Sometimes Lunch is Difficult / I Used To Be A Trucker

I think I was a trucker in a past life.

There are several reasons for this, but I’d say one of the most prominent is my love for gas station food. I like bean dip and chips, and energy drinks. I like ICEEs and Hostess and frozen burritos. Of course, I would never admit this to most people in real life, but I can picture myself driving down the open highway, an asphalt cowgirl, listening to “Roll On” by Alabama… and eating a Patio bean and cheese burrito.

Usually I try to stay away from perishables at the gas station, even though they’re tasty… I’ve found they can cause problems down the road, if you know what I mean.

That is why, yesterday, when confronted with the prospect of either going to the car and picking through the cup holder for change to purchase a frozen burrito or not eating lunch at all, it took time to make my decision. Of course, eating lunch is much better than not eating lunch. I actually have quite a problem with lunch. I always forget to eat until I am past the point of no return, when I get cranky and my belly begins to play a rumbly dirge.

My belly is loud, too. It’s horribly embarrassing when someone three or four people over from you, who isn’t quite close enough to understand what that noise is, starts looking around for a vibrating phone or something. It happened to me when I sat for the SAT in high school. First of all, I was sick in Isham (the health center at PA) when I was scheduled to take the test. I literally left the doctor on Saturday morning, took the test, and went back to the infirmary for three more days. It was a stomach flu type illness. Since I am left handed, I ended up in the very back of the gym in a lefty desk, which was nice because I was far enough away from people that I wouldn’t be spreading germs. Unfortunately, due to the echo-y nature of high school gymnasiums, my tummy rumbles could be heard by the back few rows of people, about twenty feet away. At one point, a friend of mine turned to peek at me and shook his head. He felt bad enough that he never gave me a hard time about it really.

I digress. The point I was trying to push is that cheap frozen burritos don’t always get along with my digestive system, and that when my belly is upset, everybody from here to Huntsville hears about it. “Why not just get one of the hot pockets out of the vending machine?” you ask. Well, the burritos were the only thing I could afford at that moment, and even then I had to raid my car’s cup holders and deprive myself of the cents I usually reserve for glazed donuts from Shipley’s and other wonderful treats.

At this point, since my belly was already rumbling, I felt I had no choice but to take the plunge. I got a burrito from the vending machine, and, as discreetly as possible, took it to the microwaves to heat up. After all, you don’t want anyone to see you heating up something from a vending machine. Well, perhaps you might. I don’t know.

Anyways, in the end, all my worry was for naught. My belly, though it didn’t exactly feel happy, did not rumble overmuch. No one in class seemed to notice, and no one seemed to want to escape, either. Crisis averted.

This incident made me think, though. There was a lesson for me to learn here, and it wasn’t just that $1.50 is a lot of change to find in a cup holder. The lesson is I need to start being more prepared. If I’m hungry, I won’t learn as easily. I might miss critical information that could help a potential client down the road.

Today I brought an organic Amy’s burrito from home. It was actually tasty. I didn’t feel nearly as ashamed at the microwaves. I’m not saying I’ll ever be like the woman I saw yesterday with brussel sprouts and fake chicken (very impressive leftovers; they smelled delicious), I hope to occasionally smash together some tuna salad to break up my line of frozen burritos and lean cuisines.

Not that I’ll ever really get tired of frozen burritos… They’re much too tasty! I will be doing my best to get healthy, organic frozen burritos from now on, however, because I think they allow for more pleasant down-the-road experiences. Plus they have more pronounceable ingredients, which is pretty much always a good thing.


PS- Check out all the Amy’s burritos on their site! There are diary-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. (Speaking of gluten-free, I saw cheap, generic brand, good-looking gluten-free pasta in Target’s pasta aisle… No reviews yet, but Nikki and I are hoping for a winner!) Amy’s even has a samosa wrap; I am very interested to try that. I am also a fan of Lean Cuisine’s spring rolls (there are multiple flavors). They are easy and quick! Happy Lunch-time to meeee!!!

