Joe Average Buys Groceries

The New Year is upon us, and I am starting it off with a post inspired by activity in the Manitoba Food Bloggers group at the very end of last year. Group moderator and organizer and generally all-round terrific person Shel Zolkewich, posted a poll which stated that according to Stats Canada, the average Manitoba family spent $241.00 per person per month on food.

Now, I eat out a lot, but I thought this might be an interesting experiment to attempt. This is not my first attempt at some sort of budgeted eating. I did a $20.00 a week Lenten challenge a few years back, and more recently I did the Winnipeg Harvest poverty pledge.

Average Joe Grocery bill

ill $51.11 is the total of my first shop for the month.

So, on one level, I know how easy it is to live off of $241.00 for groceries for a month. However both of those other times were based on the idea of restriction. Limiting myself to a certain amount of calories. Giving myself a small, almost infinitesimal idea of what it is like to live daily with the bare minimum or even less.

This, on the other hand, Continue reading


Landrigan: The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had picked up the book while browsing through the “New and Noted” section at the Winnipeg Public Library. While I was browsing, I also picked up Marissa Landrigan’s book, The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat. Landrigan is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where she teaches creative, digital, and professional writing.

Marissa Landrigan Book cover

Cover shot of The Vegetarians Guide to Eating Meat, by Marissa Landrigan

The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat, subtitled, A Young Woman’s Search for Ethical Food, chronicles the author’s journey from a red headed Irish misfit in a large, extended, Irish-Italian family of meat eaters, to a vegetarian activist, to meat eater again. This isn’t the first book I’ve read related to our meat eating choices. The first being Tovar Cerulli’s The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance and the second being Scott Gold’s The Shameless Carnivore: A Manifesto for Meat Lovers

Landrigan’s book is much closer in tone to Cerulli’s than it is to Gold’s. Gold tries to hard to be a comedian, and while claiming to have respect for vegetarians too often veers into sarcasm and mockery. Cerulli, on the other hand, focuses on the interconnected nature of all living plants and animals. The biggest difference between The Mindful Carnviore, and the Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat, is: Cerulli has a greater emphasis on the relationships between human and biosphere, while Landrigan focuses more on the role of personal relationships among family and friends, and how they impacted her eating decisions. Continue reading

Endearing Pain:Colleen Peters

This post for Endearing Pain is off the general path for Dining With Donald. However, I knew Colleen years ago when I attended Church of the Way, and I think her story is worth a read. Check out her book launch on May 2, more info at the bottom of post.

“Pain is Universal.” That is the first quote on the back cover of  Endearing Pain: Life Lessons from MS Afflictions,” Written by Winnipeg author and former teacher, Colleen Peters. Just over a decade ago Peters discovered she was living with Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS). PRMS is a particularly nasty and unrelenting strain of MS.

Endearing Pain Cover

The cover of Colleen Peter’s Endearing Pain.

Over the last 10-12 years, the basic activities of life, from walking to cooking and many in between have become battles with pain. Slowly but relentlessly, Peters is losing the ability to complete these tasks. Independence continues to give way to dependence, and physical activity to inactivity. All this with excruciating pain which only increases over time. Plus, living with a disease that most people don’t understand, and trying to find a way to explain her life to the people she meets.

The book is written as a series of letters. The letters started as an attempt to answer the question, “how are you doing.” As Peters explains in the opening chapter, that question is often difficult to answer. The letters that form this book are her attempts to provide answers.

These letters are sporadic in their frequency. This helps the reader to remember the capricious nature of PRMS. It also illustrates that PRMS is not a disease that Peters has control over. At the same time, the content of the letters serves to let the reader know that Peters has not let the disease have control over her.

Reading the book I find myself wondering how any one person can bear such pain. The answer it seems lies in Peters faith. This is not a faith that denies pain. Nor does it see pain as punishment. “Pain is universal,” as has already been stated.

Continue reading

Homemade Life-Review

Often my book buying decisions are made by the bargains being offered for Amazon Kindle. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of cookbooks, but do like food books that contain the odd recipe. A Homemade Life falls into the latter category.

While A Homemade Life serves as a coming of age tale for the author, it also serves as a love letter to her father. It was his death that both Orangette, her blog, and this book found their genesis. Yet it’s even more than that. As Wizenberg says at the end of the introduction:

That’s why this book is called A Homemade LIfe. Because, in a sense, that’s what we’re building – you, me, all of us who like to stir and whisk – in the kitchen and at the table. In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives.

Each chapter in the book chronicles a story or period from her life, and the recipes that follow at the end of each chapter relate back to that story.

I decided that I would try one of the recipes before I wrote about the book. I chose what is probably the simplest recipe in the book but it is also connected to one of the most moving parts of the book. The chapter and recipe is called Italian Grotto Eggs and deals with Ms. Wizenberg cooking for her father as he is approaching his death from cancer. The writing is straight forward and the emotional pull it generates is genuine.

While her father’s life and dying are at the centre of the book, it is no way a sad work. There is much love and joy in what Wizenberg recounts. A Homemade Life shows how cooking and eating together can transform both the small parts of our lives and the bigger, more difficult life events we face.

A Homemade Life Recipe:

Below, I’ve copied the recipe for Italian Grotto Eggs:

(Wizenberg states at the beginning that she uses exact measures for her recipes and expects her readers to do so as well. I followed that advice, but I had to use 35% Whipping Cream. I couldn’t find heavy cream.)

Italian Grotto Eggs:

1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter

5 Large eggs

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream(I substituted Whipping Cream)

3 Tablespoons fresh goat cheese, such as Laura Chenel, coarsely crumbled

Freshy ground black pepper, for serving

Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Add the salt land cream and beat to blend.

When the pan is hot, pour in the eggs and swirl to coat. Reduce the heat to low, and using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the eggs gently, scraping the spatula along the bottom of the skillet, until they are loosely set in large, pillowy curds They should be slightly runnier than you want them. Remove the pan from the heat and scatter the goat cheese over the eggs. Give them one more gentle stir to melt and distribute the cheese.

Serve immediately, with additional salt and black pepper to taste and, if you like, slices of buttered toast.

Yield: Two Servings

Molly Wizenberg: A Homemade LIfe: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, Location 1741, Amazon Kindle version