Friday, March 15, 2013

A Trip to the Grocery Store

Hi. I'm back.

How is it that when I preemptively eat, as to not grocery shop on an empty stomach, that I then end up at TWO markets, instead of just one!? This is a much worse outcome than the impulsive empty stomach purchases. This is double the shopping! 

Granted, there were no cookies or candies or other frivolous snacks this trip. Although, the Cadbury Creme Eggs were dangerously close to swan diving their into my cart. Rather, I purchased food that I promised myself we WILL eat, not waste. We will. Really. Also, I bought staples. Hearty cupboard and refrigerator staples, like butter and eggs and errr..... yeah, chocolate chips..... (They're for a recipe though! Promise.)

I have decide to try out three recipes this weekend, when I can find the time. The first will be  Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, from Yotam Ottolenghi's book, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi.

My brother and sister - in - law were so sweet, and surprised me with this GORGEOUS book over Thanksgiving.  I'm a visual person, so it's only natural that I head straight for the mouthwatering cover photo. That's the eggplant dish there. It seems as though you roast the eggplants with lemon and thyme, where after they are covered in a creamy sauce of garlic, buttermilk and greek yogurt. And then, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and more fresh lemon and thyme. 

Consequently, did you know, if you read the Yotam Ottolenghi book long enough, and listen to The Splendid Table interview with him enough times, the words: YOTAM and OTTOLENGHI get stuck in your head.  Yotam Ottolenghi , Yotam Ottolenghi, Yotam Ottolenghi.........Where forth you risk whatever slight and waining coolness factor you may have by sending your husband a text at work saying:

"Requesting permission to rename cat #3: Yotam Cattolenghi".

It is truly the only way to break the curse of Yotam Ottolenghi on mind repeat. 

The second recipe that I would like to try is the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich from the TasteSpotting blog.

(Photo from TasteSpotting Blog.)

So the gist is, this is a warm, soft grilled cheese, chèvre and mozzarella, but with lots of different green foods: Avocado, baby spinach AND homemade herb pesto.

The pesto involves things like garlic, shallot, parsley, kale, lemon juice , and ready.....anchovy fillets!
Anchovy fillets! ME....the silly, incorrigibly squeamish  vegetarian, cooking with ANCHOVY FILLETS! Am I going to lose my lunch!? Literally? I hope I can do this. I can do this...

I haven't eaten any meat in forever. I very very reluctantly eat fish when I momentarily go mad for lack of protein and omegas. Anchovy fillets, don't they look like FISH!? A far cry from my square piece of salmon or tinker toy looking round scallop. How am I going to cope? I just must.

Today I texted to Jon, the man who loves adventurous eating, especially of the salted fish kind, this photo with the following caption: "I think you are finally going to start eating better, that or the meds are making me loopy".

Not only did I then receive a reply text of: "Whaaaaaaaaaat"? But, also a phone call. Just to make sure I was ok. 

I was. I am . I think. Ok. Minus the anchovies. 

The third and final recipe I shall try this weekend, is from a blog that is new to me, and that I am absolutely loving! It is called Recipe Rifle by a woman named Esther Walker, who lives in London with her young daughter and food critic husband. In addition to many challenging but within reach recipes, Esther writes openly and honestly about life as a wife and mother. She's just hilarious, and I love her raw, relatable story telling. You really should stop by for a read yourself, I know you will really enjoy it too as I have!

I want to make Esther's savory dishes, but since I had some lemon curd sitting around the house, waiting to be used, I've decide to try her recipe for Lamingtons. They seem to be small bits of sponge cake with raspberry jam in the middle. Dipped in chocolate, and covered with coconut. I am hopping that the lemon curd will be an acceptable substitute for the jam. What do you think!?

I can't wait to see how they turn out. Just keep them away from me. I can only have one. Maybe two. No, one. No, two. One.

Oh, and Esther has a new book on Kindle out called "Bad Cook". Hmmmm, yes, seems :)

I thought that the coconut covering the Lamingtons, could be a way to tip my hat at the ever traditional, Passover coconut macaroon.  Like the ones that were on sale this week, the ones that I for some reason bought, and the ones that I have been unsuccessfully trying to resist, but repeatedly scarfed down with all of my Jewish guilt. (This year, we are taking a Passover break. This is the guilt.)

I had to buy the macaroons that day though. The canister had me laughing out loud in front of the "Kosher for Passover" display. I had to grab it and run, less I wanted even more people seeing some strange girl like me,  cackling in front of the  Passover section. They must have thought I was some kind of anti-Semite or something. But in reality, it's just that NOW the Manischewitze -"Quality since 1888"  macaroon canister boldly says, in CAPS :  "AS ALWAYS GLUEN FREE"

Wow. Thanks a lot Manischewitz! Why didn't you tell me this last year? Or the year before? What do you mean AS ALWAYS gluten free? You've never mentioned that before! I could have eaten you!

I was imaging a wonderful elderly Jewish woman, a Bubby, wearing a scarf on her head, raising her index finger and saying " As always, gluten free"! And, at least for me, it just didn't compute, a bubby concerned with gluten, and I started laughing. But maybe, maybe the laugh was really generated from the sick joy, that I was now able to indulge in those damn macaroons.

