Opportunity For Adventure Is Endless

Chicago is a city surrounded by many suburbs. In fact the ring of suburbs encircling the city is quite varied in ethnicities. At the same time these same suburbs are examples of Americans using their freedom to engage in businesses that fill needs. Last week I traveled sixty miles, yes sixty miles, to get to a place called Buffalo Grove. My life partner is from the northern suburbs and as such all of her doctors and services are located sixty plus miles from where we live. The same services exist within a twenty mile radius but they aren’t the same. Why? Because they don’t speak the languages my soulmate needs to speak to explain her problems. (Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and least of all English) I digress.

The small shopping center we landed in to pick up a her new glasses had a very large food store called in the middle. Similar to a Jewel or Meijer’s. The next step on our agenda was to do our weekly shopping for groceries, at our Frankfort Jewel. So why not use the Garden Fresh Market store right where we were? We decided we needed an adventure.

The store is amazingly loaded with foods from many ethnic groups, but mainly Russian. Fresh foods, meats, fruits, vegetables, you name it they stocked it. We perused the aisles for two hours and selected many ethnic varieties. After paying in US dollars via American Express we passed several kiosks containing more unique Russian goods. Magazines, toys, videos, you name it they had it. Even plastic model kits of Russian fighter aircraft and tanks. I thought to myself, only in America will one find a pocket of Russians living freely in a neighborhood where they can continue to be Russians without worrying about Putin knocking on their door.

When we finally loaded the car we were hungry, and there right near the eyeglass shop was a Korean restaurant. I asked if she wanted another adventure by trying Korean food. Yes, why not. We donned our masks and entered The Golden Durebok. There were about ten people sitting in booths scattered all around the place. All appeared to be of Asian ancestry. We found a booth toward the back and waited for a waiter to show up. After a few minutes an old man wearing a baseball jacket and a short white apron dropped a couple of menus on our table then proceeded to clean tables.

Thank God there were pictures of food in the menu. There was also english descriptions but they were intended to address Asian customers. We looked through the eight page menu and selected something from the appetizer page. We ordered thinking we had picked soup. Wrong, it wasn’t even close, and my lovely was very disappointed. We asked the old man if they had soup. He just gave us a dumb stare. I finally told him to bring us some soup, he left miffed. It took several minutes for him to return with two small bowls 1/3 filed with something that looked like chicken consume with a few pieces of green onion floating in it. We thanked him and he left. Lovely just looked at me and her entree as if expecting me to turn it in for another dish. I took a piece of what was on her plate and bit into it. Not bad, I said. She did the same, then reached over to take one of my fried dumplings. She liked the dumpling, so we traded dishes and ate.

Meanwhile, across the room from us sat two asian men, one very large in size, the other rather skinny. Both were eating with ravenous zeal. The skinny guy kept picking up a fresh napkin about every two mouth fulls to wipe his forehead and face of sweat. He did this throughout his meal. It brought back memories of when I ate with my Singaporean friends in Singapore. They loved very spicy hot food. I asked why. One answer was that Singapore is very hot and humid, but asians don’t sweat like caucasians. To compensate they eat spicy hot things that make them sweat so they could enjoy the evaporative cooling provided by the ceiling fans.

We finished our meals and I took the bill to the register to pay. I looked at what it said. What I ordered for lovely was listed as Kimchi Pancake and not soup as described in the menu. I paid and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.

Kimche Pancake

How appropriate that I am reading the book Out of Many. One. How many more ethic pockets exist around the metropolitan area, and in how many cities of the country do they exist? I know for fact that there isn’t a city in America without a China Town, but how about Hungarian town, or Polish Town? I know they exist in Chicago and there is no limit to others as well. I attest to how they contribute to making America great, and interesting to say the least. It is also fun to explore these areas and to eat in their restaurants. The opportunities for adventures are endless.

A Costco-Walmart Adventure

A couple of days ago I received a call from a friend. She needed to go shopping for groceries. Being a Lion whose motto is We Serve, I jumped at the opportunity. Most sane people would have found a simpler service project, but not me. I had to drive 45 minutes to get to the starting point of this adventure. The friend is a caretaker, and her latest job is taking care of Norma a 101 year old lady without any family. She relies completely on the people she hires to do her favors.

