Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Service of Pandemic-Caused Rigmarole That’s Hard on City Seniors & the Time-Pressed

Monday, December 14th, 2020

Block long line to be tested for Covid-19, 8:30 a.m.

The pandemic is hard on everyone. Here are a few things I noticed about getting things done in the city that impact seniors, those with disabilities and the time-pressed.

It’s ironic because a city like New York allows seniors to be independent with its myriad transportation options, nearby watering holes and entertainment opportunities.

Standing for Service

Photo: iphoneroot.com

I needed a battery for my iPhone. The Apple staff at the store at Grand Central Terminal couldn’t have been nicer. But there was a lot of standing around waiting: to go upstairs after being checked in; on a line upstairs properly socially distanced–and then hanging out in the station for an hour while the phone was fixed. My appointment was in early evening so the few stores that remain in business at the station were shut. There were neither seats nor distractions.

Standing for Testing

We’re encouraged to be tested for Covid-19. The procedure at urgent care locations in Manhattan is daunting I’m told. You must have an appointment and can only sign up for one the same day. At certain hours I pass long lines outdoors, some with people better socially distanced than others, on cold, rainy and mild fall days [photo above].

I wonder, as I head for the gutter to keep more than a 6-foot distance, why are these people in line? Have they been exposed to Covid-19? Are they feeling ill?

Photo: statnews.com

One friend found a place that had no line. She made an appointment and they called her when they had a free time-frame which gave her 30 minutes to get back. Best that you live very near this place and choose a day with no appointments because you don’t know when you’ll get the call.

Goodness only knows what the rollout to get a vaccine will be like.

A benefit of the suburbs is that you can wait for a test in your car.

Pin the Tail on a Bank: Three’s a Charm

I needed to have a document notarized and was told by my bank that every branch had notaries. No longer accurate. I asked a customer service staffer at the first branch to call another one to confirm that they had a notary. Nobody picked up so I walked there. That customer service man disappeared in a back office.

After I waited the length of time in which three people could have had their signatures notarized he returned and told me I needed an appointment for the next day. At least this customer service person knew of a branch that had a few notaries so off I raced.

I appreciated the mileage I’d covered–recorded on my iPhone–but not the stress and I couldn’t help wonder what if I was unable to hotfoot it around town?

Just Sayin’

I love Trader Joe’s but notice that many shelves are empty during early senior hours no doubt because there hasn’t been time, at 8 a.m., to restock them.

Have you noticed other topsy-turvy situations during the pandemic that have impacted the way/how quickly you do business and/or conduct your life? Do you observe situations that especially impact seniors and the time-pressed?

Photo: liveoak.net

Service of Shopping Without Your Reading Glasses

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Even before the pandemic I’d find myself in a grocery or drugstore without my reading glasses. While then it was only occasionally because I’d drag pounds of belongings with me, because I carry almost nothing now I leave my glasses at home.

I can see sell-by dates on milk and other crucial info without specs but lately, because I want to get in and out of any business in a flash, I have made a few irritating errors.

Photo: smithsonianmag.com

Have you noticed the baffling number of toothpaste choices at any standard drugstore? I opened a new tube last week and without paying attention placed some toothpaste on my brush. Turns out I bought Colgate Zero, one with no taste. While I prefer seltzer, coffee, and most everything in its original state, without embellishment, I like my toothpaste minty. I’m trying to think of other things I can do with Zero Colgate as I dread using it and dislike waste so I hesitate tossing it.

I had a battle bringing home the correct yogurt: I prefer the gutsier Greek style. Recognizing the brand I grabbed what turned out to be a giant container of standard yogurt which I find slimy. I was more careful the next time only to discover I’d bought vanilla flavor Greek style, not the plain. Not good.

Any ideas for what else to do with toothpaste? Have you made mistakes choosing products when distracted, rushed or without your specs? Do we really need all those choices of toothpaste and for that matter, yogurt?

