Food, humor, Wipe the Drool

Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

vegan-dinner-party-go-jules-go-titlev2

A few weeks ago, I received a group text from my friend Christine:

“Ladies! I have perfected a vegan menu! When are you coming over?!”

Christine is not vegan. None of my local friends are vegan. I put my phone down and walked away. When things this good happen, I get very suspicious.

After a moment, I decided to reply. I downplayed it so as not to make her feel too much pressure:

“YES YES YES A THOUSAND YESSES! P.S. – I’m blogging the sh*t out of this.”

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

And thus, Chef and Tofu Goddess Christine and I bring to you:

How to Host a Vegan Dinner Party Even if You’re Not Vegan (and most of your friends aren’t either)

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Don’t worry. We’ll talk you through it.

STEP ONE: FIND FRIENDS.

STEP TWO: TELL THEM YOU’RE HOSTING A VEGAN DINNER PARTY.

STEP THREE: FIND NEW FRIENDS.

STEP ONE: PLAN MENU

Christine saw my post about vegan food hacks and suddenly remembered the power of The Almighty Peanut Sauce. (If you have vegan friends who also have nut allergies, you should rethink your friendship. Or you can use tahini.) This spoke to her overall philosophy when it comes to menu planning:

I thought it would be best to work with ingredients or dishes that are inherently vegan, instead of trying to make something ‘meat-esque’ and working with unfamiliar substitutions. Embrace and love the ingredients for what they are! If we are honest with ourselves nobody really loves cauliflower when it’s trying to be rice, or mashed potatoes, or (for the love of Pete) pizza crust. Have at it with those things, but embrace cauliflowery goodness and don’t play with our emotions when it comes to pizza crust. And zucchini is a delicious vegetable, but it will never be spaghetti, ever.”

APPETIZERS

Pan-fried vegetable potstickers a.k.a. gyoza (yup, the kind you find in the frozen section of any grocery store)

InstaPot hummus with veggies and pita chips (this recipe will change your life)

Olive tapenade (…from Trader Joe’s because for crying out loud you can’t do everything)

As you’ll soon see, this entire menu contains items you can make ahead, or drunkenly quickly prepare on the stovetop while you sip your mango and raspberry infused sparkling rosé. Who wants to host a party and have to worry about how long it will take your soufflé to rise? Christine pan fried the potstickers to crispy perfection while we chatted and snacked on the other items.

MAIN COURSE

Noodles with peanut sauce

Lettuce wraps with tofu, mushroom and water chestnut scramble

Both of these recipes continue to make your hosting duties a breeze because you can make the entire noodle dish ahead and serve chilled or at room temperature, and you can even make the lettuce wrap filling ahead of time (or at least do all of the chopping). Christine chose angel hair pasta for the noodle dish, a decision I will shamelessly mimic from here on out. So light! So tender!

Ethnic cuisine tends to contain lots of naturally vegan dishes, and will help you create a cohesive menu. How about spring rolls and a Thai coconut curry (this curry paste is my everything) or pineapple fried rice? Or samosas (the Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods versions are vegan!) with a dal (lentil) makhani or saag (spinach) tofu? Remember: Coconut milk, nuts, potatoes, and spices are vegan friends who make everything delicious!

Nervous about tofu? Pro tip #1 from Christine:

Squeezing tofu is one of those things that sounds intimidating, like rinsing quinoa or soaking beans. How will you know if you squeezed it too much? Or not enough? Am I still a good vegan friend and Earth-lover if I’m wasting a bunch of paper towels on my tofu? What would Mr. Whipple say about all that squeezing? In truth, it’s not that bad and it’s hard to do it wrong. If you don’t quite squeeze it enough for a recipe like this one, any excess liquid cooks off anyway. So I thought this recipe was a good entry point into My First Experience with Tofu.”

mr-whipple-charmin
I assume my invitation is just lost in the mail?

