Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Eating During a Pandemic

I made my last trip to the grocery store until after Christmas. I felt like a mouse, filling up my nest with food to get me through the pandemic and winter here in the frozen north. Why the mouse comparison? The summer when I downsized everything out of my basement I opened up a box and found a stash of probably fifty safflower seeds collected and carried from my bird feeder---a long trek across the yard, down a cement wall and to the box that was sitting in the middle of the basement. I had to admire that mouse’s industrial work and forethought but when push came to shove that stockpile and its owner had to go. That’s when I made the hard choice to stop feeding the birds. I had a vision from my childhood of a time when I was helping my mom clean our summer cottage in the spring and we found a nest with a mother mouse clutching her nursing babies and if that mama mouse had been wearing pants she probably would have peed them; I'll never forget the panicked look on her face. My mom had my brother carry the dresser drawer with the nest out to the woods where he was instructed to carefully re-locate the nest and family within it. Later that same day my mom was running around the cottage with a broom trying to smack another mouse died, probably the daddy mouse for which my mom had run of sympathy. If he had been wearing pants she probably would have told him death-by-broom served him right for not keeping “it” in his pants.

Anyway, back to 2020 and I have so much stuff stuffed in my pantry that I can barely close the doors. I need to make a list by expiration dates and start using things in a planned pattern. Recently I had to throw out two boxes of “fake” almond milk that I don’t like but I buy every fall just in case I can’t get to the store to buy real milk during the winter. There are a few things like milk that if I don’t have it in the house I practically have a panic attack. Cereal is another one. Can you see a pattern here? I eat cereal every morning. Hot cereal. Cold cereal. Soggy cereal if I get interrupted half way through breakfast. I’ve been known to have cereal for dinner since becoming a widow. Some of my favorite snacks are made with cereal and that fact didn’t slip by my best friend since kindergarten because back in the ‘80s she gave me a cookbook of all snack food recipes made with cereal. One of the neatest things about being a Septuagenarian is that everything we do and see can trigger a memory. One of the most annoying thing about being a Septuagenarian is that everything we do and see can trigger a memory.

I don’t do much food pick up or drive-thru since the pandemic started, once or twice a month tops. But the other day I was going past a local chain that will hence fore be known as the Dutch Boy Restaurant and the marquee announced that turkey dinners are back. My car must have sniffed the air and before I knew it she was rolling up to their drive-thru speaker. I got thoroughly hooked on their seasonal, turkey dinners three years ago. For just under $12 you get (real) turkey, (real) mash potatoes with gravy, stuffing, a dinner roll and pumpkin pie. Why no cranberries, I can’t understand and the people who take your money can’t explain either. But it’s enough food for two meals and by coincidence I had some deli cranberries in the house so I pronounced my mood high on the matrix grid as I drove my box of happiest home so Levi my Mighty Schnauzer could get his cut.

Going to the Dutch Boy, though, usually makes me feel like I’m cheating on my husband. And I’ll repeat a paragraph explaining why from a prior blog post: “Why did we avoid the place? Because the owner wore his religion on his sleeve and he reminded Don of the members of a church who hassled the owners of a movie theater where he grew up. Imagine going to see The Lone Ranger and Gene Audrey at the Saturday matinees and being told they were ‘evil’ and the theater was doing ‘the devil’s work.’ Imagine knowing the owners kept the theater open long after it was turning a profit just to give the town’s teenagers something to do on the weekends besides drag racing on rural roads. Imagine all that and you might understand why my husband absolutely refused to support places like the Dutch Boy Restaurant with its judgmental religious tracts all over the place. Over the decades most of the religious tracts have disappeared but Don never let go of his dislike for the place.” I've gone there occasionally since becoming a widow because they have some good quality meals and they are known for their homemade pies and cream puffs. Little known fact: Back in the day I'm pretty sure a guy could have gotten into my pants if he’d been smart enough to show up at my door with a box of cream puffs. ©

50 comments:

  1. What a lighthearted post! I'm so glad you and Levi got your turkey dinner. Hurray for the restaurant, even if the owner wasn't perfect.

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    1. No one can ignore Levi when he want's his cut of good smelling stuff.

