Thursday, January 20, 2011

Next Time, A Retiree is Getting Hit in the Head with a Gogoz...

So after a week of procrastinating and brainstorming, fueled by coffee, I made my grocery list and meal plan.  I had promised my 5 year old, Lily, that I would take her to the commissary after school so she could come food shopping with me.  It is one way that her and I bond on a 1:1 basis since her brother arrived and she enjoys coming with me.  I really think it's because she likes adding goodies to the shopping court like today's bounty of strawberry pocky, chocolate pudding, fruit snacks and dora the explorer yogurt.  I wish I could blame the pack of double stuffed oreos on her too, but my husband knows me too well.

After I was done with my grocery list, I called my best friend to wish her a happy birthday.  Though we have known each other since we were teen-agers, we both lucked out and married into the Army, and unfortunately the Army took her to Texas while we found ourselves stuck in Georgia. As soon as I told her I was going grocery shopping today and I planned on blogging about the experience, she started laughing saying that I should definitely write about the retirees in the commissary.  I started laughing because those were exactly my intentions.  If you have never been involved with the military and experienced the retirees in the commissary then I must give you insight on what it is like.

I know part of me shouldn't smack talk about retirees, since my husband is a medically retired sergeant thus making us retirees too.  The retirees I am referencing are geriatric retirees, so old that sometimes I question if the last war they participated in was WW1. I respect AARP card-carrying senior citizens but military retirees are a whole different breed.  They hog the aisles with an air of "I belong here because my husband served under General Custer" (I kid, they actually served under Washington), they take 20 minutes to select items and they get huffy when someone else (usually younger) tries to grab something that may be in the general vicinity of what they are looking for.  The worst is when the retirees decide it is imperative to go food shopping the same day as  military pay-days.  It is bad enough that everyone and their mother is at the commissary trying to food shop, but throw in a bunch of holier-than-thou retirees and a simple commissary trip becomes reminiscent of your average horror movie, patrons making mad dashes to grab items while avoiding collisions with numerous shopping courts and the retirees that stand in one's path. Unfortunately, there is no knife-wielding psychopath.  At least a knife-wielding psychopath would take out some of these retirees on his rampage (I kid, I kid).

OK, maybe I am being too harsh.  Hell, I should be lucky we still have our commissary privileges. Shopping there is significantly cheaper than regular grocery stores.  We are newly retired military and the retirees just irk me to a point where I just might become that knife-wielding psychopath.  I even had an experience today with one especially immobile retiree in a scooter.  I was looking for mouthwash in the hygiene aisle when she rolls up, notices me and decides to park right in front of the mouthwash I was about to grab.  She then peruses the different types of fixodent, making sure to read the label on every type.  Lily and I were waiting for her to finish patiently, me silently marveling at the various types of denture fixative, when she finally decides she has had enough, doesn't even take a fixadent and scooters off.  Now, I didn't time her but she probably took a good 5 minutes.  This is typical retiree behavior, I would love to see a senior citizen pull this off in my local Publix without someone losing their mind and going on their very own rampage.

Needless to say, by the time I got home I was exhausted and it was dinner time.  When I made my menu I added a family favorite (and the recipe I will be sharing today) that is super simple to prepare and delicious.  This is a recipe that my grandmother would often make for me when I would come drop in.  She was a typical Italian grandmother and you couldn't say no to her when she tried to feed you, she was too stubborn to listen.  Now that she is gone, I am grateful that she never listened, because I still have the memories of her cooking especially for me, and this was one of my favorite dishes that she made.  We would talk while I ate and just thinking about those times makes me tear up.  Fortunately, she lives on in my cooking, the recipe is exclusively hers, and it's spaghetti and gogoz (zucchini).  It is a true Italian peasant dish (as most of the good ones are), utilizing very basic ingredients that come together to make something special.

Oh, and I think it's fitting to add that my grandmother was a military retiree dependent.  I can only wonder the hell she gave the "young'uns" when she visited the commissary. I bet she would have taken a full 20 minutes to decide on what type of fixodent not to purchase.

Spaghetti with Gogoz (zucchini)
1 lb of spaghetti
4 medium sized zucchini, sliced
2-5 cloves of garlic, chopped(depending on how much you love the stuff, I adore it so I add alot)
olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
grated cheese, such as romano (optional)

  • Smash cloves of garlic with the back of a knife.  This allows the garlic to be easily peeled.

  • Finely chop garlic.
  • Using a food processor, finely slice zucchini.  You can also finely slice them in thin slices if you don't have a food processor.  I chose to use my food processor since the slices are uniform allowing for even cooking time. 
  • In a heavy bottom large skillet, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom.  I know this seems like alot but this is the base of your macaroni topping.  The way I look at it is olive oil is really good for you, so you can afford the splurge.  Heat on medium high heat.
  • Once olive oil is hot, add in garlic and quickly sautee for about a minute.  Make sure the garlic doesn't burn.  You can also add some red pepper flakes at this time if you like some heat.  I did, but it's completely up to you.
  • Add sliced zucchini into the oil and stir to get the zucchini coated with the oil.  Add some salt and pepper, the salt will help draw out the zucchini's moisture.  It may look like alot of zucchini but it wilts down to almost nothing by the time you are done.

  • In a separate stock pot, bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil for the spaghetti. Once boiling, salt water and throw in the pasta.
  • Sautee the zucchini til it is lightly golden. This should take about 15-20 minutes for the amount of zucchini I used.
  • Once spaghetti is done, drain and toss with the zucchini.
  • To serve, top with grated cheese and some hot red pepper flakes if you like.  It is Italian comfort food at it's finest.

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