Category Archives: Moving

Does Where You Live Effect What and How You Cook?

Our first house was in upstate New York – between Rochester and Buffalo.  I was a beginning cook and learned a lot from three friends who lived there.  They taught me to can using local produce.  By the time we left eight years later, we had become used to having sweet cherries, pears, plums, peaches, grape juice and tomatoes on the shelves and tart cherries and apple pies in the freezer.  And the Polly-O delivery guy stopped at my house to deliver cheese and flour for a coop we set up – because I was on his way to local restaurants.  Life was good.

Then we moved from New York to Utah in the early 80s. People warned me things would be different.  For one thing, there weren’t whole aisles in the grocery store devoted to all the various shapes and sizes of pasta.  With a large Mormon population, grocery stores stocked some rather large sizes of products.  And, about this time, big box stores were just beginning to be popular.  Costco (even before it was called Costco) sold 25 pound bags of sugar.  I had no trouble adjusting to this.  I had a freezer and storage in my house and it almost assured that I would never run out of things.

You wouldn’t think being on one coast or the other would have much to do with what’s in the grocery store.  You might be surprised.  For example, butter sticks are shorter and fatter in the West, for no apparent reason.  And no one makes a butter dish for this shape.  East coast apples are not sold in the West because of an agreement New York made with Washington state.  I found this hard to believe, but was assured this was true by grocery store employees.  Brands were different – sometimes this was good, sometimes bad.  Availability of national brands was iffy at best.  The store would have all the ketchup you could ever want, but if you wanted some other product by that brand, you may or may not find it.  We did get most of our fresh vegetables and fruit from California, a definite bonus.

Food stores

Our recent move from Utah to North Carolina meant I got to adjust all over again.  Big box stores are now ubiquitous and I should be able to get whatever I need.  Or so I thought.  You may know I bake a lot of bread and now suddenly getting large bags of flour became an issue.  Costco does sell 50 lb. bags of flour but not unbleached.  I did finally find a restaurant supply store that had all the baking supplies I needed.  But there are other items that I’ve grown accustomed to that are hard to find.  I’ve developed a liking for Salemville Smokehouse Blue Cheese.  No one around me has it or any smoked blue for that matter.  I like a specific brand of whole wheat spaghetti and only one store carries that.  I get my extra virgin olive oil from Costco in the fall when the first pressing comes out.  I get my favorite Valrhona chocolate from Trader Joe’s and found my Valrhona cocoa at Sur La Table.  The lack of concentrated juice in the stores is surprising.  There’s two aisles of different kinds of grated cheese and only one shelf of frozen juice.  Go figure.  But all in all this doesn’t sound too hard.  And it hasn’t been.

Until now.  I am moving to a small town near the east coast.  There’s no Costco, no Trader Joe’s, no Sur La Table, no Publix (that I have recently learned to love).  There is a Walmart, but I don’t shop there.  (That’s a whole other post.)  These stores are in nearby larger towns, so we’ll be making a shopping trip on occasion.

So should where you live affect how you cook?  Clearly, it does.  Some ways are obvious.  If you’re near the coast, fresh seafood will be abundant and cheaper.  So, of course, you would add those to your diet more often.  If you live in New York, every Italian ingredient known to man will be readily available.

I’m sure I can adjust to new brands, but it will take a little time.  I also make almost all the bread we eat.  It is important to me to get unbleached bread flour in quantity along with unbleached pastry flour and one pound bags of yeast.  I may have to go back to ordering it from Honeyville Farms, my former supplier in Salt Lake.  (They still only charge $5.00 for shipping!?!)

So some things will change with this next move, and I will work to make other things remain the same.

Does That Ring a Bell?

Handbells on table

I’m a bell ringer.  You may have never heard of bell ringing.  You may not even know what I’m talking about.  Let me explain it for you.  I ring English handbells.

It all started in 1991.  The church I went to was given a 3 octave set of handbells in the summer of 1990.  In the Fall, the handbell director started a youth bell choir.  Then in January, he started an adult choir.  Not knowing anything about how to play them, I signed up!  I’ve been playing ever since.

I still remember the first time we rang in church.  My knees were shaking so hard, I thought I would fall down.  But we made it through whatever song it was.  And it got easier each time.

A few years later, four of us decided we would form a quartet.  Music is specifically written for ensembles and the quartet music was divided so that each ringer knows which bells to play when – the four of us needed to share ringing 3 – 4 octaves.  Once again, not knowing anything, we chose a song based on the fact that we knew it and we liked it.  We later figured out that we spent 68 hours practicing that song before we rang it in church.

Over time the church acquired 5 ½ octaves of bells, three octaves of chimes, mallets, a bell tree, special bell tables, bell table covers, bell table carrying cases and a cart to help us take all this stuff to various locations.  We’ve rung at numerous churches, the prison, the juvenile detention center, symphony hall, senior citizen centers, hotel lobbies, Christmas parties, private homes, for the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas, funerals and weddings.

One of our favorite events was the annual “Bell Sunday” we presented.  The bell choirs (adult, youth, and quartet) organized and rang the whole service.  If you ever wondered how hard it is to pull off a Sunday worship service, it’s hard!  Choose a topic, choose scriptures to go with it, choose music to go with it, arrange for the children’s sermon, ushers, acolytes, liturgist, AV slides and a script for the AV booth.  And we particularly learned how hard it is to accompany the congregation while they sing.

We even have our own lingo:  better never than late; they don’t write music you can’t play; recover, recover, recover; farm that bell out.

All this just means I’ve been ringing for 23 years – 14 of those years in two choirs.  We’ve all gotten a lot better, learned many techniques,  been to bell camp, played with 200 other ringers at Spring Ring, and generally had fun.

Bell Choir

When we moved, I thought that was the end of my bell ringing.  I handed over my music and gloves, found a replacement for the quartet and figured I wouldn’t be able to find a new bell choir.

Thank goodness for the internet.  I found Sardis Presbyterian – and they needed a sub.  One ringer was visiting her daughter in India so I stepped in for her.  When she returned, another ringer said she would not be available to play May 4, so I stepped in for her.  I guess I shouldn’t mention to them that the thing I am worst at is sight reading. So far it’s working out.

Once again, I’m a bell ringer.

Add One Cup of Flour

You’ve moved.  Now you need to find the grocery store with the good butcher, the mechanic you can trust, the best Italian restaurant, the store that sells the chocolate I like, and the best burger joint.   I need to find a flour mill.

I don’t use all-purpose flour and haven’t for years.  Basically, all-purpose flour is 50% high gluten flour (used for bread) and 50% low gluten flour (used for cakes, cookies and pastries) – hence it can be used for all-purposes.   Yeah, not really.

When I moved to upstate New York in the late 70s, I was just beginning to cook seriously.  One of my quilting friends told me about a flour mill in a nearby town that sold pastry flour – and we could buy it directly from the mill.   So I gave it a try and really liked the results.  Because pastry flour has very little gluten, you don’t have to worry about pie crusts getting tough.  And cookies and cakes are nice and tender.

Then I found bread flour from the Polly-O cheese man at the farmer’s market.  He delivered to restaurants in the area and drove right by my house,  He agreed to deliver to me, if I had a minimum order.  And so began my use of anything but all-purpose flour.

Lehi Roller Mills

When we moved to Utah, I again found a supplier – Lehi Roller Mills – that sold to the public.  It was a cute little mill right off the freeway.  You could see onto the milling floor from the windows in the office.  Little did I know that it was the same mill used in the movie Footloose.  But as soon as the movie hit the theatres I recognized it right away.

Lehi was fairly far from my house, and given the winter weather in Utah, I found a second mill – Honeyville Farms – that was a little closer.  Honeyville was in an industrial area near the airport and, if you didn’t work there, you had no reason to go.  They opened a store in Footloose Movietheir warehouse after a few years and carried baking supplies and food storage items, albeit in fairly large quantities.  Because I usually had 100 pounds of flour on hand and a chest freezer, this wasn’t a problem.

When we moved to Charlotte, I figured I would have no trouble finding a supplier, if not an actual mill.  Costco has bread flour, but it is bleached.  Almost no one other than a mill or restaurant supplier carries pastry flour.  The cake flour at the grocery store is different and expensive.  After searching the internet I couldn’t find anything.  Reluctantly I bought a 5 lb. bag of all-purpose flour at the grocery store to make waffles.  Umm, no.

Once my baking tools were unpacked, I needed to make bread.  I make pretty much all the bread we eat.  I bought a 5 lb. bag of bleached bread flour at the grocery store.  It wasn’t right, either.  I went to Honeyville’s web site because I vaguely remembered that they did mail order.  And, yes, they did.  I ordered 50 lbs. of pastry flour, 50 lbs. of bread flour and 1 lb. of instant yeast.  You’d think that would be hugely expensive to ship, but they ship anything for a flat $5.00 fee.  I have no idea how they can afford to do that but the shipment arrived in 5 days.  I was a happy camper.

Even though this seemed like a good solution, I continued to look for a local source.  At a cheese making class, one of the other students told me about the Chef’s Store – a restaurant supplier owned by US Foods.  And yes, they have the unbleached flours I want.  Yea!  All is right with the world – or at least, my world.

Stay tuned for my loaf bread recipe.

You Can’t Get There from Here

When we moved to Utah, everyone told us how easy it is to get around. The streets are numbered in a grid starting from Temple Square.  One hundred South (or 1st South) is one block south of Temple Square.  Thirteenth East (13th East) is 13 blocks East of Temple Square.  You can at least get within shouting distance of any address without the help of a map.  And they were right – that grid makes a lot of sense and sure saves lots of time.  Of course you still have to learn the location of streets with names (they almost always wind around), and learn which streets don’t cross a creek or freeway.  But mostly it’s pretty simple.

Charlotte Queen City

Then we moved to Charlotte.  It’s almost like “they” don’t want me to figure the roads out.

Learning to drive in a new city takes time and determination.  I know that.  I have a AAA map and I use Google maps to scout out my locations before taking off.  After living here for almost three months, I think I have South East Charlotte figured out.  Almost.

There are a few major roads – Providence, Monroe, Independence and Sardis.  Easy peasy.  WRONG.

Our neighborhood is off of Sardis Road.  Come out of our neighborhood and turn onto Sardis Road. It then makes a sharp left turn but the road going to the right is Rama Rd.  Continue along on Sardis and soon you’re on Fairview and then a while later, you’re on Tyvola.  You haven’t turned at all – roads just change names every so often for no apparent reason.  Rama Rd. becomes Idlewild, Wendover becomes Eastway.   Providence Rd. becomes Providence Rd. South as you head south, then becomes Providence Rd. North right outside of Waxhaw, then becomes N. Broome St., becomes South Main, becomes Old Providence Rd.  And of course there’s a North Providence St. also in Waxhaw.  And don’t forget Old Providence Rd. (entirely different one) in Charlotte.

And then there are the variations.  There is Sardis Rd., Sardis Rd. NortSardis Road & North Sardis Rd.h (which is perpendicular to Sardis Rd.), Sardis View Rd., Sardis View Lane, Sardis Lane, Sardis Oaks Rd., and Old Sardis Rd.  Add some subdivisions:  Sardis Forest, Sardis Woods, Sardis Croft, Sardis Grove, Sardis Hills.  Aren’t you glad you’re not a fireman trying to find a burning house?

My Master Gardener class meets at Freedom Park, off of Park Rd.  I travel down Sardis/Fairview and make a right on Park Rd.  The street right before my turn?  Park Rd. North.

Then there’s the plantations.  There’s Providence Plantation, Reedy Creek Plantation, Plantation Forest, Fairfield Plantation, Catawba River Planation, Callaway Plantation, Ashe Plantation, etc., etc.

Providence Day School is on Saris Rd. There’s Providence Baptist Church – not on Providence – but on Randolph Rd., along with an assortment of Providence roads, lanes, streets, you name it.

There are some actual helpful road names.  Marvin Waxhaw Rd. runs between Marvin and Waxhaw.  Matthews Township Pkwy. is in Matthews.  It then becomes Matthews Mint Hill Rd. as it heads towards Mint Hill.  So some of these name changes make sense.  Except that Waxhaw Highway runs from Waxhaw to Monroe (the town, not the street) and perpendicular to this is Old Providence Rd. that becomes Old Waxhaw Monroe Rd. that loops around and eventually ends up in Monroe, too.  I think I will just decide to never need to go there.

There used to be an intersection in Charlotte of Queens, Queens, Queens, Queens and Queens, but for some reason they changed the name of some of these.  Can’t imagine why.

But I can do this.  And if I get lost, just make it to one of those major roads and I’ll make it home.  I hope.