Thursday, July 14, 2016

This week's grocery list

IMG_20160712_085647_01
A breakfast I made for my mother on the morning that she had a vivid dream that my cousin had died in a car crash. My cousin, an expert on dementia after caring for her mother, said that food sometimes alleviates confusion, so I made this omelette for my mom. ©2016 MasonWest.
One task that archaeologists face at a dig is to figure out the diet of the ancient people whose ancient city they're now deconstructing. The archaeologists know when they've more or less accounted for everything when they meet certain minimum daily requirements for protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients. They learn more than just the nutrition of their ancient subjects. From the diet they can also deduce all sorts of other things like the division of labor, how people spent their time, what the climate was like then (as opposed to now), and so on.

I'm serious: I submit this week's grocery list for your consideration not because you're an archaeologist about to learn about the climate of Texas with the doors of the thermonuclear blast furnace wide open (it's July, after all), but these things do nevertheless belie our habits and tastes. I'm sure each reader will bring to the table his or her own set of interpretation tools, rather like those blind guys who set about studying a tree, a snake, a rope, or the side of a barn.

Hill Country Fare Homestyle Potato Salad
A staple on the list, this three-pound tub of potato salad is one of my mother's comfort foods. And it's easy to fix: she just scoops it out and eats it. I don't eat very much of it, maybe a scoop a week, but it's surprisingly good for a store-made potato salad. Goes great with a sandwich.

Fresh Strawberries
My mother dips strawberries in copious quantities of ranch style dressing, and this is her primary sustenance. For some reason, when I rinse the ranch dressing off plates, it coagulates into big flakes in the sink, as if it's a completely different substance when cleaned than

Fresh Large Greenhouse Tomatoes
We all love tomatoes here. This week's list features many sandwich items, so tomatoes will complement our sandwiches, but they'll also go well on top of the spinach, chard, and kale salad.

Fresh Sweet Onion Bag
These sweet onions are so delicious. They're nearly as sweet as apples. They go well in a stir-fry, chopped and sautéed among scrambled eggs, mixed in with beans in the slow cooker, or sliced on a sandwich.

Basil leaves. Photo by Paul GoyetteLicensed by CC BY-SA 2.0
Fresh Basil
I love pasta, and pouring marinara sauce on it every time seems unnecessarily heavy. I want to have spaghetti with just a little olive oil drizzled on it and with some basil crumbled into it.

Central Market Organics Super Green Trio Spinach, Chard And Kale
This is only five ounces of salad, and it might disappear with me, along with a sliced tomato on top, and some Italian vinaigrette drizzled on top for a meal while watching YouTube videos or an episode of Seinfeld.

Large green onions. Photo by Al Jazeera English. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Green onions
I love these things, especially in a sandwich or alongside a sandwich. Those in the picture look a little wilted, so I would have to trim a lot more off than I usually do. Inside a sandwich they sometimes resist the slice of my incisors, so I wind up pulling the whole onion out with my bite of sandwich, so unless the onion is especially fresh and crisp, I serve them on the side. I find that the quickest way to prep onions is with the kitchen scissors. From the white end I trim just enough to get rid of the roots. From the green end I trim away the wilted part, but leave all the unwilted green I can because those taste good too.

Nature's Own 12 Grain Specialty Bread
The trend toward health foods has created a niche of compromise foods—they are somewhat healthier than what I was eating, but they're still not the whole deal I would find in some of the stricter stores. Back when Ralph Nader functioned as a consumer advocate, he pointed out that bread has become nothing more than a way to eat air. Though this isn't the gastronomic delight of the real French bread comprising yeast, salt, water, and gourmet quality ground wheat like I can get at the Central Market H-E-B, nor is it the rich, healthy bread I might find at Whole Foods (both of these, interestingly enough, emerged out of Austin, Texas), but since those aren't in my domain at the moment, Nature's Own isn't a bad compromise. In a perfect world I would be able to buy some hearty black Russian bread, which really is a substantial food that, complemented with a few vegetables and maybe the occasional fish or ox tail, might compose a complete diet.

Hill Country Fare Wheat Bread
I suspect that my mother would prefer pre-Nader bread, so buying this loaf tests my hypothesis. Hill Country Fare is is one of H-E-B's store brands. This so-called wheat bread seems to differ from the white bread analog only by a dash of food coloring to give the bread a brown hue. A side-by-side comparison of price, ingredients, and nutritional information might be interesting. I could be surprised: it might be possible to get nearly the same nutrients as found in the Nature's Own bread with this 88-cent loaf.

Oroweat Whole Grain 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
These are a wonderful way to put a handle around a hamburger, but I'm not buying hamburgers this time, so I fired off a text to my brother to say they shouldn't be on the list.

H‑E‑B More Fruit Peach and Mango Fruit Spread
A fruit spread means real chunks of fruit, and this decadently sweet and fruity spread sends a biscuit over the top as an ambrosia fit to be an Olympian sacrament. According to my brother, while I was away, my mother focused on buying H-E-B's Colombian coffee because of my South American connections, and I can't help wondering if she chose the mango in this spread for the same reason.

Good Seasons Combo Pack Italian (2) & Greek (1) Dressing Mix with Cruet. (If you can find the one with the Greek as well as the Italian, great. If not, the one with the Italians is fine. I know they sell the cruet because I bought one, but somehow it disappeared....)
I've parenthetically added a note to my brother about which package to buy. H-E-B's IT department has been fooling around with their Web site again, and there are some things that I know are in the store but that just can't be found on the Web site. It's bad enough that I can no longer find a complete listing of the Combos Locos or the Meal Deal on the site, but instead have to rely upon the circular that comes in the mail every week.

Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Dressing
With this sauce my mother regresses to childhood. She loves it on almost everything, especially strawberries, though her aphasia often prevents her from asking for it. Depending upon the context, I can usually deduce what she means. I'm reminded of how some children sometimes will eat only foods that are white—milk, cheese, bread, ice cream, pasta (probably with Alfredo sauce but not marinara sauce), bananas, etc.

Spaghetti. Photo by Assianir. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
H‑E‑B Spaghetti
I love pasta with or without sauce. As I mentioned under the listing for basil, I intend to have some with crumbled basil and olive oil drizzled on it.

Del Monte Garlic & Herb Chunky Pasta Sauce
Del Monte Traditional Pasta Sauce
Del Monte Meat Flavored Pasta Sauce
These are really cheap basic sauces, but they taste fine to me. It takes about ten minutes to bring water to a boil, then ten minutes to cook the spaghetti. After that, I dump the spaghetti in a collander and heat about half a can of sauce in the same pan in which I was cooking the spaghetti. As the sauce gets hot, I dump the spaghetti back into the pan, and stir. Voilá! I usually shake out generous portions of Parmesan cheese onto my pasta with sauce. I also have a baggy full of the extra packets of Parmesan and crushed red pepper from the Pizza Hut deliveryman, so sometimes I use those.

H‑E‑B Blueberries (No Sugar Added)
H‑E‑B Mango Chunks (No Sugar Added)
H-E-B Creamy Creations Chocolate Ice Cream
These chunks of frozen fruit go right into my personal blender to make a smoothie. I've increased the frozen fruit on hand to shift the fast-breaking focus from ovocentric breakfasts to fruity insanity.

H‑E‑B Steamable Sauced Cinnamon Glazed Sweet Potatoes
H‑E‑B Steamable Sauced Creamed Spinach
H‑E‑B Steamable Sauced Roasted Red Potatos with Green Beans in Rosemary Butter Sauce
H‑E‑B Steamable Baby Potato and Broccoli Blend
These are economically priced and tasty vegetable dishes that require five minutes in the microwave, then you cut the bag open and serve them. It's that easy. If I'm heating frozen lasagna or baking frozen fish, these add a quick side vegetable to the menu.

H‑E‑B Lemonade Liquid Drink Enhancer
I use the lemonade concentrate in my iced tea to sweeten it and to give it a lemon flavor. One teaspoon flavors a whole gallon of tea.

