Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Ode to Ohio

I’d like to offer you a few small words of caution concerning the dissing of states other than your own, especially those which may be close- say bordering your state, for example. The reason being that there is always a likelihood of someone actually from that state being within hearing range.

Today at work we were discussing our travel plans for the holidays and somehow the conversation got around to how much we hate having to drive through Ohio: It’s boring, ugly, the speed limit is ridiculous, the cops there suck.  On and on we went listing the state’s many and varied flaws before I ultimately summed it up by declaring “Those boring Ohioans!!”

I then asked a heretofore silent co-worker, a recent new hire, “Where are you going for the holiday?”

“Back to Ohio.”

Yikes, foot in mouth! 

Ohio, I officially absolve all of your residents of any responsiblity for your boring and ghastly western percentage. It’s really not their fault. I also acknowledge your attempt to rectify the situation by having a fascinating and comely eastern smidge and (provided you stop comparing Cleveland to Detroit) promise to only hang my head in silent shame over our shared border.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Car, Cities/Regions, Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooking Carob Cake and Granola in Michigan

Well, friends, after arriving in Michigan and giving myself about a month to settle in, I am again turning my attention to blogging. I must say that the trip here (more on that later) and the initial adjustment period have been surprisingly smooth and, dare I say, easy? The sky will probably fall now that I’ve said that, but really I doubt it. Life (no, God) seems to have touched everything around me and turned it to gold. I’ve never been happier!

Yesterday was The Boyfriend’s birthday. I’m a traditional, occasion-observing sort of girl, so I wanted to give him something. Easier said than done for a guy who readily admits he already has everything he wants and wears a large corresponding smile at all times. Nevertheless, I had a few ideas and set about making them happen. Being the penniless, jobless loser that I am, I thought it would be perhaps a bit more economical to give a gift of homemade food (and, let’s face it, even the man who has everything still needs to eat). Granola (which he’s obsessed with) and carob cake (he loves carob so much it’s almost disturbing) were on the menu. And here’s where the link to travel comes in (you were wondering, weren’t you?): when you uproot yourself and move across country, sometimes you really miss the places you used to buy food!

Back in Walla Walla, Washington, we had a store called Andy’s Market. If I could be back there at this very moment, I’d kneel down and kiss the ground it stands on. Andy’s Market had all the fresh local produce, all the inexpensive bulk everything, all the vege and vegan alternatives that I could ever ask for. It’s not a chain and it’s not to be surpassed, apparently. I needed all these nuts and dried fruit and carob and I had no idea where to get them! Everyone here shops for food at Meijer, which is the Michigan version of Wal-Mart (not considered “The Devil” because it’s not nationwide?….). Besides that, there are a few other familiar and not-familiar stores. I finally found carob at both Hillers Market and Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods also has a very small bulk section where I was thankfully able to find the nuts I needed. They also had a bit of cheaper price on the carob goods. That, coupled with the fact that they carry Vegenaise and liquid aminos, means that I’ll cross Hillers off the list and rely on Whole Foods as my substitute (albeit a poor one) for Andy’s. Whole Foods in no way measures up to the variety or price of the bulk foods section in Andy’s Market. Sigh.

All in all, I’m not sure that making homemade granola and carob cake are the most economical ways to go, but they are definitely the most fun! I found the cake recipe in the April 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Dorothy Olsen of Provo, Utah won the $25,000 grand prize for her Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake. Being all at the same time a fan of chocolate, dessert, and healthy eating (hypocritical maybe?), I had to try it out. The only change I made was to substitute unsweetened carob powder for unsweetened cocoa powder and vegan carob pieces for semisweet chocolate pieces.

This cake is rich and decadent.  The Boyfriend and I love the way the whole wheat flour tastes in it!  Very wholesome.

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob powder)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (or carob pieces)
  • fresh blueberries or Blueberry Sauce (see recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg.  Cover and blend until smooth.  Add to flour mixture.  Whisk until well combine.  Pour into greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Invert onto serving platter.
  3. In small microwave-safe bowl combine dessert topping and chocolate pieces.  Micro-cook, covered, on 50% power (medium) 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Pour onto cooled cake, spreading evenly.
  4. Cut cake into squares to serve.  Top with fresh blueberries.  Serve with Blueberry Sauce.  Makes 9 servings.

Blueberry Sauce: In blender combine 1/2 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed, and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries.  Cover and blend until smooth.

I found the granola recipe, Easy Homemade Granola, on this website.  I slightly modified it by also adding 1/3 cup walnuts (LOVE walnuts!) and cutting the brown sugar to 1/8 cup.  The granola turned out REALLY SALTY! so I’d recommend cutting down on the salt as well.  Maybe 1/2 tsp. in instead of 1?  Otherwise, it was delicious.  The Boyfriend adds some plains oats to his granola anyway, so that probably helps with the salt factor.

Easy Homemade Granola  (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
  4. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
  6. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  7. Bake for 5 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola.
  9. Transfer it to an airtight container, where it will keep for one week.

I noticed on the Andy’s Market website that you can order things online…. Hmmmm…. I may try that.  Until then, I’ll be crying on the inside every time I walk out of Whole Foods.

© Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Moving, Travel, United States, Walla Walla | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tentative Moving Dates and Moving Sale

So. The groundwork is being laid, the plans are being spun, and things are taking place! I now have a couple of tentative moving dates, everything being dependent upon when I get my thesis finished and ready to defend. The first, and preferred date is February 28. The latter, second-rate choice is March 14. I’m praying for the 28th, so we shall see! I’ve begun packing and downsizing in earnest. I actually have 3 large boxes of books stacked in my room, ready to transport. They were recently ousted from my bookcases, which are now sold, as is my bicycle, a picture, a CD tower, a set of plastic drawers, and 3 chairs… I’m preparing to sell everything else in my big moving sale, coming up a week from today on the 7th. It’s going to be HUGE! …Unless everyone buys my furniture beforehand. I listed everything big and bulky on the school’s classifieds and didn’t expect much to happen, but I’ve had so many responses that I actually had to make a list and schedule for showing everyone the goods or, as one enterprising customer stated, my wares.

I’m feeling equal parts sadness and excitement as I watch my belongings trickle out the door (the excitement is aided by the cash that appears in my hand upon their absence) and I’m working hard to balance the two emotions. On one extreme, it feels great to rid my life of all the excess stuff that tends to accumulate when you stay in one place for awhile and self-medicate through hard times with surplus material goods. I sometimes dream of carrying my possessions on my back and walking through the world without the worry that things tend to breed. On the other hand, sometimes it’s those very things that can negate worry. It’s nice to have plenty of blankets when it gets really cold or to realize that you do, in fact, have that weird item that you need for your random hobby project. Nothing that I have is really worth much in a monetary sense, but some of it is nevertheless very special to me. After awhile, though, the stuff of life just builds and builds until I long to see the other side of the spectrum.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States, Walla Walla | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cure Writer’s Block by Traveling

I went to Michigan last week with the idea that I might be less distracted there and better able to focus on writing my thesis…. and it totally worked! I believe I got more done there in a week than I had gotten done in the last month at home (which wasn’t much, sadly). I also began to understand and see things more clearly; I began to grasp the big picture of what I am writing about. I keep thinking of famous American expatriates who relocated for the purpose of accomplishing something that seemed much less likely from their home soil- especially writers who were portrayed during significant periods of literature as sort of “breaking free” of the confines of home and finding new inspiration, openness, and acceptance in more exotic places such as Paris (Indeed, I took an entire class in college called “American Writers in Paris” in which we studied the work of the Lost Generation e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound).

Ernest Hemingway

Thus romanticizing my lowly trek from state to state, I was lucky to have my hopes fulfilled. During each day while my boyfriend was detained at work, I was able to crank out more actual study time than had even seemed feasible while here at home. Perhaps it is deceit to call my problem “writer’s block” since it seemed to be more kin to a case of complete lack of motivation and focus. In any case, however, the new location, lack of chores, errands, and interruptions all came together like a fresh breath of air to clear a few of the cobwebs from my head and the glaze from my eyes. My only regret is that I could not stay longer. If a week-long vacation could do such wonders…

I’m attempting to continue the trend here at home: getting up earlier, maintaining a narrower focus, actually beginning the work (as my roommate pointed out yesterday, it is really the lag time before the task is begun that is the true reckoning force). It is not the same, however, when there are bills to pay, cleaning to be done, pets to be cared for, and packing to be planned, but if I try very hard I can still recapture a bit of the serenity and focus that I achieved during my little vacation and insert it into today.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010 Detroit Auto Show

Last night my dashing man and I made our way through the suburbs to downtown Detroit (my first actual look at the city). Our destination was the 2010 North American International Auto Show, more commonly known as the Detroit Auto Show. For the 21st year, Detroit is hosting the week-long auto show (it’s dates coinciding exactly with the dates of my visit here), the largest in North America and featuring over 700 automobiles. It’s held in the Cobo Center in the middle of downtown Detroit. Adults pay $12 each to see the new inventions of auto designers from around the world up close and personal, including 2011 models and concept cars (they may or may not work, but they look really cool).

You can sit in the cars and play with all the knobs and dials, check out the trunk, adjust the seats- everything but open the hood. That last part made us sad because my boyfriend actually designs some of the parts under there and didn’t get to show them to me, but we had a lot of fun looking at all the cars in their fancy displays under the bright lights.

my precious Claretta in her last days

I’ve been more interested in cars than usual lately since I’m looking for a replacement for my dear Claretta (may she rest in peace), so it was an excellent opportunity for me to compare car sizes, shapes, colors, interiors, cargo space, leg room, you name it.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mini (maybe it’s their cute diminutive size and maybe it’s the way they kick butt in the Italian Job…) but had never gotten to sit in one until last night. The boyfriend and I had a friendly debate regarding the merits of their retro-looking interiors (it could also be interpreted as futuristic, if you ask me).

Thankfully, we weren’t there today for the fire incident that took place in the Audi display area, causing the show to be shut down for a few hours this afternoon.

One of my favorite things had to be the tiny commuter cars that can fit only 2 people and are just one seat wide! Just the craziest thing ever!

Even for someone who doesn’t work with cars, know a lot about cars, or even currently own a car, the Detroit Auto Show was a lot of fun, very educational and interesting, not to mention the fact that it’s a highly appropriate activity for someone to who is about to be a resident of The Motor City! I’d definitely recommending stopping in to check it out. It goes on until the 24th of January this year and will, I’m sure, be back next year in all it’s auto glory.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: