January 14, 2014

Good news, bad news, good news

Good news from Costco.

I have kind of an unwritten rule at Costco — if they have organic fruits or veggies for sale, I usually buy them because I want Costco to know organic choices are supported by their members. That would explain how I ended up with a giant bag of organic sweet potatoes that we ate until I couldn't stand the sight of sweet potatoes for a while. And a 35.2 oz. (1 kg) box of organic cooked beets. Seriously, beets? (More about this later.)

But, I'd be lying if I said it was only fruits and veggies that got my attention. When I spied the box of Hail Merry miracle tarts in one of the coolers (as I searched for the tofu), I had to buy it. I love Hail Merry treats, and the tiny tarts were too big a temptation to pass up, especially since I was attending a family dinner that night and could take them along as my dessert contribution. Were they good? Hail, yes! They were rich, creamy and satisfying. Although to me they tasted perfectly sweet, another guest thought they were not sweet, so I guess their degree of sweetness would depend on your own personal sweet tooth. My only regret with the purchase was the excess of packaging. Normally I would make my own truffles from raw ingredients and bring them on a plate. Packaging is such a conundrum when it comes to stuff like this.


As for the beets, in my last post I wrote about buying pre-cooked beets at Trader Joe's, and about my concerns about packaging. When I saw a huge box of beets at Costco, I felt the same packaging worry, but my husband, who loves beets but doesn't like cooking them, couldn't resist. Of course, he had to go out of town and hasn't eaten any of the Costco beets, but I soon put them to good use by whipping up a large batch of beet burgers à la Post Punk Kitchen for a family dinner on Saturday night. I more or less followed the recipe, but instead of the lentils I used a leftover spicy lentil-walnut dish I happened to have, instead of the fresh onion and garlic I used dehydrated, instead of the fennel (gaaa!) I used five-spice powder which I now can tolerate more or less, and instead of the breadcrumbs I used crushed rice cakes. And I refrigerated the burger mixture overnight. Just a few small changes. The mix is eerily ground beef-like, and looking at it is disconcerting.

Looks like beef.

The burgers, while they don't taste like beef, are delicious. I served them with a starter of curried carrot soup, sides of smoky potato wedges from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions (review), and a mixed green salad with tahini-umeboshi dressing. (The dressing contained only umeboshi paste, tahini and water, though the recipe I linked to has more ingredients.) I didn't take any photos of the dinner, so the photo is of a previous batch of the exact same burgers I made from the Trader Joe's beets, that we ate with squash and broccoli.

Speaking of beet burgers and such, I just remembered that I have a beet loaf recipe on the blog that would probably make good burgers. Or maybe I'll follow my own recipe and make a beet loaf — still have plenty of beets!

So why did my husband go out of town? (bad news)
It's been pretty stressful around here lately. Many of you know that when we moved from the Midwest to the West Coast four years ago, we held onto our house and rented it out, usually to reliable renters. We weren't quite sure if we would really stay here or go back to Wisconsin. And we loved our house. We've had to do many tenant-related repairs to the house, and that's as expected, but I wasn't expecting the call I got last Monday, informing me that the current tenants had just returned from vacation to find the heat off and the house at 35˚ with all the radiators and house pipes frozen. They left the house empty and unattended in brutal Midwest weather, including during the polar vortex when wind chills reached -60˚ F.  I spent frantic hours on the phone getting the heating company and the plumber out to the house, etc. The insurance company has been working with us as has a contractor who will oversee repairs. My husband left on Friday to see the house, meet with all the repair people and insurance agent and try to coordinate the restoration. The house is devastated — all the radiators but one need replacement, holes were made in walls and ceilings to replace damaged pipes, and walls and ceilings will need to be opened for mold prevention. Our beautiful house is in shreds, and the repair costs are now exceeding $100,000. Most of the costs will be covered by insurance, but many will not. Ironically, we had decided to sell the house this spring, and a realtor was one of the people my husband met with. Oh well.

How about some good news?

