Category Archives: Idaho

Eating Vegetarian in Stanley, Idaho

Highway 21 climbs to the top of Banner Creek Summit, an elevation of 7056 ft then drops down into the Stanley Basin.  The highway becomes straight, cutting through green fields that edge up to the Sawtooth Mountains.  The fields are like green dust bowls devoid of vegetables and fruit.  My vegetarian belly has learned not to be fooled by common sense observation.

Eating vegetarian in Idaho has its surprises.  Towns like Middleton, Kuna, and Emmett are surrounded by vegetables and fruit.  Despite the abundance of food most vegetarian choices on the menu taste like an unwanted step child.  If you’re not following here’s a different perspective.  Reader let’s pretend your a horny 20 something straight guy.  All day you walk along Venice Beach observing fields of women.  The sunny California female beach bathers have excited your taste buds.  Later that evening you are in the mood to hear some local music and talk to a beautiful woman.   You decide to check out the bar scene off the boardwalk.  The first bar plays techno music and claims to be the friendliest gay bar on Venice Beach.  You keep moving.  The second bar has Erasure night.  Buffed out men are dancing and mouthing the words,

“And if I should falter
would you open your arms out to me?
We can make love not war
and live at peace with our hearts.
I’m so in love with you
I’ll be forever blue”

You ponder what does forever blue mean to a bar full of guys?  Bar after bar packed with flirtatious men.  You are confused, the beach has field after field of women similar to Idaho small towns with field after field of fruit and vegetables.

Despite only observing cows in the Stanley basin, surprisingly a vegetarian can eat amazingly creative thought out meals from sun up to sun down.  I am so blown away that I might look for Mrs Right in San Francisco’s Castro District.

BREAKFAST

It’s Sept 14, Stanley Baking CO. & Cafe seems to be the most popular eatery at this time of day.  I get into line.  Clouds have socked in the Stanley Basin.  The Sawtooth Mountains are obscured from view.  I wonder will the seasonal disorder effect of no sunshine and the stress of a hopping eatery effect the cooks?  Distressed cooks and pigs don’t make good meals.  I start perusing the menu wall.  Holy moly a vegetarian has more choices than the typical cheese omelet, waffles, and pancakes.  A person can substitute real meat for fake meat.  Here’s the dish that made my vegetarian belly tremble.  This dish didn’t involve fake meat substitutions it’s the real deal.  A signature vegetarian dish called the “Mingas.”

“Our version of a Mexican breakfast.  Two eggs any style, tortilla chips, potatoes, green chilies, feta, provolone, jack cheese and black beans baked in a red New Mexican enchilada sauce & topped with homemade salsa.”  Eureka!

Despite a dark weather mood the chefs cooked like two happy pigs that go on daily walks and get their bellies scratched.

Click here to read the Stanley Baking Co. & Cafe omelet review.

LUNCH

I spent mid morning and early afternoon exploring the shore of Redfish Lake.  After some enjoyable hiking I stopped in at The Redfish Lodge for lunch.  The outdoor grill menu offers a veggie burger.  Before ordering I asked, “do you make your garden burger?”  To my surprise The Redfish Lodge services frozen garden burgers.  I decided to head down highway 75 to Smiley Creek Lodge.  Their website boasts homemade food which means no frozen veggie burgers.

When approaching The Smiley Creek Lodge an urban restaurant goer might keep driving.  City restaurants typically don’t have teepees, wood carved bear art, a gas station, and boast they sell non alcoholic beer.

Inside I’m quickly greeted by a friendly server named Lisa.  I ask her is the Abe’s Chair Garden Burger a fancy name for some pre made frozen veggie burger bought at Costco?  Lisa has incredible delivery on the same level of a comedian or motivational speaker.  She gave a long pausing smile then said, “Our chef makes the veggie burger.  The fries are home cut and the bun comes from Bigwood Bread.  After I take your order I think I’ll have an Abe’s Chair Garden Burger.”  Enough said!