DESSERT

Coconut cashew milk rice pudding 

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This pudding was so good that even though we were stuffed from going back for main course seconds, we housed it. It’s easy to make ahead and totally company-worthy, especially when paired with pretty glasses and freshly cut strawberries.

Still feeing nervous? Christine’s pro tip #2:

If you’re not sure about ingredients, Google is your friend. I was excited to find this Vegan Condiments Guide so I could be sure that all the ingredients would work. That’s also where I learned that honey is not vegan. Bees are animals, too! (The more you know… cue the shooting star and rainbow.) Your vegan friends will think you are next-level if you know that honey isn’t vegan, and use agave syrup instead. Rock star status!”

HollywoodStar_gojulesgo
Hang on, Christine. Way ahead of you. Photo credit (prior to extremely necessary annotation).

STEP TWO: SET THE MOOD

I suggest it look something like this:

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Christine says:

Vegans tend to love the planet a bunch, so if you want to try something new that might be easier to sustain than your new-found vegan dining habits, splurge on some cloth napkins and work them into your daily routine. You’ll feel extra fancy and reduce waste all at the same time. One averagely messy eater can use a cloth napkin for a few days before sending it to the hamper until laundry day.”

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STEP THREE: ALL THE SMUGNESS!!!!

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“Did I mention I’m not even vegan?”

And that’s it, folks! Easy peasy Charmin squeezy!

A special thank you to Christine for hosting such a fabulous feast and sharing your recipes and tricks with the blogosphere! I’m only a little mad that you’re a better vegan cook than me.

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Animals, Food, humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Uncle Jesse

That Time I Ate Dog Food

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Guess what? Today is Uncle Jesse’s 8th birthday!

And I thought, “What better way to honor him than to steal his food?”

As luck would have it, our latest shipment of V-Dog plant-based kibble just arrived!

V-dog-kibble-30-lb-bag
30 lbs. Also the exact amount of weight I’ve gained since entering grad school.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that this was one of my favorite vegan food hacks, albeit one enjoyed by my fur baby and not so much me.

Uncle-jesse-eating
Until (spoiler alert) NOW!

I was keenly aware of the bag’s poundage, and my own, as I lugged it up two long flights of stairs and into the tiny apartment.

In a recent post, I said that this plant-based kibble smelled so “decent,” and Uncle Jesse loves it so much, that I might actually try it myself. And that if I did, I would, of course, blog about it.

Because why stop at peeing on houses when you can still sink a little lower?

pee-cottage

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry.

…If this goes viral, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it.

If you’d like to celebrate how much we love our furry families, and every kind of love, I hope you’ll consider doing what I just did and buy a copy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s new children’s book, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” Proceeds go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United. (And if you really want to geek out, check out the line-up on the audio version!)

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Food, Lists, Veganiness

Save Money and More: My Top 5 Vegan Food Hacks

Everywhere I turn, I hear people say, “How can I be more like Go Jules Go? What’s up with this vegan thing? What do you eat? Do you save money?”

I’ve only been vegan for two years, but I’ve been a foodie for 35 and counting, which means you can be dang sure I’ve found a way to eat fabulous fare even after parting ways with my old standbys, cheese and bacon.

Whether you’re interested in improving your health, spending less money, or putting your dollars towards preserving the planet and protecting animals, just a few vegan food choices here and there can truly rock (y)our world (and your wallet).

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Go Jules Go’s Top 5 Money-Saving Vegan Food Hacks

1. Frozen potato and onion pierogies

pierogies

Poppy’s brand pierogies are currently EIGHTY CENTS a package at my local New Jersey ShopRite. Caramelize an onion, maybe toss in some bell pepper or spinach, and put your carb-o-phobia on hold while you enjoy this filling meal for two. (I dip mine in ketchup…shhh.)

2. MUNG BEANS (yes, they demand all caps)

mung-beans

I buy these little green gems in bulk from Whole Foods and, when combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk, you have yourself a fine ass curry. They taste like a delicious split pea-bean hybrid, and they’re a nice change of pace from your standard lentils and legumes. (In fact, Just brand is coming out with a vegan scrambled egg liquid made out of mung beans!)

