An open letter to fellow shoppers, from a young mom on a budget

Dear fellow shopper [who might find yourself behind the woman who is taking a little longer at check-out]:

Hello.  Good to see you here at this fine establishment.  I [kind of] apologize that I’ll be making two separate transactions, and you have yet to find out.  Maybe you would have considered a different lane.

See, I’m using some WIC benefits today to help offset some shopping costs, so I just ask one thing of you:  your patience.  Make that three:  kindness and consideration would be appreciated as well.

I didn’t know you were in such a hurry.  You didn’t seem like it from the onset of our check-out relationship.  The exchanged smiles at the start were a nice touch.  Perhaps we could have even struck up a short conversation.

But now, you suddenly seem like you’ve got a lot of important things to do elsewhere.  You’re bleeding impatience.  Don’t think I can’t see you turning away, shaking your head at other fellow patrons.  There may even be some sly remarks in there too.  Am I correct?

I’m sorry, but I’ve run into a wee little problem here.  My WIC benefits were supposed to be reloaded today, but it seems there has been an issue with that.  So sorry for the inconvenience I’ve caused you.  But we’re going to have to do some readjusting here, because I am not about to spend twelve dollars on cheese.  (P.S.  Did you also know that this sweet cashier is just learning the ropes and would appreciate your patience as well?  Maybe you would have picked up on that had you not been busy turning around to roll your eyes at Joe Shopper.  Oh, and P.P.S.  The simple fact that I’m using WIC means that there is a VERY good chance that I’ve got a sweet, little leech eagerly awaiting my return home.  So just know that you’re not the only one that is getting a little frustrated and has somewhere to be.)

To tell you the truth, I used to be a little embarrassed and would quietly utter to the cashier, “This first order is WIC.”  But I’ve gotten past that.  Way.  In fact, I am glad that I get to live simply.  I am proud to have a husband who works hard to provide for his family.  I am blessed to have a squealy little son at home.  And I am so totally happy that organizations like WIC exist to help us out, even just a tiny bit.  So I’ll carry on, unashamed at the check-out, keeping my eyes forward.  But dear shopper, you’re still in my peripheral view.  And though I’m going to brush it off (as soon as I’m done writing this letter), there may be other women and families in the check-out line who may be a little more likely to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even tempted to shop at less-busy times so they can [try to] avoid the glances and shakes of the head and rolling of the eyes of fellow patrons… just like them.  You do remember those days, don’t you?  When you had a limited amount of time to sneak out of the house.  When you considered it a bit of a luxury to breathe some fresh [grocery store] air.  …When you really didn’t want to, but you knew you had to watch how much you were spending.  If you’ve never been there, I’m sure you might be able to try real hard to imagine.

So please be kind.  Please be patient.  Please don’t make that young mom feel stupid or guilty or ashamed.  And please keep the kind smiles coming.

Yours truly,

Your fellow [young mom, on a budget] shopper

Gluten-free Cheesy Biscuits

These chewy, cheesy, drop biscuits are delicious fresh out of the oven, but they freeze and reheat great!  Eat as a snack, or serve alongside your favorite stew, soup, or morning omelet.

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3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup sorghum flour (I like the texture this gives, but you can substitute w/ more all-purpose if you don’t have sorghum on hand.)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. sugar (I’ve used raw sugar and coconut sugar… you could also use honey.)

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) cold, cut into small cubes

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (white vinegar or lemon juice would also work)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (medium or sharp are best, but colby jack or monterey jack would work as well)

2 Tbs. grated parmesan

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (all-purpose flour through sugar).

Using a pastry cutter, cut the cubes of butter into your flour mixture until it is evenly distributed and no large chunks remain.

Make a well in the center of your flour/butter mixture.  Add egg, milk, and vinegar.  Using a fork or a whisk, beat together the wet ingredients.  Once they are fully combined, slowly start pulling the dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix well.

Add the cheeses and fold into the dough until fully incorporated.  (If the dough seems very dry, you can add an additional 1-2 Tablespoons of milk.)

Using a 1 1/2 Tablespoon scoop, drop mini biscuits onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1-2 inches apart.  If you don’t have a small scoop, you can just eyeball the amount and use a spoon to drop the biscuits onto your baking sheet.  They will just be a little more rustic and free-form (and equally as delicious).

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately, or cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.  (If you will not be eating all of the biscuits within a few days, I would suggest freezing them in an airtight container and reheating in a toaster oven or 350 degree oven for a few minutes.)

[Recipe makes 15-18 small biscuits]

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Crock Pot Roast

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2 eye of round steaks (about 1 ¼ lbs – I chose these because I wanted something lean and they were on sale… any nice looking roast cut into large chunks would work just as well.)

5-8 carrots (depending on size), peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

5-8 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks

8 ounces white mushrooms (whole or cut in half)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 sprigs fresh thyme

Good sprinkle of salt

Several cracks of black pepper

2 cups vegetable or beef stock

2 Tablespoons butter

For later…

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1/3 cup half & half

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Place meat in the bottom of a large crock pot.  Layer in all other ingredients.  Stir the veggies around a bit to distribute seasonings (leaving the meat at the bottom).

To get things going, start your crock pot on “high” for one to two hours.  Turn down to “low” for an additional 5 to 6 hours.

***If you will not be home to adjust the temperature, you can absolutely cook on low for the entire time.  I’d suggest leaving it to cook for at least 8 hours in this case.

About an hour before serving:  In a small bowl, combine corn starch and half & half.  Stir well until corn starch is completely dissolved.  Remove the lid of your crock pot and move vegetables to the edges to create a well of juices in the center.  While stirring or whisking, slowly stream in your corn starch/half & half mixture.  Once you’ve got it all poured in, gently stir everything together to distribute the thickened sauce.  Replace the lid and cook for an additional hour.  (The corn starch will “activate” once your sauce comes back up to a simmer, so if it still seems quite liquidy at first, be patient!)

***If you don’t have time to wait an additional hour after a busy day at work, simply stir in the half & half and enjoy as-is!  The sauce will just be a bit lighter.

[Total cook time: 6-8 hours.  Serves 4.]

(I highly suggest making up a batch of my cheesy biscuits to go alongside this pot roast!)

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