Traffic was light at 2:00 in the afternoon, and I got to the house in forty minutes not forty-five. My friend was waiting for me at the door, and we were ready to go. I asked her if she had a key to the house to get in, She waved the key at me, “good” I said. “Did the lady give you money to shop with?” She dug into her purse and pulled out two blue cards one debit, and the other a credit. “Good,” I said again. “My lady wants me to go to Costco,” said my friend. “Did she give you her membership card?” Again, digging in her purse, she whipped out a Costco card. “Great,” I said, “let’s get going.”

Neither of us had a clue as to where the Costco was. Thank God for cell phones. We both found the address for the nearest one and I pumped the location into the GPS. We were off for an adventure.

I joined a Costco back in the nineteen-eighties when an agent came to our company to sell memberships. I bit on the bait and joined. The store was immense, but not convenient. Prices on things were good, but I don’t buy a TV every week or month. I was more interested in food. The Costco hook is packaging. The prices are good, but one must buy a package. For a can of tuna at a low price I might have to buy a package of twelve cans. My membership ran out and I never rejoined, but I did join Sam’s Club which was much closer to my home.

We started shopping in the meat department. My friend loves chicken wings and drum sticks. She picked up two discreet packages and went home with 32 drum sticks and 48 wings. Thankfully, four drum sticks were packaged in one plastic unit, but there were eight units to a package. The price was low, but who will eat that many drumsticks before the last one goes bad in the freezer? I figure it’ll be June, 2021 before they run out of drumsticks. We spent a lot of time looking for stuff and passing most bargains. My friend told me that the last caretaker was asked to leave. “Why,” I asked? “Norma told me that her last caretaker spent over $400 at Costco. I took a quick count of what was in our basket. “Do you realize we have over $130 dollars worth of groceries in the basket right now, and we have a lot of shopping left to do?” She thought about it for a second and said, “lets check out and go to Walmart.”

At the register I pushed the debit card into the reader and got a message “enter your PIN.” What? Do you have the PIN?”

“What is a PIN?” she asked me. The second card was the same. I reached for my wallet and pushed my American Express card into the reader. “We don’t accept American Express,” said the clerk.

“Oh shit, you mean to tell me the largest retailer in the world does not accept the number one card in the world?”

“Sorry sir.” I pulled out my emergency VISA and paid.

We managed to find a Walmart about five miles away and finished the shopping minus two items, Italian bread, and Biscotti. The total between the two stores was $320. At least we didn’t spend $400.

We spent an hour in Costco, and another hour in Walmart before we began to find our way back. It was dark, and thankfully I had the GPS to guide me. It was about six p.m. when we parked in the drive. My friend said she would go in first, check her client, and then open the garage door so we could unload quickly.

Two minutes later my friend reappeared, “can you help me?”

“What is wrong?”

“I can’t open the door.” I took the key from her and tried it on the two locks. It worked fine on the dead bolt, but it didn’t move on the regular lock. “We need two separate keys to open this door,” I said. “Now what?”

My friend began ringing the door bell. “Norma can wheel herself over and open the lock for us.” After several minutes and a lot of ringing, we peered through the side-light window and saw Norma slouched in her wheel chair and vigorously pointing toward the left. My friend went to the side yard only to learn that the gate was locked. She went to the opposite side and found the same. “Maybe Norma was pointing at the neighbor,” I said. We quickly went to the next house and rang the bell, and told the neighbor our story. It turns out the neighbor didn’t have a key either. The neighbor lady said “I’ll call the police.”

It took about five minutes for a cop to arrive. He listened to our story and said he would be back. He went to his patrol car to get his lock pick. By the time he came back, a fire truck arrived with three firemen. They went straight for the door with a tool that looked like a battering ram. “Oh great, now we will get in, but we’ll have a door that doesn’t close again.” Lady Luck was with us because within two minutes they had the door open and they rushed in to see if Norma was okay. My friend followed them. I stayed outside with the cop who insisted on seeing identification and asked for more information. “This happens a lot,” he said.

