn your own at home?

Alter Ego

When I’m not writing this blog about trips to Trader Joe’s and wine selections, I actually write for a living. I know, I know. That’s hard to believe, but I often pay my bills w/ writing income. In the interest of cross-promoting (like cross-dressing, but w/ less flair and mascara), here’s an article I wrote that was just re-posted on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop blog. Thanks to author Tim Bete for his assist. Check it out and then stay and read about other humor writers who don’t have side jobs…

“Ahoy Matey: Pirate Parenting Eases Stress of Moving”

Is Peanut Brittle a Vegetable?

Standard

I got an unexpected check this week (from what I assumed was a deadbeat client) which facilitated a long overdue TJ’s trip for staples like dark chocolate peanut butter salty caramel truffles. I also went to the reg. grocery store and stocked up. It’s amazing how much your menu-planning becomes more creative when you have actual food.

Holiday Food

I used to look forward to making holiday food like peanut brittle, lemon pound cake w/ lemon glaze, cheese balls, etc. Not really up for it this year, but I did find some raw peanuts from last year. Evidently, I wasn’t up to it then either. Still w/i the use-by date, I think I’ll make some.

My grandmother taught me how to make peanut brittle the old-fashioned way – cooking on the stove and spreading it out on a marble slab to cool. I make it in the microwave. I know how to make other candy-type things like caramels, but it’s a tricky process. You can end up w/ mortar if you don’t watch that thermometer. So, microwave it is.

Shopping Spree

Here’s the Trader Joe’s bounty:

  • case of wine – haven’t been able to afford that in a while. It makes sense because essentially you get a free bottle w/ the 10% discount. BTW, try a Gruner Veltliner if you can find one. Don’t worry if people scoff at your pronunciation.
  • gorgonzola – the real Italian version
  • smoked salmon – I swear I could live on it
  • sea salt pita chips
  • fig butter – for that apple pizza I’ve talked about
  • garlic hummus
  • spinach and kale dip – better than it sounds and low-fat
  • rosemary and raisin crackers – ditto
  • other stuff I can’t remember

At the reg. grocery I bought:

  • 2 lbs. of frozen E-Z peel shrimp – like the salmon, I could live on this.
  • brownie bites
  • green beans – I steamed them for me and the pup. Maybe eventually we’ll just eat the same diet. No comments, I’m kidding, people.
  • booze – I’m not a booze drinker, but I wanted a coffee liqueur for the occasional after-dinner drink and rum for a hot-buttered rum recipe I love. (see above holiday “food”)
  • other veggies and fruit
  • almond milk – it’s better than soy and I had a coupon
  • other boring stuff I can’t remember

Design-a-Tote

Hey, if anyone is interested (and why wouldn’t you be? I’m an artist, too!), I’ll design you a SPGL tote like the one below. Just send me your nutty grocery list (leave a comment and we’ll go from there) and I’ll design a tote for you. How fun is that? Well, you probably have more fun than I do, so it’s relative. This isn’t about trying to monetize my blog, I just like to tote cp (240x240)make the totes and they’re really affordable.