Monday, July 30, 2012

cooking costco

I've made it no secret that I am not a fan of Costco for groceries. I read wonderful stories from those with access to Coscto warehouses that stock foods very different from ours here. I also hear from those who say they're more concerned with cost than quality. I have for the most part not been thrilled with the selection available nor the care given to the food when I shop there.

That is for the most part. Not always. Sometimes Costco is great, and if not great, perfectly satisfactory. This time of year, wild caught Alaskan salmon is available fresh and reasonably priced at $8.99 a pound here in central California. We can also get frozen organic blackberries and raspberries at far less than a standard grocery store. Asparagus has been plentiful and affordable, and though it's not organically grown, I feel relatively comfortable buying it. Asparagus does not appear on the "dirty" lists. When we get over to the central coast, we have more buying options. In SLO the Costco carries ground bison for less than half the price I see in my natural foods store here, as well as organically raised chickens, both whole and individual parts. In SLO they also often carry organically grown strawberries when is season, Alaskan cold-smoked salmon (lox), and unbelievably good procuitto (its only ingredients are pork and salt.) I'd love to see more of that here. I might be able to get excited about shopping there.

I usually don't buy much meat at Costco, but this week I was tempted by the whole, peeled filet of beef. Since the filet is very low in fat, and almost all the surface fat is removed in this form, I made an exception. It's certainly not that I avoid fat. It's just that when I'm unsure about the quality of the fat, as in not grass-fed and commercially raised beef, I want to avoid as much of THAT fat as possible. It is not a budget choice, most definitely. At $17.99 a pound, I usually wouldn't give it a second glance. In need of a treat and a menu shake-up, I decided to give it a try. Still, even after deciding to be indulgent, I looked for the smallest piece they had. I can only carry indulgence so far. That said, this stuff is really, really good. The filet was between 3 and 4 pounds and will make many meals for the two of us. I cut the whole filet into ten good-sized steaks, a dozen or so large chunks for skewers, and a couple of smaller breakfast steaks.

The side of wild salmon we cooked on the Big Green Egg (alongside a grass-fed tri-tip) with Vital Choice Seafood's great salmon seasoning and a touch of olive oil. The asparagus, I trimmed and washed, tossed in a little sea salt and olive oil, and grilled when the salmon came off. The salmon and asparagus, along with a quick salad, were Sunday night's dinner and the salmon will be found in lunches for a few days and at least one more dinner this week. The tri-tip (not from Costco) will also find its way into a few meals. I have some packed for breakfast (at my desk) this morning.

So, I'll admit it, I owe Costco a bit of an apology. Still, I can't help wishing they were a little more careful and consistent.

Friday, July 20, 2012

a struggle for self-care

I've been more than a bit remiss about posting as of late, and a large part of that centers on today's topic. This has and continues to be a hard subject for me to wrap my head around. Or maybe I simply don't want to see what's in front of my face. And it's not about food. Sorry.

I spend a good part of each day doing a job I used to love. I felt that I made a significant contribution to my students' lives and education. I took delight in almost every aspect of this job, down to paperwork and telephone calls. For years I worked with a delightful mix of teachers, support staff, and administrators. Then the sky fell.

I won't go into all the sordid details. They're painful and boring. I will say that I am not alone in my frustration and near hopelessness in this. Virtually all of our staff at my school and others are facing almost the same issues. We have all in essence been told that we do nothing, provide no value to our students, and are not paid to think. I kid you not. Our daily schedules have been reworked adding 4 to 5 hours of structured assignments without removing a single other responsibility. All that we valued about our contribution to our students has been removed from the program. Teachers who could, have retired, many others are looking for different positions, some have decided they'll stay home with their families for a time. It's that extreme. Others of us, of course, are staying. At least for now. Or until the Prozac runs out. (Just kidding there. At least for now.)

Taking care of myself right now is a daily an hourly struggle. The weird thing is, I'm usually so good at this. I (usually) meditate, I (usually) pamper myself a bit. I'm a bubble bath nut and would happily spend hours relaxing there, and yet lately, I've had to consciously remind myself even to bathe. It's been awhile since I bothered to put on makeup. This may sound silly, but I recognize signs of depression setting in, and it's scaring me. I am not up for taking care of myself right now. When I go to work each day, I have no idea how I will manage taking care of the teenagers who need me to be there for them.

As I began this, I fantasized about reaching a wonderful conclusion, about telling you how I was going to make this work, find the silver lining. Now I know I am not there, probably not even close. I am lucky to have and thankful for a loving family's moral support. I have friends who care and listen. I am not alone. I am at a loss, still. Thanks for letting me share.