For Mother’s Day I received a gift card to Trader Joe’s. I love TJ’s but I forget to shop there because it’s 20 miles away. I pass it on the way to my Saturday Afternoon Knitting Group, but I only pass by the entrance to the strip mall. I don’t actually see the store. I’m an impulse person and so unless there are flags waving and banners proclaiming specials and a spotlight or two waving over the store lighting up the sky, I’m not going to remember to turn in.
My gift card has been burning a hole in my pocket all month because I haven’t been to my group for one reason or another, but this week I’m on. I had an hour between group and meeting friends, so stopping at Trader Joe’s was perfect, but I could only buy items that could sit in the hot car while I was with my friends.
I was celebrating as I entered the store because I scored a front parking spot. I’m not sure why that’s important but it is. I wasn’t two feet past the shopping carts before I picked up my first item: a pot of yellow miniature roses. My plan is to stop frequently after knitting group and pick up something fun and interesting each time. I was already in trouble because I still had about forty minutes to wander the aisles.
The next display beside the flowers had specialty breads. One loaf was round and covered with sesame seeds. My favorite! The price was right and it nestled comfortably between my purse and my roses. Thirty nine minutes to go. I sampled at the sample table. I pinched the cantaloupe, smelled the pineapples and studied the produce I was unfamiliar with. The cart rolled magically weaving in and out of aisles full of items that you don’t see at Wal-Mart or Kroger. I bought dried mashed banana, I bought Blue Fin white wine. I bought their own green tea.
I knew my eyes were glazing over and while trolling I could smell the bread that was in my cart. I was imagining slicing my sesame bread and spreading it with fresh butter. I passed by a jar of bruschetta and thought “Why not?” Why not grill that slice and make those appetizers my niece and her husband made when they came over from Italy? Of course I wouldn’t use goat cheese and pine nuts as they did. That was a disaster! After eating their appetizers, later that evening my husband broke out in a rash that took him to the emergency room. My poor Italian nephew-in-law, came out to the hospital as soon as he heard. He was more than a little shocked and dismayed when he saw him covered from head to toe with bright red spots, looking like he had the measles. We reassured Antonio that, even though he was the chef, it was not his fault, we never knew my husband was allergic to pine nuts.
It’s been two years since that fiasco and so, picking up the jar of bruschetta, I placed it in my basket. Next, I found my way over to the cheese aisle. There were hundreds of choices. They all looked great. I passed on the goat cheese even though we had proclaimed it safe. I settled on Baby Swiss, my favorite, because I knew it would melt beautifully. I quickly went to the check out counter before spending any more money and watched my items being scanned. I asked for paper wrapping for the cheese, but no they only had plastic. I conned her into wrapping the cheese in the paper bags they only use for wine and then placed it in my purse. It just wasn’t going to make it in the hot car. I spent about a third of my gift card which made me happy. I realized after picking up the second item, shopping for one item weekly wasn’t going to cut it. I was happy because I hadn’t spent it all!
When I arrived home a couple of hours later everything was fine. I thawed out some chicken breasts, made a fire in my patio fireplace and placed a grill over the top. I put my wine to chill and began toasting the sliced sesame bread on my griddle. I set the table on the patio. When my husband got home, I put the chicken breasts on the grill over the open wood fire and tended the fire so they would get smoked and crispy but not burned. The vegetables simmered. When the chicken breasts were done after about twenty minutes, I brought them in. I heated the broiler up and began making the bruschetta with the slices I had toasted earlier. Opening the jar was heaven. It had tomato chunks in it and seasoned to perfection. I topped each slice and placed slices of thinly cut baby swiss on top. I slid them under the broiler just enough to heat them through and melt the cheese. Five minutes later I had my plates ready and the wine uncorked and was calling my husband to another healthy and gourmet dinner. This cooking gig isn’t too bad after all…as long as there is a Trader Joe’s in town.