Odds 'n' Ends
What's That in my Salad?
by Steve Wood
November 5, 2011

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I've just about decided that I need to keep my eyes shut while eating salad these days.

Spinach & LettuceWe have a fabulous lettuce crop coming on, and already have picked baby spinach leaves twice this fall. The lettuce and spinach share the same garden bed.

Spinach salad has long been one of my favorites, and spinach salad made with freshly picked spinach is even better. Spinach dryingBut having picked, rinsed, bagged, and chilled the spinach leaves, I also know all too well the dirt, grass clippings, and tiny critters that once snuggled up amongst our spinach plants. When I made our second picking of spinach leaves, there were tiny, tiny fly-like creatures all over one end of the row. They seemed like, and could have been, fruit flies that migrated to the spinach row from the row of bell pepper plants I took out and composted a few days ago.

I've been known to pick and eat spinach leaves while out in the garden, and really like them with almost any kind of dressing. I do admit to being partial to poppyseed dressing, but oil and vinegar dressings do just fine as well. But it was the poppyseed dressing that got me going on this column.

I'd picked spinach in the morning, and by afternoon was really getting hungry. We still had a bit of spinach left over from our first picking, so I decided to finish it up for lunch. Having made my wife a fabulous spinach salad earlier this week with baby spinach leaves, mandarin orange slices, chopped hard boiled eggs, salad sprinkles, and poppyseed dressing, I dialed down to just spinach, salad sprinkles, and dressing.

Loaded spinach saladAs I eagerly began tucking down the spinach, I was aghast to see black dots on the leaves! I'd obviously missed a whole bunch of bugs when rinsing off the spinach leaves. Or...were those just poppyseeds?

Having decided the dots were innocuous poppyseeds (or extra protein if I was wrong), I again attacked the spinach, only to find what looked like clumps of foreign matter in it. That turned out to be some unidentifiable part of the salad sprinkles.

Having dodged a couple of bullets, I raised my fork only to see regularly spaced black dots across the back of several spinach leaves. Upon closer inspection, the marks turned out to be fork holes from my previous assault on the salad.

By that point, I was really getting snakebit. I decided to finish the salad, enjoying it as best I could, without looking very closely at it. If I could consume it with my eyes shut, that would have even been better.

About Odds 'n' Ends

Odds 'n' Ends is a new column series to house all the stuff I want to say that isn't related or appropriate to my Senior Gardening and Educators' News sites or any of my previous column series. I kicked off the series with a little rant about our local Walmart's systematic practice of replacing lower cost items with more expensive brands, Can Walmart Make Their Aisles Any Narrower? The second column, A Charity Phone Solicitation, started as a bit of a rant and then evolved into a search for charity web banners for my use on Educators' News and for other writers to use if they're so inclined. Amusing Myself is the story of my quest for an elusive 11 1/2 inch pork chop. It also tells about how lessons learned from a reading disability helped secure a rather large grant for my school.

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©2011 Steven L. Wood