Trader Joe's

When the cashier picked up the last blueberry, I remembered why I swore to never again take my kids with me to the grocery store.

Monday started out badly. The kids didn’t get enough sleep because it was the last day of Thanksgiving break. After much struggle I dragged them both to school. I had so much work to catch up on, I was late picking them both up that afternoon and they were not happy about it. They were also not happy about the after school trip to Trader Joe’s.

“We’re going to the store to buy gum and Toaster Pastries!” I told them. They cheered loudly so for a minute I thought it was a good plan.

Once we got to the store I knew it was not, in fact, a good plan.

Late afternoon is not a good time for 5 and 6-year-old boys. The older one kept running around with the cart and I had to put my body in front of it to stop it from hitting anyone. There was a woman who seemed to be right next to us the entire time sighing loudly. My pleas for my kids to stop jumping around, yelling, and sneaking things into the cart were heard only by the sighing woman and everyone else within 2 aisles of us.

When we walked past the meat section I grabbed a whole chicken and boys both yelled, “chicken!!” and started poking at the bloody part of the packaging. I warned them that it would be really bad if the bag broke.

When we went to the checkout I noticed something dripping from the packed cart. They had poked a hole in the chicken bag and blood and goo was oozing all over the seat of the cart.

I asked the cashier for plastic bag and a paper towel and in record time she grabbed the chicken, wrapped it, cleaned the seat, and sprayed all of us with antibacterial spray. After both boys rubbed their hands together they took a big sniff and yelled, “Ewwww. It’s burning.”

They recovered quickly and started helping her with the groceries. The younger one handed her a yogurt and it fell to the ground breaking. I saw this happening and yelled, “NOOOO!!” and knocked over a container of blueberries.

The cashier told us to go get a new yogurt and blueberries. I sent the boys off and I bagged the groceries while the cashier picked up the blueberries one by one.

After a while I thought, “Hmmm, I hope the boys come back.” Then I heard, “We’re back!!!”

At this point the lines were 5 people deep and everyone was looking at us. I desperately tried to avoid eye contact. We were finally ready to go and as we pushed the cart away the cashier stopped us.

“You have really nice boys,” she said and handed them both a row of stickers. She took them back fast and asked, “Are you going to listen to mom?” They looked up at her and the older one said, “Of course!”

Then I had a flashback of the time we were at Trader Joe’s and both boys were sitting in the cart and when I turned around I heard a “plunk, plunk.” I looked over to see them dropping eggs through squares in the bottom of the cart. There was also the time the younger one pulled a lemon from the bottom of the pile and dozens of lemons tumbled to the floor. Or the time when they were fighting over a container of berries and it went flying up in the air scattering berries all over the produce aisle.

Yep, they may listen to mom sometimes, but not at the grocery store.

113 Degrees in Los Angeles

It was 113 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday, the hottest it’s been..ever! Needless to say, I wasn’t about to cook. I dragged my kids to a pizza place with air conditioning. One son sat mesmerized watching a cartoon on the television mounted above the booths while the other played games on my iPhone.

I grew up in excessive heat with no air conditioning and do you know how many times we went out to eat because it was too hot to cook? zero. Absolutely never.

My mom would be in the kitchen frying up tacos or sautéing calabacitas in the dead of summer. We had a swamp cooler growing up in Tucson, but when it was in the 100s and God forbid there was a little moisture in the air, it seemed to do very little.

Sitting there in the restaurant with my kids, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Not so much for being there last night, but for going out to dinner the night before. My mom had 4 kids and the first 3 were 18-months apart. I only have 2 kids, and we’re blessed with air conditioning and the convenience of Trader Joe’s. I cook for them, but not nearly enough.

My boys wanted to go for ice cream after dinner, but I couldn’t bring myself to take them to another restaurant. Instead I had them help me make coconut ice cream in the ice cream maker that I had used about 5 times since I got it as a wedding gift. They helped me pour in the coconut milk, cream, vanilla and sugar.

While it was churning, my older son finished his homework and the younger one played in the kitchen. I could have easily done the same thing to make a healthy dinner at home.

Today it’s only expected to be in the 90s. I’ll definitely cook tonight.

Roasted Chicken with Green Garlic

A friend stopped by my Gluten-Free Goodies booth at the farmers’ market today and told me about Green Garlic.

You can only get it for a very short time in the Spring and only at farmers’

markets. It looks like a leek and when I went to buy it I checked with the seller to make sure I had the right root vegetable.

He said to use it like garlic, except you can use the entire vegetable, stalk and all. It has a milder taste, and my friend suggested making aioli, which I thought was a fantastic idea. But I forgot to buy eggs so I had to scour the fridge to see what we had.

The 6-year-old and I bought a free range chicken yesterday and were planning to roast it. I couldn’t find a recipe for Green garlic and Chicken so I turned to Twitter. Amelia of Eating Made Easy saved the day with a great recipe.

She said, in 140 characters, to cut the green garlic in half and place it in the cavity of the chicken along with two lemon halfs. I cut up a bulb and rubbed it on the chicken with olive oil and fresh rosemary from our yard. I sprinkled sea salt on the chicken and roasted it at 400 degrees for about an hour. It was wonderful. The chicken was tender and moist with a light flavor.

I served it with Red Chard that I also got at the farmers’ market. I cut up the rest of the green garlic (once again, stalks and all) and sauted it with olive oil. I added freshly washed, so still slightly wet, chard (I got this from Epicurious) and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. It was very nice.

Then I cheated and rounded off the meal with Trader Joe’s Frozen Mashed Potatoes (they’re really good!) and a sparkling wine.
The best part is that the husband I had dinner after the kids went to bed and were able to have a lovely meal together. Fabulous.