Ohayo, Ohio

24 Feb

 I have lived in Toledo for almost six months, which I believe is sufficient time to say with confidence that I do not prefer Ohio. Realizing that this preference, or lack thereof, is potentially a character flaw, I am making note of the greater Toledo area’s best features. Perhaps this exercise in optimism will add a bit of cheer to these cold winter months for others suffering from living, unwillingly, in Ohio, or in a similar place. Oh, and in addition to Toledo’s perks, let’s not forget that no Republican president has ever been elected without first winning the most important swing state, Ohio! But back to my particular neck of the woods, and its advantages:

no-country-for-old-men

No Country for Old Men

The NRA gets a lot of love here. Shooting ranges and personal arsenals abound. I’m not a gun enthusiast, but after listening to an NPR interview of Suzanna Hupp in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I am persuaded that the right to own a gun should not be taken lightly, and I’m glad it’s being upheld roundabouts here. In the interview, Hupp described her experience in the 1991 Luby’s Massacre, during which a gunman shot 50 people and killed 23, two of whom were Hupp’s parents, at Lubby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX. Hupp was in the habit of carrying a gun, but had not brought it with her into the restaurant because it was against Texas’ concealed weapons laws to do so. During the interview, Hupp expressed her thought that if someone had been carrying a gun during the shooting, the gunman would have been halted in his mass slaughter much sooner. If you’re still not gun-ho (pun intended!), watch No Country for Old Men and try to resist the desire, post-movie, to fire a rifle.

Meijer is the crown jewel of grocery stores. In its entirety, Meijer is actually a department store akin to Walmart. But, in my opinion, it is far superior. The few times I’ve ventured solo to Walmart, I’ve felt as small and helpless as the ants in Dreamworks’ 1998 film Antz must have felt, stumbling along in the wrong aisle with no clue where the few basic items I wanted were to be found. In contrast, Meijer is not quite as vast as Walmart, and is much more comprehensibly laid out. Groceries are cheap and attractively displayed throughout well-berthed aisles. There are plenty of self-checkout lines, too, with no item limit. I am convinced that I can check out my groceries faster than can a store clerk, so even if I have an entire cart of produce requiring keying in of tedious barcodes, I’m self checkin’.

You can shake hands with a farmer. Since middle school, I’ve romanticized the concept of spending several months at a farm. In particular, I have a picture in my head of me wearing an adorable summer dress and big, black rubber boots, whilst milking a cow, and maybe whistling, too. The idea of being a farmer, temporarily, and in a very unrealistic manner, appeals to me. Which is why I was pretty ecstatic when I met a farmer after only my second week in Toledo. At a bar, too, of all places. I asked him so many questions about his experience as a farmer – butchering animals, etc. – that I think he mistook my interest in agriculture for interest in him, hehe.

Speaking of bars, it is entirely too easy to obtain alcohol in this state! Maybe Pennsylvania is particularly stingy with its merrier beverages, but I’m accustomed to alcohol not being sold in grocery stores. In Ohio, though, I’m pretty sure if beer was not easily accessed the suicide rate would skyrocket and social events would become funereal in nature…

stack library booksOn a brainier note, the top two library systems are close by, in Cuyahoga and Columbus, OH. According to Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings, these two library systems ranked numbers one and two out of more than 7,000 library systems nationwide. If I had kids, we’d definitely be taking a field trip to Cuyahoga to investigate their children’s books. I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t have fantastic illustrations at the numero uno library.

And finally, there’s nothing to do. Which means it’s quiet. Which means it’s more difficult to become distracted. Which means I can focus on cooking, hence an explosion of recipe ideas, which begins now, with…

PITA PIZZA TOPPED WITH VEGGIES (Servings: 1)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole wheat pita

1-1/2 sticks of low-fat mozzarella string cheese

2 Tbs. fat-free feta cheese

6-8 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced

¼ to ½ cup raw broccoli, chopped

2-3 mushrooms, thinly sliced

Spices: garlic salt; chili powder; onion powder; Italian seasoning

Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the string cheese into small pieces. Layer string cheese, feta cheese, tomatoes, and broccoli on top of pita. Sprinkle generously with spices and S&P. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min.

CALORIES: 300

The pizza tastes even more delicious dipped in ranch dressing. (I like Kraft’s light, cheesy ranch, which is 70 cal/2 Tbs.) You can top the pita with other veggies depending on what you have on-hand. Onions, spinach, peppers, maybe even asparagus could work. I find the broccoli delicious. Veggie tweak, please!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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2 Responses to “Ohayo, Ohio”

  1. Sophie Wirt February 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    This is all too true; thanks for the resonating humor! Furthermore, the recipe looks delicious; i’ll have to try it soon 🙂

    • Heather Dolan February 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      You’re quite welcome! I hope I wasn’t too hard on Toledo – it’s really not bad at all. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the recipe, if you try it. 🙂

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