Newly Vegetarian: My First Week

For the last week, I haven’t eaten meat. The last time I had meat was for lunch on Monday December 3rd.

I decided to stop eating meat while writing An Informal Discussion of the Ethics of Eating Meat for Over the Invisible Wall. My research included an article about fish and fishing and a video of a vegan’s thought-provoking speech on eating meat. I did more research on the meat industry.

Monday night and Tuesday I hadn’t fully committed. I thought I would try it or eat a lot less meat. I was eating vegetarian, but thought I would eat meat Wednesday night. I managed to abstain from meat, including bacon. Bacon was the biggest temptation. My grandma offered me bacon on Monday and my parents made bacon on Tuesday. I almost caved. Almost.

Wednesday I thought I’d have a small amount of meat for dinner. I was ready to commit to eating significantly less meat, but was still debating if I’d have any meat. That night I found I didn’t want to eat the chicken. That surprised me. I’d expected it to take longer for me to be disinterested in meat. I was definitely not disinterested in the leftover bacon in the fridge, but I didn’t want the chicken I’d made.

Thursday was harder than anticipated. It was my first day back at work since I’d stopped eating meat. I thought Panera would be easy because there’s a lot of various options. How wrong I was! While making people’s food, I remembered how much I love the chipotle chicken avocado melt and the Cuban panini… and bacon. I was reminded of my love for bacon countless times. I told myself, “Bacon is the enemy,” and laughed at myself for that. I also realized only two of the soups are vegetarian and I don’t really like one of them. I still managed to not order anything with meat.

Friday was the best of the first four days. I had fewer problems with feeling hungry and had an easier time abstaining from meat. I talked with Julianna Carbonare, a member of my Praxis cohort who has been vegetarian and vegan, about my problem with hunger. She suggested that I need more protein, so I made an effort to increase my protein intake. I had eggs twice, for breakfast and lunch. I discovered that the green passion smoothie at Panera is fantastic with basil.

Saturday I had thought out what I’d eat ahead of time. I learned that Culver’s, a burger place, surprisingly has a vegetarian soup and a few salads. At this point, it was already getting easier and feeling more natural to not eat meat. I did not want it, and only craved bacon a few times while at work. I had a better understanding of how much I needed to eat throughout the day to not feel ravenously hungry.

By the end of the week (only a week!) it felt natural. I never thought I would ever be vegetarian, but now I am.

Throughout the week I talked a lot with my friend Justine about food and eating vegetarian. She shared the information she had and suggested some food ideas. At her recommendation, I bought a few vegetarian canned soups from the brand Amy’s. I picked out some other soups while browsing. I made overnight oats Friday night and they lasted through Monday morning. I made protein “cookies” for a portable, filling snack early in the week. That first batch had a grainy texture that didn’t feel like a cookie, but the taste was good. I made another batch Monday morning before work. I didn’t follow a recipe or write down how I made them, just combined ingredients based on my knowledge of baking in general and cookies more specifically. They turned out better this time, but they were a bit crispier than I intended.

I’ve had to be more conscious of what I’m eating and putting in my body. I pay attention to foods that contain protein, because that helps stave off hunger between meals. I did some research to make this easier and now have a list of 36 plants or plant based foods that contain protein.

It’s been difficult starting out, but I feel good about what I’m eating and that I’m not harming animals.

The Coffee Explorations: Cameron’s Jamaica Blue Mountain Blend

I bought a French press a few months ago and want to figure out what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra, the Papa Nicholas House Roast, the Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast, and Sam’s Choice Mandheling Sumatra.

We’re not out of the Manheling Sumatra yet, but I wanted to try the coffee I bought about a week ago. I was at the last of the Hawaiian Roast and the Sumatra is low, so new coffee!

Image result for cameron's specialty coffee jamaicaAt Walmart, a few choices caught my eye. One brand was called Mash Ups and featured combination blends. That seemed exciting, but I didn’t know what the pieces tasted like separately. I continued browsing, and eventually chose the Cameron’s Specialty Coffee Jamaica Blue Mountain Blend.

This morning I eagerly opened the bag, and contemplatively inhaled the scent of the grounds. They smell dark and rich and earthy.

After letting it steep in boiled water in my French press for about six minutes, I poured half into my mug. I stirred in stevia and heavy whipping cream to my liking.

That first, glorious sip: It has a really smooth, light taste, and it feels light and almost airy in my mouth. It has the usual hallmark of coffee, of course, but wow! This one is really good!

I’m amazed at how different the varieties of coffee really are. This is altogether a different experience than the Sumatras or other blends I’ve tried.

The bag of grounds was between five and six dollars.

I give this coffee a 9/10 for a great price and a fantastic experience!

First Day Back at Panera

I made the choice to return to Panera Bread and my old and new coworkers. Today was my first day back, in shiny new non-slip shoes.

A couple things changed since I was there last: The panini presses were replaced with stone grills similar to the toaster in Subway. But with fancy stone and pizza-oven-like paddles for pulling sandwiches out of them. New food items!

I was looking forward to my favorite sandwich from last fall, the turkey cranberry flatbread. I was so excited about getting to eat it again, only to find out that it isn’t on the menu! We do have a new ham sandwich and a new Cuban sandwich. I haven’t tried the ham sandwich yet. I had the Cuban sandwich with extra slices of the sweet and spicy pickles for dinner, and it was really good! The garlic mustard and the delayed effect of the pickles paired with ham, pulled pork, and Swiss cheese was delicious!