Back to today's trip........Surprisingly, I arrived at the first market without driving over any curbs or parking blocks. I had to stop at the first market because I knew that the second market, might not carry the eggplant, and some of the annoying gluten-free things that I needed. 

I pulled in, like a synchronized swimmer, at the same time with a woman in her Mercedes convertible. I had gone to the "posh" Kroger store near my mother's house, not the larger, less posh Grocery store near my house. Truthfully, I say that I  drive the extra five minutes to the posh kroger because it's smaller and more peaceful, and easily manageable. Which, it is. But the ultimate truth lies in the fact that I am secretly, incredibly anti-social, and I'm less apt to run into people that I know at the posh Kroger. That, and the fact that I struggle to go and interact with a couple incredibly nice and kind employees at my near by market.

One person at the market near my home is this wonderful, sweet woman at checkout, who I have know for years! She meet me before our wedding, over nine years ago, when we moved back to Detroit. She has known me through our marriage, pregnancy, Noah's babyhood, and as he grows. She always greets me with such a nice smile, and I love it,  I really like her, I do,  but I have to brace myself for the inevitable four questions, that will MOST CERTAINLY follow:  "No more kids? Just One!?"   And I say, for the umpteenth time:  "Yep. Just one!" And that's when I feel really, shamefully annoyed at her question. But come on, please! For the love of love, really, NO MORE KIDS!

And then the final two questions: "You don't work? That's nice! What do you do!?" And then you know, I just feel like a total asshole. I really do. I feel terribly. How lucky I am to not have to work at the moment. I think, I gather, she is genuinely asking what the life is like. I just tell her mundane things like laundry and cleaning and volunteering at school. But man, I feel so badly, because through the years, it seems to have become clear that she has to work. know...... It's just that, sometimes it's difficult to have this same conversation each week.

By the way, can I just tell you that I eventually stopped going to another, lovely market near my old house all together, after YEARS shopping there, because I could JUST NOT TAKE the incessant questioning of having an only child by a tag-team of checkout women. They were awesome, so nice, so happy, I actually , totally like them! But....they both have very large families. I know this because they always mentioned their five, six children, and they ALWAYS mentioned and asked and prodded about Jon and I having more kids!

"Why don't you have more kids?"
"What!? Only Noah!? Have more!"
"He's going to be lonely, have another!" (Fyi, and I am not making this up by ANY means. My child conveniently begs Jon and I not to have anymore children. He's asked to be an only child for years. ) TOUCHE'!

And the two, well-meaning checkout women are both standing in close to me as always, and talking about their six kids and the tragedy of having just one, and I'm thinking: "Ok lady, if you just give me your womb, a vagina, $100,000 and some additional sanity, sure! WHY NOT."

So, I just had to stop going in there. It was a pain.  So now for my shopping trips, posh Kroger it is! Where my poor reproductive decision making skills are not open for discussion.

Posh Kroger. What a trip. It's kind of strange to call it "posh", because it's certainly not a Papa Joe's or a Plum Market. It is though, straight out of some kind of Stepford Wives movie set. All the petite blonds, dressed in expensive yogaware, caring their designer purses and emerging from a sea of rang rovers, BMW's and Mercedes. I would safely bet that I was the only gray-haired chick, let alone gray-haired chick getting out of a measly Mini Cooper. 

I did the earlier mentioned synchronized pull into a parking spot with a lady in her large, convertible Mercedes pulling in next to me. I felt less powerful and inferior, which two seconds later jolted me into reality. WHAT!? What am I even thinking or caring about!? This is ME! I am not supposed to care about material things. No, not me. This is like, one of my mantras. Things are just things! Temporary possessions!

But, with great embarrassment, it all brought me back to a conversation that Jon and I had last week. He asked me if I missed my old, little BMW wagon, which we had sold exactly a year ago. I said first that I was really enjoying the replacement, my Mini Cooper. It was fun and youthful, has a manual transmission so I can pretend and go zoom....zooooom.....ZOOOOOM!!!! And, besides, what about frugality! And practicality! Oh wait, there is nothing practical about a Mini.

And then I broke down and reluctantly admitted to Jon and myself, that well yes, sometimes I do miss my BMW. And then I felt like a total prick for feeling that way. And now I feel like a total prick for using such a vile word as "prick". But it's the truth.

So I hobble out of the Mini, in my non-designer clothes, with my non-designer bag. (Although, I have to say that the  weren't too shabby.) I get into the store and do you want to know what was playing over the speakers!? 

An orchestral rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon".  An ORCHESTRAL version, with all of the flourishes and dramatic sweeping sounds one could ever ask for. It was the most relaxing grocery store trip I have ever taken.  Like floating on a cloud as you prance from aisle to aisle, plucking cans of chickpeas and cartons of almond milk as you go.  I imagined the the air suddenly bursting with bottles of xanax, soaring overhead, as housewives everywhere rejoiced, throwing their tranquilizers up in surrender. Who needs medication they sing,  when you have the sweet sweet orchestral melodies of the  1950's lulling your every worry. 