Missoni for Target Recap, GF Goodness, and Cautionary Tales from Bulk Foods

1. I went to Target yesterday for Missoni. There was so little Missoni I felt like weeping. They done been cleaned OUT. Mom said people at the Target on Main had been taking things out of each other’s carts. Party foul, Target shoppers. Apparently one lady even got all in Mom’s business, asking, “Are you talking to someone at the San Felipe store?!?!?” Mom was talking to Aunt Stacie in Atlanta. Wow. Just… Wow. A woman at my cheap Target on 290 insisted to me that she knows the Chronicle’s fashion editor, and that she said Target would be re-stocking through October. My take? Target only buys the Missoni name for a certain number of items for a certain amount of time. If the website is sold out, then I doubt there will be more Missoni on Target shelves in Houston, Texas. I know, Doomsday. Sorry, loves. eBay has a fabulous selection, though.

2. I love Rice Epicurean Markets. First of all, they have amazing specials on meat every weekend. Beef tenderloins are ridiculously cheap. The guys at the butcher counter will even cut the one you want into roasts and steaks and freezer pack it all for you. Second, it can get crowded, but not in the way Central Market or the gigantic Kroger near my house can. You can pretty much always be in and out of there in less than thirty minutes, even if you’re getting a fair amount of stuff. Thirdly, and most importantly, Rice carries a ton of Gluten-Free options. This is important because Nikki and Hannah (my BFF and Fave Lil’ Cuz-lette, respectively) are both celiac. I have found all kinds of gluten-free temptations on their aisles. GF chocolate chip pancakes, anyone? Yes, please! They are frozen and delicious and perfect for school mornings. Also frozen are GF lemon streusel muffins, blueberry waffles, chocolate-coated donuts, and cinnamon raisin bread. They have tons of different flours, flavored crackers and pretzels, and they even have GF breadcrumbs! It’s so nice to be able to cut that step out of cooking. Trustworthy GF shortcuts are not always easy to find. I got Hannah a bunch of gluten-free booty (arg!) the other day before our girls’ night out, and when I was leaving the parking lot I actually called Rice’s corporate headquarters to thank them for making Hannah and Nicole a priority. How nerdy am I?? While Fiesta is still my usual destination (they also have a lot of GF items in stock), Rice is by far the best place to go for celiac snacks.

3. I made Gluten-Free French Bread for Nikki on our Friend-iversary. It was very tasty, and  it was admittedly difficult for Justin and I to stop quality-controlling her gift. The recipe is posted in PDF on the Recipes page, and linked to the original website here. Thank you, Sonja Stewart, for coming up with this excellent recipe! I will definitely be making it again.

4. A note about the bulk food department: BEWARE. The bulk food section is chock full of cross-contamination. I know, I sound like Alton Brown. It’s the truth, though! There is no way to keep people from using the wrong scoops in bins, spilling items between bins, or (yuck) sticking their grubby hands into bins. I just spoke to an associate in bulk at Central Market on the phone, and he said, “It’s frustrating to watch people just reach on in for almonds with their hands in front of everyone on a Saturday.” NARSTY!!! Apparently their time is more valuable than others’ health. CM, Whole Foods, and Fiesta all had similar stellar sterilization methods for cleaning bins between uses, but unfortunately no one can control that human factor. Fiesta and Whole Foods mentioned routinely cleaning the bulk area, washing the scoops regularly, vacuuming and wiping down the bins throughout the day, and tossing merchandise known to be contaminated with potential allergens. WF goes so far as to set up it’s organic goods above its conventional ones, and non-allergen products above allergens to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible. Good work, Whole Foods! ¡Buen trabajo, Fiesta! (Note: I’m not saying Kroger and CM don’t, but I did inquire about the general regimen and neither of their employees mentioned these things.) So. If you’re cooking for someone with an allergy, say a Nikki, and you want to get some soy powder, it’s probably not the best to buy it from CM bulk where it sits between a wheat product and a milk product, and there is indeterminate white stuff everywhere. I asked the lady to please get me some from the back. Just something to keep in mind. 🙂