Photo: wbur.com

Service of Making the Comfortable Decision: Thanksgiving 2020

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

 

Photo: patch.com

I like being in control. That’s one of the terrifying things about the deadly virus. At the moment, it has us all by the short hairs and will until most of us have been injected with two doses of vaccine so it can follow the demise of smallpox and all sorts of other  worldwide plagues.

There’s hardly a newscast that doesn’t warn about Thanksgiving 2020 whether it involves traveling–don’t–suggesting that college students think twice about returning home and recommending that folks celebrate exclusively with those in their households.

In accordance with my response to the 2020 census, that would be me.

Nevertheless I plan to make the usual: sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie as, until recently, I’ve done for decades. Don’t yet know about the poultry. [I hear an outcry from balanced meal enthusiasts who wonder “where is the green vegetable?” Answer: I’ll eat a ton of salad the day before.]

And as always, I will relish Friday’s leftovers.

Grow up people. Traditions are off kilter this year. Get over it.

Food lines 2020 Photo: reuters.com

I feel no sympathy for those who whine about giving up their traditions of celebrating at their Colorado condo or visiting a brother in Cincinnati. One woman wailed on Facebook that she’ll be alone with her husband, not entertaining her 10 grandchildren and their parents. She could send a check for the cost of the dinner to a food pantry while counting her blessings that she has a husband to share dinner with and a lovely family she’ll hug next summer–if we’re lucky.

Tyler Perry donated dinners to 5,000 hungry people in Atlanta over the weekend. There are countless charities desperate for help. Yesterday NPRs Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviewed Katherina Rosqueta, founder and director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, in a segment “How To Give Back During The Coronavirus Pandemic.” The focus of high impact philanthropy is to improve lives of others rather than maximize tax benefits or honor someone. The major takeaway: cash is better than goods as its more flexible under circumstances where volunteers to distribute food or other goods are hobbled due to the pandemic.

Leftover lunch on Black Friday Photo: foodandwine.com

It doesn’t soothe my Covid-19 anxiety that the president is distracted about his lost election and isn’t watching the store. The one hour he gave to join the virtual G-20 summit this weekend, with Covid-19 high on the agenda, was hardly enough. During his “attendance” he tweeted about election results in Michigan according to John Follain, Arne Delf, Ilya Arkhipov and Josh Wingrove reporting for Bloomberg.com.

In addition, the angry pandemic is raging again. It’s time to stay within our safety comfort zones and to focus on what we’re thankful for, not on what we’re giving up. My cup runneth over. Speaking of cups, I might buy a very nice wine to sip during dinner and while chatting with friends and family. I am blessed with a vivid imagination and will hug my family members and friends virtually. They don’t love me more or less because I’m not with them.

What are your plans? Do you feel pressured to give up your Covid cautious routine or do you think it’s all a lot of hooey and that people who are ducking tradition this year are pitiable?

Food Lines 2020 Photo: theguardian.com

Service of Fast Food Tips for Dinner

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

I admire Facebook postings of images of elaborate dishes and desserts for one or two lovingly assembled and photographed by friends but I am not tempted to imitate any of them. I look for something quick and easy. [While I’m sure all are delicious, some don’t translate well on camera and look alarmingly unappetizing, reminding me of the old saw “only a face a mother could love.”]

As the weather cools off I might make a boeuf bourguignon or a quiche Lorraine with the idea of freezing leftovers for future meals but I’m not in a rush. I use every pot in the apartment for the former, [I cook each vegetable separately], and make the crust for the quiche. Counter space for rolling out the dough is in short supply in my kitchen and I’m off-put by also having to dig out my food processor.

If it’s suddenly 7:30 pm I am grateful if I have an Amy’s Pizza in the freezer. I break it in two, put the other half back in the freezer, toss a simple salad while it heats in a toaster-oven and voila!

Speaking of salad, it takes minutes to make a spectacular and filling chef one.  I buy real baked ham from a local vendor–it’s sliced off a majestic bone by hand and doesn’t resemble the slimy packaged or compressed variety. To slices of ham I add what’s in the house such as Swiss cheese, tomato, mozzarella, all sliced, and top it off with a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Cold chicken works too. A few frozen peas or corn kernels heated in a bit of water until just hot is a toothsome and pretty addition.

