There honestly aren’t many weekends I spend at home + without guests at my apartment. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, and if I have implored you to come stay with me, I mean it, please come. It’s actually a good thing, because when I have a weekend at home I see it as a *treat* rather than uneventful. When it does happen that I am in Sac for the weekend and don’t have anyone to host, I go to the co-op Saturday morning, and take on various cooking projects for the rest of the weekend. I used to be a TJ’s girl, and it still has a special place in my heart (how could it not with all those novelty items). But the majority of the food I prepare is vegetable-based, and after going to the co-op once, I am spoiled on produce and will not shop anywhere else, even though I paid $11 for a head of cauliflower there once…
Previously, I would read the intros of my favorite cookbooks and not understand the author’s descriptions of the sensory wonderland that is shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables. It was a stark contrast to my own experiences perusing a scentless-aisle of vegetables, either pre-packaged or misted to death, trying to hide my disappointment that the already small offering is dominated by produce which is out of season, and how do they not carry arugula? I would smirk ruefully to myself as I pulled a limp plastic bag of triple-washed baby spinach off the shelf, thinking of the cookbooks’ authors: “everyone’s a salesman.” NO, HANNAH. WRONG. Of course Ina Garten wouldn’t lie to you. She’s just shopping at f*ng farmers’ markets in the Hamptons, and shelling it out for actually fresh sh*t. But you know what, Hannah? You live in the f*ing bread basket of California. So your sh*t is potentially even FRESHER than Ina’s! And probably cheaper! You’re just in the wrong store.
So I went to the co-op, and I am a forever-changed woman. I’m telling you, there is something seriously refreshing and inspiring about going in there. Starting with the shelf of greens right when you enter: mustard greens, dandelion greens, rainbow chard, red chard, dinosaur kale, bok choy; each unique and verdant and VISIBLY fresh as heck. You sense the respect your fellow shoppers are feeling for the produce, and rightfully so when those lemons are literally glowing, and feel a sense of unspoken camaraderie. Inevitably, my thoughts move to the farms and farmers from whence the food came and the gratitude I feel to be able to purchase it, the excitement of what I will create with it, and the nutritional value it will contribute to the never-ending quest of making my body hotter and stronger. Plus, seeing almost everyone there bringing their own bags/baskets and containers for bulk goods is not only uplifting, but creates a sense of community, like, “I come here every week with my bags, I don’t need any throwaway plastic BS. I care about this place, geez.” It’s all very exciting and pleasant. So ya, the co-op really is a great place to shop when you don’t want to go to the farmers’ market because you didn’t make it in time or you need products not offered there or you just don’t want to deal with cash/petitioners/walking.
And you may think that it is expensive, and it is. HOWEVER. Even with an $11 head of cauliflower (and I honestly think that might have been a mistake so don’t let that scare you off), and two types of meat, our purchases for last week totaled $90. That’s $45 each for about 14 meals each, and I didn’t even use up all the stuff I bought from that trip before we went this morning. All it takes is a little bit of planning and motivation, which I realize is actually asking a lot, but it’s so worth it. Cooking is awesome! Do it.
Another thing I love is not wasting stuff, as I think I’ve at least hinted at previously. In the food realm, this often means bananas. At this point, I am semi-pro at not wasting bananas. The bananas I had were brown enough last weekend that I wanted to use them for one of my overripe banana recipes, and it didn’t work out. So imagine what they looked like when I reached for them this weekend. I froze two of them for a future use in smoothies or banana ice cream, but the third I sliced forrrrrrBANANAPANCAKES!!!!
This is the third time I’ve made this recipe, and every time I start humming the song even as I’m putting away the co-op groceries before I actually begin the pancakes. I do this intermittently for a few minutes before launching into a grotesque over-impersonation of Jack singing it. It’s a win-win because I am extremely entertained by it, and Hank has not punched me in the face yet.
I love all banana-flavored stuff and would be happy with bananas on pancakes, bananas blended into normal pancake batter, whatever. Hank is a bit more of a banana flavor connoisseur. We both love this recipe: Banana Sour Cream Pancakes Recipe | Ina Garten | Food Network. The recipe is interesting for a number of reasons, the first being the inclusion of the sour cream flavor (I sub greek yogurt because it tastes very similar and I usually have some on hand). I wish I could speak intelligently about why the flavors work but I can’t, so I’ll just tell you it’s a subtle difference that my tongue likes and yours will too. The recipe also calls for lemon zest which adds another subtle note to elevate the humble pan cake. And, most interestingly to me, this recipe doesn’t add the banana until you have already poured the batter on the skillet, at which point you press slices into the batter. Seems weird, but when you flip the pancake, the banana gets all caramelized and delicious. This time I added blueberries to half the batch, which worked well also.
Make sure your skillet isn’t too hot, or it will burn the cake before the middle is cooked through. Otherwise, the recipe does a pretty good job of walking you through the process, so that’s my only note, apart from the greek yogurt/sour cream thing.
I served these with more blueberries, walnuts, syrup, coffee, and orange juice. I’ve been riding a weird caffeine/sugar high since 11, but I regret nothing.