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On Out: Eating Well
on Your Own
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for Thought Recipe Contest
Co-op Taking Off!
I’ve got a confession to make. I like fast food. Not the Fast Food
Nation or Super Size Me kind, but the kind that makes it from the store
to my table with limited in-between steps. After working here all day,
then doing my grocery shopping, I don’t want to cook any more than
anyone else. For everyday meals, I want something quick and easy. That
goes for vacation food, too. Last month, I was traveling to a weekend
benefit concert for Seed Savers with my wife and some friends, and, as
usual, my wife put me in charge of the food.
So the day before the trip I hit the aisles of the Co-op. I was looking
for food that would travel well as well as food that could be eaten with
little to no preparation. We were staying at the house of some friends
who were going to be out of town, and we really didn’t want to make
a mess and use all their dishes. Besides, after a full evening of concert-going,
we were definitely not going to be in the mood to cook or clean up.
The obvious place to start was the produce department. I picked up some
melons, pineapple, and berries for car snacks, and then turned my attention
to dinner. There is no better fast food than sandwiches. We have the best
produce department I’ve ever been in, and in a minute I had a basket
full of vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, organic alfalfa sprouts, red
onions, red leaf lettuce, and some fresh basil. (I almost grabbed the
young, green coconut out of curiosity. Maybe next time.)
Cookies, Crackers, Dairy
Then, after a short diversion for some Matt’s peanut butter cookies
and a box of crackers, I made my way to the dairy aisle. It had previously
been my firm belief that you should be prohibited from drinking anything
other than Silk’s chocolate soymilk with a sandwich. I do now make
an exception. The Co-op now carries Wisconsin Organics milk in glass bottles.
Say what you will, but you can definitely taste the difference from milk
sold in cardboard or plastic. I picked up both the soymilk and the regular.
I figured maybe I could hide the Silk from everyone else.
So by now I had the snack food, the beverages, and the sandwich innards.
Next up, condiments. I already had some Nayonaise at home, and some pickles
I picked up at a farm near Algoma (Wienke’s Market—highly
recommended, especially the dilly beans), so all I needed were olives
and some mustard. As for the olives, I decided to splurge. I was off to
Deli, Cheese and Bread
Yes, I’m biased, but I don’t think you’re going to find
a faster, easier meal with as high a quality of ingredients as in our
deli. First things first, I grabbed a half-pint of feta-stuffed olives
from the self-serve case. Then, over at the bread aisle, I picked up a
loaf of La Brea’s pan rustique, a flat ciabatta-style bread that
makes great sandwiches. At the cheese shelves, I faced my biggest challenge.
There are so many types of cheese, I have never been able to decide quickly
which to take. I settled on three. First, a big hunk of Colby. We had
kids coming along, and Colby goes well with both crackers and sandwiches.
Second, a container of fresh mozzarella. I’m just a sucker for fresh
mozzarella. Besides, it goes well on a veggie sandwich, too. Finally,
just for the crackers, I got a wedge of triple cream Brie.
Side Dishes from the Deli
Now that I had the sandwich fixings complete, I needed side dishes. That’s
where the deli shines. I decided to go for simplicity and tradition. We
were having sandwiches and would be eating them at an outdoor concert,
so I got us a pint each of macaroni salad, potato salad, and coleslaw.
At the last moment I added a pint of tuna salad. You aren’t going
to find a better tuna salad anywhere else, so I figured why not?
Now there was only one thing left. Lunch for the road. We obviously wouldn’t
be putting together sandwiches in the car, and fruit would only get us
so far. Easy enough to solve. I grabbed a couple of our Al Caprese Panini
from the sandwich case. Part of a new line of sandwiches developed by
deli cook extraordinaire Stuart; these have basil, fresh mozzarella, and
tomato on a La Brea demi-baguette. Other new sandwiches he’s developed
include the Pan Bagna, which is a mix of olives, peppers, and vinegar
sauce that soaks the bread and tastes delicious. There are also two new
Vietnamese sandwiches and a vegetarian torta as well. I chose the al Caprese
because, like I said, I’m a sucker for fresh mozzarella.
I was done. I left work at 2:00 that day. I finished shopping at 2:15
and was home by 2:30. By the time I finished chopping veggies, getting
the fruit ready to go and packing the cooler, it was 3:15. I had food
for five, bought and ready to serve, in a little over an hour. All I had
to do then was convince my wife to drive, so I could hoard the chocolate
soymilk and the peanut butter cookies.