Sunday, April 5, 2009

Escarole, Endive, Easter and The Solace of Food

Escarole

Larry and I went to P’burgh yesterday to have lunch at Cassie, Matt, and g-baby Claire’s house. Before we left I prepared a big salad for myself since everyone else was having grilled tuna. I’d bought what I thought was romaine a few days before, but when I grabbed it out of the crisper yesterday I saw the twist-tie was marked “escarole.”

Now when I say "big salad," I mean BIG as in "eat it from a 2-quart Purex bowl"-sized salad. That’s a lotta greens, my friends. And while I like escarole, I don’t love it, and certainly not in mass quantities. But I was in a hurry to see the family and didn’t want to waste time running to the grocery store to buy a bag of something else, so I made the big salad with the escarole and we were off.

I should have gone to the store.

It’s a good thing I had a new crown put on a few weeks ago. Chewing down that much escarole takes some solid choppers, that’s for darn sure. And talk about bitter. Yowza. I also had a tummy ache on the way home that I'm blaming on the bitter greens. Yeah, I’m pretty much turned off of escarole for a few months.

Endive

Bitter comes in different forms, though, and right now I’m quite turned on to Belgian endive, particularly roasted. Cut off the ends, take off any wilted outer leaves, cut into quarters, put on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam, throw a little pepper and garlic powder on it, spray it with Pam, and throw it in a 375-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, flipping it halfway through, and you’ll have yourself one mighty fine veggie.

Of course no store around here sells Belgian endive, so we stopped at a grocery store in P’burgh on the way home yesterday to pick some up. That and Fage. And fennel. And string beans. The laundry list of items I can’t find in Podunkville never seems to end. I’m not alone, though. We ran into friends of ours from P’dunkville at the same shopping mall. They were hitting the same stores as we always do – Giant Eagle, Barnes & Noble and of course, the “state store,” the only place sanctioned to sell booze in this silly state. Like us, our friends keep a cooler in the trunk of their car. Glad to know I’m not the only store hopper in western PA. Maybe I should change careers and become a personal grocery shopper…hmmmm….

Anyway, back at the grocery store, I used the self-checkout, and when I got to the endive, I looked for it in the product finder. Nothing under “B” for Belgian, so I tried “E” for endive. It listed regular endive, but not Belgian endive. Regular endive was $2.49 a pound, but I knew the Belgian kind was $4.99 a pound. But there were no Belgians in that computer, so I asked an employee for assistance.

“I can’t find Belgian endive on here,” I said.

“Honey, it don’t matter what country it’s from! Endive is endive,” she laughed. She selected the regular endive and sent my half-price Belgian endive down the belt. I should have corrected her and said it was $4.99 a pound, but I didn’t. She’d walked away, it was busy, people were waiting…Still, I should have said something. Has this ever happened to you?

Food as Solace?


The grocery store is like a lab for human psychology. I sometimes speculate about someone’s mood based on what’s in their cart. I’m not talking about being a snooty b-word who polices shopping carts for Pepsi and frozen tequitos. I’m talking about a cart of comfort and solace.

For instance, a young woman standing in line ahead of me last week held a basket filled with a quart of cherry ice cream, a bottle of Dr. Pepper, two Cadbury eggs, a pack of bubble gum and generic cigarettes. There was something sad about her, like maybe she’d lost her job or broke up with her boyfriend. When she took out her food stamps debit card to pay for her purchase, she seemed overly nice to the cashier, like she was afraid of being judged for buying junk food with food stamps. Maybe this wasn’t the case at all. And whether she was or was not, it made me wonder how many people are turning to food for solace in this bad economy?

Marshmallow Bunnies

I’ve discussed here on occasion my own solace of food. But there’s solace and then there’s tradition

It’s the week before Easter which means….a week of marshmallow bunnies, my annual squishy little treat.

Ever since I began my weight-loss journey in 2005, I’ve bought a six-pack of bunnies the week before Easter and eat one almost every day until Easter. Is it just me or are the bunnies getting smaller and the packaging bigger? I’m thinking yes. The little bunny takes up 2/3 the space of the wrapper and it’s not as easy to get three bites out of my sweet little treats anymore. But I did. In the WalMart parking lot at 10 a.m. this morning. One down. Five to go.

I’m the non-candy Grammy, but this year I might break tradition and share a marshmallow bunny with Claire. Don’t tell her, but her “basket” this year is a kid-sized wheelbarrow that I’m stuffing with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and a bubble wand shaped like Mickey Mouse, a “talking” Elmo book about potty training, and a squeaky little stuffed chick. I’ve got until Thursday when I see her next to think about the marshmallow bunny.

I’m Almost Done!