Here’s the menu description.
Vegetable and bean patty, on a Bigwood Bread organic challah bun, topped with a cilantro jalepeno sauce.

DINNER

I am going to pose a question.  Would the Mona Lisa have the same impact tacked up on the wall of a mechanic shop framed by hotrods with models posing on the hoods?  I think not.  Great works of art are properly framed and the buildings that house the art are of the same awe inspiring level.

Welcome to the Sawtooth Hotel’s patio.  If you’re a mushroom lover and love the Sawtooth Mountains you’ll be enjoying a little piece of heaven.

“Mushroom Ragout wild and cultivated mushrooms stewed with fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables served with buttered orzo.”

An amazing dish like this served in a smokey truck stop won’t taste the same as enjoying it the presence of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Side note:  When preparing a menu for a smokey truck stop cafe does the chef ask questions like, “Would a roasted beet salad with spinach, goat cheese, toasted walnuts and a roasted garlic vinaigrette taste good with a Lucky Strike?”  After a moment of thought with a Lucky Strike in the left hand and a beet in the right hand the chef answers his question. “No, a Lucky Strike won’t compliment the taste of a beet but I’m sure a rocking chair, PBR, and The Sawtooth Mountains will.”

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The Kneadery located in Ketchum, Idaho

Angry bear wants to eat omelet eaters

While eating an omelet I face a mean looking bear with arms extended, menacing claws and a snarl that shows off large human eating size teeth.  I’m not afraid of a dead bear it’s just unnerving to be in a restaurant with an animal that looks like it wants to kill me in body and probably in spirit.  Maybe a slice of Kneedery’s organic Bigwood sourdough bread on top of the bears head followed by a tomato and lettuce would take the edge off.  The restaurant buzzes like a hive.  The server is polite but engages in short direct menu related talk.  I figure this isn’t the time to present my bear sandwich thought.  Instead I choose another chair at the table that faces this dowey eyed dead cow.  There that’s much better.

The Kneadery
260 Leadville Ave
Ketchum, Idaho

Atlanta, Idaho Bicycle Tour (pedal power)

Amy and I along with Jay and Emily took a bicycle tour from Boise, Idaho to Atlanta, Idaho in the summer of 2008.  We followed the Boise River for 2 nights and 3 days.  In Atlanta we stayed in the Honey Moon Cabin.  We were given a tour of the town from Jack and Frank, met the famous historian/artist Keri, and had a garden fresh salad compliments of Greg.  From Atlanta to Boise we once again followed the Boise River.   My Dad camped with us on the way back into town.

Bicycle camping along Arrowrock Reservoir

Arrowrock Reservoir

Emily and Amy

Boise River

Plenty of water from campgrounds and pumping from the Boise River

Community hot spring shower

Boise River

Atlanta, Idaho

Special Thanks to Mr. Ireland and Ms. Chavez for the use of the Honeymoon Cabin

Cozy as a tent along the Boise River

Jay and Emily

Atlanta, Idaho mail contractor who will bring up supplies

Atlanta, Idaho

Atlanta, Idaho

Atlanta, Idaho

Atlanta, Idaho

Frank and Jack local historians and tour guides

Atlanta, Idaho

Dad and his 650 KLR Kawasaki motorcycle

Brandon on his Surly Long Haul Trucker

Special thanks to Frank, Jack, Keri, Greg, Allen, Ms. Chavez.  Photo credits:  Frank, Jack, Emily, Jay, Amy and Brandon

4 nights and 6 days totaling 168 miles of bicycle riding along the Boise River

Merritt’s Country Cafe located in Boise, Idaho

Merritt’s Country Cafe and Example of Progressive Change

Merritt’s Country Café, on any given day before the new Idaho smoking came into effect, was a den of smoke.  The attractiveness of Merritt’s were the hours.  A smoker could buy a bottomless cup of coffee and smoke for 24 hours, 7 days a week. You could always spot a first timer because they would come with a half pack of smokes.  The regulars might have a half pack of smokes on the table but definitely kept a carton in the car along with a bottle of zippo fluid. The only thing that could make the smoker slow down might be the apocalypse, oxygen tank switch, death bed or sadly when the smoking laws changed.

