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First Heineken challenged one man to travel through Asia with only a backpack of beer. Now, Oscar Mayer is jumping on the food-as-currency bandwagon.
Comedian Josh Sankey has been selected by Oscar Mayer to travel to 12 American cities on a two-week road trip using only bacon as his form of currency. Yes, bacon.
Oscar Mayer is providing Sankey with roughly 3,000 pounds of the company’s new Butcher Thick Cut Bacon in place of cash, credit, and debit cards. He will be using the bacon to barter for travel necessities, such as food and hospitality.
Sankey’s journey began Sept. 7 and will end Sept. 23. So far, he has traveled to New York City, East Rutherford, N.J., Hagerstown, Md., Charleston, W.Va., Lesage, W.Va., and Louisville, Ky. Along the way, a variety of things have been bartered, such as homemade wine and moonshine, gas money, jumper cables, Jets football tickets, and even a night on a couch.
During Sankey's road trip, which began in New York, he will be stopping in Chicago Sept. 15 and 16 and Las Vegas on Sept. 22 on the way to his final destination: Los Angeles.
Sankey is posting the places he’s stopped as well as what he has bartered on BaconBarter.com.
Diehard bacon lovers out there: what would you barter in exchange for free bacon?
Tayler Stein is a Junior Writer at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @TaylerSteinTDM.
Epic Canada Road Trip Driving Across Country in 6 Days
Who wants to spend 50 hours driving across Canada in one week? In August I did just that. I drove 50 hours from Calgary Alberta to Bridgewater Nova Scotia in only 6 days. Solo. I know, I could fly there so much faster. But then I wouldn’t have my car. And my stuff. And the adventure of a cross Canada road trip on my own!
It was a great experience to drive those 3,100 miles (5,000 km) from Southern Alberta to the South Shore region of Nova Scotia all by myself. Alberta – Saskatchewan – Manitoba – Ontario – Quebec – New Brunswick – Nova Scotia. I drove through 7 provinces in six days.
Bright red skeleton of the Peace Bridge which connects pedestrians to downtown Calgary
This road trip happened in mid-August and weather conditions cooperated with my travel plans. I would not attempt driving from Calgary to Nova Scotia in the winter.
I’m strictly a fair weather solo road tripper.
My longest road trip in Canada until this big cross Canada driving experience started in Vancouver, included stops in Armstrong BC, Lake Louise, Banff, and ended in Calgary.
If you are driving across Canada from Vancouver then I would recommend stops in the Okanagan Valley for the wineries and wonderful fruit orchards. Also make time for at least a couple of these national parks:
- Mount Revelstoke National Park in BC
- Glacier National Park in BC
- Yoho National Park in BC – check out Emerald Lake and Kicking Horse River plus a beautiful and easy hike to the amazing Wapta Falls and check out Takakkaw Falls too! Golden BC is an excellent place to stay while exploring the national parks.
- Kootenay National Park in BC – Amazing hiking, kayaking, and fishing in Jasper. Drive the Icefields Parkway highway from Banff to Jasper – one of the most beautiful drives in the world!
- Banff National Park – Camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and wildlife viewing
Goslings galore feeding at Prince’s Island Park in downtown Calgary
My previous longest road trip I drove over 2,500 miles (4,025 km) from Lafayette LA to Calgary AB including stops in Yellowstone NP in Wyoming (read my guide to planning a trip to Yellowstone) and Glacier National Park in Montana.
