Category Archives: Cheese

On the Road to Roadside America

Before we get to the March 2012 Resolution, we have to get through the Lewisburg to Los Angeles Road Trip, don’t we?.  I mean, I’ve never been too strick about the beginning of the month anyway, right?

So, for the six days of cross-country travel, here are my resolutions rules.

1.  No eating at chain restaurants.
This has not been difficult philosophically, since it is my normal behavior.  Logistically, however, it’s been a bit challenging.  When one is traveling on major interstates, a bit of work is required to find something other than Cracker Barrel, McDonalds, or a Love’s Truck Stop.   

2.  We will listen to a whole album each day.
We made a mutually agreed upon list of top rock albums.  So far we’ve listened to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Elton John and Rumors, by Fleetwood Mac.  I also got gifts of road trip CDs from friends so we have seven California themed playlists to choose from.  So far, the most popular song on these playlists is, not surprisingly, “California Dreamin'” by the Mama’s and the Papa’s.  

3.  We will stop at one road side attraction each day.
No high-brow elitist cultural institutions for us, NO.  It’s Grandpa’s Cheese Barn all the way. 

Delicious, Delicious Cheese!

All of these rules are serving us well.  With a small amount of effort (thank you iPhone) we have eaten at some great local diners, a delicious Thai restaurant, and a Columbus, OH purveyor of local foods and the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had.

I like me some deviled eggs.

My favorite rule, by far, has been Rule 3.

My friend Lindsay recommended an iPhone app called Roadside America.  Forget those every day apps like Facebook and Youtube.  Roadside America is THE COOLEST APP EVER.  Seriously.

This app figures out your location and then lists all of the awesome, strange, and wonderful things you can see nearby.  Precious Moments Chapel anyone?  Largest Rocking Chair in the WORLD?  Giant Solo Cup?  City of Murals?  Can you say AWESOME?

No, we are not stopping at everything.  In spite of the fact that almost all of them sound fun, we have agreed that we still need to arrive in Los Angeles on March 7th.  So we limit ourselves to one (or two) a day.  Unless a third one is really close by.

Where else but in Cuba, Missouri?

And sometimes, even when you’re not looking for it, when you’re just having a lovely lunch at Hick’s Barbecue in Cuba, Missouri, you get an added bonus.  I really couldn’t make this stuff up.

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Filed under Cheese, Resolutions, Transitions, Travel

What a STUPID idea!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, one of my family members asked me what my final monthly resolution would be for 2012.  I optimistically said that I was going to try to do a little bit (or a lot) of every resolution from the year.

Gee!  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful capstone to this year-long project!  Wouldn’t it be FUN to revisit my resolutions and to combine them into one fabulously enhanced life?

Um, no.  It wouldn’t.

For those who can’t remember (I couldn’t) or who just haven’t been paying attention, here is the list:

January  – Eat Five Fruits and Veggies a Day
February – No Alcohol
March – Stretching Every Day
April- What Would Elvine Do? Take Care of Yourself
May- Stop Thinking about the Future and Just Relax
June – Get into the Woods, Implement Finishing Touches
July – Clean Underware
August – No Cheese!
September – Get Out the Funk
October – Clean the Basement
November – Um, Keep Cleaning the Basement

When I started really thinking about doing all of these at once it quickly became clear that I was setting myself up for failure.  On a massive scale.

I mean, seriously, WHO on EARTH could go a whole month with NO ALCOHOL and NO CHEESE?  And why, WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU?

And, if you were sick enough to try that resolution, WHY would you EVER do it in DECEMBER?

Yea, that idea is RIGHT OUT.

I still liked the idea of putting the resolutions together in some way – just not by doing them all at once.  So instead of that crazy scheme, I’ve just been reflecting on them, pondering how they worked (or didn’t), how they changed me (or didn’t), and what this little project has done for me.

One of the first things I did, of course, was re-read all of my posts.  One post in particular caught my attention.  Back in January I wrote a list of potential resolutions that were vying for my attention.  These rejected resolutions are fascinating now.

  • Some of them actually became resolutions later in the year (stretching every day and going without alcohol for a month).
  • Some of them happened, even though I didn’t make them an official resolution (going to the gym five days a week and going back to London).
  • Some of them have become larger goals that I do work on, though I wouldn’t call them one-month resolutions (saving six months of my salary).