3. Peanut (satay) sauce 

peanut-sauce-bowl-2

Need I say more?  Use some of that leftover fresh garlic and ginger from your mung bean curry, and – bam! Put over pasta, stir fry, rice/grain bowls, even raw cabbage/veggies for a salad… you can’t go wrong. You can prepare ahead of time if you’re entertaining (it’s a major crowd-pleaser) and it even freezes pretty well. My go-to recipe is a lot like this, with some lime juice and cilantro thrown in.

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When it comes to peanut sauce, the sky’s the limit! (With Sriracha hearts because I’m a show-off.)

4. Banana ice cream

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What? You think it looks like… YOU’RE SO IMMATURE.

Do you like watching freezer-burned bananas turn into creamy dog doo deliciousness? This “recipe” is that magical! Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (I don’t recommend leaving them in there for more than 24 hours.) Then, put them in a food processor and let it go. Wait at least a minute or two, and you’ll have yourself some silky smooth banana fro-yo. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cocoa, strawberries, your lost dreams of ever working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whatever. It’s miraculous! (AND cheap. AND healthy. You’re welcome.)

5. V-Dog kibble

Uncle-jesse-v-dog

Hear me out. After gobs of research and learning that vets prescribe plant-based kibble to dogs with skin conditions, I switched my 8-year-old pooch, Uncle Jesse, to V-Dog. (Whereupon he immediately rejected the old stuff.) That was over a year ago and he’s crushing it, with a flawless bill of health from his normal vet. While this decision wasn’t financially driven, it turns out V-Dog costs about half of what I was spending on high-end animal-based kibble. (It smells so decent I might actually try it. If I do I promise to blog about it.)

vegan-Uncle-jesse

And because I love you – a bonus hack!

6. InstaPot Hummus

InstaPot
KNEEL BEFORE ME AND BEHOLD MY AWESOME POWER TO ROAST, RICE COOK, STEAM, PRESSURE COOK, STERILIZE, SEAR, SAUTEE, AND SLOW COOK!

If you’re one of the proud new owners of an InstaPot, the countertop multi-cooker on crack and Amazon’s #1 Christmas gift for “The Person You Care About But Also Resent Because They’re Implicitly Forcing You to Feed Into the Consumerist Machine to Prove Your Affection,” this recipe is for you! My manager who totally reads this blog and did I mention she is the cat’s meow? sent me this amazing InstaPot hummus recipe using dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). The trick is using the warm, cooked beans and cooking liquid to whip ’em into a pillowy bean dream after they’re done in the iPot (I’m trademarking that). Grab a bag of dried chickpeas for about $1.00 and don’t do what I did yesterday, which is cave to convenience.

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Guess how much. No, no. Just guess. FOUR DOLLARS. FOUR. DOLLARS!!

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Have you tried (or would you try) any of these? Have any other plant-based hacks?

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Food, PSAs, Veganiness

I Have Tasted the Impossible!

I grab my shirt and pull it away from me. The Manhattan skyscrapers have formed a barrier, trapping the early August humidity and dashing any hope that a breeze might dry the sweat running down my back.

“Do you think we’ll get a table?” my sister asks.

It’s 11:45am on Saturday and we’re part of a line snaking down 8th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 15 minutes, they’ll open the doors to Chelsea district’s Momofuku Nishi.

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We can already taste the succulent red meat and pan-fried char, our mouths watering at thoughts of the secret-sauce-and-blood-soaked bun.

Today, we would taste the impossible.

Beefy, melt-in-your-mouth… vegetables?

That’s right. Today we would sample the acclaimed brainchild of Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of California-based start-up Impossible Foods. According to all accounts, Brown had managed to create a plant-based burger that sizzled, bled and -hopefully- satisfied just like its meat-based counterpart.

Despite enjoying many bacon and cheese-smothered burgers in my day, I’ve always been a fan of veggie burgers. The ones that tasted like vegetables, that is. The more a veggie patty tried to disguise itself as meat, the more it seemed to fail.