I just received a tweet from Kim of Welcoming Kitchen telling me she saw my humble blog on a list of 10 best vegan lifestyle blogs. Thank you Becky, for including me. :) I feel honored to be included with such wonderful blogs. Take some time to look at the other blogs on the list — you may find a new favorite.

20 comments:

  1. Oh I love love those Hail merry tarts! so good. It's probably a good thing I don't really see them much. Also, I love beets, though a lot of people don't but have never made those beet burgers! I really ought to soon.
    I'm sorry to hear about yr house! Sounds like it was incredibly cold there. Even here in NY a lot of friends reported that their pipes froze too. There are a lot of things I complain about renting an apartment but I'm definitely happy not to have to deal with plumbing and realty places on my own.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I thought I was the only person who hadn't made the PPK beet burgers. What are you waiting for? You even like beets.
      The house thing is really stressful — especially since we're so far away. I think it will be months until it's livable again.

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  2. that is horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!! so sorry andrea. no bueno.

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    1. Thanks, Kittee. Sympathy gratefully accepted.

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  3. How thoroughly terrible - my heart really goes out to you. Argh. I'll keep my fingers crossed that most of the cost goes to the insurers.

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    1. Actually, the insurance agent has been very helpful, as has the contractor. I'm consoling myself by imagining the house will be even better after all the repairs are made, though we will be poorer.

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  4. So sorry to hear about your house. Sending positive thoughts your way...

    But that is truly wonderful news about being on that Top 10 list---congratulations! Well deserved :)

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    1. Thanks. Could be worse — at least we're not living in it. I do wish we were living a little closer, though, to supervise the repairs in person.

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  5. That's terrible, Andrea. Since you didn't mention having to replace the furnace, I'm assuming the tenants just turned off the heat before leaving the house unattended? Awful. Best wishes for a speedy return to normalcy.

    I haven't had the beets or tarts either, but I'm going to check Costco for the latter within the week!

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    1. The tenants say they left the heat on "a comfortable temperature" but we'll never know why the heat turned off. We're probably going to replace the boiler and convert to gas, which won't be covered by insurance. Leaving the house unattended is a bit careless, but I'm trying not to cast blame.

      I hope you find the tarts and beets, though you have so many options for delectable sweets in NYC that you don't really need the tarts.

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about your house, Andrea! That is heartbreaking. :-(

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    1. Thanks, Kristy. It's hard to believe. But in the end, it's only a house and can be fixed.

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  7. I'm so sorry about your house Andrea, but congrats on the feature!

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    1. Thanks, Kylie. I think I may be ready to sell it!

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  8. What a bummer, I had seen on the news how the freezing cold had burst pipes and caused all sorts of damage. At least you weren't living there and you have insurance. Here's hoping the repairs go smoothly for you.

    On a happier note, I've only tried the Hail Merry macaroons. I had no idea Costco even carried Hail Merry, I'm going to be on the lookout for them now. Congrats on making the top 10! :-)

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    1. Our tenant told me that while our plumber was at the house, there were four other plumbing trucks on the street.

      I wonder if I'll ever see the tarts at Costco again. We bought Mary's crackers there and then they disappeared.

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  9. Oh my goodness!!! I'm so sorry to hear about your house. We nervously left our house unattended during the first wave of ice storms (in Toronto) and the only thing that kept us from worrying too much was having a NEST thermostat that we could check from the road to make sure the heat was still on! :D

    While prowling around the USA I kept seeing those Hail Merry things around and did not pick them up. Maybe I will next time!

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    1. The thermometer sounds like a really good investment. I have to look into one for our Seattle house even though we don't usually experience the horrible low temps of other parts of the country. You never know.

      I don't think I've ever tried a Hail Mary treat I didn't like!

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  10. Congrats on the well-deserved recognition - and soooo sorry about your home misfortune. Ugh.

    I've never seen multi-packs of Hail Merrys. I used to be addicted to those things until I think I wore myself out. But I still have one occasionally.

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  11. Thank you, Jenny.
    As for the house — my husband spent a week there and said it was even worse than it sounds. I don't want to see.
    I'm just glad I had a place to take and share the truffles because ... you know ...

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