So I pull up to the area that usual houses the berries and grapes. I know this because just a day ago I was in, and bought our very first strawberry carton in months. OOOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhhh strawberries, how I love thee. SO so much. I have missed you. 

The issue is, as time has gone by, I've become more of a neurotic about THE DITY DOZEN. The twelve kinds of most pesticide laden produce. As you can see, there is a sobbing strawberry on the list, so how could I buy non-organic strawberries? How!? That's just so sad. That sad fruit and veg.

So, there's either not been organic strawberries in the stores this winter, or I have been too cheap to pay the exorbitant price of $5 or $6 a pint  for organic, winter berries.

But oh let me tell you, when just two days ago,  I joyfully came across luscious pint after pint after pint of ripe, red, sweet smelling organic strawberries for $3.49, I jumped up and down and quickly ran home with  some for us.

I could just kick myself for only buying one pint. Noah and I took those strawberries down like it was the end of days. I confidently rolled up to grab us another two pints today and.....shockingly they were gone. Just gone.  Aha! You see, that's what you get for gluttony. NOTHING! Empty strawberry hell!

The rest of my trip to the marketS was pretty uneventful luckily. I did find myself driving 45 miles per hour down the road after leaving the second grocery store, when a loud PING! And the "your back hatch is open" warning popped up on my dashboard. My first instinct was to MAKE AN EMERGENCY MANEUVER!!!! But not TOO drastic of a maneuver, as I pictured myself sharply swerving into the newest parking lot, back hatch flying open, cheerios and chèvre cheese exploding out, and covering every car packed in 20 foot radius.

I panicked  gracefully drove into the next parking lot that I spied, and proceeded to close  struggle to get the hatch OPEN, so that I could re-close it. I couldn't even get the damn thing OPEN! What is with all that? What!?

Just as I was about to arrive home, I ran into a small traffic jam.  Unintentionally, I was blocking the intersection, as I attempted to inch forward in the stop-and-go congestion. And as if in slow motion, a man appeared, attempting to make a left turn. (But I, was blocking his way for several seconds.) And he was a man that I have actually seen before, many many times in the city just south of us, as you head in closer to Detroit. I see him, with his long gray hair, granny glasses and lanky limbs, waxing poetic EVERYTIME I've visited a coffee or tea shop in this neighboring city. WHO is this guy, I've always wondered. Who is it that has day after day after day free to sit and sip and read and write and debate?

I must have made him angry, because he was talking and looking at me the whole time during the intersection incident. That, or he had blue tooth and was on a cell call. I just mouthed to him: "Sorry. SORRY!" the whole time. Waving like a friendly fool, hoping that pitty would be taken on me. Didn't work though, he just kept talking at me. Or, at least that's what it seems. I'm sorry. Really! Won't happen again.

Grocery adventure over, I came home to the quiet, safe harbor of my home. Ahhhhhh. What a relief. I began putting the new groceries away, and cleaning the old food and leftovers from the fridge. There was a bag of stale bread, and when I went to crumble it up for the birds, and to throw it from my back deck onto the grass, what did I see? I saw a large HAWK just sitting there on a fallen branch, in the middle of my yard! Who does that!? Go away  you predator. That or become a seed-eating bird like the rest of us!

The only other thing I have to say tonight, as I am getting tired and starting to fade, is that today was Noah's last Aikido class, so afterwards we went for a sushi dinner with my mother. This is a picture that I was attempting to take, of my Mom's new, funny cell phone case with wrist strap. It's a great idea, for the times when you are out and expecting a call, and don't want to throw your phone into the abyss that is also known as your purse, but you don't want to carry it either.

Thank you for the photo bomb Noah. Tonight we are supposed to get an inch or two of SNOW. I'm not going to complain, but will rather take this as a cue to stay in and attempt to bake or cook something nice rather than venturing out to the grocery store once again.



Anonymous said...

Nice write up buddy! I can utterly picture this story in my head as you tell it. Reminds me of some of the wonderful times my Mom has had after school running around downtown B-ham.

Why is it such a gossipy place anyway?

Let me know how that Grilled Cheese turns out. Also: anchovies are good for you, but please get the unsalted kind next time. They are surprisingly mild in flavor.

Guatemama2000 said...

I <3 <3 <3 your blog! You make me laugh and we are SO alike! The eggplant recipe looks DIVINE! Let me know how it turns out!

Lauren said...

Hi Don, thank you! Ok, I'll be brave and will power through the anchovies! I've heard that they're very salty, but I think this recipe calls for the salted kind to give the pesto flavor. I'll definitely try it next time with unsalted, sounds much healthier.
Thank you for your the gossipy validation. I don't know, it's pretty frustrating, huh!? Love to you and Alaina. I'm so bummed and sorry that I flaked on the holiday get together! Maybe over the summer!?

Valerie!!! THANKS!!! You make me laugh all the time too. I feel such a connection with you, even from so far away. We DO think alike. :)
Ok, I'll keep ya posted! I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend. xoxoxoxo!