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Until (spoiler alert) now.

Using a combination of science and more science, Impossible Foods attempted a feat no man nor chipmunk had yet mastered: Making vegetables actually mimic meat. How did they do it? Through reverse-engineering taste and including loads of something called heme. Heme is what peanut butter is to Reese’s cups, what cherry Chapstick is to a Katy Perry song, what Miss Piggy is to Kermit.

It’s the stuff that makes something what it is.

heme
Or, you know, if you want to be all LITERAL about it, it’s an “iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” (Credit: Wikipedia)

Brown combined heme -the thing that gives beef its meaty, bloody flavor- and a number of plant products (namely potatoes, soybeans, and coconut) to achieve the Impossible Burger. A longtime vegan and accomplished biochemist, he wanted to make a veggie burger for people who loved meat. After all, who would forego succulent, savory bovine for lentils and chalky carrots?

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Us, apparently.

And we’re not alone:

Impossible Foods surveyed 600 “hard core middle America burger lovers” about their eating habits and asked them whether they’d choose a plant-based burger if it was identical—in taste and cost—to the beef version. Nearly 70% said they would. –Wall Street Journal

But with production costs still too high to actually offer the Impossible Burger to the masses, you have to wonder: is it worth all of the trouble? I mean, cholesterol aside, is there really anything that bad about sticking to the traditional?

cost-of-beef
According to NPR, this is what goes into producing a single beef patty. Photo Credit

With plans for a slow but powerful movement, Impossible Foods is piloting their burger in limited quantities in places like New York City, and soon, San Francisco. Within five years, we can expect to see some pretty happy cows, but for now, some pretty happy humans:


Do you think the Impossible Burger can do the impossible? Would you try it?

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Food, Giveaway Junkie, Wipe the Drool

Birthday Bacon Bash Giveaway!

Today I’m celebrating the fact that, despite all signs pointing to an early Death by Pork, I’ve officially lived to see 32 29.

Not for lack of trying, mind you.
Not for lack of trying, mind you.

I just returned to New Jersey after attending the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever witnessed:

Baconfest-bag

That’s right. Baconfest Chicago 2014. On April 26, hundreds of like-minded souls gathered to pay tribute to the almighty bacon gods.

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The Midwest air outside was as crisp as the bacon that awaited us. You could smell it from blocks away. Everyone was in high spirits as they entered the UIC Forum. Speaking of spirits – your admission included 7 drink tickets! Seven! Yes. I truly was among my people.

My BaconFest partner-in-binge-eating prefers to remain anonymous. I think you can see why.
My BaconFest partner-in-binge-eating prefers to remain anonymous. I think you can see why.

Once inside, I had no idea where to start, so I got in line at the first station and just worked my way around. (In case you’re wondering, yes, my jeans and I did eventually regret this plan.)

Bacon wonderland
Bacon wonderland

Halfway through my trek, I saw Carriage House was serving Bacon Crispie Treats: Fried pork rinds (yeah, you heard me) in place of rice crispies, bacon marshmallow, and bourbon bacon caramel glaze, served with a side of bacon chocolate milk for dipping.

They looked a lot like this (okay, you seriously expected me to stop eating long enough to take my own pictures?). Photo credit: http://nutmegnotebook.com/
They looked a lot like this (okay, you seriously expected me to stop eating long enough to take my own pictures?). Photo credit: http://nutmegnotebook.com/

When I went to pick up a little square treat from the oh-so-tempting tray, 5 came along with it. I glanced up sheepishly, and the guy manning the table said,

“Take them all! There are no rules at BaconFest!”

And he was right. It was succulent lawlessness at every turn, dozens of people elbowing their way towards things like this:

BaconFest-bloody-mary
Holy mother of bloody bacon Marys.

Another highlight was Pigs in Mud from Farmhouse: A cup of rich, chocolate bacon custard, crispy bacon soil, topped with a sugar-coated gummy pig. This adorable concoction even earned them the “Most Creative Use of Bacon” prize.

