No, there is not a Trader Joe's in the state of Vermont. My love for this store runs so deep that I make periodic pilgramages to the one three hours away in Brookline, MA. When there, I stock up on affordable and diverse wines, great cleaning products, and simmer sauces galore. Simmers sauces are the nectar of the gods for working moms: chop some protein, heat some sauce, let it all simmer together while you drink a glass of wine and have a kitchen dance party with your baby, and suddenly, dinner is served and you feel much better. Tonight, the household was crying out for Italian comfort food, so Trader Giotto's Cacciatore Simmer Sauce it was. I chopped a pound of chicken, sauteed it with the rest of those mushrooms that were taunting me in the veggie drawer, poured in the jar of sauce, and simmered for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I boiled a pot of water, and cooked some organic pappardelle noodles.
Pots bubbled away, and I drank a glass of wine, chatted with the baby, and answered my cell phone three times. Then I drained the pasta, tossed it with the sauce and chicken and presto! Dinner.
There were exactly two pans, two bowls, two forks, and one set of tongs to clean at the end of this meal. Quickie dishes mean you can get back to folding laundry, making sure the baby doesn't attack the dog, and continuing to answer your cell phone that much more quickly.
Is this the kind of cooking I normally like to do? Not at all. I usually prefer all whole food ingredients, and sauces from scratch and not from a jar. However, in a pinch, this still beats takeout on the economic and nutritional fronts, and still allows you to feel like you are actually cooking something for your family. And to have that kitchen dance party, which is the key to surviving such stressful times. I may go off the radar until this big event is over, but when I return, it will be with a bag of fresh groceries and something out of Ina, I promise. Until then, I love Trader Joe's!