Fun food ideas for the summer

I once went to the supermarket, paid for my groceries, and walked out of the store with one more sack of items than I was technically entitled to. A previous customer had inadvertently left their parcel at the bagging station, so it became mine.

I remember the excitement when I got home and discovered all the strange purchases I never would’ve bought for myself, and trying to figure out what I would do with them. There was cream of celery soup, three tomatillas, a bag of cheese puffs and a bottle of Clamato juice, among other random consumables. If I knew how to cook, I could probably assemble a really bad casserole, but with my limited knowledge of the culinary arts, the best I’d do was a hazardous waste site. (There was also a linen-scented candle that actually responded well to my basic instincts about cooking, which is to set everything on fire.)

Though this experience didn’t turn out especially well, it made me think of an innovative option that food stores should consider offering. Customers who are interested in a little more adventure than just the disease risks of infant slobber on the shopping cart handles could sign up for the “grocery swap.”

You’d make your usual selections from the shelves and freezer cases, pay for them at the checkout, and be paired up with another customer who spent about the same amount. Then you trade bags with each other. You’d each be challenging your appetite in ways you’d otherwise be unable to imagine. The huge variety of goods sold in the modern supermarket might be a complication – rather than the family Thanksgiving turkey dinner for nine you were intending, you might instead find yourself scouring the Internet for holiday recipes using air-conditioner filters or motor oil. But think about the indelible memories you’d be creating for all your nieces and uncles and cousins, or at least the ones who didn’t suffer brain damage.

Until a marketing work of genius such as the grocery swap can achieve widespread acceptance, I’m left to improvise with the foodstuffs that I’ve routinely bought for years. With the help and inspiration of my son, who in his childhood years wasn’t burdened with conventional food preparation concepts like safety or palatability, I came up with a number of fresh twists on standard fare. I’d like to share these with you today.

The creation I’m probably the most proud of is something I call Fruity Oreos. I know it doesn’t look like it, but those black specks you see in the photo below are crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. I did a lot of experimentation to get exactly the right consistency for the crumbs, and finally discovered that running over the Oreos with my car made for the best outcome. Place the cookies in a strong Zip-Loc bag, position them under the right rear tire (the passenger’s side is critical to getting the precise crushing pressure), and back over them. Put the car in park when you’re directly on top of the container, climb out and onto the back fender, and rock the vehicle up and down. Pulverize to taste.

recipes 008

Remove the crumbs from the bag and set them aside, preferably back in the kitchen and safely out of traffic. Peel and core two apples, cut them in half and then slice thinly. Carve the slices into letter shapes so you can create fun words that will both appeal to your youngsters and satisfy your desire that they get a nutritious snack. Sprinkle the words liberally with Oreo crumbs. My favorite creation was “broccoli” – the combination of vertical and circular letterforms made for easy carving, and I was able to honestly tell Mom that her son was eating a vegetable. It may have made for some understandable confusion in the mind of a three-year-old (apples that were cookies that were broccoli is a tough concept to grasp at that developmental stage) but to this day my son loves going for car rides with Dad.

The rest of my creations are so quick and easy that they don’t need long, involved instructions. Instead, I’ll show the final results in the photos below, captioned with simple tips for how you too can spice up your everyday meal routines with ordinary ingredients transformed into tasty, often-non-lethal specialties.

PB&J Spheres – This is a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich that’s pressed and rolled into a dense ball of starchy goo. Most sandwiches can be easily reduced to the size of a tennis ball, though with a little added force you can reduce it to a large pill, which can then be swallowed.

PB&J Spheres – This is a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich that’s pressed and rolled into a dense ball of starchy goo. Most sandwiches can be easily reduced to the size of a tennis ball, though with a little added force you can reduce it to a large pill, which can then be swallowed.

Lengthy Combos – Nutritionists tell us that tubular food is the most healthful food of all. Combining the similar shapes of the hot dog bun, the hot dog, and the asparagus spear expose minerals and nutrients to a greater surface area, getting them into our system that much more quickly.

Lengthy Combos – Nutritionists tell us that tubular food is the most healthful food of all. Combining the similar shapes of the hot dog bun, the hot dog, and the asparagus spear expose minerals and nutrients to a greater surface area, getting them into our system that much more quickly.

Foam Residue – Remember the middle-school science experiment that created a volcano by adding vinegar to baking soda? Putting ice cream into a carbonated soft drink leads to even tastier results, without the trouble and mess of making plaster. Discard the fattening drink and simply enjoy the cola-flavored air.

Foam Residue – Remember the middle-school science experiment that created a volcano by adding vinegar to baking soda? Putting ice cream into a carbonated soft drink leads to even tastier results, without the trouble and mess of making plaster. Discard the fattening drink and simply enjoy the cola-flavored air.

Chips and Myrrh – Unlike the other treats listed here, you may not have these ingredients around the house. Myrrh, a resinous sap native to the commiphora tree of Yemen, can be found in some specialty stores, and is occasionally available free as a “dipping sauce” for Wendy’s chicken nuggets. When used as a dip for chips, its smoky flavor really comes alive. (You may remember myrrh from the Christmas story, in which the Wise Men brought the succulent sauce to the Christ child.)

Chips and Myrrh – Unlike the other treats listed here, you may not have these ingredients around the house. Myrrh, a resinous sap native to the commiphora tree of Yemen, can be found in some specialty stores, and is occasionally available free as a “dipping sauce” for Wendy’s chicken nuggets. When used as a dip for chips, its smoky flavor really comes alive. (You may remember myrrh from the Christmas story, in which the Wise Men brought the succulent sauce to the Christ child.)

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2 Responses to “Fun food ideas for the summer”

  1. radiojunkie2006 Says:

    Love the food ideas & grocery swap! My daughter had a different take on ‘grocery swap’. When she was a toddler she would sit in the cart’s child seat and when our back was turned she’d grab items off the shelves and place them in the cart. So many times we’d get home from the store and find things that we had no intention purchasing. I finally caught her and she giggled; she knew what she was doing and the joke was on me!

  2. Rob Says:

    I would have taken the food back, Davis.

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