Photo credit: http://baconfestchicago.com/
Photo credit: http://baconfestchicago.com/

The top 2 winners in my book?

1) Bacon balls courtesy of Mark Hemmer from Bridge House Tavern: A rich yet delicate blend of Nueske’s bacon, veal and foie gras with a Luxardo cherry in the middle, served with a cherry maple glaze over apple-jicama slaw.

(I scarfed this too quickly to get a picture.)

2) The BSLT courtesy of chef Andre Christopher from Bistro Dre: Bacon crusted salmon sashimi with bacon tempura crunch, bacon mayo, bacon ponzu, micro lettuce, baby tomatoes and caramelized bacon red onions.

The line in front of the Bistro Dre stand proved I wasn’t the only one loving this creation.

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The delicate raw salmon and greens snuck into BaconFest thanks to the tempura flakes and bacon mayo.
The tender raw salmon and light greens snuck into BaconFest thanks to tempura flakes and bacon mayo.

I’d suffer bacon-less nightmares if I didn’t include a couple of honorary mentions:

1) Bacon Infused Scotch Egg from The Gage – bacon yolk, bacon bread crumbs, with smoked pork belly, petite greens with bacon vinaigrette, smoky-bacony kimchi broth:

Photo credit: http://www.nutritionunplugged.com
Photo credit: http://www.nutritionunplugged.com

2) Bacon Wrapped Dates from the Municipal Bar & Dining Co – jumbo date stuffed with brie cheese wrapped in applewood smoked bacon:

baocn-dates
Photo credit: http://erith1.files.wordpress.com/

My only regret? I somehow managed to wind up with a leftover drink ticket.

I've never been more ashamed.
I’ve never been more ashamed.

What other food would you like to see celebrated, festival-style? Leave a comment by 12pm midnight EST on Sunday, May 4, 2014, and I’ll randomly pick a winner to receive a Vosges Mo’s milk chocolate bacon bar!

Tasting is believing.
Tasting is believing.

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Food, Wipe the Drool

I Did It.

I hit my goal weight!

I FOUND THE WORLD’S BEST BACON.

This isn't it.
This isn’t it.

During recent travels, I stumbled across a fun little bar and restaurant in Seattle called The 5 Point Café. (No, they’re not paying me to mention this. Though if they were, I’d ask for compensation exclusively in pig.) They opened in 1929 and own the bragging rights of “the longest run family eatery in Seattle and oldest bar still in existence in Belltown.”

Seattle_-_Five_Point_Cafe_01

I did not know this when I entered.

All I went equipped with was the recommendation of my hotel concierge:

ME: Any good spots nearby for breakfast?

CONCIERGE: Well 5 Point has sort of your typical diner breakfast, and they’re just up the block. Everyone has tattoos.

ME (to self): Gee, I’m sure you mentioned that last bit knowing I’ll fit right in.

Why didn’t anyone warn me they don’t wear colors in the Pacific Northwest?
Seriously. Why didn’t anyone warn me they don’t wear colors in the Pacific Northwest? (Photo taken in front of de wonderbaar Auld Holland Inn in Oak Harbor, WA.)

The idea of an omelet and mimosa was too much temptation to resist for this Jersey native, so I zipped up my bright red raincoat and trekked around the corner to find an unassuming café with a large U-shaped bar and seating on either side.

5-pt-cafe-interior

I was told I could sit anywhere, and because it was a quiet Wednesday morning, decided to hog (pun SO intended) a booth. When the coffee came, I closed my eyes and smiled. Ah, Seattle. Thank you. Thank you for getting it. I may wear neon, but I like my coffee black, and jet fuel strong.

I took an uncharacteristically long time to order, because everything on the menu sounded so good. I was craving avocado, so finally went with the California eggs benedict. At the last minute, I said, “Can I get a side of bacon, too, please?” It was $4 for 4 strips. I couldn’t decide if this was a bargain or a rip-off, so reserved judgment.

