Tag Archives: Whole Foods

Creamy asparagus soup without the cream

Terry and I like to come home after church on Sundays and have a bowl of soup and perhaps a slice of french bread or a warm tortilla for lunch. It’s usually a minestrone or bean soup. Sometimes it’s tomato. Tomorrow it’s going to be creamy asparagus. I made this soup a week or so ago as it calls for leeks and we’ve been getting lots of those in the CSA box. Asparagus is now in season, too. Since I don’t do dairy, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that mimic those with milk. This one was in our local paper a few weeks ago and is made by the local Whole Foods chef, Hillori Hansen. Terry says it’s probably the best soup I’ve ever made. I won’t go that far, but it’s really good. Good enough to make a second time.

Melt 2 Tb butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add one sliced leek (white part only) and cook until tender. Add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, and sauté until fragrant. Add 4 cups broth (can be veggie or chicken), 1 peeled and chopped Yukon gold potato (also coming in the CSA box), 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp dried thyme, and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a boil. (I keep the heat on medium during this time) Add 1 bunch of asparagus, stems snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1 inch pieces. Cook until potatoes and asparagus are tender. Remove pot from heat and let cool. Puree in batches in blender or food processor until smooth.

At this point I refrigerate the soup and reheat what we need for each meal. We got two meals out of the last batch.

Tulip time

Whole Foods had a special on tulips yesterday. Three bunches for $10. It was a gray day in Fresno and I could use some cheering up and what better way to brighten one’s day than with flowers.

The purple and red flowers went nicely with my Georgia O’Keeffe prints with similar colors, don’t you think?



Trying a new food

Somewhere in my online travels I found a recipe for black rice that looked and sounded appealing. I had never heard of black rice but Sally Wessley assured me on a Facebook post that she liked it, as did her husband.

While buying some bulk items at Whole Foods, where Sally said she buys her black rice, I saw that they had it and shaved coconut, which the recipe calls for, in their bulk bins, so I didn’t have to buy more than the recipe called for, 1 cup. I also got a couple of tablespoons of the shaved coconut. I hate to buy large quantities of new ingredients to try a recipe that turns out bleh and then you just have them sitting in the cupboard, taking up space.

I soaked the rice overnight and cooked it this morning in coconut milk and added a spoonful of vanilla extract as I didn’t have a vanilla bean lying around the cupboards. I also didn’t have all the exotic fruits that the recipe’s originator used. But a banana did quite nicely with the shaved coconut. It is tasty, and I’m assuming, good for me. Guess I’ll be buying more black rice.

My hairdresser likes to try to new foods so I’m taking a bowl to her when I go out later to get my hair cut and colored. It’s been six weeks since I was last there and I am looking very shaggy. I will also take her a brownie which I baked yesterday from a new recipe. The brownies were far too much work for how they turned out  so I’m not keeping that recipe.

Sweet November 18-Thankful

One of my local grocery stores only five minutes from home.

One of my local grocery stores only five minutes from home.

How easy is it for you to get groceries? Do you have a neighborhood market with plenty of good food that you can walk to? Do you have a car with which to travel to grocery stores outside of your neighborhood? Do you even think about what it would be like to not have nearby food outlets? Or to not have a well outfitted kitchen in which to prepare your food?

Today I am thankful for a variety of food outlets within a few minutes of my house. I am thankful for a well stocked grocery shelves with plenty to choose. I am thankful that I can drive to any store in Fresno and get just about any kind of food you can name. In addition to the typical grocery stores, we have numerous ethnic grocers from which to buy all sorts of exotic ingredients if I so choose. I have the means and the funds to buy all of this.

I am thankful for my home kitchen where I can pretty much prepare any food item. I can bake, roast, broil, boil, microwave anything. The one thing I don’t have is an indoor grill, but I’m not one who desires to do much grilling so I’m not concerned about that lack. I have refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher to preserve and clean up.

There are so many who live in food deserts. There is no neighborhood grocer except for liquor, convenience, or fast food stores. Without transportation, people are unable to get fresh foods and meats. If they live in a motel there is no place to prepare  or store food. Imagine an ice chest and a microwave as your only means of cooking and you have small children to feed.

So, today I give thanks for the bounty of good food and the ability to prepare it, aware that there are others who do not have this luxury.

My choice for organic groceries less than 10 minutes from home.

