Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: the rosy wanderer (Page 2 of 2)

#tbt – Oklahoma City

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted! I wasn’t well last week, and this week completely got away from me. I’m excited to conclude my three day jaunt to middle America with you today. Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 7.16.47 AMFrom my start in Kansas City to Omaha and Abilene, I finished my trip in Oklahoma City. I didn’t do much research for this stop at all. Several people that I met on my journeys mentioned that the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial was one of the best executed memorials, so that was on the agenda, but not much else. My brother drove up from his home in Austin to meet me, so at the least, I would get to see him. I figured it was a big city, there should be something to do. I was pleasantly surprised.

It was a good ride from Abilene to Oklahoma City. The rolling hills of Kansas started to flatten and get dry. Then I saw something weird in the distance, but I couldn’t quite make it out. Then, it hit me. I think that’s an oil pump! IMG_2809I had never seen one in real life, and it made me excited! There were many of these throughout the rest of my drive into Oklahoma, and I continued to see them on my other trips out West. I didn’t even think to research the rise of oil and oil tycoons. One sign mentioned there were mansions for oil tycoons that you could visit as historical sites. That has done so much to affect their economy and culture, I bet it would have been really cool to see.

Once I got to OKC, I met my brother at our hotel downtown and we went to the state capitol. I love to visit state capitols when I have a chance. To think that is the center of the state’s government and all of the things that happen there. Funny enough, I still haven’t been to the North Carolina capitol, and I lived in Raleigh for almost 6 years. The curse of not visiting your hometown…this will change in the future. Oklahoma’s capitol was very impressive. Since it was a weekend, we weren’t able to go inside or take a tour, but we did get a good luck of the outside of the building. We had an absolutely PERFECT fall day. There were Carolina blue skies way out there in OK!IMG_2815

After visiting the capitol, we decided to explore the city. There was an Ohio State football game on, so my brother found a local OSU bar so we could watch. Following that, we walked around and “discovered” this fantastic riverwalk area of the city. I believe it was relatively new, but it was a great find! The area around it is called Bricktown. I can’t believe that wasn’t one of the first areas mentioned in sites where I researched. Since I have visited, I see it more, but for whatever reason it wasn’t readily apparent to me. Basically, a small, man-made river (creek?) was created through the city, and it was lined with bars and restaurants. It doesn’t go anywhere; it just is in the city. I believe they fill it up manually when it gets low. IMG_2823 IMG_2821OKC has done a lot of revitalization efforts over the past few decades. One of my favorite podcasts is Travel with Rick Steves, and I heard an interview about OKC many months ago. I think it’s wonderful to see these improvements! They have done an amazing job making OKC what it is, and it now rivals Tulsa in offerings and coolness. After dinner and drinks, we went to bed.

The next morning we each needed to leave early to get home, but we took a morning walk to the other side of the city where the memorial is. OKC is very walkable. The city has a hip and shiny part of the city and an older part with sandstone colored exteriors. The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial was as well done as people say it is. The memorial was created to remember the 168 people who were killed in 1995. I remember this happening as a kid. We planted a dogwood tree in our backyard, which President Clinton suggested families do as a memorial. The whole scene was still, somber, and peaceful. I think the pictures tell the rest, but I would highly recommend a visit.

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Oklahoma City isn’t somewhere most people think about visiting, but I think it should be. I believe there is a lot more to explore in the city and the surrounding area. Whether it is native Americans, ranching, or oil, that area has a rich history that we are not usually exposed to if you’re from either coast.

Overall, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma may not be as sexy as dog sledding in Alaska, partying on South Beach, or eating lobster in Maine, but it was a huge treat and provided more appreciation for this great country. Flyover states have their own unique charms and are home to millions of Americans. Even though it was hard to recruit someone to meet me, I suggest you have an open mind if you’re present with an opportunity to visit. Happy wanderings!