Halloween is Coming! / Target Missoni Collection

Halloween is on its way. I got a really awesome sign at C&D Hardware today. It is sparkly, orange, and says “Spooky.” It’s awesome. There is a man who works there, a bigger guy with red hair. He is very nice, and I learned today that his favorite holiday is Halloween, too! Apart, he said, from May 3… I guess that I can’t blame him, seeing as November 21 is my favorite favorite holiday. He liked my spooky sign, and the koozie I got that says, “Elixer of Doom.” The people in there are always SO HELPFUL.

I am a huge fan of buying from independent stores. The feel of them is completely different. I can walk into C&D and ask any member of the staff where they keep metric sockets or which brush I should use with oil paint for trim and they will say, “Follow me.” This is a far cry from the Home Depot, who tried to cheat Mom out of hundreds of dollars on a washer dryer set and ruined a key I was trying to copy. I’m still not sure how they did that, by the way. Those little machines they use now are fool-proof! Anyways, the staff knows their stuff. On another positive note, they have a surprising lot of items. If they don’t have what you need, options are to order and ship it for pick up or straight to your house, or request they stock it.

Also, like it’s bigger, higher-end buddy Bering’s, C&D carries a ton of crute gifts. They have a nice selection of Tervis Tumblers, seasonal merchandise, and kitchenware.  They had my Spooky sign. They have fun things to hang on the wall, and hilarious aprons. It’s wonderful. Unlike Bering’s, I can actually afford to shop there. I recommend C&D highly. They’ll hook you up. Fa sho.

I also stopped at Ross on my way home. For less than $40 I got a rug for in front of the kitchen sink, an adorable Halloween tablecloth that looks and feels like it will stand up to many washes, some Halloween dish towels, a Happy Halloween potholder, a mug with a scary skull on it, two airtight canisters for the gluten-free flours I used to make Nikki’s french bread this weekend, an extra-large box of Sunkist fruit gems, some scrunchies, and two pairs of those cleaning gloves that are adori-fied. One pair has a spider ring, for Halloween-time… Or any time. 🙂 That place is so cheap, and I can usually find really cute stuff. I am for sure going back at Christmas to buy presents. They had all these really nice lavender soap gift sets that would be cute with a hand-knitted washcloth. Plus I will be able to say, “Do you love it? I love it. I got it at ROSS!” Let’s be real: I’ll probably sing it, not say it. Just saying. Now I’m excited for Christmas, too. Who knew Ross Dress for Less could have that effect on a body?

Now, on to more shopping excitement…

Target has their Halloween stuff out. I am very much looking forward to finding some fun monster picture frames and hopefully a birthday gift for Jessica. I am going tomorrow morning, though, because tomorrow morning is the introduction of Target’s MISSONI line. I am so excited. The commercials are adorable! I plan to get there early to snag the crutest stuff. Mom and Elise are going to be so jealous of my adorable cheap Missoni loot. I can’t wait!

Quick aside: When I told Justin how excited I was about the Missoni line at Target, he replied, “Don’t we already have a ton of that stuff? I mean, almost all the clothes we get from there are Missoni.” It took me a second to figure out he meant Mossimo. Ha. Men.

I am hoping that they have some things that go well in my house… And even if they don’t, I am sure I will find a way to make it work. I really think this is the final chapter in the “I don’t like Target very much right now” book that has documented the months since I went to Target late one night for retail therapy and found that they had ceased to carry both the brand of tampons I like AND my bra size. I was so upset. I wrote a letter. I don’t know how much that had to do with it, but Target started carrying both again, and I feel that after I score some sweet gear tomorrow morning in clothing, housewares, and seasonal, I will finally be able to forgive. Wish me luck on my quest. 🙂