Gracious and Kind

Last week I visited Costco for the first time in over a year. As I pulled in to the packed parking lot late on a Saturday morning I immediately regretted my decision and developed a paralyzing sense of agoraphobia. For those of us that have been holed up online shopping for the past year, this reaction should be expected and the notion of “exposure therapy” came to mind. My mantra today was to be gracious and kind as I maneuvered through the manic highway of Costco shopping carts that simultaneously drive at full speed AND park in both directions of the main aisles. So I parked the end of the lot, masked up, and set out to navigate the sea of tantalizing packaged goods.

After a fruitful hour, I proudly pulled up to the check-out aisles, arriving at the same exact moment another woman with her two young daughters pulled up to the same spot from another direction. I said I was waiting in line to check-out, and she quickly shouted “NO you weren’t I was here FIRST!” and then pushed her cart closer to push mine out of the way. Gracious and kind. Gracious and kind. Deep breath. I asked her to move up then so I could pass to another line on the side. “OOOH” she continued. “Nope. I’m not gonna move for you.” The way she snapped and stared at me with those piercing eyes in her tight pink jogger shorts, white sneakers and white fitted hoodie as her two pretty little girls watched on. The way she held up her pointer finger and punctuated “not gonna move FOR YOU” in this decisive and precise moment of putrid hate. I immediately regretted my mantra. “It’s common courtesy, you know?” I said, raising my voice a little. “You’re blocking the aisle” I pointed to an elderly couple trying to push through to the vitamin aisle from behind her. They were watching me with pleading eyes. It was like Disneyland on Christmas Day but with no joy. “Go around the aisle!” she said to me, pushing her cart to block me even more, but this was said loud enough so the elderly couple behind her sadly pushed their cart backwards for a long way to get and around another aisle before disappearing into the abyss.

I swiftly jumped to an opening in an aisle that suddenly shortened to my left, defiantly keeping my back to her even as I awkwardly held two large storage bins in my left arm held up with my knee while pushing a cart full of groceries with just my right hand. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to do it with a dancer’s ease. But before I knew it I was already putting my items down and swiping my credit card and she hadn’t even moved one inch in her line. “Mommmyyyyyy!” I heard one of her girls whine. “She’s checking out before us!” I could feel the searing heat on my back. I heard this above all the noise of the cashiers beeping and the chip bags rustling and the credit card swiping and the shopping carts rattling and the hundreds of voices in the cafe ordering pizza. I finished checking out in silent victory and I looked back to give her a quick shrug and a smile. Gracious and kind, right?

GREEK BLACK LENTILS

Lentils are an excellent pantry staple because they are quick-cooking and work well in almost any type of cuisine. Beluga lentils, also known as black lentils, have a shiny round black shape that often remind people of caviar but with a delicate earthy flavor and are an excellent source of protein. This dish combines the Mediterranean flavors of a vibrant Greek salad with earthy lentils with and is finished with a sunny and bright lemon and mint dressing. This is a hearty dish for Fall that lasts all week in the fridge.

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 cups beluga cooked lentils
  • 1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ seedless cucumber, diced in quarters with skin on
  • ½ pint of cherry tomatoes, diced in half
  • ½ cup chopped parsley 
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, whole
  • ½ cup fresh feta cheese

Mint Lemon Dressing

  • Juice from 2 large lemons
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (flavored oils make a great addition to this dressing)
  • 3 TB fresh mint, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Bring a medium pot of water to boil then and add lentils. Turn down to medium heat and cook for 25 – 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and let cool to room temperature. In a large serving bowl, add salad ingredients to lentils, then pour the dressing over and toss to mix. Let salad rest for 30 minutes before serving to allow the lentils to soak up the flavors. 

Roasted Corn and Snap Pea Salad

These last few weeks have brought a lot of emotional milestones to our lives. Last day of school. First time eating at a restaurant. Good-byes to friends who are moving, but also hellos to family we haven’t seen in 15 months. And also… summer weather!

I would like to introduce you to my new favorite summer recipe that has been buzzing around the internet lately – the Roasted Corn and Snap Pea Salad. This addictive and versatile dish can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes for a quick and easy standalone meal or served as the perfect side dish to your summer BBQ. Warm sweet roasted corn, cool and crunchy snap peas, and salty feta are all combined with a lush orange citrus vinaigrette that demands you sit outside and bask in that summer garden sun! This easy recipe is full of unexpected flavors and will quickly become your new go to shareable summer salad.

Salad Ingredients 

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 bag of sugar snap peas, sliced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • 1 TB olive oil

Vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1 naval orange OR 2 mandarin oranges
  • 1/8 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Slice snap peas taken fresh from refrigerator and place in a salad bowl. Using a knife, remove kernels from the fresh corn cob and sauté in pan on medium heat with olive oil, turning constantly until slightly caramelized. Alternatively, you can grill the corn, carefully turning until fully toasted and then slice off cooked kernels. Add warm corn kernels to the snap peas and top with the crumbled feta. In a small bowl, whisk together the champagne vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, and garlic, then toss salad to coat with the vinaigrette. Top with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve fresh.