Hershey's Kisses Classic Bag Milk Chocolate
I don't even like these myself because chocolate requires the counterpoint of the crunch of a pecan, peanut, or walnut. My mother's sweet tooth loves them, though, so we buy her a bag every week.

20160515_121335
If you look carefully, you can find all six of the
grown kittens as well as the mama. ©2016 Mason West.
Friskies Surfin' & Turfin' Favorites Cat Food
Friskies canned cat food, over 24 varieties
This food feeds the neighborhood feral cats. Some years ago, before I was living here, when I'd come visit, the mama cat, a long-haired Siamese would see me coming, and she would hurry her litter of black kittens off the front porch and into hiding. Now they are all adults, and have broadened their territories a bit. Two of them live—by which I mean that they spend 90% of their time—just outside the back door where their feeding tray is. The mother lives around the corner in an adjacent territory, and she sometimes naps or suns on a park bench just outside my window. The others live next door—the neighbor feeds them too—or in places I don't know about. Usually when I feed them, the mama kitty and one or two others from the litter show up, and once or twice a month the mama and all six of her grown kittens will show up for a meal.

H‑E‑B Tough & Easy Slider Quart Size Storage Bags
My standard way of dealing with leftovers, especially a tomato or onion off which I've taken only a few slices.

Pillsbury Grands! Big Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits
These biscuits make for a quick, warm, and hearty light meal, or they complement eggs and hash browns deliciously as well. They're great with butter melting inside, then spread with the peach & mango fruit spread.

Hill Country Fare Orange Juice with Calcium
Orange juice is one of the great ways to start a day. I have it first thing with meds and YouTube, just before cereal and milk.

Hill Country Fare Fat Free Milk
For me, this floats the cereal. From Amazon I buy indiviudal serving packets of Kashi, Special K, and Raisin Bran—not too sweet stuff, and relatively healthy compared to the sugar-laden kid cereals. My mother consumes massive quantities, perhaps for the calcium in it. And she won't drink coffee without a splash of milk in it.

Hill Country Fare Grade A Large Eggs
The egg's stock seems to rise and fall tumultuously these days. One moment I read that it's the perfect food, and the next moment I'm reading that more than an egg a week means certain, sudden death. But I love eggs because they are filling, easy to cook, and delicious with little more than bread or sitting on top of something complex. They also do miracles in baking one achieves a controlled explosion rather like a star's balance between thermonuclear force outward and gravity inward. In cornbread, for example, the egg is the gravity holding everything together while the baking powder seeks to explode outward and to break the bonds. The result is a lightness and delicacy, which make for a delicious cornbread. Not enough outward impulse and the cornbread falls together into a brick like a white dwarf; too much and the cornbread crumbles

COMBOS LOCOS
H-E-B calls a "buy this, get this free special" a Combo Loco, a small example of the non-Hispanic population to invent pseudo-Spanish. I checked, and at least H-E-B doesn't attempt to render the phrase in the plural as Combo Locos, which a lot of the pseudo-Spanish writers would do.

COMBO LOCO #1
H-E-B lunchmeat (pick one)
H-E-B Sliced Natural Cheese (sharp cheddar)
Three different combos locos had sandwich meats and cheeses, and that seemed like a good idea because this is stuff she can make as she likes. There are things she can't do anymore—her attempts to make biscuits in the microwave were disastrous, but I'm pretty sure she can still manage a sandwich.

COMBO LOCO #2
Oscar Mayer Honey Ham
Kraft Singles Sharp Cheddar Cheese Slices
More sandwich stuff.

COMBO LOCO #3
H‑E‑B Premium Black Forest Brand Ham
H‑E‑B Deli Lacey Swiss Cheese (Regularly $7.43/lb)
And more sandwich stuff.

COMBO LOCO #4 (buy two, get third free)
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Cream Cheese & Strawberry Pastries
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel Apple (Regularly $2)
As long as she does these in the toaster, and not in the microwave, these should be good too.