My choice for organic groceries less than 10 minutes from home.

Should you go out in public after eating an onion sandwich?

It really is a legitimate question. My lunch today was a sandwich made of heirloom tomato, red leaf lettuce, red onion, sopressata, on a very substantial hoagie roll. Terry and I have a networking event to attend later this evening. I may sit in a corner and try not to talk!

Yesterday I spent the day at Fresno State University at an event sponsored by The Richter CenterFall Community Service Opportunities Fair, where students can learn about and sign up for a myriad of volunteer activities. I was representing Fresno Historical Society with the goal of finding young people who will volunteer to work at the Civil War Revisited which will be held again in October at Kearney Park. I was partnered with the volunteer coordinator for the Historical Society, Randi, and during this time spent together, working, we found that we had a mutual love for really good food.

The Richter Center offered a Subway Sandwich box lunch if we wished to eat during the event, but neither of us felt much compulsion to order it. Randi flat out hates Subway, and I only eat it if there is just no other way to stave off hunger. Yesterday was not such a day. We both decided that stopping on the way home for one of our favorites, white cake, would be a better way to get our nutrition. Yes, we had discovered that we both LOVE good cake.

I called a few bakery type places that would be on our route home and found one that had white cake. It was very disappointing. Not moist. Probably a couple of days old. The frosting was certainly nothing to write home about so I won’t write about it here.

Back to the sandwiches–Randi and I both like really good sandwiches and rather particular about what goes into them thus the disinterest in Subway. But with all that talk about sandwiches, I really wanted a good one today. A really good sandwich might just wipe out the bad cake memory so I picked up some ingredients at Whole Foods today, including the red onion, came home and made that really good sandwich I described in the first paragraph.

Now, I’ve got to decide what to do about that event tonight and my onion breath.

Feeding the hungry in a land of plenty

When I shop at Whole Foods, I have the option of getting a refund for the bags I bring in which to put my groceries or donating that money to a local nonprofit organization. Depending on the organization, I usually donate. Today, I hesitated. The organization for this month’s donations, Community Food Bank, is a good one. They feed thousands of hungry people here in the San Joaquin Valley, the same valley that produces the food to feed the world. Whole Foods not only donates cash to the organization but also provides food stuffs, too. The Community Food Bank, along with numerous charities, is constantly begging the public to donate food and/or money. But, today’s newspaper, The Fresno BEE, (click here to read) brings a story that halts one in their tracks and makes one rethink this pleading for donations.

A local grower has a field of green beans he cannot economically harvest, but he cannot get any local charity to come get the beans, either. The crop will probably be disced under. And yet, the charities clamor for food. Here is free food. Ah, but the rub is that it takes labor to harvest. Although many want to eat the free food, no one wants to do the work to get the raw product from the field. It is a quandary. The Community Food Bank, who feeds thousands, cannot find any workers to go pick the beans. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge. I might say that if you want to pick up free food from the distribution center, then you have to be willing to do some of the work it takes to get it here.

I am hopeful that there will be a follow-up to the story. That some agency will step forward with enough manpower to harvest the beans and distribute the crop to those who could use the food. If that happens, I’ll let you know.

Here are the green beans we got in this week’s CSA box:



I make my own croutons. Been doing it for a few months now, and my husband is thrilled. If I’m not watching, he will eat them all before I make the salad or soup they are to accompany. He thinks of them as his own personal nibbles.

I start with really good French bread that I get at Whole Foods. I keep loaves of this bread in the freezer for all sorts of uses, not just croutons. The bread is excellent for sandwiches, and I like it toasted for breakfast. It comes in handy when we have pasta dishes, too.

After cutting the bread into bite-sized pieces, I sprinkle on a good amount of olive oil, then salt and pepper, and bake about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. If I remember, I stir the pieces about mid way. Most of the time, though, I forget about the bread until I hear the buzzer. They’re fine without being turned.

Tonight they will adorn bowls of split pea soup, and there should be enough left over for Terry to munch on tomorrow.

More about traveling

How do you pack when you travel? After all these many years of traveling for school conferences, I have learned to pack light and lean. I also insist that everyone who travels with me have only the suitcases they can handle by themselves. That sort of backfired when we went to New Mexico this summer and had a two-year old toddler in the group who not only had her own suitcase, but a large carseat, too.  We all had to handle more than one bag apiece. It was the reason I left my computer at home.