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Guy's Grocery Games
Sixteen of the best DDD chefs are competing in Flavortown for another epic Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament. Four chefs kick things off by making a belly-busting lunch despite the express lane's seven item limit. Next, making surf and turf is tough when the Food Wheel hands them a high-priced turf item and a low-priced surf item. Finally, the last two DDD chefs must take their taste buds on a road trip to determine which regional version of burgers and fries they'll be whipping up.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament 2: Part 4
Four more DDD chefs compete to earn up to $20,000 plus the last spot in the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament finale by making classic diner meals. First, the chefs must create a lunch counter special using only ingredients that start with a specific letter of the alphabet. Next, they must make a deluxe diner dinner on a not-so-deluxe budget. Finally, Guy takes the last two chefs on a culinary road trip to determine which regional take on a chicken entree they must make.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament 2: Part 3
The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament continues as four more DDD chefs try to win a Flavortown shopping spree and a spot in the finale. Making a hot sandwich sounds easy until the chefs find out that one of the key ingredients is out of stock! Next, preparing a seafood special becomes hard when the chefs roll dice that limit their shopping options. Finally, Guy Fieri takes the last two DDD chefs on a mini road trip to decide what regional take on a pork dinner they'll be presenting.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament 2: Part 2
Four new DDD chefs must start by giving a new spin to the classic apple pie by flipping its ingredients into dinner. Next, the competitors serve up their version of sliders, featuring a surprise ingredient they select with shuffleboard pucks. Finally, Guy Fieri sends his remote-controlled convertible across a map of the USA to decide which regional version of a fried entree the last two chefs must dish up. The winning chef earns a shopping spree for up to $20,000 and a spot in the tournament finale.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament 2: Finale
For the finale, Guy Fieri takes the final four DDD chefs on an epic cross-country road trip by dividing Flavortown into the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. First, Guy turns the frozen section into a chilly New York scene, where chefs must thaw out ingredients for an East Coast high-end dinner. Next, the chefs must make an all-American dish by shopping the Midwest -- or at least the middle aisles of the store! The tournament ends with a huge twist as the last two chefs serve up a West Coast winner's dinner and battle it out the shot at an additional $20,000 and the DDD title.
Guy's Chocolate Games
Four chocolate masters compete to turn this rich treat into sweet and savory dishes that could earn one of them up to $20,000. First, they have to flip a German chocolate cake into the ultimate lunch. Next, the chefs play an arcade game to determine their personal budgets for a decadent chocolate dessert. In the final game, two chefs determine the not-so-sexy ingredients in their romantic chocolate dinner with the spin of a wheel of chance.
Four chefs attempt the impossible: creating a winning breakfast, lunch and dinner for four on a budget of only $60! First, they must prepare a lumberjack breakfast, aided only by a handful of coupons. Next, they must make a sandwich lunch and decide if they can afford a side. Finally, with less than $16 each, the final two chefs attempt to pull off an upscale dinner that will earn one of them up to $20,000!
Big Bacon Battle 2
It's GGG's second BBB: Big Bacon Battle. Four pork-loving chefs cook up sizzling bacon dishes that will land one of them in hog heaven with up to $20,000! First, they must make the ultimate bacon dish, despite a nine-item shopping limit. Then, chefs prepare an elevated bacon dish using the not so sweet items on Guy Fieri's mandatory grocery list. Finally, Guy uses refrigerator magnets to generate the name of their final bacon creation: smoky chocolate BBQ.
Standup comics team up with Food Network all-star mentors in hilarious grocery games to earn money for charity. First, the comedians must make a late night dinner using only the ingredients they can fit in a very small shopping bag. Next, the comedians are given a list of funny-sounding foods to turn into an impressive dinner for their agent. You won't believe which comic gets the last laugh!
Family Food Feud
Two families are going head-to-head in the market in the ultimate Family Food Feud, worth up to $20,000. First, one member of each family must prepare their best pork dish using a grocery list of the Fieri Family's Favorites Ingredients. Next, the men in the families face off in a seafood dinner showdown, hindered by a tuna sandwich-sized budget. Then, it's sweet versus savory as the final two members of each family must use only seven items to make their family favorite.
Supermarket Masters Tournament: Part 3
Four more GGG winners are ready to master the store in part three of the Supermarket Masters Tournament. First, they must make a steakhouse dinner, even though the meat and seafood sections of the market are unexpectedly closed. Next, they must make an upscale lunch that is almost upended by the budget and restrictions dictated by the Food Pyramid. Then, the chefs create very different winner's dinners when one chef shops the odd aisles and the other the even aisles. Finally, for the first time in GGG history, Guy Fieri calls a fourth round, making the last chefs whip up their best breakfast in only 15 minutes.
