Traveling Light in Theory

Airplane cabins were thick with smoke in the 1970’s. Everybody smoked – fat guys, ladies, nerds deeply immersed in the airline magazine, and me, a teenager on my way home from school. My parents noticed that I carried many (too many) little bags when I arrived one day, so they bought me a big set of matching luggage, tweed with leather trim. Next trip, I hauled the biggest of the tweeds, AND the medium one, and somehow I still needed 3 shoulder bags. The overpacking gene thrives in me (gypsy curse) and worse, I passed it on to my daughter who recently said (as she dumped the complete contents of a dresser drawer into that same hand-me-down mega-suitcase) “Better to have to every little thing than not enough of anything”.  How could I argue?? My market tour of Europe begins in 34 days. Tracy (friend, traveling companion, food photographer) does not agree and gave me the one bag challenge.  ONE BAG? Ugh. She knows me too well and insisted. I cringed. I bickered. I pouted. But I lost and so I’m doing it. I’m packing one bag (polycarbonate and shiny but still with leather trim)

the one bag

the one bag

for 2 1/2 weeks in New York & Europe (11 cities in 18 days). This trip will make or break my lifetime commitment to having it all. But don’t worry. I will sneak in two tiny foldaway bags as I plan to discover great riches and buy up rarified treasures, trinkets and souvenirs as needed. Why??  Behold:

Treasures from travels to Italy, Russia and California antique markets.

Treasures from previous trips to Italy, Russia and California antique markets.

I also travel with food – such a nuisance until 1.) I get hungry or 2.) traveling companion gets hungry or 3.) an airline employee tries to convince me that the junk they serve is actually food. Here is my recipe for Gypsy Granola – you can go a long way with a little bag of this.  Pack dark chocolate and an apple, too, if you have room which you will as you probably don’t need cigarettes anymore.



1 canister of Quaker Oats (18 oz.) (original, quick-cook )

½ cup almond slices

½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup pecans

½ cup wheat germ

1 can (6oz)Eaglebrand Sweetened Condensed Milk*

1 cup raisins**

½ cup chopped dates**

½ cup dried cherries**

½ cup chopped prunes**

In a big bowl, mix the oats, nuts, wheat germ & condensed milk. Spread mixture on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 300 for about 10 minutes. Take granola out, give it a stir, then bake for another 10 minutes. Take the granola out again, stir and add the dried fruit (raisins, dates, cherries & prunes). Bake a few more minutes until oats are golden brown and crunchy.

*To make a purely natural/healthy version, boil 2 cups of whole milk for about 20 minutes, then add ½ cup (3/4 cup if you are a sugar fiend) brown sugar or honey or sugar substitute, then boil for 10 more minutes. Use this instead of the canned condensed milk.

**Dried fruits are optional and can be used mix-and-match style. Dried pineapple, apple or banana chips work as well.

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