When my plate came, I was overwhelmed. In the best way. There were two poached eggs atop tomatoes and avocado, resting on dense english muffins. All of this was smothered in hollandaise sauce, alongside PERFECT hash browns: shredded, with a completely crunchy, crispy top. 

5-Pt-Cafe-CA-eggs-benedict
Good morning to ME.

But then.

Oh.

And then.

The afterthought side dish:

5-Pt-bacon-heaven

“Our famous bacon,” the waiter said, as he rested the magical plate to my left. Four strips of the thickest bacon I’d ever seen sat before me. Still, I was skeptical.  Was it too thick? Would it still be crispy?

I took a bite and… cue Meg Ryan-When-Harry-Met-Sally moment. It melted in my mouth. I took another bite. My life was forever changed. It was tender and fluffy, yet fatty and crispy. I saw the face of Leonardo DiCaprio wrapped in the voice of Justin Timberlake ensconced in the body of Channing Tatum.

Their website makes it sound like they might marinate it. Maybe it was deep fried. I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t even know what I did on the rest of that trip. All I know is I’m going back.

For bacon.

5-pt-bacon-2

What’s the most decadent thing you’ve ever eaten?

P.S. – I’m actually headed to BaconFest 2014 in Chicago next month and will let you know if I find anything that can top this. Anyone else going?!

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Blogging, dumb blonde, Food, PSAs

Maine: Best Worst Trip Ever

Last week, Rachel’s Table and I headed north to Freeport, Maine to visit Darla from She’s A Maineiac. I guess we were kind of excited.

Maine-Trip-Jan2014-yay

We were originally going to go Friday-Sunday, but decided to leave on Thursday afternoon so we’d have a full day with Darla while her two adorable kiddos were in school.

Without traffic, it’s a 6 hour drive from New Jersey.

We took Rachel’s car, agreeing to split the driving time. Did I mention her car is new? And if there’s a pothole, I’ll hit it?

Somewhere between New York and Connecticut, we (and by we I mean me) hit 37 potholes. And I’m not talking little divots in the pavement.

crater
Good job on 15 North, guys. Really. It’s impressive.

On Rachel’s high-tech dashboard, we watched the air pressure in the driver’s side tire plummet.

Rache-tire-pressure-dashboard-Maine

By the time we reached Boxborough, Massachusetts, we had a flat. Rachel pulled over while I surreptitiously checked her fuel tank. Plenty to keep the car running and heated for at least an hour or two. Whew.

“I don’t know how to change a tire. Do you?” she asked with a laugh.

“I’m from New Jersey. I don’t even know how to pump my own gas,” I replied. “But I just renewed my AAA membership!”

Maine-trip-AAA

In under 30 minutes, a tow truck arrived. The driver got the spare out of the trunk and started rooting around while Rachel and I bounced up and down trying to keep warm.

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Rache “spares” a smile for this photo. *groan*

“I can’t find the key,” he announced.

It took us much longer than it should have to understand that tires have unique “keys” to unscrew the lug nuts so no one steals them. The spare in your car is supposed to come equipped with its matching key.

the_more_you_know2

We tore apart the car, but alas, no key. Thanks, Toyota.

Eventually, he said our only option was to go to the nearby dealership and have them change the tire – when they opened. In the morning.

Oh, did I mention Rache had 20-inch fancy rims?

This detail becomes important later.
This detail becomes important later.

“I’m so sorry I broke your car!” I wailed for the first of many times.

After the tow truck driver unloaded the car at the dealership, he said he could drive us to the nearest hotel. Nevermind that we had two non-refundable rooms waiting for us a mere two hours away in Maine.

“Do you have anywhere for us to put our luggage?” we asked.

“Just your laps.”

Our essentials were scattered between six bags, not including my swinging 1970s, fully-loaded cooler, which took up half the back seat. I grabbed my laptop and two bottles of champagne. “Screw it,” I said to Rachel. “This is all I need.”