Supermarket Masters Tournament: Part 2
The Supermarket Masters Tournament continues as four more GGG winners compete for a guaranteed $10,000 and a shot at winning up to $25,000 more in the finale. First, the chefs have to serve up a plate of hometown comfort with only five pounds of ingredients. Next, the chefs make an elevated burger featuring strange sample table items. Then, the remaining two chefs must serve up a Mexican fiesta after shopping only in the aisles chosen in a game of bowling.
Supermarket Masters Tournament: Part 1
16 chefs who have mastered and won Guy's Grocery Games are back to compete in an epic five-week event: The Supermarket Masters Tournament. Four amazing GGG winners kick things off by making an upscale dinner that turns into an uphill battle when they discover the ingredients have to start with the same letter. Next, making a tricked-out pizza turns even trickier when Guy Fieri gives them a $12 budget. Then, the final two chefs have to serve up Asian takeout that includes high-priced and low-priced items chosen by a wheel of chance.
Supermarket Masters Tournament: Part 4
Four past GGG winners are vying for an instant $10,000 and the last spot in the Supermarket Masters Tournament finale. First, they must make a high-end, old-school dinner that includes the mish-mash of ingredients on Guy's Grocery List. Next, the chefs race against the clock to make a super sandwich and side in just 15 minutes. Then, the last two chefs pick wild cards to determine the international cuisine and comfort dish they must combine to make their finest fusion dish.
Supermarket Masters Tournament: Finale
The final four Supermarket Masters are ready to compete for the title of champion and the biggest shopping spree ever, worth up to $25,000. First, it's a dinner rush as the chefs get only 20 minutes to shop, cook and plate an Italian dish. Next, the chefs let a roll of the dice determine the components of their grilled seafood dinner. In the final round, the chefs have to shop for their ingredients for a "winner winner chicken dinner" using only a roasting pan, but that isn't even the biggest twist!
Know Your Restaurants
At this point I’ll assume that you won’t just be eating snacks for the entirety of your trip…You’ll also be swinging through establishments of consumption called “restaurants.”
Here’s the first rule of healthy road-tripping: If you’re getting food from a drive-through window, it’s probably not good for you. Instead, identify a few choice restaurants that you already know have healthy options, and plan your stops around those.
No smartphone? Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Aim for restaurants that allow you to maintain your style of eating.
Super late night driver? Try a Walmart! It’s usually safe, open 24-hours, and often has a food section that allows you to grab a rotisserie chicken and salad. On top of that, Walmarts are generally very close to the highway and a much safer stop if you’re road tripping solo than a gas station or truck stop.
Have time to swing a bit farther off the highway? Look into a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or other grocery stores. If it’s open, try out the hot food section, grab one of their Primal-approved meals, and enjoy!
What if your ONLY option is a crappy restaurant? Do the best you can. Generally the grilled chicken options tend to be the least awful and processed. On top of that, most fast food places are starting to offer salads, fruit, and other healthy options. The toughest part will be smelling all of the amazingly disgusting unhealthy foods inside the restaurant. Instead, go through the drive-through, pick the healthy options, and move on!
If you're the type of person who always forgets something important, this app may be worth the small investment. Packing Pro has recommended lists for all sorts of trips. Plus, save lists from previous itineraries.
If you're traveling in a group that likes to split up — or you have kids you're worried about losing — use Phöne Tracker to monitor where your travel companions are at all times. The app turns your iPhone into a GPS, visible to whomever you authorize.
The downside: Many reviewers say it eats up battery life quickly.