A beautiful, wonderful country bread for one that costs $5-$8–much that I love it–doesn’t make sense. Trader Joe’s sells ciabatta rolls that I immediately put in small baggies and freeze. I warm a roll in the toaster oven at 350° for seven minutes. The crust is crisp and wonderful and the warm inside welcomes a little olive oil and slices of cheese and tomato.

I also like fettuccine Alfredo or vegetable fried rice from Trader Joe’s, a hot meal in minutes. I add pepper and a few peas to the former and if I have cold chicken, a few small pieces to the latter.

This is apple season. I like Honey Crisp best but try a new variety each week at the farmer’s market. I just bought firecracker apples. I slice the fruit thin–like potato chips.

Do you have quick meal ideas or do you or your mate make elaborate dinners for you and your family? When thinking of food can you erase from your mind all the hungry in this country and the world?

 

Service of “I Couldn’t Live Without It” Until I Did Post Pandemic

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

There were plenty of things I thought were essential to my happiness and survival that have changed since the pandemic.

Meat

I am not a vegetarian. I usually eat a traditional dinner consisting of a little meat or fish, potato or rice and a vegetable. But I hesitate to pay $6.50-$15/lb for garden variety hamburger. So I will be eating a lot of other things until prices readjust if ever they do.

Photo: seriouseats.com

Unfortunately my diet isn’t healthy if you consider the fettuccine Alfredo and ice cream that lace my dinner menus instead. I sometimes divide a pound of Alaskan salmon into four meals while ignoring the price because I know it’s healthy.

Work Colleagues

Since March I’ve not seen the people who share office space with me. I love going to an office. I enjoy the camaraderie and I’ll miss the banter. Like many who aren’t comfortable sharing closed space these days with others for long periods I’ve just moved my office home.

Large Handbag, Lucky Star

Because I no longer go to an office, a friend’s house, out for a meal or to meetings I don’t need to leave home with the paraphernalia I’ve deemed essential my adult life that required a pounds-heavy handbag to hold makeup, fat wallet, pens and so forth and often a tote bag as well.

I don’t miss a handbag though I’ve run into trouble without it.

  • Early on in the pandemic I pulled out my phone from my jeans pocket with clumsy plastic gloves on and my credit card came out too. The black card fell on the dark brown carpet by the elevator in my apartment. I didn’t notice until I went to pay for groceries. A neighbor returned it. Two weeks ago I was on an empty street and found a $20 bill in the gutter. I am sure that bill came out of the owner’s pocket just as my credit card did.
  • To avoid a reprise I graduated to a small purse [photo above, center] just big enough to hold essentials: credit card, keys and a little cash. You may have read my Facebook posting this week about the wonderful New York Department of Transportation construction workers who returned it to me. I thought I’d slipped it into one of the giant TJ Maxx bags loaded with groceries and planted on my shoulders but instead, it landed on the street. I attribute this mistake to a mask that acts like a horse’s blinders, a sweaty hand in gloves that remove feeling from my fingers and my attention focused on social distancing and what’s going on around me.

 Have you realized that you can live without anything you once thought was imperative?

Photo: Pinterest.com

Service of Food as Art

Monday, June 1st, 2020

Food is missing from too many American tables and in the short-term, between record unemployment and Covid-19’s impact on prices, the appalling situation promises to get worse.

Simultaneously two gallerists attempting to keep an oar in the water while galleries are closed worldwide during the pandemic selected to promote a 1990 installation by Cuban-born visual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres involving a cookie.

Hunger in America

According to Thomas Franck of cnbc.com writing in mid-May “The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974. The spike in supermarket prices was broad based and impacted items from broccoli and ham to oatmeal and tuna.

Photo: cannedfoodhx.com

“The price of the meats, poultry, fish and eggs category rose 4.3%, fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%, cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%, and dairy goods gained 1.5%.”

Lauren Bauer writing in the brookings.edu blog reported a 460 percent increase in mothers who said the children in their households 12 years and under “were not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food.”

