Breakfast: water with lime, black coffee (sometimes I feel like drinking it black now, it's weird), smoothie containing RiceDream horchata, hemp protein powder, a little maple almond butter, plain Greek yogurt, mango, banana, frozen mango chunks, and romaine lettuce. I left out the prune juice because I am afraid my husband will get fed up with me. This smoothie was still very sweet, but at least tasted mostly like fruit in a conventional smoothie fashion. I kind of miss our old, thick-but-not-very-sweet smoothies.
Lunch: ham and swiss sandwich on rye from Starbucks, plus a small bag of potato chips, at the Joyce Kilmer rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. I am on my way home to Massachusetts to see my family and attend my friend's book party (see photo at right). I eat my sandwich outside at a picnic bench, and read. The whole thing seems far more wholesome than it would have if I'd gotten Burger King and eaten inside with the crowd of other people. I approve of myself at this time.
Dinner: Ugh, this journey is taking forever: over 4 hours from the Joyce Kilmer, on one side of NYC, to Bridgeport, CT on the other. In Windsor, CT, only about an hour from my parents' place, I give up and eat a Subway sandwich: a 6-inch "rotisserie chicken" on whole wheat with veggies and mustard. This was completely bland and flavorless. I also had a side bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, not flavorless.
Snacks: 3 cups coffee, 1 regular, 2 decaf, with half and half. 2 small chocolate chip sandie-type cookies and 1 weird Kirkland-brand truffle candy, with black tea, at my parents' house after arrival. I was just planning to have the tea, but my parents requested that I bring out the sweets, and then they were sitting right in front of me. The candy was sort of gross and at least I won't be tempted to have any more.
Breakfast: At my mom and stepfather's house. A leftover chicken thigh from the dinner my parents prepared last night, but which I didn't make it in time to eat; english muffin with butter and blackberry jam; tangelo. Coffee with half and half.
Lunch: With my dad and his wife, at the Book Mill in Montague. I had some hot dog or sausage-like item, on a brioche bun with some various homemade condiment-type things, and coleslaw. The coleslaw looked ordinary, but was not sweet at all. I didn't realize how much I expect coleslaw to be sweet. Coffee. I drank it black because the waitress didn't offer me any cream and, nowadays, I don't seem to mind black coffee.
Dinner: With my (ex-) stepmother, at her house in Conway. That makes five parents in one day. We did not eat dinner until 10:30 at night because we were talking so much (as well as snacking: see below). Dinner was: a sheet pan concoction with chicken thighs, sliced fennel, winter squash and grapes (!), sprinkled with what seemed to be brown sugar mixed with spices, perhaps cumin. Potatoes boiled with vinegar and then fried with salt. Salad with lettuce, arugula, and grape tomatoes, and balsamic dressing. Two glasses of red wine, the second of which was a local red made right here in Hadley, MA. It was pretty good, but sadly I don't remember the name of it.
Snacks: Decaf coffee with half and half from the Black Sheep in Amherst, on my way from Mom's house to Dad's, when I stopped in town to buy coffee beans, wine, and chocolate for my stepmother. Several slices of baguette with triple creme cheese, and several bing cherries, at my stepmother's house before dinner. One square of Ghiradelli mango dark chocolate with the last of my wine before bed.
Breakfast: Late in the morning, with my stepmother. She makes a big fruit salad and cooks scrambled eggs with goat cheese, tomato and basil, toasts some toast. It's a perfect breakfast. Coffee with soy creamer-- my favorite Black Sheep blend that I bought. The coffee is perfect too.
I don't exactly have lunch, but instead nosh at my best friend's book party (see below).
Dinner: After the book party, when most of the guests have gone home, my friend and I drive to Greenfield to pick up lots of gourmet pizzas for her parents, brother, husband, kids and me to eat at the "afterparty." I have a slice of rosemary potato pizza, a slice with roast meats and pickles, and a slice that just has a big pile of raw arugula on top. The pickle pizza was the best. Also a little bit of Greek-ish salad, and a glass of red wine.