Hometown Heroes: The Best Regional Sandwich Chains That Should Go National
As soon as I plant my keister down on that northeast regional Amtrak headed from New York to Boston, my mind goes to one thing and one thing only. Food. We’ve all got our favorite hometown mini-chains for pizza, coffee, ice cream, and of course, sandwiches. Those secret little sandwich shops planted firmly in the “you wouldn’t know it but you gotta try it” category, that we’re simply dying to go national so we can stuff our faces no matter we are. Or would that totally ruin it? Either way, here are eight beloved regional sandwich chains to hit on that next cross country road trip!
Snarf’s Sandwiches (Denver, St. Louis, Austin)
In 1996, “Snarf” Jimmy Seidel opened the very first of his fast-growing sandwich chain in Boulder, Colorado, in what he then lovingly referred to as “The Shack.” Now, Snarf’s empire is more than 20 restaurants strong with locations in Colorado, St. Louis, and Austin, specializing in toasted sandwiches. Snarf’s focuses on classic combos with fresh ingredients and bread in a casual atmosphere. “It’s kind of like Potbellies, but better…somehow,” said one regular I spoke to.
Walt’s Roast Beef (Rhode Island)
Over its 55-year run, Walt’s has earned regional icon status in the smallest state in the U.S. Incorporated in 1957 in Cranston, RI and serving simple roast beef sandwiches, the company has since expanded to six locations, all in lil’ Rhody. With a famously small and focused menu, the self-declared “Roast Beef Specialists” have added a few other sammies to the menu, like pastrami, ham, and roasted turkey. But for my money, it’s all about the fresh, never frozen roast beef with mustard or mayo, and a side of some of the crispiest fries in the biz.
Cuisinart Griddle and Sandwich Press, $69.95 on Amazon
Want to start your own sandwich empire? You'll need this!
Mr. Pickles (California)
The name alone is enough to get my attention but this Northern and Central California chain of delis is much more than just a name. With shops located throughout the Bay Area, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and East Bay, customers come in droves for their high-quality meats, cheeses, bread, and cookies! Try the “Mr. Pickle” with chicken breast, bacon, avocado, and Monterey Jack, which one regular assures me is the best thing on the menu!
Clover Food Lab (Cambridge & Boston)
This Cambridge, Mass.-based company specializes in healthy, Middle Eastern-inspired food made in a highly sustainable way. Founded in 2008 by MIT material science grad and Harvard MBA, Ayr Muir, the company has MIT written all over it from its clean lab-like aesthetic to the mad scientist-looking tea and drip coffee machines. One of Muir’s goals when starting the food lab was to shrink the global environmental footprint of the food industry. Menus at the now 12 locations around Boston and Cambridge are hyper-focused on local ingredients and change daily, but some of the most popular selections include the chickpea fritter, vegan meatball, and fried plantain.
Best Baguette (Portland)
Maybe Portland isn’t the first place you’d think of to score a solid Bahn Mi, the classic Vietnamese street sandwich of meat, julienned vegetables, pate, and fresh herbs on a French baguette. Well, you’d be wrong. With three locations in Portland, Best Baguette has locals dashing in for their Bahn Mis—both classic, like grilled pork and chicken, as well as some more inventive spins, like the Saigon bacon or hot sardine.
Ninja Air Fryer, $99.99 on Amazon
Don't forget the fries!
Shorty’s (New York City)
I’ve thought about it long and hard and the buffalo chicken steak from Shorty’s has cemented itself on my personal Mount Rushmore (top 4) of sandwiches. This New York-based chain is admittedly Philly-inspired, serving classic cheesesteaks, among other great sandwiches like the aforementioned chicken steak, alongside cold beer in a casual sports bar setting. Shorty’s uses quality ingredients in its chopped meat creations, but what really sets it apart from the pack is some of the best fresh-baked sandwich bread I’ve ever had. With four locations in Manhattan, and one planned for Brooklyn, there’s no tellin’ how big Shorty’s will get.
