Thursday, November 10, 2016

Life goes on

I violated one of my personal rules yesterday. I shopped at Walmart, aka The Evil Empire. We needed some cup hooks and a couple other nonfood items that Dollar General didn't have when we walked over there the other day. Dollar General is maybe two blocks walking distance from the Guppy.

Walmart is also walking distance, the equivalent of maybe 4 blocks away, but we decided to drive. I'm not sure that was a good idea. One of the drawbacks to the Guppy is it has a typical RV refrigerator. It's about the same size as the ones you find in motels that stand about waist high and have a freezer big enough to hold one ice cube tray if you put it in sideways. In the Guppy's case, the freezer is actually a decent size, but even so cold food storage space in general is rather limited. I came really close to buying more stuff that required refrigeration than the 'fridge would have held if I hadn't caught myself. Given the general lack of storage space in the Guppy, I think I may revert to behaving as though I'm walking whenever I shop. I learned years ago that the trick to not buying too much when you're on foot is to either use one of those small baskets you carry or to just put stuff in the child seat area on a shopping cart. When either one is full, you're done. Unless, of course, you have one of those little personal shopping carts. I had one in Atlanta that I used when taking the bus to Kroger; the trick then was to use my own cart in the store so I'd never exceed its capacity.

I normally do not shop at Walmart. Ever. Way too many of their corporate policies have been detrimental to the American economy. People complain about outsourcing, jobs going overseas, and then cheerfully shop at Walmart for the low prices. But you know why many of the jobs went overseas? Pressure from Walmart on vendors to provide goods cheaper. At one time they were bragging about all the stuff they sold that was "Made in the USA." They had to stop doing that a long time ago because they got nailed for false advertising.

They're also notorious for screwing over their employees, e.g., bragging about a health plan that's actually pretty good but does require a minimum of 30 hours of work per week to qualify for. Most employees end up scheduled so they never meet that 30 hour requirement. And when workers ask for more hours because they need to make more money what do Walmart managers tell them? They give them information on how to apply for Food Stamps and Medicaid. Walmart is the country's biggest welfare queen. They keep wages low and expect the rest of us to prevent their workers from ending up homeless and malnourished.

I will concede Walmart as a corporation has done some good, innovative stuff. You know why juice bottles, margerine tubs, and other food containers have lost or are losing their round shapes? Walmart pushed for it. Square or rectangular containers don't waste shelf space. Remember when deodorant and other toiletries came with a lot of cardboard packaging? Walmart pushed for getting rid of it because it ate up shelf space. Quite a few Walmarts have solar panels on their roofs and LED lighting in the stores -- they figured out a long time ago that going green could save them money. They have an amazing Just-in-Time centralized inventory system that set a standard for retail everywhere. But I digress.

We shopped at Walmart. Once again I was struck by just how huge those Super Center stores are. The one here in Safford even has benches placed in random locations around the store, maybe so the retirees that flock here in the winter have a place to collapse and catch their breath before continuing the trek from the hardware (light bulbs, cup hooks, etc.) side of the store over to the grocery section. After you've been walking for what feels like a couple miles, you start thinking that maybe next time you should arrange for a guide and a couple Sherpas to carry your gear.

Anyway, we eventually made it from the cup hooks (the extreme southern end of the store) to the food stuffs (the north end) without even having to pause at one of the rest stops. (The S.O. said he could understand the benches by the changing rooms in the clothing section; they give husbands a place to sit and nap while wives are trying on clothes, but the others baffled him.) The Kid has been complaining that food prices here in Arizona seem high compared with Missouri, but I don't know. The prices at the House of Satan struck me as much, much better than what I was used to spending at Larry's in Baraga. Then again, it was Walmart. Maybe the other nicer markets like Safeway and Basha's run higher, something I'll learn soon enough.

I did find one thing at Walmart that was for sure made in USA: gulf shrimp. I've been wanting to make shrimp and grits for ages but could not find any frozen shrimp in the UP that did not come from southeast Asia. I have absolutely no desire to ever eat shrimp that came from a fish farm in Vietnam, or, for that matter fish or shellfish of any kind that has China as a country of origin. As for why frozen instead of fresh, I think the answer is obvious when the closest ocean is over 1,000 miles away.

Shrimp and grits, incidentally, is one of the few things I can thank the state of Georgia for. Never had them before we moved to Atlanta but then discovered (a) I like them and (b) it's a really easy dish to make. Here's the recipe I use:

Smoky Shrimp & Grits

1 cup grits
2 oz. chorizo, thinly sliced, or an equivalent amount of bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
1 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional, obviously)

Cook the grits according to the package directions. (I prefer using the old-fashioned slow-cooked ones, but instant would work if you want to save a few minutes.)

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage or bacon and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, Add to the skillet, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and toss to combine. Spoon the shrimp and tomato mixture over the grits and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

The recipe came from a Woman's Day Month of Menus, a feature the magazine discontined last year and the reason I'll probably never buy a Woman's Day magazine again. Ever. But that's a subject for a different post. 


  1. Lots of dollar stores here but I seldom go into one.

  2. I get local catfish and usa shrimp..never buy any fish other than that because they either come from china or thanks.

  3. I love fried catfish, the one thing I miss up here in Maine.
    the Ol'Buzzard


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