Interactive Cookie Installation

It is against this background that Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled (Fortune Cookie Corner),” is being installed at 1,000 sites around the globe. It is promoted/resurrected by Andrea Rosen, show curator and director of The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation who is partnering with German art dealer David Zwirner. Sarrah Cascone wrote about the exhibitions on artnet.com.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled (Fortune Cookie Corner)” Photo: artnet.com

The original installation had 10 thousand fortune cookies piled up in the corner of a room. Today there will be from 240 to 2,000 cookies featured in the homes, museums or public places that Rosen selected via her choice of participants. Viewers are encouraged to help themselves to a cookie.

Cascone wrote: “The owner needs to follow specific but open-ended parameters in manifesting the work, which can be installed in more than one place at a time—making it perfect for our current moment, when much of the world is under indefinite lockdown.”

The curators, artist’s friends and colleagues invited to participate supply their own cookies. Rosen said “halfway through, everyone has to regenerate it to the original size. So everyone has the opportunity to experience both the potential loss within the piece, and also the notions of rebuilding and regeneration that is a very important part of the work.”

Rosen, told Cascone: “This is one of the only works in the world that can travel and be accessible right now. There’s so many people right now trying to do incredible online projects. Felix can actually afford people a physical experience with an artwork—and not just looking at it, but thinking about it, and their involvement and what it means to them.”

My post isn’t about the validity of the installation: It passed the test within the art community. However the timing strikes a false note for me for involving food in a frivolous way at a time when it is missing from so many tables. What do you think?

Even if the piles were made up of basic comestibles accessible to people needing help, the fact that they would have to reach down on the floor for the food and take only one or two packages lacks respect for the situation’s severity. Your thoughts?

Photo: cannedfoodhx.com

Little Things Mean A Lot II

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

I recently wrote about personal gifts from friends and family that cheered the recipients during the pandemic in the first “Little Things Mean A Lot” post. I’ve also noticed efforts of citizens who take advantage of their contacts and/or talents to create popup fundraising opportunities. Plugging in to such efforts makes it simple for the rest of us to do a little something that collectively can mean a lot in an otherwise helpless period given strictures of social distancing and increasing sparsity of disposable income. A plus: you know that your donation goes directly to those in need.

It’s not surprising that the initiatives I selected involve donations of food.

The manager of my apartment building and his wife make 100 sandwiches a week for “One Sandwich at a Time” and invited tenants to join them. He also launched a food drive. Tenants drop off shopping bags full of groceries in the lobby. [I took the photo above early the morning after his announcement]. I see a hearty number of different bags every time I go downstairs. The drive is scheduled to last until the end of the month.

Every other Saturday night from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Julian Gordon and Tim O’Hara produce streaming fundraising concerts on Facebook–An Evening with Tim and Julian–to benefit The Sharing Place, a food pantry in Jersey City. They have raised some $2,200 in two concerts. Guests joined them on May 2; some performed songs that Julian wrote. The next concert is scheduled for May 16. Link to their Facebook page for updates.

Do you know of grassroots efforts that support food pantries or other ways people are amplifying what they can give to help those adversely impacted by the pandemic?

Julian Gordon, left, and Tim O’Hara, “An Evening with Tim and Julian.”

Service of New Traditions

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Photo: facebook.com

I wonder how many new personal traditions have begun as a result of sheltering at home and how many will remain when the worst blows over. The most obvious: families connecting weekly via video conference companies such as Zoom.

I had to figure out a way to exercise without exercising, which I despise. New York, like many cities, is a place to walk–and I did in the normal course of a day–but I have cut down on my outdoor time. My solution has been to reserve an hour a day to dance. I say dance but more accurately I walk/march briskly with intermittent stretches in the compact space of my apartment. My first target is 10,000 steps. So far I’m at 9,400+–3.9 miles according to my iPhone. It’s quite a trick, weaving in and out of chairs and tables and down a short, skinny hallway, but when my hour starts, I don’t stop.