Now that smoking laws have come into effect, the rhythm of Merritt’s 2:30AM mating ritual – watery coffee, cheesy omelet, full-bodied drag, are you sober yet, your place or mine – has been replaced by teenagers and young adults who get off on loads of sugar packs and whip cream.  I have graciously accepted these changes because I’m ready to become a 24-hour fresh air breather. 

The one aspect that hasn’t changed at Merritt’s Country Café is the busy State Street four-lane road.  If a person walking or bicycling down State needs some fresh air, I recommend taking a break at Merritt’s. 

It’s criminal that a person has to step into a building with special air filters so that he or she may breathe fresh air, so recently the federal government has threatened to get in bed with the Treasure Valley’s air quality clean up program.  The solutions presented by our local elect, such as reduce driving and mow lawns in the evening, as reported in the Idaho Statesman reminds me of a smoker afraid that lung cancer might get involved in their daily life so the smoker makes an attempt to cut down their dangerous habit by switching from hand rolled Drum cigarettes to Marlboro Reds. 

When it comes down to it corporations and politicians love the money generated by the automobile and drivers love to drive and smokers love nicotine.  One way to dramatically decrease air pollutants would be to stop driving.  This sort of idea is as crazy as telling people to reduce lung cancer they must stop smoking.  I propose a compromise similar to the Idaho smoking laws that will help solve the air quality issue. The local elect must switch their air quality attitude from Marlboro Red cigarettes to Marlboro Ultra Lights.

Think of four lane roads as public buildings and restaurants.  The rule is a person can’t smoke in the restaurant but can smoke in designated outside areas.  An example would be Flying M Coffee House.  A person can’t smoke inside but can smoke on the patio.  Four-lane roads will have two lanes dedicated to cars, one lane dedicated to bicycles, and one lane dedicated to public transit.  

Think of two lane roads as public sidewalks.  Smokers and nonsmokers share the sidewalk.  Two lane roads will be shared by motorized and non-motorized vehicles.  The difference will be the hierarchy.  The bicycle/pedestrian rights will SOCIALLY and lawfully come first.

Think of I-84 as the bar.  The nonsmoker who walks into 10th Street Station or Turners Bar will be taking their lungs into their own hands.  Just as smokers have total smoker freedom in the bar so may the vehicles on the freeway. 

How will the city pay for these changes? One way to help pay for the costs of re-marking the lanes would be to create permanent space for vendors such as produce stands, food carts, and bookmobiles.   The local government would then collect a tax or rent fee on the barricade space.  Another idea – create a special sales tax on bicycles.  Citizens who use a lane need to pay for bicycle related city services.

Because our economy is based on capitalism, the above ideas will not be deemed successful in terms of air quality and health but in terms of air quality and money.  From my simple observations of the Boise smoking scene, the industry stills generates a fare amount of money.  At first, times were difficult for the smoker with the new laws.  Restaurants complained about patrons not being able to take a drag between their poached salmon and crème brulee, but people made do with the changes.  People complained when cigarette prices cost the same as a gallon of fuel but made do by smoking cheaper brands like USA Golds.  I no longer hear the smoker grumble.  The pendulum has swung back into balance.  I would bet there are more tobacco stores, cigar rooms, and hookah bars in Boise since the smoking laws went into effect.  The above observations indicate good news for politicians, corporations, and drivers who are afraid these driving ideas will have negative economic impacts.  Times at first will be a bit of a challenge, like a smoker who had to learn how to put down the cigarette from his left hand and replace it with a sugar packet.

The point being if a Merritt’s Country Cafe smoker can make the Idaho smoking law transition so can a Treasure Valley vehicle addict. 


