Snapping Turtles and Olive Loaf

February 9, 2018

Joe Writes . . . 

A belated Happy New Year. We are anxious to get on the river again, even to the extent of planning to paddle amidst the ice floes if we get a winter thaw. Right now, however, it’s just too cold. We may be kind of kooky, but we’re not certifiably insane. (At least I’m not; there’s room for debate where my brother is concerned.)

I crossed over the Grand and the Kalamazoo Rivers several times yesterday while making the Ann Arbor – Holland round-trip to visit my mom. The Grand was frozen bank-to-bank in a few places and half-open in others, whereas the Kalamazoo was pretty much clear of ice everywhere I looked. I’m not sure why that is; perhaps the current is swifter in the K’zoo? I worry that we will get out on the Grand easily enough but that the ice – while allowing a big path down the center – will prevent us from reaching the bank where we intend to take out. I am not aware of an ice-breaking attachment for the canoe.

It’s February in Michigan and everyone fights cabin fever in his or her own way. Lately Iolive loaf have been eating nostalgically to ward off the depth-of-winter-crazies. Nostalgic eating entails revisiting the foods of one’s youth. We had chipped beef on toast not long ago , a dish with a decidedly unappetizing nickname (think roofing material) which was a mid-week dinner  staple around our house in the 1960’s. I’ve also been lunching on olive loaf with American Processed Cheese-Like Food and mayo – Miracle Whip, not Hellman’s – served on soft inexpensive white bread. I can’t find Wonder Bread but there are plenty of close substitutes. Koegel makes the best olive loaf and it’s produced in Flint. Don’t beat yourself up for eating processed meats; congratulate yourself for eating locally!

Linda’s dad went through a nostalgic eating phase during the last several years of his life. He had me searching all over for turtle, which is available online at around $25 per pound. Bernie was not an extravagant man and would never let me pull the trigger on mail order turtle even though I was willing to do so. He was always hopeful that I would catch him a big snapping turtle when we were out on the river; thank goodness I’ve only seen smaller turtles. I was never particularly anxious to initiate combat with an armored foe who has long, sharp claws and would just as soon remove my fingers as swallow a tadpole.

Perhaps next time I’ll write about the ultimate in eating nostalgically; i.e., middle class American goulash served with an iceburg lettuce salad and a side dish of red Jello congealed around some sort of canned fruit. It’s a topic worthy of its own entry, so until then . . . listen to the river. Trust the river and take the river’s side. Industry and big agriculture have plenty of friends already.

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4 Responses to Snapping Turtles and Olive Loaf

  1. Sandra F VanBurkleo says:

    Ah yes. Campbell’s tomato soup with grilled cheese, American. “Hotdishes” of various kinds (I’m from Minnesota), particularly tuna-noodle and hamburger-rice-tomato. I did draw the line at a sister-in-law’s godawful ‘hotdish’ — I just couldn’t — it involved a layer of dirty-gray hamburger and onions cooked with undiluted mushroom soup, topped by a layer of creamed corn, and another lay of tater tots. God. It’s a wonder all of us lived to be adults.

    • Joe Neely says:

      I have tried to draw the line at any dish containing undiluted condensed soups, so I feel your pain. I used to have a tater tot casserole which I made for my kids occasionally, but it was better than what I assume your sister-in-law’s tasted like. Thanks for chiming in, enjoy today’s snow!

  2. I know the spring fever you are suffering from. I am thinking it will be three weeks here and declared that no matter what the weather the kayak is hitting the water before 1 March! Like I have control over the weather…ha! Grill cheese and tomato soup, mmmmmm gooood!
    If you guys decide to go out I would bring your own ice breaker, look at what the MN ice fisherman use to break ice holes, should work for a canoe😬.

  3. Great post Joe. I like your writing style. From time to time I will ask for Olive loaf from our neighborhood market. They hate me ordering it because it makes such a mess. I will have to look for Kogel.

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