#tbt The Unexpectedly Neat City – Omaha, NE

In my quest to visit all 50 states, I researched interesting places and (a lot of times) had to narrow down which area or city I wanted to visit in each state. Other states were harder, and I couldn’t convince anyone to travel with me. As any American can probably imagine, many of these states were in the middle of the US. Therefore, I grouped three states together for one long-weekend road trip – Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. These three are probably not on your travel list, but I can hopefully persuade you to consider otherwise. Today, we’ll focus on Nebraska.

Omaha is located on the Nebraska/Iowa border and is about a 2.5 hour drive from Kansas City. For my trip, I flew in and out of Kansas City for financial reasons. During my 50-state exploration, I didn’t mind driving distances. You can actually fly into Omaha to save time. Omaha is a growing and expanding city. There is a Western uniqueness that they are trying to keep, but the downtown area is being revitalized. This is the home of Warren Buffett, many major companies, and the College World Series for baseball.

I love zoos and animals. When I travel, I really like to visit zoos. Maybe some of it is because I grew up in Columbus, OH, and that is one of the best zoos in the country (I mean, it’s Jack Hanna!). When I asked people about Omaha, the zoo was highly recommended by everyone. It was absolutely as cool as they said it would be. When you walk in, you see the “Desert Dome.” This is the focal point of the zoo and allows them to keep warm-climate animals during the winter. Upstairs (as the picture shows), it is bright, warm, and expansive. Downstairs, the exhibits are set for nocturnal animals. None of my pictures turned out well (no flashes allowed). You can only take my word for how close to an American Beaver I was! It was a bit nerve racking!

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There is also a Prairie Dog row at the zoo. This was my first time seeing a Prairie Dog in real life – I became obsessed! Luckily, I saw them many times on my other western trips. If you’re around them a lot, I hear they are pests. I don’t understand because they are so cute. I love how they stand up to bark! This little guy actually touched my shoe!

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After a long day at the zoo, I set in to go downtown. I love cities, eating at good restaurants and having a drink. When I got there, it was too early for dinner, so I got a manicure at a local spa. It was a locally-owned establishment right in the heart of downtown. The technician gave me a lot of insight about the city and mentioned there was a new pedestrian bridge that will take you to Iowa. What?! If you know me, this is COMPLETELY the type of activity that makes me excited. I could walk to Iowa. Yes, I think I shall.

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The beautiful pedestrian bridge. This is near where Lewis and Clark cross the Missouri River.

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I made it. Two states at the same time!

I love taking walks and the views of the Missouri were beautiful. It’s really interesting to think about explorers first coming to the area, then to think about what it was like at the turn of the century. Nebraska is well-known for its stock yards and cattle ranches. They aren’t there today, but that’s where it was founded. I don’t eat beef, but I felt like I should have a steak for dinner. I’ll pretend that I did and tell you it was devious (in reality, I had fish. Not what you should think of in Nebraska).

After my walk I went to Berry & Rye, a mixology-type bar. I was so impressed with the drinks here. They are all handcrafted drinks, where they worry about everything from the ingredients to the ice! Highly recommended. Unfortunately, I could only have one since they were quite strong and my rule is to avoid drinking when I travel alone.

For dinner, I went around the corner to Jackson St. Tavern, where they had live music and great food. Right in the heart of downtown near the riverwalk, it was a prime location. (The steak was delicious! haha). After dinner, I came out and the whole city was alive! It was the perfect temperature, and everyone was out. From young professionals to families, there was something for everyone. Street musicians were playing and merchants were out selling. I had to turn in, but I would have loved to stay out and explore some more. Hopefully on my next trip! I had an early morning to start my next trip to Abilene, KS…