Snacks: morning coffee with soy creamer. A square of mango dark chocolate when getting hungry for a late breakfast. Party snacks: a couple of crackers with guacamole, a couple of crackers with cheese, a paper cup of lemonade, a piece of amazing strawberry-and-lemon curd cake, plus another mini-slice of the same cake, and one of chocolate cake. I wish I'd known about these cakes, I would totally have bought my wedding cake from them five years back. A decaf Americano from the Starbucks in the middle of Amherst, on my way home (to my parents' house) from the afterparty. For some unknown reason the barista refused to charge me for it, no matter how much I protested.
Breakfast: I've been told we are having bagels for breakfast, but 8:30 rolls around and no one else is awake yet, let alone ready to drive into town and pick up the fresh bagels. So I have a nectarine that appears to badly need eating, and an English muffin with butter and fig jam. The bagels can count as lunch.
Lunch (though it probably takes place about 10:30): one and a half bagels, with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Coffee with half and half. The outing into town, with my stepfather, to pick up the bagels at Bruegger's and smoked salmon at the Big Y, was pleasant. I made the mistake of asking for a salt bagel for myself, which was so salty I could barely eat it.
Party/Dinner (with my friend's family, same as yesterday): snacks including several crackers with cheese or guacamole, several vegetable sticks with guacamole or hummus, a small glass of lemonade and another small glass of lemonade mixed with sparkling water. Dinner (at perhaps 4:30 pm?) consisting of hamburger with tomato and onion, potato chips, and fruit salad. Half a glass of pink-ish sparkling wine after dinner, left over from the book party. Large piece of chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting after that (to celebrate the birthdays of my friend's husband and son). I am full.
Snacks: cup of coffee with half and half, and unadorned cup of tea (I'm not sure what kind, as many of my parents' tea bags are unmarked) before finally caving in and eating my English muffin in the morning. Cup of decaf coffee with half and half at the Black Sheep, picked up on the way from my parents' house to the party. 2 sips of red wine in the evening with my stepfather: the wine is raisin-colored, a little vinegary, and tastes unpleasant. I ask how long it has been open and my stepfather says not very long, a week or two, and my mom says no, no! It was already open in the cupboard when I got it out! Nevertheless, they both act impatient, like I am imagining things, when I say the wine has gone off. It has a price sticker on it: it was $6.99 to begin with. My stepfather stubbornly drinks his glass of wine and my own. I switch to an airplane mini-bottle of cognac that has reportedly been in the cupboard 20 years. The cognac is still good.
Breakfast: coffee with half and half, half a poppyseed bagel with cream cheese and jam, pineapple. I am feeling overfed and am eating breakfast late, so saving room to eat lunch sooner rather than later. Everybody here eats very early, it seems.
Lunch: I am assigned to eat a Trader Joe's vegan tikka masala frozen meal that my stepfather wants to get rid of. It is fine. It would have better if the chunks of vegetable protein had been chicken, which was apparently also my stepfather's opinion. I throw a handful of salad greens in the bowl too, so that I will be eating some extra vegetable.
Dinner: at approximately 4:40 pm, my Mom suggests we start getting ready to go out for supper. "Mom, it's 4:30," I say. She argues that, by the time we are finished getting ready and drive to the restaurant, it will actually be "more like 5:30" before we eat. I bargain for 6:00 and she agrees. We go to the Ginger Garden, my favorite Chinese restaurant in Amherst. Our server, I must mention, is perfect. He should train all the servers of the world. Unfortunately, we order things that I turn out not to like all that much. A scallion pancake to share-- as soon as it arrives, I realize I've ordered it for takeout before, and found it tough and leathery. This time, it is at least hot, and therefore a bit better, but I would not get it again. I also order some thick noodles with pork, which are bland but not bad. My mom gets a dish with some kind of soft, braised white fish and lots of mushrooms, in a sauce that she likes and declares gingery but I think tastes like nothing at all. She doesn't care for some of the mushrooms that she thinks are "too tough," so I eat some of those. My stepfather goes a different direction and orders some very spicy breaded shrimp served on a bed of very spicy minced vegetables. I find that mixing some of these spicy vegetables into the bland, vaguely sweet pork noodles yields the best results, so I mainly stick with that. Again: great restaurant, risky ordering. Uneven results to be expected. Black tea, fortune cookie.
