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 I 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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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.
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!
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😬.
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.