Dat Dog (Louisiana & Texas)
While science continues to debate whether or not hot dogs are, in fact, sandwiches, we’ll just focus on eating them. This small Lousiana chain has only five locations (four in Louisiana and one in Texas), and has captured the hearts and stomachs of any carnivore within striking distance. Having opened its doors in 2011, and serving gourmet hot dogs, sausages (including vegetarian, vegan, and fish), burgers, and chicken with over 30 toppings available at no extra charge (!), it’s no wonder Dat Dog has expanded as fast as it has. With a craft cocktail menu and cold beer on tap, you’d be wise to make a visit during your next New Orleans jaunt.
Nando's Peri Peri Sauce, Pack of 4 Flavors, $15 on Amazon
Stock some of the world famous Peri Peri sauce for your next sammie!
Fontano’s Subs (Chicago)
If you’re looking for that classic Italian sandwich experience, you know, something Al Capone might have been seen spilling all over his suit, then Fontano’s is what you need, and Chicago is where you need to go to get it. Fontano’s invites diners with big appetites to come in for the famous meatball sub, sausage and peppers, or classic Italian, piled high with meats, cheese, and hot peppers. Established in 1960 in the Little Italy neighborhood, Fontano’s Subs has since expanded to multiple shops around town, much to the delight of hungry Chicagoans.
Related Video: Chow-Tour Portland: Sandwich Town
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Tom and Jerry Blast Off to Mars! (2005) Playing Now!
Tom and Jerry stow away on a manned mission to Mars and discover that man is not alone in the universe and that Martians do exist. Animated.
The Tom and Jerry Show
Mind Your Royal Manners
Fearful that he will lose his place in the manor, Tom adopts the attitude of a member of the Royal Guard in order to keep the mice and their new friend, Boswell, from wreaking havoc in the kitchen.
The Tom and Jerry Show
Mice Fair Ladies
Jerry's cousins make a return visit with their wives, and they are eager to create mayhem for Tom.
The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show
A Connecticut Mouse in King Arthur's Cork
Tom dreams of chasing Jerry in medieval times.
Tom & Jerry
Snowbody Loves Me
It's cold outside so Jerry decides to move into Tom's warm house.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
The mayor of Crystal Cove has his camping trip, so the gang are called in to investigate.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
Aliens Among Us
The town's sheriff claims that he was abducted by aliens the team must uncover the truth behind the extraterrestrial creatures.
The Powerpuff Girls
A professor creates a supersuit for himself.
Dee Dee Locks and the Ness Monster Backfire Book Em
Dexter uses antimatter to soup up the car.
The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Billy and Mandy's Jacked Up Halloween
A headless man from Grim's past uses Billy to steal Grim's scythe.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Human Habitrail Mission to the Sun
A gerbil pretending to sell vacuums shrinks Muriel and Eustace NASA selects the trio for a mission to save the sun.
All Work and No Smurf Gargamel's Time Trip
Gargamel goes back in time The Smurfs work too hard.
Have You Smurfed Your Pet Today Unsound Smurfs
A spell creates a sound barrier the Smurfs forget to feed Puppy.
Garfield and Friends
The Mail Animal Peanut-Brained Rooster Mummy Dearest
Garfield gets the mailman fired Orson's brothers can't get enough peanuts Garfield sets up a practical joke.
Garfield and Friends
Skyway Robbery Bunny Rabbits is Coming Close Encounters of the Garfield Kind
"Skyway Robbery" "The Bunny Rabbit Is Coming" "Close Encounters of the Garfield Kind" "Feather."
Often an Orphan
Charlie Dog tries everything to get Porky to take him in and he finally does.
Oscar Mayer Proposes a New Bacon as a New Currency
Many people, even those who are not New York State residents, have probably heard the lottery slogan, 𠇊ll it takes is a dollar and a dream.” Now comes an actor, comedian and writer, seeking to make his way across the country in the next two weeks with only a dream and, oh, yes, instead of a dollar, a trailer filled with 3,000 pounds of a new bacon.
The actor, Josh Sankey, will embark this week on a promotion for the Oscar Mayer division of Kraft Foods that is being called the Great American Bacon Barter. The promotion includes a Web site, baconbarter.com social media like Twitter and a public relations campaign.
