Monday, August 20, 2007

The Grocery Dilemma

I’m a dedicated home cook. I always bring a lunch to work. I only eat out about once a week. All of this home cooking requires a steady stream of groceries, and sometimes that gets difficult for a carless pedestrian like myself. Oh, sure, I could get a bike or one of those dorky grocery carts, but thus far I have not acquired a set of wheels in any form. I am blessed with a wonderful natural foods store, Wild Oats, and a good basic grocery store, Jewel Osco, located six blocks from my apartment. These stores are within easy walking distance, but I still have to pay attention to how much food I am buying at one time in order to get it all home by foot. I usually pick up groceries two or three times a week, depending on how much cooking I am doing. One benefit to this system is that I can pick up fresh produce in small quantities and enjoy it at peak flavor and freshness. The downside is that I feel like I am constantly running out of staple ingredients and it’s very hard for me to stock up on good pantry items like canned tomatoes and beans.

I have had the best of intentions to make more dishes off of my Summer Cooking Wish List. I’ve made so little progress with that list it’s pathetic: there are only nine things on the list! And one of them is fresh fruit! But I’ve been busy and a bit disorganized, so the Wish List has remained more of a fantasy than a reality. For the past several weeks, the reality has been that I have managed to eat mostly home-cooked meals by cobbling together a meal from whatever I happen to have in the kitchen, even if it meant dipping into ingredients that I had earmarked for specific cooking projects. Earlier this week I bought most of the ingredients to make Lunar Gazpacho, but I forgot one critical ingredient: plain yogurt. It was on my grocery list, but I had listed it under the Wild Oats section rather than the Jewel section, so when I stopped at Jewel on my way home from work, I didn’t see yogurt on my list. To further complicate matters, I needed some sort of a salad to accompany my pasta for lunch on Friday, and I was tired of lettuce-and-carrot salads, so I made a salad with honeydew melon, seedless cucumber, and green leaf lettuce. The salad was delicious, very light and refreshing. Unfortunately, the melon and cucumber were supposed to be used in Lunar Gazpacho, so now I have to backtrack and buy another cucumber in addition to plain yogurt before I can try out my Lunar Gazpacho. But fear not: I will complete the Summer Cooking Wish List before the end of summer and I will make Lunar Gazpacho before this weekend ends!

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