sunde white illustrates her essay about a recipe

oh sweetie

A few months ago, when we were all still pretty deep into COVID, I did my monthly Trader Joe’s run.  I was bagging up my groceries and chatting with the twenty something cashier about my grocery selection.

“These shrimp are so good.”  he said.  “Great on the bbq.”

“Yes!”  I practically shouted and then continued , trying to tone down my excitement about one of my favorite products. “I come here just for them.  I marinate them in lemon juice, zest, red pepper flakes and olive oil.  I eat like, hundreds of them a week.”

Next he asked, “You like these ginger snaps, huh?”

“Ya, I really like the little bits of ginger in them.”  I told him. He nodded and swiped one of the cookie filled plastic buckets through.  “But I’m using them to make some pumpkin pies with a ginger cookie crust.”

“What’s a ginger cookie crust?” he asked.

“You know graham cracker crusts with cheesecakes or key lime pies?  It’s the same thing except made with ginger snaps.”

“Oh cool, so then you put pumpkin pie filling in there and bake it?”

“Ya, but I only bake it for like, six minutes and then wrap the pan in aluminum foil to protect the crust from burning and then bake the pie. —Just in case you ever want to try it.”

“I’ll probably try it sometime, I don’t know much about pie baking.”  he told me.

“Baking just takes practice.  It’s like me with spaghetti sauce from scratch.  I can never get that tartness out, even when I add sugar and cook it down with wine.”

By now he had finished scanning all my items and I was throwing the last of them in my bags.

In a low voice, as I was turning to leave and as he handed me my receipt he said, “Try adding a carrot to your sauce.  It sweetens it up.”

My heart melted with his shy offering of this valuable cooking tip.

“Oh wow, that’s it!  I’ve wondered about this for years.”

“It really works.” He said proudly.

I thanked him profusely and wheeled my groceries out to my truck, planning my next spaghetti sauce recipe in my head.