Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wednesday's Words for October 16, 2019

This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Usually we would have had a nice, perfect turkey—because even up here in the True North Strong and Free, Thanksgiving Day is Turkey Day. Of course, we don’t often do things the usual way. We’ll be having the Turkey next Monday. When you have two girls working in the healthcare field, and who have varying schedules, flexibility is an absolute must.

Why, one year we had our family Christmas dinner in April!

Knowing that the turkey would be delayed, we purchased a bone-in ham for the actual holiday. The ones we get here are already fully cooked, and that’s a bonus. I do not care for the spiral cut hams. I like the ones that we can butcher ourselves. Normally, one of those hams is a lot more meat than we need, but of course, we know how to make more than one meal from a ham.

The plan was to slice the ham in the morning and choose how much we’d heat gently, for supper. The rest? Well, I make something called “ham and pickle”. It’s a sandwich filling. You simply put some ham through the food processor, then also chop up a bit of onion and some sweet pickles—I use the “sweet mixed” pickles as opposed to the bread-and-butter variety.

You chop, you mix, and you add mayo, and there you have it! A very tasty meat spread for sandwiches—and one that doesn’t last long around here. Finally, the bone and any of the juices of the ham remaining will be used either in the next couple of days or will be frozen for a future day, to make my 13-bean soup.

I owe my economy with food to my mother. She taught me how to shop and, by her example, how to make things stretch. I once read that the definition of thrift is skimming when the barrel is full, and I endorse that definition. My mother’s rules on shopping for groceries were simple: never shop hungry, and never shop without a list.

I always have a list. I use an excel spreadsheet that I edit through the week. Come grocery day, I print out my list, with the products I intend to purchase listed in the order in which I should encounter them in the store—and with the price I expect to pay right beside it. The list is then attached to my clip board. The staff at my regular grocery store are used to seeing me, buzzing around the store in my scooter, with that list in the basket.

Notice I wrote, “the order in which I should encounter them”. Every once in a while, the staff of our local grocery store moves things around. The official explanation for this ridiculous exercise is to expose shoppers to products they might not know about. I’m not anti-male, or anything like that, but I have learned that the upper management of this grocery chain is male, and because that is so, I’ve decided it is indeed the men at the top who came up with that ludicrous process and the reasoning behind it.

As if women who shop regularly at the same store every week do not know every item that is available there. What’s that you say, Mr. Grocery Store Executive? Some items aren’t selling, so you thought we didn’t know they were there? No, baby, so sorry. The fact that some of those items aren’t selling is what we women like to call a clue. You should, oh, I don’t know, live life on the edge and get one sometime.

This past Monday’s feast was accompanied by sweet potatoes, Brussels Sprouts (the girls both love these and so do we), coleslaw, mashed potatoes and a new dish I decided to try—collard greens.

The preparation for those greens was very different from the greens I’m used to, like Swiss Chard. It was an interesting recipe, and not at all difficult. Sadly, that was not only the first time I’d made that dish, it was very probably the last. I thought the greens were—okay, not good, but not too bad. But I was the only one in the family of that opinion.

I wasn’t completely discouraged by the failure my latest culinary experiment. I figure you never expand your gastronomic horizons without trying new things. Of course, that also means that by that same process, you learn what you don’t like, and occasionally, yes, tasting what you really don’t like almost makes you want to give up food forever, but this wasn’t one of those times.

For an example of one of those times? I never would have known to avoid cilantro at all costs if it were not for having tried it once.

And that right there is evidence that one isn’t necessarily the loneliest number. Sometimes it’s a magical number, one that saves you from future heartache—or in this case, taste bud abuse and tummy ache.

P.S. As I began to post this essay in my Yahoo Groups, I read a notice that the groups will be eliminating user created content. If you like these essays and wish to continue to read them after October 28, 2019, then please go to my Wednesday's Words blog spot and subscribe.


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