I’ve had lots of insights, actually, from this re-reading and pondering.  So many, in fact, that I think I’ll add a new resolution to the rest of my month.

I’m going to post once a day – a short post – with thoughts on the year, and possibly ideas for the next one.

And you can be sure, while I’m writing, I’ll be sipping a lovely glass of wine and eating some cheese.  Snap.

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Filed under Alcohol, Cheese, Fruits and Vegetables, Health, Relaxing, Resolutions, Stretching

Indulgence in Amsterdam

Ah, Amsterdam.  For many, this city is a place to indulge in things not normally allowed – not normally legal, in fact – in their own countries.  It’s true that I’ve smelled my fair share of pot in the past two days, and last night I was encouraged to purchase the services of a prostitute.  That was a first for me.

In my Amsterdam, however, the great temptation  so far has been –  and there are no surprises here – CHEESE.

Gouda – pronounced HHOW-da – is everywhere here.   Young (jong)  is more mellow and old (oude)  is stronger and saltier.  Both are DELICIOUS.  At almost every turn there are shops selling colorful wax-covered wheels of this miraculous cheese.  And where there are wax-covered wheels of cheese, there are samples.

I have resisted the urge to just go from one cheese shop to another.  I limit myself to those I wander past as I am exploring parts of the city for other reasons altogether.  But I have not let an opportunity to sample cheese go by, nor do I intend to.  I have not, interestingly, ordered much food with cheese in it – these small bits of perfection seem to be enough for me, so perhaps I am not indulging after all?

When I told people I was coming to Amsterdam, without exception everyone told me I would love it and that I could “do Amsterdam” in about two days.  I’ve been here for two days and I can tell you, I haven’t gotten anywhere near finishing with all of the wonderful cheese sights the city has to offer.  The buildings are just miraculous  with charming canals and boat houses, parks and courtyards at every turn.  The people are, well, TALL, exceptionally blond, but most noticeably very friendly and almost entirely bi-lingual.  (Seriously, I have never seen so many adults with natural blond hair in my life).  The vibe is that everyone is on vacation, even the locals.  How could you ‘do’ this in two days?  I want to stay forever.

Or at least until they run out of cheese.

Which won’t happen too quickly.

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Filed under Cheese, Travel

I’ve been in a funk

but this cheered me up.

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Filed under Cheese, The Meaning of Life

The Family Cheese Wheel

One of the things I share with my family is a love of food.  We love appetizers.  We love desserts.  We love snacks.  And we definitely love cheese.

When we’re together, it is not rare for us to talk about what to have for lunch while we were eating breakfast.

Seriously.  The Radcliffes love food.

I think I was ten when I learned how to make salad dressing from scratch.   My mother and I can have thirty minute conversations about what we both had for dinner the day before and how we prepared it.  My father built a computer program to plan cooking on Thanksgiving day – all he had to do was enter the weight of the turkey and out came the schedule.  My brother and his wife host the best dinner parties in Pennsylvania and they do it like most people do laundry – weekly.

The Radcliffes also love cooking.

This past weekend, I spent some time visiting with relatives I hadn’t seen in years.  I admit, I was nervous about seeing the clan.  Even though I have come to love being single, these kinds of gatherings can still bring out the self-conscious divorced girl in me.

I had forgotten, however, that the Radcliffes (ok, well actually the Bradstocks) really love picnics.

As soon as I rounded the corner of Great Aunt Nellie’s yard, memories of summer picnics with this extended family came flooding back. The food was always simple and delicious.  There was never much to do but sit around and talk but we didn’t care.  This weekend was no different.  It didn’t take long before the nerves went away and we were telling old stories and making new memories.

Of course my favorite bonding moment of the entire trip was when my cousin (once removed!) and her husband and I waxed poetic about our love of cheese.   My mother had explained my August resolution.  Laurie started listing all of the cheeses she and her husband adore and looking wistfully into the distance.  Last year, they gave and received cheese-of-the month from iGourmet (please, PLEASE someone, buy this for me).  Ah yes, I thought.  We are kindred spirits.

Family is important to me, but I’ve always believed you make your family more than you inherit it.  That’s what I’ve done with my life – gathering friends  around me.  Still, these people are my family tree – my family cheese wheel if you will – and I can’t deny a special connection.  I don’t think it has anything to do with biology – I think it’s history.

