By Marcia Pilgeram
My bags are packed and my new (to me) Ford Edge is loaded with everything I’ll need for this week’s epic, 1,800-mile, Chicago-or-bust road trip. Though most states I’ll be driving through have lifted some of their restrictions, I won’t take any chances. Chicago hasn’t even reached its virus apex yet, and the city is still tightly locked down. It’s hard to believe I won’t be touching down at O’Hare or stepping off the Empire Builder and onto the platform at Union Station. In the past 20 years — between birthing businesses and babies — I’ve been to Chicago at least 20 times. But this is my first road trip.
I’ve mapped my route and planned three days of picnic-style menus. Oldest daughter, Ryanne (of little faith), has also planted a GPS on my phone, so she can pinpoint my location when I get lost (it’s my only character flaw). With yoga mats, comforters and fluffy pillows, I’ve prepared a nice cozy bed in the back of my SUV. I only plan to stop for fuel and a couple of overnight stays at KOA Campgrounds.
The KOAs will be a first for me. My vision of camping includes overnight stays at great national parks in historic old lodges, like the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. If I’m really roughing it, I’m OK with the communal bathroom down the hall and even wandering downstairs to the lobby for coffee or ice. I can’t remember the last time — if ever — that I slept in my car, but duty calls, and I am well prepared for the adventure.
If my youngest daughter, Casey, wasn’t in a high-risk pregnancy, I would have chosen the aforementioned air or train modes of travel. But it’s simply not an option as I need to do my best to be free of this insidious virus that’s wreaking havoc on all of our lives. I hope to roll into the Windy City on Mother’s Day, which will be fitting: It was the day I left, two years ago, after nearly losing Casey and my youngest grandson to a difficult birth experience.
This is a big week for me. Besides Sammy’s second birthday on May 7, prepping for my marathon road trip and Mother’s Day, this is also National Nurses week.
I said it two years ago after spending a week at the hospital in Chicago, and it’s worth repeating: My heroes wear scrubs. And masks. If there was ever a time to show our appreciation for nurses, this is the time. I am in awe of their bravery and their commitment to their profession. I think we’re all inspired by them; and, if you have the time, money and inclination, it would be a nice time to remember them with a token of your appreciation. I know I’m going to do something nice for our local nurses as well as the ones who’ll be assisting Casey real soon.
I’ll be going alone on this journey (aside from a living head of Pete’s butter lettuce). And even though I’ve been completely isolated for the past 50 days, I’m still looking forward to this solo trip. I’m especially looking forward to a reprieve from my kitchen.
To be honest, I’m all baked out. A little break from Facebook will be welcome, too.
It seems like everyone I don’t know has been baking up a sourdough storm. My Facebook feed is full of cleverly named starters and beautifully scored loaves, alongside myriad fails. Recently, one woman nearly broke the baking internet with her rant that went viral. She threw a huge tantrum because there were too many amateurs attempting to make homemade bread just for the pictures, and she wasn’t getting her privileged portion of pastry flour. She received so much online criticism that she had to delete the profiles on all her social media accounts.
I have no need to attempt a perfect loaf of sourdough bread. The bar was set high by Heidi Gunter at Heidi’s Bread, and all I need to do is send her a message by Friday for a Monday delivery in Sandpoint — you can do the same by contacting her via Facebook. Once I realized a loaf a week was excessive for one person, I started freezing a portion of each loaf.
Whether you’re baking or buying, here’s a delicious option for the bread that might be going stale on your countertop — migas, a traditional dish of Spain, made with dried (then moistened) bread, cooked crispy in olive oil. I’m here to tell you that it’s equally delicious (and addictive) for breakfast, lunch or supper, but maybe not on the same day — and now you know why I’m traveling with lettuce.
I wish everyone (especially all the mommas) a safe and sunny Mother’s Day!
This classic version of the Spanish migas is made from leftover bread and chorizo — The outside of the bread should be crispy, the inside tender. Migas can be served for breakfast with fried eggs, or for supper served with green salad and a glass of crisp white wine.
• 2-3 cups dried bread from loaf (3-4 day old works best)
• 1 cup chopped chorizo meat
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt
• 1 tbs paprika
• Fine chopped parsley or basil
Cut the bread into approx. 1-inch cubes. Place them in a shallow bowl and sprinkle liberally with water, toss. Leave to absorb, set aside.
Cut or crumble the chorizo.
On medium heat, pour 2 tbs oil in a frying pan, add garlic and fry until golden. Add the meat and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with paprika and salt and a sprinkle of water. Toss in the bread, drizzle remaining oil over bread and stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve warm.
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