Photo: pinterest.com

A friend shared another example: “After breakfast my 3 & 5 year old grandchildren hug their father good bye and wish him a good day as he climbs the stairs to his office.  This helps the separation and they know he’s not available during business hours.”

Another wrote: “Two of my Beagle grandsons visited yesterday. My son brought a hot lunch.  He left my portion on the fender of my car. I picked it up with a disinfectant wipe and cleaned the  container.  He sat more than 10 feet away and I sat in my car. This is having lunch with a loved one in the new normal.”

I’ve begun to make French toast every Sunday as my mother did when I was a kid. Because it took me forever to wake up in the day, my pieces became hard as rocks without a hint of egg. That’s the only way I’ll eat French toast today.

Have you launched any traditions? Do you think any will outlast sheltering at home?

Photo: technologyreview.com

Service of Food: Valuable to Some, Essential to Others

Monday, December 9th, 2019

By Maurizio Cattelan Photo: news.artnet.com

According to United States Department of Agriculture, 40 million Americans face hunger, including 12.5 million children. In this regard two headlines hit me last week.

The first: “Maurizio Cattelan Is Taping Bananas to a Wall at Art Basel Miami Beach and Selling Them for $120,000 Each.”

The second: “Trump administration moves to remove 700,000 people from food stamps.”

Photo: bally.com

Sarah Cascone wrote the first article on artnet.com. She added that the gallery repping Cattelan was upping the price to $150,000 because the banana, affixed with contact tape to the wall, already had two buyers at the original asking price. She also reported that her husband and his college dorm mates had done the same thing with a banana and that he still had what was left of the shriveled fruit somewhere in their home.

I couldn’t tell from the article whether the artist would affix the banana to the buyers’ walls.

Obviously these art buyers have no trouble feeding themselves or their families which isn’t the case for people who need food stamps.

Photo: cnn.com

Tom Polansek wrote on reuters.com: “President Donald Trump has argued that many Americans receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment. The program provides free food to 36 million Americans.”

Savings to the government over five years is estimated to be $5.5 billion.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio described the cutback as “an unacceptable escalation of the administration’s war on working families, and it comes during a time when too many are forced to stretch already-thin budgets.”

Polansek reported “The administration has sought to tighten requirements for food stamps without congressional approval after Congress blocked a Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill last year.”

“For those impacted it will mean less nutritious meals, or meals that are skipped altogether,” said Cassie Ramos, policy associate for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.

Good work if you can get it is my reaction to the $120,000-$150,000 banana with a dash of there’s a sucker born every day. I’m not one bit magnanimous about the food stamp cuts.  If we’re looking for ways to cut the budget why pick on the poorer members of our country who, without food, in addition to suffering, will become sick and cost more? Will taking away food stamps inspire people who need them to get a job when my bet is that many already have a few?

Photo: wgem.com

Tip Gyp at Doordash

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Photo: cnbc.com

Seven years ago partners chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich paid a price–$5.25 million–for stiffing a percentage of the tips of their employees at Batali’s pricey Italian restaurants such as Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono and Esca to pay sommeliers’ salaries.

A chunk of the penalty money went to captains, servers, busboys and others.

Photo: blog.doordash.com

Small potatoes by comparison but “The attorney general of Washington, D.C., is suing food-delivery company DoorDash Inc. for pocketing tips on deliveries,” wrote Allison Prang in The Wall Street Journal. To meet the minimum pay promised deliverymen and women the company applied the tip money customers added electronically. Workers were not given the tip in addition to the minimum.

Karl Racine, DC attorney general, said Doordash also deluded customers who thought they were giving a tip.  Prang wrote: “The attorney general is seeking a court order to force DoorDash to surrender the tips and pay civil penalties.”

Doordash claimed that “the assertions made in the complaint are without merit and we look forward to responding to them through the legal process.”

Why do profitable companies pick on the smallest fries–all of whom are essential to their success–to squeeze them out of their rightful compensation? Is it OK because the owners take the risk and make the investment in their companies or is it wrong under any circumstances?

Photo: newsismybusiness.com

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