January 8, 2012

Sick Days & Shopping

One day my student called to let me know she was sick and couldn’t come in. It was Friday and that meant I now had a long weekend. Being summer The Honey had the day off too. That rarely happens so he thought it the perfect opportunity for a road trip. Over breakfast at our local haunt we listed places to go then crossed them off for one reason or another. We had to be back at a relatively decent time to give the cat her insulin.

Decision made – Watertown for some shopping. The Canadian dollar was doing great and was above the American again so off we went. Along the way we talked about what we needed and what we didn’t, what stores where there (we weren’t really sure as it had been some time since the last trip), and unfortunately, what time we needed to be back on the road.

We went to Salmon Run Mall where there are many good stores and many good deals too. The Borders was closing and I picked up ‘Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl’. I had read a review in Maclean’s and was intrigued on Sandra Beasley’s experience growing up with allergies. Some people think they have it bad, but she has it way worse (and still leads a happy life). Then there was Target, where the only thing I found was a six-pack of Woodchuck Cider. Maybe with all the parents and kids doing their back-to-school-shopping the store was unable to restock much of their clothing.

For a quick, and hopefully easy lunch, we went to TGI Fridays. We figured a big chain would have some idea about gluten problems and have some information, and all the big chains (American and Canadian) seem to have some kind gf menu. We didn’t have any problems ordering and just waited for our meal. Sitting there reminded me of my Kelsey’s days – both good and bad; overhearing staff conversations about customers, talk of weekend plans (or lack of them), bantering in the kitchen, and then talk of a salad. ‘Do you think they’re talking about my salad?’-- ‘Your paranoid’-- ‘We’re the only ones here. How can I be paranoid!?’-- ‘Maybe an employee ordered the same thing’-- ‘I doubt it. I feel like popping my head in there and saying – Is that a gluten-free salad you’re talking about? – but I don’t know if I should’ -- ‘You’re being paranoid’. Ten minutes later our lunch appeared and there on my salad were croutons. I sent it back and a new one appeared. It was so fast that I actually did become paranoid. Thankfully there weren’t any tummy problems later in the day. It gives a new meaning to ‘listening to your gut’ – they were talking about my salad.

Walmart was across the street and I talked The Honey into stopping. With all the American gf foods on the market it might be nice to try some. I wandered up and down the aisles not knowing where the gf goodies would be. Then there was the marker ‘Gluten Free’ halfway down an aisle. I had tried Chex cereal at the Celiac Conference and wasn’t too impressed, but there on the shelf was cinnamon. It is really good; much better than the plain. My only complaint is that it gets soggy really quickly. 

There were many of the same brands we have back in Ottawa – Kinnikinnick, Glutino, Enjoy Life, etc. There was the GF Betty Crocker mixes and after some thought I took a pass. I’m not really that fond of mixes in general. Surprisingly, the prices are similar and I’d rather get them at home. I ventured to the alcohol (whoohoo!!) in hopes of finding Bards beer. I’ve heard it’s a nice gf beer and would like to try. Unfortunately they didn’t have any, but they did have a 16-pack of Woodchuck – a variety pack too!! Granny Smith, Amber, seasonal; I felt like I was having a Homer Simpson moment and had to wipe the drool from my mouth. ‘Darn! Why did I have to buy that dinky six-pack at Target?!’ I didn’t want to be over my allotted amount at the border. I sadly walked away, crushed at not being able to savour a Granny Smith cider.

Back outside I shared my disappointment with The Honey. He is always amazed at how I get with gluten-free goodies. Back on the road I spotted a Hannaford, a grocery store that reminded me of Farm Boy. Sighing, The Honey agreed to stop, but only on the condition he could stay in the car. Better for me as I could take my sweet time.

Once inside I slowly walked up and down the aisles checking everything out. I came across the snack bars and discovered the wide variety of Luna bars (I’ve only seen 4 kinds in Canada). I used to love Luna bars but eventually grew sick of the flavours. Looking at some of the labels there isn’t a gluten ingredient, however, there is a ‘may contain’ warning (the cookies & cream had gluten). A whole bunch went into my basket and I thought I’d give them a try (delicious!! and are great for tying you over if in a pinch & no belly problems).

After another aisle or two I hit the jackpot – a whole section with all kinds of gluten-free food!!! There were the usual, but there was Schar, and Udi, and Redbridge. The Udi bagels got me through the week. These taste like regular bagels.

The Schar buns really held up to a burger patty and had a nice taste. They did alright in the freezer too. I just wish there were more than four in the package.

Redbridge Sorghum Beer reminds me of Coors Light. It isn’t strong or full-bodied; it’s a nice light tasting beer that has a nice golden colour.

Further into my wanderings I discovered another gluten-free section in the bakery department with the items in the freezer. Peering in I saw some Udis and other similar items. Then I saw it; a small beige box with a blue ‘gluten-free’ band. Inside were four perfect chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I was delighted. In my basket they went. Throughout the rest of the store I thought about these cupcakes; How wonderful to freeze them!

On the way home they had thawed and so one could be eaten to see what they were like. They were a delicious chocolate brown colour and the frosting seemed a little plastic-like (Is that what happens when you freeze frosting?). In taking a bite I tasted wonderful rich chocolate; then it gets weird. It’s chewy, really chewy, and not in a good way. Is that what happens when you freeze them? It can’t be. At closer inspection of the box I learn why – shortening and lots of it. In fact, there isn’t much that’s natural in the list of ingredients. It’s a little disappointing.

(Still no Bards beer)

With my pretty raspberry shopping bag (with a fabulous raspberry drink recipe on it) I get to the car with a smile on my face, to which The Honey says ‘You are the only person I know to cross the border to go grocery shopping’. ‘ No’ I responded, ‘My nana and granddad did it whenever they visited my aunt in Sarnia’. He just shook his head.

Back on the road we made it to the border without a problem and back home as well. The cat was happy to see us, as always, and we made ourselves a nice little dinner – including Redbridge beer and  chocolate cupcakes.


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