On Sunday evening, we were out running errands and had two places left to go: Walmart (the depths of commerce doom) and the co-op (a place that has birthed a love for food shopping in me because most things in there are lovely, fresh, locally-sourced wonder foods). The clock was nearing the danger zone as far as a convergence of things (Imogene getting home in time to have dinner, read stories, drink milk, get to bed on time, not be a monster), so I rolled the dice and said, "Why don't you and Imogene go to Walmart, and I'll do the food shopping alone?" Garret said, yes, sure, as though it was a great idea that was going to save us time. It was both of those things, but it was also affording me a vacation where I would bask in the aisles of fresh food, exploring new ingredients whilst not worrying about Imogene throwing things or making mean faces at passersby (she's developed a new habit of making a mean face at anyone she's dubious of, which is everyone).
In my travels to food shopping paradise, I came across a new (to me) vegetable, which I promtly added to my cart.
It looked like a green thing, so I figured I'd sautee it, but I did a little research anyway. It turns out it's popular in Asian cuisine and is also an invasive species, which means it grows like wild and can take over other plants. Texas banned cultivation of it for a while, but lifted the ban in 2005 (though, they still require an exotic plant permit for it to be grown).
Everything I could find online said to sautee it, so I did, with fresh ginger, some garlic salt (we were out of fresh garlic), and some table salt (I'm always reaching for the sea salt, but I try to use table salt here and there due to it being iodized). Just like the spinach we're all used to cooking, it shrunk and got really soft as it cooked. It has a slightly different flavor than ordinary spinach, though -- it's almost lemony and peppery. It smelled lemony and peppery, too.
After doing some research, cooking, and eating the water spinach, I was even more grateful for my solo trip to the co-op. I came across the stuff late into my shopping trip, when I was wasting time in the produce section, waiting for Garret and Imogene to finish their trip to Walmart. And now I know a whole new vegetable!