Talking about the menu items makes me think of an idea for a blog post or several. Working at Panera, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the ingredients as well as what flavor combinations pair well together, and delicious modifications to the regular items. If you’d like a guide to the menu, what I like, how I modify it and why, comment below! I’d love to know you’re interested.

I learned how to make the new sandwiches and use and clean the new grills. I also noticed problems with how some of the new people are doing their work and plan to set an example to work on improving things.

The problems:

(1) The mid-shifters weren’t flipping pans every day. We’re supposed to get new pans and move the ingredients from their current pans into the new pans and make sure they have a current label telling when they expire. I made sure all the pans were flipped today, and I will continue doing that everyday I work.

(2) No one marked when the grills were cleaned. After my coworker and I cleaned the grills, I wrote in the little box for Thursday “Both” so the closer tomorrow knows both grills were cleaned. The boxes for earlier in the week are all empty. Hopefully other people will start marking when and which grill they clean.

(3) No one else takes all the supports in the bars to be cleaned. When we close, we put all the pans in the bar into the pull-out refrigerated drawers beneath the bar. I take out all the supports, including the four on the outside edges, to the dishwasher to be cleaned. When I asked the dishwasher if he’d rinse the long bars for me, he said he could, but no one had ever done that before. I plan to suggest to the other workers that they do that as well to improve the cleanliness of the bars.

I had a great first day back at Panera, and I’m sure I’ll have a great day tomorrow too!

Comment below if you’d like a post about the Panera menu items and what your favorite menu item is!

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The Coffee Explorations: Sam’s Choice Mandheling Sumatra

I bought a French press a couple months ago and want to figure out what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra, the Papa Nicholas House Roast, and the Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast.

I actually still haven’t finished the Hawaiian Roast, but my dad bought some Sumatra so I wanted to try it.

It had a strong, rich dark smell when I opened it. The finished coffee smells the same.

With cream and raw sugar it is smooth and dark and sweet but not too sweet. I want to taste the coffee, not hide it.

It’s really good. I’m not sure how it compares taste-wise to the Fresh Thyme, but it’s far better than the Starbucks.

It seems I like medium and dark roasts better. Perhaps that is due to my experience with espresso after mostly not having coffee for years. I’ll never know.

The rating: 7/10.

(Today’s rating is based solely on taste with no adjustment for the price as I didn’t purchase it.)

Poetry Prompts: “Apple Dumplings”

Recently I have been struggling with my writing habits and motivation to work on things. To add some more fun to writing poetry and get some fodder for inspiration, I decided to find some poetry prompts.

If you have any suggestions for poetry topics or writing prompts that struck your fancy, share them in the comments!


The prompt, taken from Think Written: Grandma’s Kitchen

 

Image result for apple dumplings
Apple Dumplings (picture credit)

 

“Apple Dumplings”

An evening long ago,

distant, as it feels,

a lesson in preparing

an after-dinner treat.

We core apples,

mix cinnamon and sugar,

roll out pie crusts,

butter the lot.

Together we made

apple dumplings

and small pieces of

cinnamon sugar pie crust.

The Coffee Explorations: Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast

This is perhaps an unusual post for a mostly creative-content blog. I bought a French press a month or so ago and don’t know what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra and the Papa Nicholas House Roast.

This addition to the series has been a long time coming, as it took a while to drink a whole bag of coffee.

When I opened the bag this morning, I liked the smell of the grounds. It was not quite as “Wow that smells amazing” as the House Roast, but it was good. After steeping the grounds in boiling water in my French press, the coffee smelled slightly bitter but with a noticeable tinge of another smell. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, I’m still trying to decipher it, but it was good.

My first taste, after raw cane sugar and heavy whipping cream, was that it is very smooth. It has a stereotypically coffee flavor to it, followed by a sweet and tangy after taste reminiscent of the second smell I noticed.

It’s good, but I would like it to be stronger. It’s a light roast, so perhaps I prefer medium or dark roasts.

Overall, I give this coffee a 7/10 for flavor.

I’ll try brewing it with additional scoops of coffee in the press to see if that makes any difference.

 

 

The Coffee Explorations: Papa Nicholas House Roast

This is perhaps an unusual post for a mostly creative-content blog. I recently bought a French press and haven’t the slightest idea what kind of coffee I like because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well.

I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra.

When I opened the bag of coffee grounds, a pleasant coffee aroma hit my nose. I hoped that this would be a sure sign of enjoying the taste as well. I was not disappointed. I initially chose this coffee at Walmart because it had a one dollar off coupon attached to it with no clue whether it was a good choice. Now I think it was.

Two scoops of coffee grounds steeped in a “four cup” French press in boiling water for seven minutes. After I filtered out the grounds, I poured both cups into my large Harry Potter mug emblazoned with the crest of Slytherin. Yesterday I found the second cup of coffee poured to be a bit thin, and this might be a way to combat that.

I smelled the black coffee; it had a rich smell similar to the grounds. I tend to dislike black coffee because of its bitterness, so I declined to sip it black. I stirred in raw sugar and then heavy whipping cream. Sipped it. It was hot and smooth and delicious.

Without the coupon, it was $5.48 plus tax. I would buy it again, with or without a dollar off. I’ll probably try more of their roasts in the future.

I give Papa Nicholas House Roast an 8/10 for price and an 8/10 for taste.