Home Chef – A World of Choices

I’ve really enjoyed receiving and trying meal subscription boxes. Going to the grocery store is overwhelming and trying to pick a meal in addition to the shopping…well, it’s just a bit much for me. Next, it was time for me to try Home Chef. Home Chef is intriguing because there was a much larger selection of meals (9 compared to 5 or 6 in other boxes). The minimum number of meals you can order is 3 meals for 2 people, but you can order up to 5 choices each week (first time I’ve seen this). There is also an option for fruit and dessert add ons. Because of their marketing deal, I actually did two boxes ($20 off the first box, $10 off the second)…then did a third for fun.IMG_1037

THE PACKAGING

Home Chef sends all of the food in an insulated box. Each meal comes in its own bag, with the protein packaged separately. It is very important to store the chicken on a plate in your fridge! Mine leaked in the fridge which caused quite a problem and took a while to clean.

In your first box, you will receive a binder so you can make your own cookbook of Home Chef recipes. I thought that was a clever idea. I have accumulated quite a few recipe cards, soIMG_1036 this was perfect to store all of them together. The ones from Home Chef come pre-punched, as well. Just add it and go. I decided I really like when the ingredients for each meal are packaged together.
It makes it easier to cook when you’re ready, and you don’t have to worry about losing something. The produce was relatively fresh. It wasn’t what I would have picked out in the store, but it was okay and it lasted for several days.

 

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I love meals that start with a lot of color – especially PIZZA!

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This is how Home Chef packages their meals. Almost everything is in a bag with a recipe label. Larger ingredients and protein are separate.

THE MEALS

Between my three boxes, I had a total of 9 meals. Since I don’t eat much meat, most of these meals were from their vegetarian list, which were all quite good. I didn’t have a single meal that didn’t turn out well or that I thought didn’t taste right. Best of all, you can make all of these items at home. (Pictures are in order of the bullets below)

  • One Skillet Lemon Orzo Risotto with Asparagus
  • Margherita Chicken Breast with Parmesan-cauliflower fritters
  • Old-School Baked Ziti
  • Neapolitan Pizza Margherita with fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic dressed arugula
  • Breakfast for Dinner: Mini Artichoke and Mozzarella Quiches
  • Linguine Carciofi with artichokes, pecorino cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Chicken Scaloppine with Mustard Cream Sauce
  • Pine Nut & Goat Chees Bucatini Alfredo
  • Chicken and Garlic Peanut Sauce

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Instead of boring you with all of the details of each dish, I’ll give you my highlights.

  • Chicken with Garlic Peanut Sauce was delicious and something I think I will make all of the time. It was easy and so good. The sauce is just 2.3 oz of peanut butter, 1 TBSP. rice vinegar, 4 TBSP. of water, and 1 TBSP. soy sauce whisked together. You can put this on chicken, rice, broccoli, and viola! Yumminess. It also recommends 1TBSP. of Chili Garlic Sauce, but I didn’t use it because I don’t like spicy food.
  • The spinach salad from the quiche dish was also easy and healthy. Basically, you put 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat on the stove and add shallots and grape tomatoes. You cook them for 4 minutes. During that time the shallots will caramelize and the tomatoes “blister” and start to burst. Season with a little salt and pepper, then throw into a bowl with the spinach. Once you mix it around, it will start to wilt a little bit. That’s your dressing.
  • The entire meal for Margherita Chicken Breast with Parmesan-cauliflower fritters was delicious. I had never cooked cauliflower before, but it was easy (big theme with me!) and quite good. They also warmed up well for leftovers.

I did learn about one new food in my first box. Sweety drop peppers. Had never heard of them before, but they were quite interesting…

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THE RECOMMENDATION

Home Chef seems to be the most “normal” option. Because you have so many more options to choose from, it seems like it could be your best choice for a weekly service (if you’re a picky eater, like me). What I don’t like about it is I would choose these recipes from a cookbook. Nothing about these meals was unusual or made me get out of my comfort zone. That is what I’ve liked about some of the other boxes – I have tried food and flavors I normally would not have tried. Even though their price is more affordable, I think you could buy ingredients for some of these meals chapter than $10/meal since the dishes are so simple.

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