It’s an impossibly beautiful morning. The back door is wide open. I’m supposed to go on a walk with my husband to loosen up my sore muscles and his creaky back, but right now he’s reading the sports page so I have a few minutes to indulge in me-me-me-time.
Waltz promised she’d read my grocery list if I wrote it down. I couldn’t possibly print the whole list — besides, I’ll assume you don’t really want to know what brand of kitten chow I buy (yes, I said kitten — kittens actually, more on that later).
Instead I’ve complied my short list of favorite things to buy in the summer. It’s the stuff I need to stockpile in case my husband loses his job, in which case my whole family will be forced to subsist on my selfish but yummy choices because hello, I buy the food.
Welcome to my own personal Jicama Festival. It started in late spring when I ran into a former preschool mom who’d lost weight and looked amazing. She was loading up on jicama.
I was like, “oh yeah, jicama…. it’s yummy, but I’d never think to actually buy it.” She told me she slices it and dowses it with lime juice and Splenda for a sweet snack. Her arms were seriously cut and unlike me, she only had one chin. I put two huge jicamas my cart. (P.S. I did contemplate secretly tailing her, three carts behind, just to see what the skinny people buy, but I’m a bigger person than that).
So yeah, jicama. Peeled and sliced up like french fries (*sigh*) in a ziploc, I pull it out whenever I want to munch on something (straight up and neat, not tainted with Splenda). Recently, Alias Mother suggested a salad with jicama, watermelon, mint and lime. Can you imagine? So I bought more jicama, some watermelon and limes and then I forgot the mint. Curses.
This was my not on my go-to list this year or I’d be knee-deep in heavenly jicama salad, but gosh, mint – Mint! Nothing soothes the soul and makes me crave rum like fresh mint. One summer I planted it in two huge pots and spent months muddling it for various mojito-ish concoctions that kept me happy, boozy and lazy through September. It was a very good summer.
3. Greek Yogurt.
So creamy, so yummy. I am kind of squeamish with yogurt, but the Greeks — Op-ah! they made me love yogurt. I mix it with flax seed, vanilla, blueberries and a little stevia. It’s expensive but I justify it by returning cans and not buying shoes. Oh, and I never buy fat-free, just low-fat. Fat-free is just not creamy enough.
4. Flax seed.
I started buying flax seed when I read about it’s anti-inflammatory effects. Now, I put it on salad, in my yogurt, in cereal, and sprinkled on peanut butter toast. It’s nutty and hearty, and I love that it leaves a few little seeds in my gums that I can fish out with my tongue in a rather satisfying post-meal ritual.
5. Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins.
I’m trying to stay away from white flour and bread in general, but I’m hooked on these. They’re like thin, but hearty little hamburger buns — 100 calories and 5 grams of fiber per. They make a great snack slathered with peanut butter or with a slice of cheese, especially when you’re dashing off to Target, hypoglycemic, and don’t want to yell at your kids in front of the other moms at Target. I also serve them toasted, open-faced, and drizzled with olive oil for my people. They eat it and actually thank me.
6. Diet Coke.
Everything I’ve read about fibromyalgia says to lose the aspartame. My teenage neighbor insists Diet Coke contains formaldehyde. Screw it. I need my Diet Coke. Everyday. There is nothing like it — cold, out of can (not a bottle), bubbly, fresh, and with a little kick of energy. It’s just a little chemically beverage that makes me so happy. You may scold me all you want. I may die early and never decompose — but I just. don’t. care.
I confess, buying lemons makes me feel smug — like I’m some kind of great cook or something. But I think lemons make everything taste bright and fresh: squirted over roasted asparagus, nestled in sparkling water, splashed into mayo and curry powder for a quick dressing.
My favorite go-to chicken recipe is just lemons, olive oil and whatever else I have around: fresh thyme, garlic, red onion, Dijon mustard – smooshed together in a ziploc to marinate until it’s time for grilling. My foodie brother says not to add the lemon juice until the end, that it will pre-cook the chicken in a cheviche-like fashion, but I let in marinate for hours. It makes the chicken soooo tender and yummy.
8. Good White Wine.
I love red-wine, but I had to give it up when postpartum (or perimenopausal?) hormonal changes made me intolerant. Now I must drink white, but that’s good in the summer, chilled in a pretty glass. I won’t list a region or grape because I’m not that discerning so long as it’s not Chardonnay, which makes me shudder, and costs more than seven dollars. For some reason, I can find good wine under ten dollars, but never under seven.
9. Starbucks Verona Coffee.
I know, I love Dunkin Donuts, too – but in the morning, I need black, bitter, super-hot Starbucks.
10. Chocolate chips.
There you have it. Please feel free to add a few of your summer favorites and/or wine recommendations. We can have a virtual summer picnic. I’ll bring the jicama.