Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Whole Foods 3rd/Fairfax in LA has the worst customer service.

Here's the fun email I just sent this store. By the way, here's some good info about fluoridation from reputable scientific bodies! And this is not to say that it is a cure-all or that it is likely necessary for the rest of time, or that it is needed by all populations. But the CDC, FDA, and WHO cannot all be wrong, and scientists are not out to kill you.

I’m contacting you regarding the surprising interaction I had with a 3rd/Fairfax Store cashier on Saturday, May 10th.

I am a regular patron of Whole Foods and similar natural markets, and I’ve always had good experiences. I just moved here from Seattle last month and stopped by the 3rd/Fairfax store for the first time to pick up a few items.

My cashier did not greet me when she started to scan my items, but when she got to my toothpaste (Tom’s Wicked Fresh, with fluoride), she loudly exclaimed “AW MAN! Fluoride? Why would you get the fluoride kind?!” I was taken aback by her very loud judgment. Funny thing is, my boyfriend (who was with me) is an environmental toxicologist pursuing his PhD, and I am an environmental scientist in the drinking water and sanitation field. I responded “I work in the drinking water industry; trust me, it’s fine, and you’re being paranoid.” Her coworker commented “Ha, she is, look she wears gloves while checking.” I thought that would be it, but undeterred, my cashier continued: “But fluoride, REALLY? Isn’t it bad for you?” To which I replied “The level of fluoride in drinking water and toothpaste is well below the toxicity level determined to be safe for consumption.” She continues! “Okay, well I don’t really know that much about it, so maybe you can tell me. Doesn’t it make your bones brittle? I thought your teeth were made of bone.” I said “I don’t know about that off the top of my head.” And she says “And if it’s not bad for you, why do they put arsenic in it?” To which my boyfriend responds “Well, arsenic is found naturally in the environment. In some places they even have to treat the groundwater to remove it, because it’s just there. It’s like alcohol – one glass of wine per day has shown heart benefits, but too much every day leads to cirrhosis of the liver.” By this point she was done checking us, and we said goodbye.

I really do not think this sort of judgment should be passed on customers. The really funny thing is, she was SO opinionated but then admitted she didn’t know anything. This is a huge problem in the environmental movement – people read a meme on the internet or their friend tells them something, and they get righteous without doing their own research. How often does this cashier tell customers her opinions, however uninformed? And I can guarantee you, not everyone who walks into your store works in drinking water or is a toxicologist. Nor should they have to be!

I don’t want to get this girl in trouble, but this seems to be a pattern of poor customer service among cashiers at this store. Granted, I don’t have many data points, but the TWO times I’ve been in, I’ve had poor treatment (the second time was last night, Tuesday evening, where my cashier did not acknowledge me; no hello, no goodbye. I didn’t know she was done checking my items until I looked in the bag and saw the receipt). It’s enough to make me just shop at Trader Joe’s across the street and never walk into the 3rd/Fairfax WF store again. Please, please, take this opportunity to ask your cashiers to not pass judgment on customers’ grocery choices. This is an opportunity to step up the customer service training.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Crockpot Adventure, continued...

I made homemade chili after the bacon lentil soup, then I cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot with carrots, potatoes and onion. SO good that way, and way less energy than roasting it in the oven. I can leave the house with the crockpot going; not so much with the oven. After picking the meat from the bird, I threw the carcass back into the crockpot, along with all the leftover juices, and added some more seasoning. Filled the pot with water and let simmer on low for a good 8 hours. Strained the pot and walked away with really great chicken stock, which I used to make chicken noodle soup!

Next up in the crockpot: London broil, followed by pulled pork!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Seattle Bucket List

I've lived in northwestern Washington my entire life. I spent my first 18 years (give or take some months as a baby, before mom and dad bought a house) in the same house in Marysville. Went to college at WWU. Bounced from Marysville, to Seattle, to Kirkland and back to Seattle following college. Still, there are a ton of things I haven't done yet here. And of course, being such a great city, it's ever-evolving and always adding to that long list of awesome things I need to try/do/eat/see. So I'm going to try and create a list. And maybe someday I'll be able to mark it all off. This will be a running list. Don't mind the questions marks, it's just so I have space to add more bullets.


  • Dinner at Canlis
  • Dinner on top of the Space Needle at Sky City Restaurant
  • Sushi and Mashiko
  • ?
  • ?
  • Ride the Great Wheel
  • Go bird watching at Semiahmoo for migrating shore birds and/or down the Skagit during winter roosting months
  • ?
  • Visit the Hoh Rainforest
  • Visit Mt. Rainier
  • Visit Mt. St. Helens
  • Visit Lake Chelan
  • Wine tasting in Columbia Valley

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014: The Year of Soup

I made soup, and now I can't stop thinking about all the delicious, healthy, budget-friendly soups I can make at home!