“Yeah, well it has never happened to me,” I said. I realized later that he meant this happens a lot at this house. My friend came out to ask me in, and the cop asked if he could go in to check on Norma too. “Of course,” she said. The cop and Norma were acquainted with each other and spoke for a few minutes. After he left we lifted Norma back into her wheel chair. I was right she had slid down while trying to come to the door and was inches from sliding onto the floor.

Finally, I unloaded the groceries into the garage. As we were going in and out Norma kept warning us not to let her cat out. On about the second trip, I looked up and saw the cat at the edge of the garage door looking out. My friend looked up and saw her too. Immediately she ran toward the house to scare the cat back into the house. That is all I would have needed to make the night complete, a missing cat. Thankfully, the cat skedaddled back into the house and we shut the door behind her.

I wished my friend good luck and left. I got home by 8:00 p.m. The first thing I did after relieving myself was to pour a generous shot of whiskey over ice to reward a successful service call.

Believe it or not!

I Will Not Eat My Greens

In many movies and comedy sketches I have often heard the line “eat your greens.” I had to look up what greens were. My source labeled greens as collard greens. They are in the same source of greens as kale and broccoli. I found them disgusting. I suspect the vegans in the world think they are delicious, not me. A week ago I wrote about my virgin experience with kale. I love kale, especially when it is drizzled with salad dressing. The collard greens supplied in my Green Chef dinner package turned me off. Maybe they will grow on me if I eat enough of them, fat chance of that happening.

Collard
Kale
Close up of a bowl of Italian boiled spinach

Each time I cruise through the vegetable aisle at my local grocery store I am amazed at the quantity of green leafy lettuces and other strange looking eatables from around the world. On a good day I will pick something I have never tried before just for the sake of experimentation. I can tolerate the lettuces, but when it comes to the heavier leaved darker green things like collard I pass by. As a kid I hated spinach. That is because my mother had only one way to prepare it, by boiling. Boiled spinach leaves are the world’s worst resembling some very old and wet sea weed. On the other hand fresh spinach leaves are excellent in a salad. The best is baby spinach drizzled with poppyseed dressing and with sliced strawberries on top. The chef who invented that combination should be in the Chef Hall of Fame.

Baby spinach with strawberries and poppy seed dressing

I find that the Green Chef meal plan is making me a better cook, and making me develop a more refined pallete. I hate waste and will never throw anything away, I’d much rather make it the way they instruct me to and try it. So far I am batting 5/6, only the collard greens have been a loser. In major league baseball a batting average of 5/6, (0.8333) would command a hundred million dollar contract. I’ll stick to keeping score with my selections from Green Chef.

KETO-Green Chef vs Factor 75

This week I began a new adventure, actually two adventures. My pre-prepared KETO meal plan is expensive and I was looking for ways to cut the costs. Of course, I searched the internet and found a business called Green Chef. It is different than the Factor 75 that I have been using. Green Chef sends fresh ingredients and a how to cook recipe card with step by step instructions on what to do with each item. Factor 75 sends me pre-cooked ready to heat and eat meals. Both of them are expensive. So far, I like the Green Chef meals because it forces me to cook. I am learning a lot of new things. The meals are also very tasty and colorful. It takes me anywhere from 30-45 minutes to make the meals. Each Green Chef meal serves two, or in my case it is two meals, one is reheated the next day. The price per serving is lower than my Factor 75 meals. Todate, I have cooked three meals all very fresh and very tasteful, and there is plenty to eat. I have one more to go before I decide whether to reorder another round of meals.

Staying KETO is difficult these days. Maybe it is the change in weather and the shorter daylight, but I am craving comfort food, and too often I cheat like heck to fit a piece of cake into the diet. Cooking gives me a degree of comfort even though the food is not classified as comfort food. One thing I like more about the Factor 75 meals is that I can be eating within five minutes of initiating a meal. Unless I opt to go for a wrap. Wraps take a while to put together. Nothing is easier than poking a hole into a plastic wrapper and setting the micro-wave for two and a half minutes. The next step is to peel back the entire covering to stir the contents and to place it back into the MW for another minute or two. I can be eating in five minutes after taking the package out of my refrigerator. While with the Green Chef meal I am dicing, chopping spicing, sautéing, searing, and mixing. a couple of different entrees, one meat and a vegetable mix, with a sauce.