 

Boise, Idaho: Merritt’s Country Cafe (video)

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Traveler Brandon Follett is delighted to find a greasy cure for homesickness at Merritt’s.

Boise, Idaho: Peaceful Belly Harvest Festival (video)

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Once a year Peaceful Belly opens their farm up to the public. In the fall they host a harvest festival to celebrate another year of vegetables and fruit.  Music by High Desert.

Boise, Idaho: Leku Ona Hotel (video)

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Leku Ona in Basque means “good place,” which is a perfect description of this affordable and centrally located downtown hotel.

Boise, Idaho: Budget Travel Fun with Local Plants (video)

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While traveling, half the fun is to experience the place through eating, watching, touching or smoking the native environment. In this short video I learn about Prickly Lettuce. Filmed in the foothills of Boise, Idaho.

Boise, Idaho: Flying M Coffee House (video)

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The Flying M Coffee House is located in downtown Boise, Idaho.  The coffee shop has more to offer then just its delicious coffee.  Watch the video to find why the Flying M is rated one of the best coffee houses in Boise.

The Valuable Life Lesson (pedal power)

Dearest Friends,

Summer is closing, ‘back-to-school’ is approaching and the Strawberry Girl has had quite a summer to remember. She and her trusty single-speed steed, Azzuri, suffered a crash (old Strawberry threw her back out and both she Azzuri needed a lot of R & R); they road and walked way too much around hot and dry Boise, Idaho; drank way too much coffee and fruity summer cocktails; bummed one too many cigarettes; over-stimulated themselves with music and art; found love; lost love…

In short, the summer of 2008 brought with it many adventures- too many to recount- but it mostly taught Strawberry one very valuable life lesson as she and Azzuri journeyed through the months. Together, they reevaluated and reaffirmed a valuable principle of life- that living as truly and honestly as possible is paramount to achieving as fulfilled a life as possible. It’s that simple. However, this is, at times, is the most hard for the Strawberry to achieve. “To thine own self be true,” a great playwright once wrote, and while commanding a bicycle, this message couldn’t resonate more closely to her.

The founders of this forum; which the Strawberry Girl is ever so grateful to write for, Brandon Follett and Amy Johnson, are prefect examples of healthy and thoughtful living and are a constant inspiration to the Strawberry Girl. Brandon and Amy don’t own cars, professional house sitters, travel extensively and are true citizens of the World. To be so conscientious and productive is not a natural gift to the Strawberry Girl, who was raised a material girl living in a material world, but Azzuri reminds her daily of what is the fundamental essence of being. To give really is to receive and, most importantly, the caliber of what one gives is usually close to the caliber of what one will receive, in turn. Of course, this is a painfully fundamental message already practiced and understood by most, but the Strawberry Girl is a painfully late bloomer when it comes to lessons of the heart and mind. Whether riding carelessly through the streets without direction or anxiously barreling late to work, she knows that she is free and independent and hopes to create as little harm to her surroundings as she can, while producing and contributing back as much as she can. With this knowledge, she has been able to change herself as a person and feels some miniscule pride that she, too, has contributed to the World.

A bicycle can change lives, if allowed. A cool, tricked-out, highly-accessorized bike is NOT the only way this can be achieved. In fact, the bike or bicyclist is completely irrelevant. The return to self-sufficiency is what matters and that makes the biggest impact. Before Azzuri quietly entered her life two years ago (for $50 at a neighbor’s yard sale), the Strawberry Girl went through; one car, countless bus and train rides and a variety of other fad sport/transportation flukes (Rollerblades, anyone?). She’s always been a bit sporty, but it was Azzuri that really did change the Strawberry Girl in to the environmental enthusiast she is today. The Strawberry Girl forgot what it meant to care for people and places in her life because she was so consumed in what she didn’t own that she was hardly grateful for what little resources she did have- as menial as they may be. A bike isn’t much, but it’s a start.

Commentary provided by the Strawberry Girl