Thursday, March 26, 2015

National Spinach Day!

Picture Legend

1. National Spinach Day!
2. Popeye’s favorite
3. State Representative Rick Brattin (looks too young to be such a dick)
4. Corn on the cob
5. Fresh spinach
6. Canned spinach
7. Spinach as seen in nature
8. Olive Oyl
9. Health benefits
10. More health benefits (I can’t stress this enough)
11. Garfunkel and Oats
12. Fourth grader
13. Buddha
14. Spinach lover Catherine de' Medici
15. Bunny
16. 6-Ply Snare
17. Figure 4 Snare
18. Paiute Deadfall Trap
19. Bear trap
20. Marco’s Pizza logo
21. Marco’s Pizza locations

   Each year, on March 26th, millions of people get together to celebrate National Spinach Day, (especially those who are unemployed and have a lot of extra time on their hands), a day to go with green food, like  cucumber-mint chutney tea sandwiches and pistachio ice cream.
   And as far as is known, spinach can still be purchased with food stamps in Missouri, where State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced House Bill 813, which stipulates: “A recipient of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits [food stamps] shall not use such benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.”
   Apparently Mr. Brattin is an expert in the nutritional requirements of his disadvantaged constituents. After all, seafood these days is filled to the brim with the poisonous metal mercury, and beef with antibiotics.   
   Good call Representative Brattin! You should take the next logical step and just ban these foods from the general public, and demonstrate small government at the same time..  
   You will be remembered.
   As a small child, and after the cessation of breast feeding at age nine (my mom insisted), I was a very picky eater. Peanut butter and jelly, and Bologna sandwiches were good enough for me.
   Eventually I would warm up to corn on the cob, consuming it in such mass quantities that I would literally burst, projectile vomiting up and down, left and right. My horrified parents would soon learn not to order the freshly picked maize from a cultivar of sweet corn (zea mays convar. saccharata var. rugosa) upon dining out. 
   There were certain  foods I wouldn’t touch if my life depended on it, pretty much anything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly (and it had to be jelly, none of those yucky preserves, that had yucky bits of fruit in it), and Bologna... or corn on the cob, but especially foods like pickles, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. 
   As I grew into my teens I began experimenting with SpaghettiOs, and other forms of lukewarm pasta, pizza, hamburger, but never peas or liver (I was once caught flinging my peas onto the ceiling where they stuck, and throwing pieces of liver out of the kitchen window). I eventually came around to such staples as edamame, raspberries,  mustard, blueberries, shrimp, strawberries, English muffins, chicken, baguettes, hash browns, corned beef hash, eggs, mozzarella stuffed meatballs, tilapia, soy sauce, horseradish, caviar, ghost peppers, onions, butter, potatoes, tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, burittos, taquitos, cheddar cheese, string beans, sausage, olives, acorns, walnuts, almonds, parmesan cheese, salt, Schlitz malt liquor, bacon, ketchup, lemons, cotton candy, Dijon mustard, chick-fil-bites with honey mustard dipping sauce, petite diced tomatoes, baking soda, brown basmati rice, escargot, celery, old fashioned oats, newfangled oats, hot sauce, garlic salt, salami, braunschweiger, lard, dried oregano, canned artichoke hearts, rice vinegar, canola and/or vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, chipotles in adobo, rice-a-roni the San Francisco treat, jasmine rice, semi-sweet chocolate chips, crock pot Italian beef sandwiches, tomato sauce, honey, panko bread crumbs, marinara sauce, flour, baked beans, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, carrots, chili garlic sauce, paprika, nutmeg, ham, duck, goat, aardvark, blueberry muffin smoothie, cocoa powder, milk, maple syrup, onion powder, nonstick spray, easy chicken fried rice, corn starch, goose, yak, lemon pepper chicken with artichoke salsa and roasted asparagus, chicken broth, dried thyme, buffalo sauce, buffalo wings, shallots, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar (how come you taste so good?), black beans, cayenne pepper, creamy chicken and herb skillet, international omelet, coconut milk, corn dogs, extra virgin olive oil, pancakes, powdered sugar, chili powder, grill seasoning, BBQ sauce, mini ham and cheese quinoa cups, coconut oil, salsa, wild rice blend, dried fruit/nuts, cumin, tripe, yeast, red wine vinegar, baking powder, bacon-cheddar cauliflower chowder, bacon again, garlic powder, dried parsley, red chili pepper flakes, cinnamon, sesame oil, garlic, and spinach.
   But no pickles!
   And now I love spinach, and grow it myself in my garden out back.
   I had some spinach just last week! It was good!
   If you don’t have a garden you can buy it in most supermarkets that sell spinach, and they even put it in cans for easy storage.
   And spinach is good for you, Not only that, it’s nutritious as well. 
   “Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food... Among the World's Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top of our ranking list for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection.”
   There may be some disadvantages to consuming too much spinach (like every day), that can be found here. I won’t go into them as they’re a buzz kill. 