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  2. That's a funny story about the mice and your mom! The things we remember! That turkey dinner does sound good. If its the restaurant I'm thinking it is the closest one to me usually has mile long lines every day!

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    1. It's a local chain with 12 locations around West Michigan and they've been doing a thriving take-out business through the pandemic. The original owner retired a few years ago and was/is quite philanthropic around town. They treat their employees well, I hear, which is one of the reasons why I think they've done well during the pandemic...I know it influences me to trust their kitchen help more than places that pay lower wages.

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  3. Do you have the shelf-stable regular milk available there? If you don't like the almond milk, it would be a fine alternative. I buy the Horizon 2%, which is good for a couple of months. I haven't found it in quarts (or whatever), but the individual servings are just fine for me. One is exactly right for cereal and coffee. I keep a few refrigerated to take with me when I'm out and about.

    Your Dutch Boy restaurant reminds me of a favorite place in Galveston that was known as the Dutch Kettle. It's long gone, thanks to a hurricane, but the food was great. My great food excitement is a turkey breast I'm going to pick up from the meat market on Tuesday. I haven't the patience or the need to deal with a whole turkey, and I don't like the dark meat, anyway. Roasting a breast is the solution -- not only does it provide "leftovers" for turkey and cranberry sandwiches, it freezes beautifully, and may end up providing Christmas dinner, too.

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    1. Never even heard of shelf-stable regular milk. Last time I was at the store I looked for dried milk but couldn't find it. Not sure if people don't use it anymore or it was victim of the pandemic. Just found it on Amazon and put it on my wish list so I don't forget about its existence. Thanks.

      We could easily share a turkey. The dark is my favorite part but I love leftover turkey and cranberry sandwiches. Never met anyone else who made that combination of sandwiches.

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    2. We have a restaurant here on the Oregon coast that serves a roast turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwich. Yum! Can't go wrong with that combo.

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    3. I would not have thought about adding cream cheese. I have a new goal.

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  4. Nothing bothers me more than pushy religious people in your face...well except maybe trump and his people. Ha!

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    1. Amen to that. This place isn't like that anymore---just the little 'daily bread' pamphlets sitting around now---but old wounds die hard when they've been inflicted on you as a child.

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  5. Glad you and Levi had a real turkey dinner. Your muse story is priceless.

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    1. It's one of my favorite stories about my mom.

      I've got two more turkey dinners in my freezer so I'm in good shape this year.

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  6. I'm like your dear late husband: I won't patronize places that proselytize. It's my personal protest.

    I love turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches! And my husband loves turkey and cranberry relish sandwiches. Cranberry sauce is also delicious with pork.

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    1. It was my husband's hurt so I don't really feel all that guilty about going there because by this century when I've started going there, the place has changed. But there are other places like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A that I absolutely won't give my money to even though it's a hardship because I like their products.

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    2. I second the motion on the two establishments that you named. I don't need to support those whom I find so objectionable.

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    3. doesn't make any sense to give them money that they can turn around and use to support causes that rub me the wrong way big time.

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  7. No powdered milk in the stores? Hmmm, I never checked, but I'd be buying that instead of almond milk. My mom used to water down condensed milk when we'd run out. It's not bad with oatmeal.

    My "recipe" for cereal is rice krispie treats!!!

    Saving mice is not my fortè. Nope, nope, nope.

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    1. I don't know why in past years I haven't bought powdered milk instead of almond milk which does expire quicker. Ticks me off that now that I want it, it wasn't available. LOL

      Love Rice Krispie treats.

      Nursing baby mice? How could anyone kill those cute little pink things? LOL

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  8. You are so funny! I'm so glad you are all stocked up now, it's getting scary to even venture out to the grocery store once in a while. I'm glad you got your turkey dinner too :)

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    1. Even before the pandemic I never liked shopping between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But I never feared dying from a trip to the grocery store before.

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  9. Two turkey dinners for $12 sounds like a deal. I didn't know about shelf stable milk either and should have when in Florida and out of power so many times. Wouldn't hurt to have some on hand.

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    1. Amazon has the shelf stable milk. I just put it on my wish list so I won't forget about it should I need it.

