Sunday, January 31, 2016


I bought seeds the other day.
The woman behind me in line commented, "Wow, you're hopeful."
Her tone implied that she did not approve of my purchase on such a blustery, January day.  The look on her face said, "How dare you imagine the ground thawing, daffodils blooming, while it's 15 degrees out and the wind is is so strong it makes your eyes water and your nose run?" 
To tell the truth, I set out to buy a new winter hat.  I was already tired of wearing my favorite one that does not smoosh down my hair.  It's very important to me that my hair does not get smooshed, so finding the right hat to add to my wardrobe is challenging and requires a lot of legwork.  When the wind is whipping down the back of my neck and the tips of my ears are cold because I forgot my favorite hat at home, it makes me think of looking for a hat.  It does not make me think of buying seeds to plant in the early spring. But I didn't tell her that.
I'm not sure if it is intentional that the seeds are displayed adjacent to the cold winter wear.  Probably not as this is a discount store filled with a hodge-podge of merchandise from patio chairs to bagels and bed sheets and power drills.  But upon just seeing the neatly organized shelves of small paper packages adorned with brightly colored photographs of every flower you can possibly grow in coastal New England (and at 40% off!!), how could I resist?
At first, I thought I would pick up a few packages of seeds for cold weather greens like spinach and Swiss chard, the ones I would plant right away in April.  That's reasonable, right?  But then, I decided, "No, get it ALL now."  Who knows when I will remember to come back?  Who cares what I already have at home in my seed collection stashed in an old shoe box?  So, I didn't just buy some seeds.  I bought so many seeds I could barely carry all the little packages without dropping a few every step I took as I made my way to the register.  I must have appeared deranged as I unloaded my arms and dumped packets of marigolds, lettuce, green beans, snap peas and every herb you can imagine growing onto the counter for the cashier to ring up.  I'm sure that snotty customer who stepped in line behind me thought I was as crazy as someone who buys a snow shovel during a heat wave in July.  But I really didn't care.  I just responded,
"At this price, if you don't get them now, the seeds will be gone when you're ready!"
 Who is the wacko now?

Since it's far too early to plant seeds to grow my own, I'm thankful to find beautiful bunches of Swiss chard in the supermarket at this time of year.  I like to sautee it with garlic and add a dash of balsamic vinegar.  It adds some spring time freshness and some zing to any winter dinner.

Sauteed Swiss Chard
(serves 4)

1 large bunch Swiss chard
2-3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Wash and dry Swiss chard.  Tear the leaves from the stems.  Chop the stems into 1/2" pieces and tear or chop the leaves to 2" pieces.  Dice the garlic cloves.  In a medium to large size skillet, heat the olive oil on medium.  Add the garlic and chard stems and cook until softened (about 3 minutes).  Add the leaves.  Toss in the hot oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover pan and let the leaves wilt for about 2 minutes.  Uncover, add the balsamic and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.
Also great tossed with crumbled goat cheese!

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