Still Shopping ....by Sr. Anna-Camille
I am the Sisters Speak Week 5 blogger, so I only write every few months. My last two posts were about my experiences as the Main Kitchen grocery shopper. It’s been almost exactly 6 months since I began this adventure, and I thought after two blog posts there really couldn’t be anything else to say. I was wrong. So, I am hoping you are able to bear with me through one more post about shopping.
In my favor, I decided to start with a few of the things I have learned to do with some degree of skill. I can reliably choose the size of the grocery cart I need: small, medium, or flatbed truck-size. I have learned to put the barcodes facing up and out to speed up checkout at the Chef’s Store, and I recently lifted and loaded my first 50-pound bag of Jasmine rice!
I know the days that certain items are restocked (Tuesday for bread, Thursday for meat), and that when I see a very large block of cheese in the Chef Store for $6.25, it means per pound, not for the entire brick. I know that marinated artichoke hearts are better if they come in a jar rather than a can, and that real vanilla extract costs as much as meat. We won’t talk about the price of pecans.
I am getting better at improvising. Just before Thanksgiving, Nico sent me to the store to get fresh sage. Not surprisingly, they were out. I found a package of fresh “poultry herbs”: thyme, rosemary, and sage in whole leaves. So, I bought 3 of them so Nico could pick out the sage. He was his usual gracious self and the turkey was delicious. I have no idea what became of the thyme and rosemary.
One of my biggest accomplishments is my ability to successfully determine how many bags I will need. My grocery bag collection is truly a wonder of the monastic world. I have the store-provided recyclable plastic ones, the crinkly-with-fabric-handles kind with logos from every grocery store in the area, and giant ones from craft stores that are perfect for holding produce and berries. I have a couple of what I call refrigerator bags for meat and cheese and those rayon (nylon?) ones that are all one piece. I have them in every kind of design, including the two that are the pride of my collection: a Seahawks bag and a flamingo bag. I also have 3 Trader Joe’s canvas bags. And I have finally found a use for all those bags I got as free gifts from charitable organizations I donated to. My Cornell Lab of Ornithology bag is a favorite, with its unique size and larger-than-life picture of robins.
But not everything is perfect—apparently there will never be an end to the things I need to learn about produce. I was shooting past the limes one afternoon when I saw several large limes the size of cantaloupes. I didn’t have time to stop and explore but when I shared my amazement at the dinner table that night there was a bit of skepticism, so I decided I would stop and check them out the next time I went shopping, which I did. They weren’t limes. They were a kind of grapefruit called a Pomelo. In my defense, the Pomeloes were on the shelf above the limes, and the sign below the Pomeloes said, “large limes.” The sign was meant to be for the actual limes that were below it. To be honest, those limes didn’t look especially large to me. They looked like normal limes. Just saying.
I took a Pomelo home and shared it at dinner that night. It was delicious. Sweeter than any grapefruit I had every had. It has a lime green rind, and ruby red insides. There is about 2-3 inches of rind which is very bitter. After you peel it out of its rind it is about the same amount of fruit as a regular grapefruit, but there is no need for sugar. I had to watch a You Tube video on how to peel it and wrestle it out of the rind, but it was worth it. Everyone loved it and we’ve had it again. This is when shopping becomes community—we share new foods, not always with a 100% approval rate, but always with enthusiasm and an open mind. Others share their shopping and food discovery stories too. There are discussions of favorite recipes, and favorite dishes that sisters from the past would make. One common theme running through the stories tells how mothers were able to cook memorable meals on very tight budgets. Somehow there was always a way to bake cookies or a pie, or the special dishes for holidays.
Which brings me to a question I have for you. The only item that Nico has asked me to get that I have never been able to find is raw flour tortillas. Does anyone out there know where to find such a thing? And if you can tell me the place, please tell me where in the store I will find it. Deli? Frozen? Bread section? If you can help me out, I would appreciate it very much. I would like to have a 100% grocery list completion rate, and this is the only thing standing in my way.
May your New Year be blessed with happy eating and warm memories.