First off, I wanted you to see the tree of my across-the-street neighbors. Isn't it lovely and tranquil? Tracy and I think so too. Okay, now on with the entry.
My Beautiful Daughter Thinks I'm Weird because I'm cursing and muttering all the way to Hannaford's, an enormous supermarket near us. Usually I love food shopping, and so does she; usually we shop at Stop 'n' Shop, which has the highest quality of goods overall among the many selections in our town.
Hannaford's is all right--I've never been sold an outdated package, or any food which has actually been bad--but everything in there is double-wrapped in cellophane, either literally or symbolically.
Let me explain. All the produce is shiny and large and blushful, but it's the likeliest place in town to get a mushy apple or a tasteless head of romaine.
There are interesting salad dressings which claim to have miso or soy sauce or balsamic vinegar among their ingredients, and they all taste exactly the same.
The meats are bright-red in color, which is okay for the beef but disturbing for the lamb (which ought to be more ruby-colored) and downright alarming for the pork, which ought to be pink.
The desserts and baked goods...and there are billowing mounds of them...do not include real whipped cream. They are swimming in UNreal whipped cream, or, as we call it around my house, Caulk.
On the other hand, those national brands represented here are priced much lower than in any other store. And the BD and I are shopping for our Thanksgiving baked good (see entry below), and this seemed like the logical place to shop.
We need what we always need: brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and possibly even something like shortening or tapioca. I am not a baker--I tend to feel that the only dessert honest people really want is either a handful of plain m&m's or, because some people are actually allergic to chocolate, like dogs, a piece of fresh fruit--so I do not keep these things in my house.
It is a condition of my life as a cook that there are some very strange things with the supply of which I am easily conversant. Salmon roe flows in and out of my refrigerator as dependably as if I had a fleet of trained and eroticized fish at my disposal. Olive oil, be it the "utility" type that I keep for sauteing or the rich green EVOO for salads, is always in good supply. Do I have duck eggs, fresh ricotta, or pesto at any given moment, or do I know when I'll be getting the next batch? But of course. And that also goes for sushi, jasmine, and risotto rice, plus fresh yaki-soba noodles and the bok choi to stir fry them with.
On the other hand. Breakfast cereal evades me entirely; I either have it for six months or for two hours. Butter is a problem; I seem to constantly be putting a frozen stick in the microwave to "soften up", then forgetting about it until the water content explodes and makes a greasy mess. I can juggle homemade sausage and chicken feet through my freezer without breaking a sweat, but the only beverage I can count on finding in my kitchen is water, straight from the tap.
I think other people have problems with baking needs as well, especially at holiday time. Suddenly we see a picture in a magazine or on the Food Network and suuuuure, it's just as easy as a bundle of bunnies to dash out to the supermarket and put that sucker together, right?
You bet it's easy! No it is not! Because, just to take one example, there are five different things that say "Vanilla"and some of them cost like a year's subscription to Vanity Fair! We are not making this up!
And, of course, some of these things are completely impossible to understand. What IS tapioca, and why should it be used in a pie? What is arrowroot? What in GOD'S name is it? And what is the difference between baking powder and baking soda, I mean, please don't tell me again unless you're going to tell me in a way that will actually stick in my mind. And the best brains of a generation have tried, you know, and failed dismally.
The funny thing is, Hannaford's was full of shoppers this morning--the extremely wide aisles crowded, and everyone, including me, going into trances while trying to decide of the Imitation Vanilla Extract would be better than the Pure Imitation Vanilla Extract, and didn't we have a bottle of the stuff at home, anyway. (I actually made out pretty well this season, having checked my pantry before I left the house, and the only thing in which I doubled up was Cinnamon Sticks. Which, considering I bought the last jarful in 1989, I was probably due for a change anyway.)
Anyway, I got home and started baking and we came out with an apple strudel, about which more in the entry below.