I suppose it all depends on how hungry I am, and how lazy I feel. If I had my way I’d be very happy with sub-sandwiches but they involve bread and we all know bread is not KETO.

In my very first sentence above I mentioned I had two adventures. The second involved building a fire ring in my back yard and setting it up for an evening fire. The kindling came from the trees in my yard, and the fuel came from my wood shop. I finally cut up the boards that were once a special table I built for my mother to keep her house plants on. It served her well for many years, and after she and dad died, and we were finally emptying the house I inherited the table. For many years it acted as a catchall surface for house plants, and the usual junk that accumulates around the house. Two years ago I cleared it and disassembled it for future wood projects. It lay on my shop floor during that time, and this week, I cut it up into smaller burnable pieces for evening fires.

Sitting in the cool night air warming myself by the dancing flames brought back a lot of old memories from my Scout Master days and also when we were on family camping trips. Each time we had a fire one of the family became the self designated pyro-maniac whose job it was to keep the flames roaring. When I first moved into this house I drew a plan of what I wanted in my garden: a pond, waterfall, stream, mini-forest, vegetable garden, flower garden, and fire-pit. I accomplished all except the fire-pit, it is time to close out the plan as complete.

Falling Off the Wagon

Well, yesterday I truly fell off the wagon and hit hard. The KETO wagon is what I refer to. After religiously following a strict KETO diet for weeks, (to be honest I was really only close) what did I do to take such a fall? I cheated and went for a cherry milkshake at an old fashioned soda parlor. God was it good! I haven’t had ice cream or anything sweet for months, but this week I went for it.

It all began mid-week when I cooked a batch of stroganoff. I didn’t even attempt to make it KETO, I used real flour to make the gravy, man was it delicious. Then, to top it off I skipped the lame zucchini wide-noodles and cooked real flour based wide noodles. I’m still reeling in the deliciousness. By yesterday, I craved a summer treat hence the shake.

I’ve been on KETO since last summer and have lost some weight, but for the past six months have not lost an ounce. After analyzing the situation I concluded that I am only thinking I am on KETO, and not really practicing faithfully. I swore that today I would begin anew and really count carbs and calories and stick to low carb fruits and veggies. Except there aren’t too many fruits I can choose from. It seems that all the stuff I love has serious sugar in it. Sugar and KETO are incompatible. Sugar converts into serious carbs.

At least I learned how to make buns that I substitute for bread and they allow me to make a sandwich which I will thrive on. Making the buns using shredded mazzorella, cream cheese, eggs, and almond flour is simple enough and keeps me semi-happy. I was, and still am, a sandwich eater, but the bread part is substituted by lettuce leaves. I now call the sandwich a wrap. I watched a half dozen youtube videos on how to make lettuce wraps and am getting better at making something that holds together fairly well.

KETO is a lifestyle. I don’t like to refer to it as a diet, even though KETO is a way of eating. Actually, it is a lifestyle change on what you use for fuel. Instead of burning carbs I burn fat. A different body chemistry is involved. One benefit I derive from this chemistry is less dependance on insulin to convert carbs into body fuel. Being on KETO as a type 2 diabetic is a good thing, I think.

Since last June, I have shed twenty-five pounds, but I haven’t lost anything in the last six months. What that tells me is that I was more serious when I began and then started playing the system after getting accustomed to the foods. I also drink too much. Alcohol is allowed in strict moderation, but if you’ve been reading my posts you understand that when it comes to imbibing my favorite adult beverages moderation is redefined.

Anyway, beginning today I return to counting carbs, and eating only KETO approved foods, with no cheating. I will measure my ketone level to insure that I am on the right track. I will also remind myself of what is KETO and what is not KETO. Those who know me already know that I will vocally point out a food is “not KETO” then swallow it anyway.

Wish me luck, I’m going for the ring and have set my goal to weigh what I weighed in 1978. Most of us gain a pound a year after adulthood, so that means I am sixty-one pounds over weight. Subtract the twenty-five I’ve lost and I only have thirty six more pounds to go. Oh shit, that means I will weigh what I weighed when I married my first wife when I was a scrawny boney, pimple-faced kid.

March, 1960, University Of Illinois Shequan Parade

Like I said, wish me luck.

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