Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkey and Black Bean Chili Followed by Parent-Child Connections

After nearly a year of operation, JoAnna and I finally joined the Willy Street Food Co-op, which opened its second store in the space formerly occupied by Walgreen’s in Middleton’s Parkview Plaza. It’s located a mere 2½ blocks from our house. What could be more convenient for grocery shopping? Why didn’t we take advantage of it sooner?

JoAnna and I were under the mistaken impression that all of their produce, meat, and other food products were significantly, even wildly more expensive than the standard grocery stores where we tend to shop – Metcalfe’s, Cub, Woodman’s. For some reason, that’s the impression I walked away with early this year after my first visit there. And I can’t recall what items I inspected that led me to this conclusion.

We have yet to make any major purchases there, i.e., enough to fill a grocery cart, but starting this weekend, I’ve treated the placed like the local corner grocery store of my youth.

“Dang, I forgot to buy garlic cloves,” I exclaimed late yesterday morning after JoAnna and I had returned home from a shopping trip at Metcalfe’s.

I needed a single clove of garlic for a turkey and black bean chili recipe I was preparing for the first time. It was given to me this spring, upon request, by the Administrative Assistant of the Menasha Public Library, who prepared it for a staff potluck lunch. A very tasty and filling entrĂ©e, one that’s very appropriate for this time of year when the days get cooler and shorter.

“You can use garlic powder,” JoAnna suggested.

“No, I prefer to follow the ingredients as they’re listed in the recipe,” I said.

While I was at the co-op, I also picked up a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, also called for in the recipe. My initial plan was to substitute diced tomatoes, which would have resulted in a much less hearty turkey black bean soup. Glad I decided to be fussy.

As for the outcome…….we have another keeper, just like the White Chicken Chili I first tried last year. Now it’s a regular item on the menu from October to April.

Later in the day, JoAnna joined me on a return trip to the food coop. I needed a green pepper for the meat loaf I prepared ahead of time for tonight’s supper. Then about an hour ago, I walked there again to purchase a bag of four small whole wheat dinner rolls and a small baguette. I’ll use one half of the baguette each day for the meat loaf sandwich I’m eating for lunch tomorrow and Wednesday.

Just call me Mr. Menu Planner.

I sent the following text message to JoAnna last Friday afternoon.

Andy won’t be home this weekend. Will attend a supply chain jobs forum later day. It’s also the weekend his lacrosse team makes a presentation to request school funding for the spring season.

And I confess to composing the message with a slight sense of disappointment, a feeling that I’m sure JoAnna shared as she read it. We had both been looking forward to spending some time with Andy, even though we’ve already seen him a few times this fall. That’s certainly more times than my parents saw me when I was in my last year of college. During my four years at Buffalo, a two-hour bus ride from Warren, I usually went home only when the campus shut down: Thanksgiving, Christmas (winter break), and spring break (which generally coincided with Easter). After high school graduation, I no longer spent summers at home. Now that I’m a parent, I’d feel forlorn if Andy and Eddie were the infrequent visitor home that I was. I never talked to my parents about their feelings when I first left home for college and then, as it developed, when I seemed content to keep myself at a distance from Warren, although, in my defense, I did write and call them on a regular basis. It’s not as though I turned my back on my family. I was just intently focused on building a life of my own – on my own.

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