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I made the first home cooked meal I’ve had in over two weeks tonight. I can’t tell you how excited I am to cook a healthy meal! Where have I been? I left Oregon for Richmond, Indiana on Sept. 6, returned on the 12th, left for Bend, Oregon on Sept. 14 and returned Sunday night. I made it to the grocery store yesterday, with some recipe ideas in hand. I turned again to Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express for a quick and easy idea. In the summer recipe section, I chose Grilled Fish with Spinach and Tomatoes (p. 49). I added a quick Seven Whole Grains microwaved side from Seeds of Change. A bright Acrobat Rose’ wine from King Estate Winery and some poached pears (see my next blog entry) finished off my home-made happiness!

Travel presents all kinds of challenges for the spa food lifestyle! In the days before I left, I was busy and stressed and basically trying to eat up whatever was in the fridge without buying more ingredients. Then there’s the airport day with a wake up at 3:30 am, Starbucks at 7 or so in Denver and so forth. My purpose in flying to Indiana was to help my siblings pack up my 89-year-old father to move permanently to his home in Florida. My sister and I stayed in Richmond, Indiana, which is home to nearly every American chain restaurant in existence. We ate at Chili’s, Applebees, Charly’s, and Texas Roadhouse. We managed to skip Red Lobster, IHOP, and Bob Evans. Sadly, healthy and fresh food is not really on those menus. Sure, we could have lived on Wendy’s salads, but we wanted to be waited on and have a drink. I wrote off the trip for any spa-style food!

My trip to Bend, Oregon afforded much better culinary options. I dined at the Jackalope Grill on Friday night. The restaurant recently moved to a downtown location and was packed. The owner, Tim Garling, offered me his seat at the bar where I continued to chat with him and also met an enjoyable and friendly group of successful local folks. I was in foodie heaven! My meal consisted of a parade of tasty small plates. I started off with Berenjenas la Taberna, fried eggplant very lightly breaded and drizzled in honey, over some greens. It was wonderful! My second course was Bacon, Spinach and Blue Cheese Tarte, accompanied by a delightful salad of baby wild arugula. The tarte was a thin and flavorful light portion. I finished this ecstasy of local foods with Grilled Prawns and Chickpea Panisse. The Chickpea Panisse was actually a “french fry” presentation, accompanied by a romesco sauce. Inventive! Delicious. And unlike the restaurants of Richmond, IN, there were not glossy pictures of the food on the simple, written menu! No 2 for $20 deals either! I truly enjoyed my food and my experience!

My two course dinner tonight was not as exquisitely prepared as the food at the Jackalope Grill. Still, I was pleased at my colorful plate with a base of thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, a layer of bright green spinach wilted in garlic and olive oil, and a simple grilled cod fillet. The dessert was a “backyard pear” poached in Rose’ wine with Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning, another find in Bend from the Savory Spice Shop in the Old Mill Shops. I am home again!