When we arrived at the hotel, Rachel explained our predicament to the front desk. The man at the counter replied deliberately, “You have a coupon, riiight?” He nodded slowly.

“Um…yeeees,” Rachel said, catching on.

When we saw the receipt: 50% off! What’s more, our room overlooked a funky indoor pool, white lights and palm trees (you go on with your bad self, Holiday Inn), so we opened the balcony sliders, and more importantly, the champagne, and toasted to the kindness of strangers.

Holiday-inn-balcony-view-Maine

Maine-champagne-Jan-2014

Rachel called the dealership at 8am the next morning, and they finally got back to us with the verdict two hours later.

“It’s not just a flat. Your rim is damaged beyond repair.”

“Of course it is,” Rachel replied.

“And since you have 20-inch ones, we’d have to custom order a replacement. It wouldn’t be here until Monday.”

“So…my only options are to wait until Monday…or get 4 new 18-inch rims and tires?”

“Correct. And it’d probably cost the same either way.”

She covered the mouthpiece. “I knew. I knew when we got that car with those friggin’ rims…” She spoke into the receiver, “I guess I’ll have to get four new tires and rims, then. How long will that take? …Okay.”

“I’m so sorry!” I cried.

“Jules, it’s not your fault. I hit them, too,” Rachel reassured me, gracious as ever. (It was totally my fault.)

Turns out they had to order the ‘regular’ rims from a nearby dealer and couldn’t start work until 1pm.

They gave us a complimentary rental car, and we killed time at a local diner.

“There’s no lobster on this f&*&#% menu.”
"I haven't showered in 24 hours!"
“I’ve been in these clothes for 27 hours!”

At 3pm, they gave us the good news: “Almost done.”

At 4pm: “We just realized we have to put all of the tire censors back on. It’s going to be another hour.”

5pm: “Okay, just finishing the paperwork.”

5:02pm: “Our computers just froze.”

5:30pm: “Let me give you the damaged tire and rim. Oh, wait, it’s filthy, we need a bag. Hang on.”

5:35pm: “We can’t find any more bags.”

5:45pm: Finally, FINALLY on our way. “Good thing we left Thursday night.”

7:00pm: Reach Maine.

7:30pm: Darla texted. “I can’t get out of my driveway. It’s a sheet of ice.”

That’s right. At last we were in Maine, 24 hours behind schedule, and NO DARLA.

But there was lobster. Lots and lots of lobster.

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These were called “Lobsicles.” Heh.

Saturday morning, another text from Darla: “I still can’t get out!!”

So Rachel and I shuffled around the icy streets of Freeport alone, waiting for the temperature to climb above freezing.

At one point, it was so slippery, a gift shop owner reached out a hand while holding the door, towing us inside. Later, when we peered longingly into Freeport Chowder House, the man inside waved us in.

“Are you open?” we asked.

“Not for two hours, but I never turn down customers,” he replied. “I don’t have the fryer going yet, but what do you want? Lobster roll?”

Rachel and I looked at each other. “YES.”

Breakfast of champions bloggers.
Breakfast of champions bloggers.

It was noon on Saturday before we saw Darla, but she was worth the wait.

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The sun even came out…just in time for us to drive home.
Bartending for Rache and Darla from my favorite possession: My parents' 1970s cooler. Dude. It keeps ice frozen for THREE days. IN THE SUMMER.
The (in)famous swinging 1970s cooler, a.k.a. my favorite possession. It keeps ice frozen for THREE days. IN THE SUMMER.

Despite the many snafus, this li’l trip north had so many heart-warming moments, I wouldn’t trade it for anything would totally trade it for another 10am lobster roll.

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And they say chivalry is dead.

P.S. – I even learned how to pump my own gas!

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Since the word count on this post is already as atrocious as the potholes on Route 15, I hope you’ll head over to Rachel’s Table and She’s A Maineiac to read more about our adventures!

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Have you ever had any vacations that didn’t go, ah, according to plan?

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