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  10. I have a mouse story ... after returning home from a two week vacation, Kate was sitting in the van while I rushed in for a few groceries. A mouse had built a NEST in the engine and little baby mice fell at her feet. She stayed up all night feeding the only one still alive milk from an eye dropper and I told her I would take it to the vet. (Which I did not)

    The BEST dried milk is Peak (on Amazon). I got some for the bread baking days and recently we ran out of cream ... I added a spoonful to my coffee! Almost as good as cream!!! Also made a "coffee" for the little guy and he didn't have a clue1

    I hate soggy cereal ... I learned a trick from my mother in law ... she would pour a bowl of milk and another bowl of cereal, then add cereal as she wanted it!

    The kidlets STILL have no clue if they are staying home for Thanksgiving or going over to Jesse's side of the family.

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    1. Cute story. Women can't help feeling maternal no matter the species of babies, can they, that need help.

      Coffee creamer here hasn't had as good a selection since the pandemic started. Maybe U need to try the dried milk.

      Your kids are in the same no win situation as most families. Everyone WANTS to go but not sure if it's worth the high risk gamble.

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  11. I echo your other readers in recommending shelf-stable milk. I used to buy 30 cases at the time for my testing lab, when I was working. We liked it because we could get milk of the same lot with the same (looooooong) expiry date to use as control milk for our instruments. And it tasted good too, if the coffee service forgot to come and stock up the kitchen with fresh milk. I don’t know if you can get this in the States, but in Canada you can get ultra filtered fresh milk which lasts a long time. The milk I bought yesterday will stay fresh in my fridge until the end of January. Handy for us widows!

    Deb

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    1. I'm learning a lot about shelf-stable milk today! I love when I learn new things that I can apply to my comfort zone. Two weeks is as long as fresh milk will stay fresh where I live. I really like milk to drink, use in soups, make hot cocoa and pudding with.

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  12. You can also freeze milk. You just have to leave a little "head room" at the top to allow for expansion. I did that with a half gallon of milk in its original plastic container at the beginning of the pandemic because things were so iffy. I like the Horizons 2% too since it's ultra pasteurized and lasts for a couple of months. It tastes better too. Sweeter.

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    1. I'm not sure if we have Horizons 2% here but I don't recall ever seeing a fresh milk with that long of a shelf life. I'm going do some label reading next time I go shopping. I love the idea of freezing milk. What could be easier than that? Thanks for that tip.

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    2. You're supposed to thaw it slowly in your fridge and then shake it to mix it because it will separate during freezing. I'm sure there are other ultra pasteurized milks on the market. Horizons is organic, so maybe look for that type of milk if you're interested in something like that. I didn't know about it until I had to get some groceries delivered from our local natural food store early on and that was what they carried. It used to irk me that sometimes regular milk would turn sour before I got a chance to use it all. I don't have to worry with this.

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    3. I always make cooked (not instant) pudding if my milk gets too close to expiring because cooked milk won't go sour.

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  13. I enjoy your posts! You make me smile. Sure wish I had some of that little mouse's energy who stole sunflower seeds from your birds! It's funny that you mentioned the need to keep milk on hand--we feel the same way. I just learned about Nestle dried whole milk that is sold online or at most Walmarts. It's supposed to taste good, but I haven't gotten to the store to pick it up yet. Plan too, tho! Congrats on filling your larder!

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    1. I couldn't believe how many trips that mouse had made to put all those seeds in his stash.

      Other than milk I can probably could go all winter without having to go the store, but I'll go anyway out of boredom after Christmas.

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  14. I'm glad Rick shops for me but he doesn't always follow my list.So I feel compelled to stock as much as can fit (which isn't that much). When I went to my one and only Trader Joe visit a few weeks ago,probably my last grocery visit, I spent $250 and probably $50 was nuts! I understand the political/religious feeling about certain spots, two coming to mind straight away. Apart from fresh veg, I think I could go for many weeks without new food.

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    1. It's impossible to go to Trader Joe's and not spend a ton of money! I've only gone twice because it's a long way from my house, which won't be the case after I move. I'm both dreading and looking forward to being within a five minute drive from the place. I will have to remember to only go there after a eating a big lunch.

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  15. No turkey dinner for me, I prefer chicken
    The post made me feel good, I am pleased I read it

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    1. I'm glad you read it too. Chicken is definitely easier to cook and keep moist.