Snacks: cup of mystery tea with almond milk. After dinner, we stopped at a new local donut shop called Glazed, an enticing downtown storefront that had been gently calling to me for the entire length of my visit. When I finally confessed this to my parents, it turned out they felt the same, so we picked up three donuts to eat for dessert at home. My choice was a chai glazed donut. It was okay. It might well have been better first thing in the morning instead of at 8 pm, after having sat around all day. On the other hand, their case was still quite well stocked at 8 pm-- were they going to throw all those donuts away? Or just keep on selling them the next day? How does that work when you are a local joint that charges 2 bucks per donut instead of a cheap mass-producing chain outlet? I hope they make it, but looking at their prime retail location, expensive-for-what-it-is-but-still-inexpensive product, and minimal clientele (at the time I was there), I am not convinced.
Driving home day.
Breakfast (at parents' house, before leaving): slice of rye toast with butter; a plum; caramel-flavored Liberte yogurt. Coffee, with half and half. Apparently, after reading this post about how much I love caramel Liberte yogurt, my mom assigned my stepfather to buy 4 of them for my visit. I only managed to eat this one. I do like caramel Liberte, but I don't actually eat that much yogurt. However, this is one of the weird ways in which parents show their love. My mom stopped offering me any "bars" because I made fun of her here and she read it. It's kind of disappointing. I don't want the bars, but I also don't want her to change.
Lunch: at a Starbucks in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a heavily Korean enclave just outside of New York City. In fact, I stopped at this particular strip mall partly because it had one of my beloved H-Marts. Many of the signs were in Korean, and many of the customers were speaking Korean. A group of Korean teenagers were playing guitars outside on the sidewalk and singing songs about Jesus to raise money for their "mission." At the Starbucks, I ate some kind of panini (turkey and avocado, perhaps? I can't remember) and chips, and drank another cup of coffee with half and half, and finished the book I was reading. Incidentally, I don't think I was meant to be in Fort Lee, NJ at all. My dad gave me directions for an alternate route to Maryland that he said was more pleasant and bypassed New York City. I believe the bypassing New York part would have worked better if the directions he'd written down had been accurate, but he mixed up (I think) the Palisades Parkway with the Sawmill Parkway, and the route I took ("I'll just trust Dad," I said to myself, like that has ever been a good idea) ended up being rather unusual. It was still more pleasant (and, bizarrely, not any more time-consuming) than taking I-95 the whole way, though. So, in a sense, Dad was right. And next time I can adjust the route so that all the roads he wrote down (except the Palisades Parkway) actually intersect, and it will be a good route. Dad has always been more of a fiction guy than a fact guy.
Dinner: leftover vegetarian chili that my husband cooked the night before for himself and kid, warmed up after I arrive home from my trip and he arrives home from work shortly thereafter. Shredded cheddar cheese on top. I am very grateful that he made it. He does not cook much and doesn't have a lot of confidence in his skills, but honestly a) the chili is pretty good, and b) I wouldn't mind whether it were good or not. There is a value to somebody serving you dinner regardless of quality.
Snacks: decaf coffee with half and half, and a chocolate croissant, from the Black Sheep on my way out of town in the morning. I didn't intend to get the chocolate croissant but, at the last minute, I caved. It was so flaky and messy that I had to sit down and eat it and read for a few minutes, because there was no way I could eat it in the car. It was delicious, but I didn't really want it. Random fail. Or tradition (I pretty much have one croissant at the Black Sheep every time I come home). Second random fail: when I stopped in the afternoon for a decaf americano at another Starbucks (in a Camden, NJ rest stop), I bought a package of their madeleines, which for some reason I find irresistible. Tomorrow I will get back to normal, I swear. Enough with the donuts for dessert. After I have sworn this, the minute I arrive home my kid gives me a big cookie. They baked it themselves while I was gone and saved it for me, so how I could I say no?
Oh and this evening after dinner we picked up our first CSA farm box of the year, from this guy's farm. This is a new farm to us, and it is exciting. Our box contained lettuce, spinach, oregano, strawberries, various kinds of young onions with scapes, and asparagus. It is not a ton, but usually these things get a slow start for the first couple of weeks, and I am happy to start earlier and get some real spring vegetables (and fruit!) like these.