Wow…that’s an awful lot of jumping, story-telling and speculation for one blog. Sorry about that. But that’s how my mind works sometimes. I can be thinking about escarole and endive one minute and the next be wondering if more people than before are drowning their sorrows in quarts of cherry ice cream and whether I’ll share a marshmallow bunny with my grandkid or not. I’m also thinking I should call the store and explain the endive thing or at least stop by customer service when I’m there next. The only thing I’ve ever stolen (on purpose) in my life was a tampon – one tampon out of a box of 20 – from a convenient store when I was 16 and my friend was in dire need and we had no money. Not an excuse, I know, but just letting you know how I roll.

So…do you have any grocery store/food/marshmallow bunny stories you’d like to share? Or am I the only speculatively nutty food lady out there?

10 comments:

  1. I'm obviously not ready to be a grandma, as I can't imagine sharing my once-a-year treat with a grandchild!

    I wouldn't worry about the endive thing - my theory is that one of these days you will get home, check your receipt and find that they overcharged you for something, and everything will be evened out. After all, it's not like you set out to pay the incorrect price!

    Of course, I am that crazy person who asks the checker to not scan anything until I've finished putting everything on the belt. I HATE purchasing something that is marked down, only to have it ring up at the regular price. Still, it happens.

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  2. I fell in love with fennel via an Italian cookbook. Last year we decided to grow a single fennel plant and enjoyed it's fruits. I stuck what was left of it back in the ground and watched it wither and go to seed through the hot summer and apparently die this winter. But last week we got 2 inches of spring rain and guess what? Fennel reproduces like rabbits. So I say, grow your own. If it survived our neglect it will thrive with care!

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  3. loved the non-food easter gift part. My middle child's friends are finally figuring this out about her - her valentines gifts were very clever (and non food) this year. And she already has socks with fluffy chicks printed on them stashed away for her friends for easter.

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  4. Lynn, I love your rambling posts. Lets us know you more. The grocery store thing...I really try to correct them because it bothers me. But that has happened to me plenty of times, and there have been plenty of times that I was overcharged for something that I bought specifically because it was a bargain. I think I might mention it to the produce guy the next time I was in the store. They would be the only one who might be interested enough to make the change.

    And I really laughed at the marshmallow bunnies. For me, it was the yellow chicks. But I can live without them. I didn't think I could live without Palmer's hollow easter bunnies. I went from getting multiple bunnies leading up to Easter, finishing with the giant 'grandaddy bunny' on Easter day (pre-weight loss) to trying to have one small bunny per year. This year I got one and ate it early, and it really didn't taste as good as the sugarless chocolate that I eat once in a while. I am cured! I am going to presume that all Palmer's bunnies just don't taste like they used to. It's my Easter miracle-LOL!

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  5. We don't serve our children artificial colors, etc., but last year I decided that the Easter bunny would slip Peeps in the easter baskets. The kids were 8 and 5 and had never even caught sight of a Peep, much less touched one, much less tasted one. They were like anthropologists on an exotic mission, describing them at length: "Mommy, look. This is a chick. It's yellow. It's soft, but it has kind of a stiff outside. Oh! It's white inside." Truth be told, I'm not even sure if they finished them.

    Kath52

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  6. I dunno, but cherry ice cream sounds reeeeeeeeelly good right now...

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  7. Lyn, run away from the ice cream!!

    Kath52, your kids and Peeps...that cracks me up! I've never thought of them as a science experiment before :)

    Thanks, all, for not scolding me for the endive thing. I'm trying to cover my bases: confession is good for the soul AND bring about good karma :)

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  8. Hi Lynn!

    Grew up in Sioux Falls and drove through Pipestone often.

    Want to recommend a website for you and the other fans - it was on public television: katheats.com Some really wonderful recipes and photos there. I thought of you because she is also into whole, healthy eating. She might be your daughter's age or a little younger?

    Finally, I'm so glad that you found the World's Healthiest Food website, and want to recommend it again to readers (since your post was some time ago). Love your links too!

    The WHF daily recipes e-mail stretches me to try new things (although he repeats some, eh?). The big green bible of a book they publish is awesome too... you know, the one that weighs about 40 pounds. :)

    Keep up the FANTASTIC work, and thanks for sharing your journey with people like me.

    Sara

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  9. Hey, Sara! Thanks for the heads up on the Katheats site. I'm adding it to my list of favorites over on the left.

    Yeah, WHF repeats itself a lot, but the times a really good recipe comes up is all worth it.

    I'm looking forward to another trip to MN this summer. I love the plains in the summer. Thanks for reading and for the comment and the recommendation!

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  10. Don't worry about the Endive!
    Lots of things we buy have a high mark up and sometimes we even get charged twice for the same thing!

    Plus, you tried - it's on the store now for not listing it or carefully training its employees. :)

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