Usually, though, I can manage quite well with just one suitcase. A small one for an overnight or weekend stay: 

When we are gone five nights or more, then I take a bigger bag.

Waiting at the BART station.

If we travel by car, I can be a little more careless with my packing and bring along a book bag, throwing in some snacks, and my computer, and perhaps throw an extra jacket over the whole thing in the backseat. If we are heading to the bay area, we always take cans of cat food for our grandcats, and I usually have a treat bag for our granddaughter. The last time I only took the small suitcase, but also a bag of watercolors and playdoh. On other travels, though, the book must go into my suitcase, and any munchies must be bought on the spot or after we arrive. We always look for the nearest Whole Foods.

Terry seems to have more trouble packing than I do. It’s not that he takes more things than I do, but his shoes are so large that they are hard to fit in a suitcase. He also likes to have his clothes on hangers whereas I just fold and roll mine. He says I take all the hangers at the hotels so he has to bring his own.

This photo shows him with all of our luggage on a previous trip:

I always travel with a big satchel purse to use as a carry-on. Here it sits on top of my green suitcase.







On the sidewalks

Wanting to check the actual location of a place I need to be tomorrow, and craving a few grocery items, I decided to head downtown this afternoon. It was an interesting time on the city sidewalks.

I tried a new BART stop, thinking this might be closer to my final destination than the Powell station where I normally get off for downtown. It really wasn’t any closer, and it took me through more crazy streets than I really want to traverse. Oh, I don’t mind; it reminds me of teaching in the inner city high school, but if I can avoid it, I will. I also had to go by the federal courthouse where there was a crazy protest going on about Proposition 8, California’s marriage amendment. I will not get started on that. Please don’t ask, don’t tell.

After checking my destination and noting the time it took to get there, I continued on my way. (Yes, it is my OCD that makes me do these trial runs; I cannot be late to anything.) Three different people or groups, going in the opposite direction, were either discussing on the phone or with their companion the difficulty of finding housing. One gentleman, with few teeth, was telling someone on the other end of his cell phone that there was no senior housing at all and he didn’t know where he was going to live. Another man was asking his buddies if he could use their SRO room (single resident occupant) in one of the hotels nearby. A younger man, better dressed, was lamenting to his walking partner that he didn’t have this kind of trouble finding an apartment in DC. I gave thanks to God for the tiny apartment and a place to lay my head and then asked God to provide for these people.

Outside of Whole Foods, on the sidewalk, was a group of young people, old enough to know better, but younger than 30, trading bites of the food they had just purchased. Come on, guys, move out of the way to have your picnic lunch.

Heading back towards home after making my small purchase at Whole Foods, I turned and took a little different route than I usually do when walking home. Not paying attention to the ground, I stumbled on a rough spot of concrete and took a tumble. Fortunately I didn’t fall, catching myself, but losing my shoe. Two well dressed business men behind me said something about suing the city. Nope, the city is broke and I’m not.

Just a few useful things

Everyone who has left the department in which I have taught all these many years was given a gift  by those of us who remained.  When the department was large (8 teachers and a secretary), we could afford grand gestures, but as we have lost staffing, our numbers have dwindled, and in August, when the new school year begins, the department will have 3 teachers and one secretary.

The faculty club insisted on presenting me with a plaque at our end-of-the year luncheon, even though I put up quite a fight against it.  Knowing that the remaining staff would plan for a department gift, I tried to kibosh it early on.  The apartment is tiny; I’m ridding the house of every superfluous item I can find; I have no room for any extra stuff; the remaining teachers did not need to spend their money.  My department mates knew how I felt about these things, but they insisted we go out to dinner, which was fine with me. There, in the middle of the table, was a wire basket cart like I had been wanting.  They had heard me–I only wanted useful things.

Hauling bags from the car to the elevator

A former student had sent a package that contained three wall hooks.  I put those to good use in the tiny apartment:

See the cart? It's ready to go

When we go to the Safeway, only a few blocks away, we just take a couple of bags and head out:

Terry is headed for Safeway

But when we want to go to Whole Foods, eight blocks away, we can use the cart:

it will hold about $100 worth of groceries

The cart also does laundry duty as we don’t have our own washer and dryer in the tiny apartment but rather a large laundry room in the building’s basement.