Mr. Sankey’s trailer will be filled by Oscar Mayer with a ton and a half of its new Butcher Thick Cut bacon, which he is to trade for food, fuel, a place to spend the night and anything else he might need during his trip from the New York area to Los Angeles, by way of a route that is to include what Oscar Mayer executives describe as bacon-loving locales like Charleston, W.Va. Louisville, Ky. Chicago and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Mr. Sankey is being asked to barter his way across America because, Oscar Mayer says, he is being sent without cash or credit cards. The idea is to turn him loose with his cache of bacon and see what happens, not unlike the stories about power barterers who start with, say, a paper clip and wind up with a house.
Butcher Thick Cut bacon is being introduced by Oscar Mayer, joining its regular bacon offerings like Oscar Mayer Center Cut. The price of a 22-ounce package of the new variety is about $8.99, compared with about $5 for a 12-ounce package of Center Cut.
The new Oscar Mayer product is intended to capitalize on a national craze for bacon that has spawned a rash of higher-end brands, sold by mail order as well as in supermarkets. The mainstream bacon brands like Oscar Mayer, Hillshire Farms, Hormel and Armour are scrambling to keep up with the newcomers.
“There’s this fever for bacon in this country,” said Tom Bick, director for integrated marketing communications and advertising at Oscar Mayer in Madison, Wis.
“How do we tap into that?” he asked. “If we don’t do something to put Oscar Mayer in its rightful place, then shame on us.”
Butcher Thick Cut is “massive, awesome bacon,” Mr. Bick said, “the highest-quality bacon we have.”
The new product “is the new gold standard in bacon,” Mr. Bick said, and “we think it’s worth its weight in gold” – thereby inspiring the cross-country barter binge.
The promotion is an example of how Oscar Mayer and other Kraft divisions to try to reach consumers in new ways apart from tried-and-true tactics like television commercials.
“We have to think beyond the traditional means we’ve used,” Mr. Bick said, “shooting a commercial for $500,000 and airing it for $5 million.”
The promotion, by contrast, is costing 𠇊 couple hundred thousand dollars,” he added.
The promotion is the brainchild of 360i, the Oscar Mayer digital agency, and the public relations campaign to support it is being handled by Olson. (The creative agency for Butcher Thick Cut is McGarryBowen, which is creating print ads that declare, “It scares other bacon to bits.”)
Mr. Bick, who joined Oscar Mayer a year ago, said he challenged 360i to develop an imaginative way to promote the new bacon in keeping with his mandate “to elevate advertising and marketing for Oscar Mayer.”
Sarah Hofstetter, president at 360i, part of the Dentsu Network division of Dentsu, said, 𠇊s we thought about bacon and its popularity, we thought, ‘What better currency to drive social actions for the brand’ ” than the product itself.
“It’s less about what wouldn’t you do for bacon and more about what would you do for bacon,” she added.
The goal of the promotion is, clearly, to generate engagement, Ms. Hofstetter said, adding: “It’s not just one man’s journey. He’s going to invite America to join him via social media, helping him barter or even putting some challenges in his path.”
Buffalo Beans with Cherrywood Smoked Bacon
My kids spent the last two weeks on a cross-country road trip adventure with my father-in-law…and he lived to tell the tale! I’m not sure what kind of crazy he is to have conceived of such a plan, but plan it, he did, and away they went to Wyoming and Montana via vehicle–a 3-day drive in each direction. With my son who sometimes gets carsick. And my daughter who often fights with my son. Surely, this man is an angel.
We didn’t hear much from them in the two weeks. Never gone for more than 4 days before, it was weird giving them up to a greater power and hoping for the best, knowing that it could be some time before we heard anything at all–good or bad. I only received a couple phone calls from them–on one, my son refused to talk about anything other than the snake he discovered that was in the middle of eating a toad. The legs were sticking out of the snake’s mouth and he watched as it was swallowed whole. Yes, this is fascinating stuff to a 7-year-old boy. On that same call, I also learned of their encounter with a black bear–twice on the same hike. It helped knowing they were in more-than-capable hands. But it was still a bit nerve-wracking.