Canned soup can be so darned expensive. And I don't like not knowing what all went into it, ingredient-wise. Plus, soup can be a very creative endeavor. There are so many things you can put in the mix!

The soup that started off this craze? Bacon lentil soup. I was cleaning out my pantry and spied the bag of green lentils I'd purchased maybe 2 years ago (maybe not that long, but it's been a long time). From the bulk section, super cheap and healthy, and...I've never tried to do anything with them because I don't know how to cook them.

Psh. So I looked it up. And it is EASY. Bring them to a boil and then let simmer until they look cooked. The process took very little attention and not too much time. I searched the web for a recipe that was just right...nothing struck my fancy. But I did see one that had bacon, and so I made the rest up myself. Glad to know my instincts were good! And exciting that I made my OWN recipe.

Bacon Lentil Soup - Crockpot Edition

1.5 cups dried lentils (an estimate; I didn't measure)
2/3 of a medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots (however you like; I chopped baby carrots in quarters and thirds)
3 medium tomatoes (I had 3 left on the vine), diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
32 oz Chicken Stock (I don't make my own, this is the "big" size at the store)
8 oz water
1 lb bacon, chopped or crumbled into bite-sized pieces (could use more bacon)
Seasoning: Salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and cumin, to taste
-I randomly also added a small can (6 oz?) of V8, that's been languishing in the back of my fridge. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it for the recipe, but if you have some on hand, it was good. You could probably add leftover pasta sauce from the fridge, too.

1. Cook dried lentils in a medium-sized pot. Add lentils to pot, add water to within an inch or two of the pot top, and swirl around. Fish-out any of the floaties that inevitably result from dried foods. Put the whole thing on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn the burner to low, and let simmer until the lentils look plump and meaty. Drain and add the lentils to the crockpot.

2. Cook the pound of bacon. I did half crispy, half not. The crispy ones I could just crumble with my hands. The rest I had to chop with a knife. While your bacon is cooking, chop up the onion, tomatoes and carrots, and add to the lentils along with the minced garlic. Then add the chicken stock, V8 (if you have any on hand), and water. When the bacon's done, crumble/chop and then add to the pot. Give it a good stir.

3. Add your seasoning. I liked to add it all to the top of the soup and then stir. I don't ever work in measurements.

Cook in the crockpot on low. I made this at 11pm, and left it on low over night. When I woke up this morning at 7:30, the whole house smelled amazing, and I had soup for lunch. I set the crockpot to warm. I'll deal with the soup when I get home.

Tada! I think this would be lovely with some shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Carving and Fall Feast

We did our pumpkin patch visit and carving party last night! Drove down to Auburn to pick pumpkins at Mosby Farms. They were a pretty good patch; not super busy (like the Spooner Farms in Orting that held us up in traffic for 20 minutes and made us late to Laura and Mike's wedding the day before), nice variety of carving pumpkins, ghost pumpkins, sugar pumpkins (going to try my hand at pies this year!), and lots of other gourds. I bought an assortment to take home and try.

For dinner, I wanted to make a very fall harvest-focused meal. So, main course was a 5 lb chuck roast from Bill the Butcher. I love them because 1) how cool is it to buy meat from an actual butcher shop? 2) they only sell natural meat. No hormones, antibiotics, or GMO's. I know it's high quality. 3) They source locally. 4) They have a huge variety! Beef, pork, chicken, duck, turkey, bacon, sausage, roast, loin, steaks, burgers, stir fry, jerky...5) plus it's really inviting inside. 6) They know their stuff.

Threw that in the crock pot with potatoes and carrots (had to cut it in half first because it was so big!) and added a can of root beer, water covering most of the fixings, and this amazing herb mix meant for Beer Can Chicken put out by Weber, a little Liquid Smoke, and salt and pepper. I cooked it on high because I was afraid it wouldn't cook in time, and ended up overcooking it. Oh well. Good with all the au jus.

Next, I cut an acorn squash in half and roasted it, flesh-up, for 30 minutes. Took that out, added a pad of butter to each half and a bunch of brown sugar, taking care to scar the flesh to allow the butter to soak in. This turned out pretty tasty for never having eaten it before! I took a chance with roasting the seeds in the acorn squash in the same pan as the squash itself, for the same amount of time. Just seasoned with cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. They were delicious! And not as chewy as pumpkin seeds. I recommend this instead of throwing them away!