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  16. When I was still working (closer to L. MI), I lived for fall at the "Dutch Boy" restaurant. Their pea soup was (is?) awesome and I'm all about pumpkin pie any season of the year. A friend and I went there for lunch several times a week. Yum.

    Your pantry sounds like mine...I am concerned about things I bought in a panic becoming outdated before I use them. I guess I should check that out. I plan to cook a turkey for the first time in years (we always go to a family gathering) but I hope I get leftovers I can freeze. 🤷‍♀️

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    1. The Dutch Boy and the Guy-Land Cafeteria both have awesome soups and pea soup is one of my favorites, too. The Dutch Boy's pumpkin pie melts in your mouth, it's the best in town.

      Have fun with your turkey cooking. The leftovers are the best part of having your own bird.

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  17. The Lone Ranger and Gene Audrey are not now, nor ever were, evil. Just saying...

    Powdered milk has been sold out at our grocery since the pandemic began. Not sure why because there's plenty of fresh milk available, but there you have it. People be weird.

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    1. I think people just want the option of not having to go to the store should the virus deaths in their county sky rocket which is true in my area right now. Liquid coffee cream while available no longer has the wide selection of flavor we had before the pandemic. I can't figure that one out.

      It always made my husband mad that the same church denomination that picketed and handed out pamphlets about the evils of movies and TV decades later had some of the biggest satellite stations broadcasting the church doctrine. If he wasn't already dead it would have killed him to see them laying hands on our current presidents.

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  18. I won Rick over with my homemade cream puffs.(that sounds like an inneundo doesn't it?) They are easier to make than a batch of cookies or a box cake. So what did I do? I let him think this was as difficult as he kept saying. Shh...our little secret!

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    1. I've made them before, too, and I agree they are easy to make. Easier to eat afterward as well which is why I don't make them anymore. At least with cookies and cake you can freeze part of the batches.

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  19. Hard to stick to my resolution to get my weight under control when, as soon as I had written it down, I scrolled to your next post and saw these delectable cream puffs calling to me like sirens!

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    1. When my gal pals and I used to go to the Dutch Boy restaurant---in the good old days before the pandemic---I picked a seat that would put my back to the showcase with giant cream puffs in it. I still ended up taking one home with me every time.

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  20. I haven't had cream puffs in years.I love them. Krispy Kreme doughnuts aren't half bad either.
    I sometimes eat cereal for dinner,too. It's a good thing to keep in the pantry. It has a good shelf life, which is a good thing during a pandemic. It's hard not to eat rich, comforting foods nowadays, and hard not to gain a few pounds. Two of my naturally slim relatives, who can usually eat anything they want, have managed to gain what they call the Covid 5.

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    1. I don't live near a Krispy Kreme, thank goodness. I would have trouble staying away.

      I wish mine was just the Covid 5 then it wouldn't threaten to put me in a bigger size like 8 pounds does.

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  21. You Cream Puff Tart you! *winks* Everything triggers a Memory for me already and it is both annoying and nostalgic so I have a Love/Hate Relationship with them flooding in by just seeing damned near anything now! I feel like I'm betraying my Grandson and all the LGBTQ Community when I shop at some places notoriously known for discrimination of them. Princess T has constantly reminded me of that... tho' Gay Timmy laughs when I tell him, Sorry, but I had a craving for those Spicy Chicken Strips and NEEDED that damned Tree Garland. *Le Sigh*

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    1. I was actually quite surprised when you wrote about buying your tree garland where you did. I had to sit on my fingers to keep from typing a comment about it. LOL

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    2. Well, some Dear Ones didn't hold back on commenting and they are right of coarse. The Grandson told me we can't really avoid nor boycott every opinion disagreeable to our own, but it does send a Message when it hits the biased establishments in their wallet and sullies reputations by extreme prejudices they make known. I doubt they Care tho' really, nor do those that support them BECAUSE OF similar sentiments. I should have gotten my Garland elsewhere and never should have had those addictive Spicy Chicken Strips... BAD Gramma!

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    3. No you're not!

      I don't look at boycotts quite the same way as trying to hurt the company, I see it as not letting any of the money I spent going towards working against causes that I care about---essentially funding lobbyists groups fighting each other.

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