The hardest part of the kids being away, however, was the loneliness.
At first, all I could think of was the freedom. Freedom to do whatever I pleased without having to arrange childcare. No need to take turns with my husband on who gets which night to do what. The world was my oyster.
But that novelty quickly wore off and in the midst of our pursuits of pleasure, I found I lacked it entirely in the things I usually took joy in. I didn’t want to cook for just myself, so I ate out… a little too often. Eating out alone eventually became a chore. At my worst, I refused to make eye contact with anyone else–I wallowed in self-pity instead, alone, alone, alone.
The quiet wasn’t something I anticipated getting on my nerves either. I tend to stay up late after everyone is asleep, enjoying the peaceful calm of the middle of the night. It’s my refuge after a long day of ringing telephones and constant questions. But you need a yin to the yang something to balance out that quiet, to transform it into something you yearn for. When there are no children’s voices filling the days–even with their frequent arguments and temper tantrums–it becomes empty somehow hollow… Not at all what I expected.
I did bake during some of their trip. I turned to it for my old reason: centering. I had had a particularly stressful week at work and I had a lot on my mind and needed a way to work it all out of my head and into something more constructive. But I didn’t blog about it. It wasn’t that kind of baking. It was more of an “I need to spread the joy to someone else because I’m having a hard time finding it myself right now” kind of project. And that was fine, too.
It wasn’t until the day of their return that I entered the kitchen again with the purpose of creating something to be shared here, on the blog. And, in turn, it became something I could share with my kids, a bit wilted from 12 hours on the road and two weeks of backpacking, camping, and just plain adventure-seeking. I had a reason to cook again.
These Buffalo Beans are a riff off of my Aunt Denise’s famous dish. As far as our family goes, her beans make the picnic, and I seek them out every time we get together. Lucky for you, she shared her secret with me so I could make my own! The original called for ground beef and you can certainly use that–but I thought it would be more fun to use ground buffalo (bison) here, given their name. Then I spiced them up a bit and tossed in my favorite–bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. Jones Dairy Farm‘s Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, to be exact, which is dry-aged and so flavorful. They really make the beans sing!
Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West
Driving down the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West feels like slowly decompressing from the world at large. (The Seven Mile Bridge will make you feel like you’re soaring over the water.) The necklace of islands strung together by this 127.5-mile road vary markedly, moving from the Upper Keys, which seem like shards of the mainland cast off into the ocean, on to the Middle and Lower Keys. The final stop is Key West, a.k.a the Conch Republic. The journey only takes four hours total (though watch for delays, as traffic accidents can block the road and make passing impossible). If you can, earmark a week to meander down and explore hidden corners at your own pace.
Where to stop: Press on through the Upper Keys, which can feel a little gimmicky thanks to an abundance of souvenir shops, and instead linger in the Middle and Lower Keys en route to Key West. Go spearfishing near Marathon with one of the local fishing charters or sunbathe in the wilderness of Bahia Honda State Park, one of the prettiest spots in the Keys. Sandy beaches are rare elsewhere on the archipelago, but you’ll find several here.
Where to eat: You’re going to want to try Key Lime Pie in its spiritual home—debates rage as to the best, but we’d start with a slice at Blue Heaven, an al fresco restaurant with a yard full of chickens—but don’t miss the chance to detour for a pizza and a pint at the No Name Pub, too. Located on a hard-to-find island where Cuban patriots staged rehearsals for the Bay of Pigs invasion, the pub’s interior is covered with currency stapled to almost every surface. Ask to borrow the staple gun if you want to add to your own.
Where to stay: Key West is surprisingly large, and much of the accommodation is clustered around the eastern edges—avoid this at all costs, as it’s a long hike from the main drag on Duval. Instead, splurge for one of the 19th-century cottages at Winslow’s Bungalows downtown.