Friday, September 15, 2006

For the love of Spinach

Today’s news has brought a tear to my eye but also created a flutter of praise in my heart to the Lord. Let me explain. First of all, I love spinach and I generally buy the kind in a bag since it’s more fun that way and between Giant and Safeway, one of them has it on sale. Second, I have a favorite sandwich from the cafeteria at work that I tend to eat everyday (by the way – our cafeteria was named the best cafeteria among DC government agencies although I can’t seem to find the article). Anywho, the sandwich is a wrap with ranch dressing, spinach, chicken, provolone cheese, and bacon (although lately I’ve been ordering it without the bacon because I’m going through a “God doesn’t like pigs so I don’t either” phase. I have to come up with a good biblical reason for the decisions that I make).
All that to say that last week I was struck with this bright idea: Why not buy some wraps, spinach, chicken and cheese (I’ve got the ranch dressing), and make my own wraps at home to take to work. I’ve been convicted lately about eating out and spending too much money on food, so this seemed like a step in the right direction. This weekend I headed to the grocery store to buy my ingredients to prepare my lunches for the upcoming week. Well, I got to the Giant and bagged spinach was not on sale. I almost bought a bag anyway, but then I remembered the times I found myself at home on a Friday night eating handfuls of spinach (which I really don’t mind) just so I wouldn’t waste half of the bag I’d bought earlier that week.

As all this was going through my head, I realized I could just get a few tongfuls of spinach off the salad bar. Brilliant idea! That way, I probably wouldn’t waste any, and since spinach weighs next to nothing, the salad bar spinach costs next to nothing as well.

The plan worked out perfectly. Mon-Thurs (today I went to Subway for some sweet onion chicken teriyaki yumminess) I had my chicken/spinach/ranch wrap and it turned out pretty good. I do miss my walks with Alan to the cafeteria though. Then the news came on this morning. Don’t eat bagged spinach! Throw it out, burn it, bury it in the back yard! When I heard the news I recalled my visit to the grocery store this past weekend. Was the Lord ever looking after me! He gave me the brilliant salad bar spinach idea so I wouldn’t be sitting here today thinking I have e.coli. Just a reminder that he cares about even the simplest aspects of our life right down to the kind of spinach we buy. Now I just have to pray that the bacteria didn’t make its way into the pre-packaged sugar snap peas. Ever since I convinced myself that sugar snap peas really = brownie mix, I consume about 2 Ready Pac’s a week.

Back to spinach - When the country’s spinach is back in full operating order, here is a great recipe for spinach artichoke dip, brought to you by the etiquette girls:

1 can artichoke hearts (not the marinated kind, the ones packed in water), drainedMayonnaise (regular Hellmann's, not the low-fat/ low-cal kind)1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (or a parmesan/ mozzarella/ provolone blend, which you can buy premixed at the grocer's!)1/2 package chopped spinach (optional)Crusty bread and/ or Carr's crackers

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Chop artichoke hearts in the Cuisinart, or mash them up with the back of a fork. Don't chop them too finely--it's better if the dip has some Fairly Sizable Artichoke Chunks in it.

Place artichokes in bowl; mix in 2 or 3 Good Dollops of mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and spinach (if using). Is the dip creamy? If not, add more mayo.

Turn into a small casserole dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until dip is bubbly, and golden-brown around the edges.

Serve with crackers and/ or bread.

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