At the end of the weekend, I went with my parents to see my grandparents’ graves.  I had forgotten that this spot was where many of my relatives are buried, some who died before I was born.  Why were those graves more meaningful to me than others?  Why were any of them meaningful to me at all? I don’t think it was the graves, to be honest.  I think, instead, it was the connection I was witnessing – my father to his parents, to his cousin lost far too young, to his uncles and aunts – and my mother (the in-law) to this family she has known and loved for most of her life.

Oddly I know that if I needed help, many of this clan would offer it, even though they see me rarely and we live far apart.  I hope they know I would offer it too.  We are connected.  I know that not everyone has this and I’m grateful for it, and for the opportunity to feel it so strongly again after too many years.

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Filed under Cheese, Community, Family

Cheese vs. Alcohol

This morning, a friend asked me if I miss cheese more than I miss beer.  It was not difficult for me to answer – YES!  I miss cheese more!

(In case you forgot, I gave up all alcohol this February.)

First of all, the act of abstaining from alcohol was just a lot simpler.  You just don’t order a drink.

But cheese, my friends, is EVERYWHERE.  It’s hard to avoid it even when you want to (and I use the term ‘want’ loosely here).  Foods that don’t even need cheese have cheese in them.  The less time you have, the more likely it is that cheese will be included in your meal.  And when you’re not cooking for yourself, the non-cheese options are often even less healthy.  I have actually found myself ordering fried food instead of the salad that comes with cheese.  Seriously.

After February, I realized that being more intentional about alcohol was important to me.  Just because I’m out with friends doesn’t mean I need to have a drink too.  Just because I’m on my porch and it’s hot out, doesn’t mean I need to have a gin and tonic (ok.  It kind of does.  But let’s pretend it doesn’t).

Similarly, I am finding that I need to be more intentional about my cheese intake.  I don’t miss cheese in my deli sandwich.  I don’t miss cheese cubes at a reception.  I do, however, miss the opportunity to order cantaloupe gazpacho with goat cheese when I am out to dinner in a new city.  I miss tomatoes at their peak with fresh mozzarella and goat cheese.  I miss fennel cranberry bread with locally made Camembert from our grower’s market.  I know that I can’t go back to eating cheese in September without some guidelines for myself.  “Eat less cheese” is just too broad and in a few short months (weeks?) I’ll be back to my old habits.

Instead, I think I’ll focus on high quality cheese moments – the opportunity to try a really good cheese, or a favorite dish – should not be missed.  But it also shouldn’t be something I do without thinking.  Late night cheese snacking, no-no.  Tipsy cheese appetizers, no-no.  Cooking and eating six ounces of feta while I do it, no-no.  But a cheese course?  Cheese fondue?  Macaroni and Cheese on a cold winter night?  Hell, yea.  I can’t wait.

 

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Filed under Alcohol, Cheese, Food, Health

Cheese, cheese, everywhere…and not a cube to eat.

First, I gave the last of my feta (my favorite, Mandros feta) to my roommate.

Then, I had to eat Buffalo Wings with RANCH dressing.

Next, I could not put cheddar cheese on my friend’s Birthday Chili.

Finally, in a desperate attempt to carve breakfast out of an almost empty pantry, I only realized after the fact that my  mother’s pesto (delicious, thank’s mom) has Parmesan cheese in it.  Damn it!

Still, I am eight days in, and so far I have mostly been winning my stand-off with cheese.   OH THE POWER.

I have noticed several things:

* It is VERY hard to eat out without eating cheese.  Most restaurants put cheese on EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  Even the vegetables seem to have cheese.

* Sometimes, even when you ask for a sandwich without cheese, you get it WITH cheese and don’t realize it until you’ve eaten 2/3 of the sandwich.  If you don’t even NOTICE the cheese, then why is it there?  Adding calories and fat to my otherwise lovely sandwich?  WTF people?

* When you cook for yourself it is EASY to not use cheese.  But you may still WANT to use cheese.   A LOT.

Friends and coworkers honestly CAN NOT believe this resolution.  They just don’t understand it.  I’m not sure I do either.

 

 

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Filed under Cheese, Food, Resolutions