I wanted to make butternut squash latkes. Sandy was over and kindly took charge of this experiment. The frying method was not so successful, but the results of baking them were pretty good. Definitely required some sort of dipping sauce (yogurt sauce was recommended but I didn't remember to buy any ingredients; ranch worked nicely as a substitute). These were made per a recipe, with the gratings of a whole butternut squach, one and a half minced onions, 3 eggs, and seasoning to taste. When it was apparent that I had no way to remove the high moisture content (probably part of the issue with frying), I added about a cup of coconut flour (was trying to keep this gluten-free for one of the dinner attendees). That pretty much did the trick to at least keep them from falling apart in the oven (still not enough for frying though).

I also made baked apples by cutting out the cores of 4 apples, filling the cores with cinnamon, brown and cane sugar, then baking in an 8x8 pan for 30-40 minutes with a cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Turned out quite tasty (and a good gluten-free dessert option). Those of us who could eat wheat also had ghiradelli box brownies to enjoy.

Friends brought a spinach/goat cheese/apple/almond salad (yummy!) with homemade vinaigrette, and we topped it all off with sweet white wine, hard cider, and Martinelli's.

Now we have 6 pumpkins-worth of seeds to roast tonight :) It was great to pick pumpkins with friends and watch episodes of Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and Hocus Pocus with them while we carved and ate. After they all left, we also watched Children of the Corn. I'd never seen it; it wasn't that scary!

Happy Halloween and Fall Festivus!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Well, blog, it's been about 7 months...

I'm sorry I neglected this blog for so long. I guess blogging and I had a falling out. However, I am back at the keyboard and co-authoring a new blog, No Goddamn Dancing, a blog focusing on local music. It has been a fun adventure. We are about ready to break 1,000 pageviews! We just had our first stranger (note: not a friend or family member) comment on a blog post! The best part is that I get to write it with my handsome, talented boyfriend. It's really nice to have something that we can work on together. He's really the major driving force of NGD, and I'm really proud of what we've been able to put out together. Plus, hello, we go to concerts all the time. Fun!

In other news:
* I'm doing STP again in 2013, but this time around I am also volunteering as an Associate Ride Leader during the Training Series. We had out first ride last week, and I'm happy to say that I am not totally out of shape. Woohoo! I also have a college friend doing it with me this year, so yay for having a buddy. About 8 of my friends from training last year are joining me for Chilly Hilly this year, which is THIS sunday. Wowie!

* Going to Oahu, HI at the end of March with Tyler, his brother and bro's gf. Really looking forward to a week in paradise, and I think it will be really fun to travel with them all.

* My brother got engaged this past fall. They've set the date for October 3, 2014. Looking forward to having a sister-in-law!

* Bought tickets to see Postal Service in Portland in July. Stoked!

* Going to volunteer with the Moisture Festival this year. Birthday plans are starting to formulate. I expect Moisture Festival will be part of them.

* Doing a lot with the charity Water For People. So far I have been involved in two major fundraisers, one of which I am working on my 4th one. I am now on the King County chapter board for the American Waterworks Association and working on several Water For People committees, and will be taking on some duties with the Young Professionals committee.

* Thinking about doing a road trip across the south in the fall...

Will try hard to post in here more often. But check out NGD (we're on twitter and facebook, too! twitter: @ngdseattle) if you miss hearing from me :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quickie update

This blog is so neglected. Poor blog.

In two days I'll start my bicycle ride to Portland for the STP bicycle classic! All this training (since the beginning of April) is going to sure pay off. Weather in the low-mid 80's. Day one: 134 miles, Day two: 70 miles. Then a deserved night at the Westin. Hopefully I'll get to see a few friends Sunday night/Monday before I take the bolt bus home.

After that, other things to look forward to include: my first Capitol Hill Block Party, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals concert at the zoo, mom's birthday camping, lots of camping and backpacking (hopefully), a trip to San Jose to see Miss Kim Shelly for ther birthday, and a vacation sometime around labor day weekend (still hasn't been planned...oops...)

Things I have neglected telling you about: Jamie and Jody's wedding! It was SO AWESOME! and then camping out on the peninsula with the Sheriff Clan was just the icing on the cake; Independence Day fun times; Jody's bachelorette party; moving to ballard; the Scissor Sisters concert; Solstice; a truly crazy work month in June...yeah, lots has been going on. Add cycling to that list, and I've barely had a chance to catch my breath. Things are luckily slowing down now, though, so maybe I'll blog more. Maybe :)