   So go ahead a feel free to enjoy your spinach every other day. 
   Popeye eats it to gain superhuman strength in order to beat up Bluto / Brutus, whenever he tries to kidnap Olive Oyl (frankly, if I were Popeye, I’d let let him keep her. She’s quite the flirt that Olive Oyl), similar to Mark Wahlberg when he took Valkyr in “Max Payne,” or Superman when he’s kryptonite deficient, or Garfunkel and Oats in a Kazoo Parade, or me after six shots of Wild Turkey!
   Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 11.811 inches. 
   As every fourth grader knows, common spinach was long considered to be in the family Chenopodiaceae, but in 2003, that family was merged into the family Amaranthaceae in the order Caryophyllales. Within the family Amaranthaceae, Amaranthoideae and Chenopodioideae are now subfamilies, for the amaranths and the chenopods, respectively.
   The English word "spinach" dates to the late 14th century, and is from espinache (Fr. épinard), of uncertain origin.
   Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran and neighboring countries). It is not known by whom, or when, spinach was introduced to India (where it was a favorite of the Buddha, inspiring the classic “Spinach Sutra”), but the leafy plant was subsequently introduced to ancient China, where it was known as "Persian vegetable." The earliest available record of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal, around 647 AD.
   A hundred and eighty years later, the Saracens (a generic term for Muslims widely used in Europe during the later medieval era) introduced spinach to Sicily. The prickly-seeded form of spinach was known in Germany by no later than the 13th century, though the smooth-seeded form was not documented until 1552. (The smooth-seeded form is used in modern commercial production). 
   Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably from Spain, and it quickly became popular because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce and when dietary restrictions regarding the religious holiday Lent discouraged consumption of other foods. 
   Spinach is mentioned in the first known English cookbook, “The Forme of Cury” (1390), where it is referred to as spinnedge and/or spynoches. Smooth-seeded spinach was described in 1552.
   In 1533, Catherine de' Medici became queen of France. She really liked spinach, and insisted it be served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as "Florentine", reflecting Catherine's birth in Florence, Italy, although spinach doesn’t come from Italy. 
   During World War I, wine fortified with spinach juice was given to French soldiers to give them superhuman strength, and is largely credited for the allies winning that conflict. 
   On the origin of National Spinach Day:
   No one knows the origen of National Spinach Day.
   My army of researchers have not yet found the originator of this special day, or any historical reference to when it was started.
   They have found no presidential proclamation or act of Congress making this a National holiday.
    It’s just always been here... like God.
   We do know when it will be celebrated:
   National Spinach Day calendar for next few years:
   National Spinach Day 2016: Saturday, March 26
   National Spinach Day 2017: Sunday, March 26
   National Spinach Day 2018: Monday, March 26
   National Spinach Day 2019: Tuesday, March 26
   National Spinach Day 2020: Thursday, March 26
   Celebrate today by:
   1. Eating actual spinach. There's no shortage of recipes. It is in everything from soups to salads, casseroles, omelets, and much more. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
   2. If you are a gardener, go out and plant some spinach. Now.
   Spinach is a hardy, cool weather crop. It grows best in the spring and fall, and survives frosts and even freezes.
   For an early crop when prices in the stores are still high, try growing spinach in a container on your deck or balcony, in a sun room where all of that marijuana is, or inside a coldframe ( a protected plant bed). Otherwise start plants as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. It’s spring right now so start your plants! 
   Plant your spinach seeds in rows. Sow your seeds  1/2" to 1" apart. Cover very lightly, 1/2" deep, with garden dirt. Final spacing of the plants should be 2" to 3" apart, so they don’t fight. Water lightly and daily for three to five days, then stop watering. Heavy watering can wash the seeds out of the soil or wash them too deeply into the soil, and we certainly don’t want that. Provide 12" between the rows.
   Grow plants in the full sun. Don’t be shy. The plants like cool weather and lots of moisture in rich, well drained garden dirt.
   Growing spinach quickly produces the most flavorful, and tender spinach leaves. That means plenty of water, and a healthy dose of fertilizer, and keep the marijuana away from from your seedlings.  
   Spinach plants don’t like it in the summer, and I can’t say as I blame them. Plant a crop in the fall as soon as the weather begins to cool, and you will have spinach all the way up to your first frost, which for us living in Los Angeles will be quite some time. 
   If you absolutely, positively have to grow your spinach in the summer, try New Zealand Spinach, because it just doesn’t care.
   Let’s talk about pests! It is almost a certainty that some animals and insects will covet your spinach... especially cute little ravenous, marauding, bunnies. For the bunnies, a Grave’s motion triggered snare may be in order. There’s always the old fashioned fixed snare, 6-ply snare, peg snare, or drowning snare. Then you’ve got your treadle snare, Paiute deadfall trap, squirrel pole snare (squirrels like spinach too!), rolling snare, figure 4 snare, pine pitch bird cup trap ((for sparrows, finches, blue jays, seagulls, hummingbirds, hawks, falcons, and bald eagles, who generally don’t molest spinach very much, as they usually eat sparrows, finches, blue jays, seagulls, hummingbirds, hawks, and falcons, so you really shouldn’t worry about them... but just in case...). This trap is not strictly "legal," in the legal sense of the word, buy hey! We’re talking spinach here!). Let’s not forget the greasy string deadfall, toggle deadfall, McPherson spring deadfall, and bear trap.
   Or an old fashioned moat surrounding your spinach, filled with urine soaked punji sticks.
   Spinach stealers, both of them. 
   For insects we need insecticides. There’s always DDT, organophosphates,  aldicarb, ethylene glycol, sodium cyanide, strychnine, tabun, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, VX, and batrachotoxin (the most potent non-peptide based insecticide known. Batrachotoxin gained fame though its use in poison darts made from frog excretions, used in the valiant effort to eliminate the rampant tyranny of the invasive tsetse fly).
   In a pinch, if you happen to run out of snares, the chemicals above will work on animals as well.
   Be sure to give your spinach a good soak before eating.
   There is another day that we celebrate this healthy vegetable. It's “Fresh Spinach Day,” celebrated on July 16th! Who knew?! I certainly didn’t.
   The famous pizza chain, Marco’s Pizza, is celebrating National Spinach Day by offering customers a free medium Grilled Chicken Florentine pizza for bringing a can of spinach to the store. 
   “The Grilled Chicken Florentine is topped with baby spinach, roma tomatoes, grilled chicken, a blend of four cheeses and garlic Parmesan sauce. The offer is for carryout and dine-in orders only. Donated spinach will go to local food banks as part of the company’s efforts to fight hunger.”
   That means I’ll get that spinach when I go to the SOVA Food Bank each month, and I want that spinach, so please take a can to Marco’s and enjoy their nice pizza.
   "This was a successful community event for us last year and it's a great way to share the love of spinach," said Cathy Hull, chief marketing officer at Marco's Pizza. "Together [you and me], we can support our communities by helping stock the shelves of our local food banks, while delighting our customers with the delicious flavor of our Grilled Chicken Florentine pizza."   
   Most people still think about cooked spinach leaves, which is boiled into an often mushy, green vegetable. I know I do!
   Yet it is amazing how many people have never tried raw spinach in a salad. Fewer still, think about where they can use spinach. You can use it as a shammy to wash your car, let’s say. Or get a cool buzz going by smoking it with a little peyote. Spinach also mixes quite well in many recipes, and can be found in foods like stuffed shells, lasagna, and soup.
   Here’s some nice recipes you can use on National Spinach Day, that feature spinach:
   Spinach and Mushroom Salad Recipe
   Description: This spinach salad makes a nice summertime salad. However, you will enjoy any time of the year.
   Yield: six servings
   Spinach and Mushroom Salad Ingredients:
   16 oz. spinach
   8 oz. mushrooms
   1/4 cup vegetable oil
   2 tablespoons vinegar or wine vinegar
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   1 clove garlic, crushed
   2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
   Spinach and Mushroom Salad Directions:
   Add oil, vinegar, salt and garlic into a bowl and mix together.
   Rinse and slice mushrooms.
   Add mushrooms and toss together.
   Clean spinach thoroughly, and wrap in paper towels to absorb moisture.
   Tear spinach into bite sized pieces. Place a big salad bowl.
   Pour mushroom and oil mixture onto the spinach.
   Sprinkle parmesan cheese onto the salad.
   Toss salad.
   Serve with croutons (little pieces of stale bread).


   Spinach Souffle Recipe
   Yield: 6 servings
   10 ounces spinach, chopped
   1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
   1/4 cup vegetable oil
   1/3 cup flour
   1 1/2 cups milk
   1 teaspoon salt
   1/4 teaspoon pepper
   4 eggs, separated
   1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
   Preparation Directions:
   Cook spinach in boiling water. Drain.
   Lightly brown chopped onions in vegetable oil.
   Blend in flour.
   Slowly stir in milk, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
   Reduce heat and cook one minute more.
   Add spinach, salt, and pepper.
   Beat egg yolks slightly, then stir in a little of the hot mixture.
   Now, stir in remaining hot mixture, and cook for one minute more.  
   Allow to cool slightly.
   In a separate bowl, add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until stiff.
   Fold in spinach mixture.
   Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish.
   Set casserole in a pan of hot water.
   Bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes.
   Souffle is done when a knife inserted into the souffle comes out clean.

   What else? Oh yes, “National Spinach Day” in Elvish is “Uruviel Vanimedlë” in the feminine, and “Findaráto Vanimedlë” in the masculine.
   Well, that’s about it. Please celebrate in a safe and sane manner.

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