Friday, April 28, 2023

Super Sides: Herbed Spinach Bake

Right about now, gardens are brimming with green of all sorts.   If you're anything like me, you love some good lettuces and micro-greens on a sandwich or tossed in with your salad or sauteed in with other veggies and garnishes for various proteins.  Sometimes, we run out of garden pickings for a spell, but fresh frozen veggies are a fantastic and suitable choice too.  Frozen veggies are ideally frozen at peak freshness, within hours of coming from the fields, going straight into their processes.  This in fact, makes them as fresh as or even fresher than some of our 'fresh' produce that we purchase.  It is great for a filling vegetarian meal, without having to change the menu, serving as a double duty dish. 
 I was incredibly down when I initially created this, reeling from the loss of one of my sisters, Seargent Terry Lee Holland, who contracted and subsequently passed away from complications with CoVid, while in the hospital having a routine procedure.  I am in fact still heavily plauged by the loss of my fellow 'left handed soul sister'.  We had an amazingly close kinship and I struggle with the reality of our mortality,  completely bummed out. 
 I needed to calm my mind on that fateful day, January 28, so I went to the kitchen to try to keep my mind occupied enough to not bawl uncontrollably, as I had all day.  I autopiloted my way through the motions of on hand ingredients and staples, arriving at the featured recipe.  When I think of this dish, I feel a mix of torrid emotions, mostly sad A.F.  With that being said, I have come along as well as expected and I am blessed to have readers to share this news with. 
 I acknowledge that we as familes and survivors must go on and it's okay not to forget and to take the time necessary to heal. The day after my sister's Home Going service, my mother's youngest sister passed away.  As broken as I was, I know that my mother lost her child, the first loss among her daughters AND her last born sister, so I knew that quantiified the anguish she felt.  We were all in the doldrums and needed to try to appear strong for Mom, even though we are but mere scrubs in comparison to her resilience and inner strength.  
At 5'5, 138lbs, our Mom is a behemouth, rooted and grounded by Faith, favored by the Almighty.  Her sadness intensified mine and as hard as I try, I cannot hide my tears yet.  Yesterday, I called my big sister's phone number, knowing she wouldn't answer, yet hoping she would.  The line was devoid of any sound at all, no automated message, no series of beeps, not a thing.  I then sent a message, expressing my disbelief in what has happened and how much I love and miss her. Grief.  Therapy is advisable, but one must endure.  The process is different for each individual, but I'm willing to bet that every person that reads this, can relate on some level. Just last week, my girls' lost their paternal grandfather.  It just keeps coming...
 Cooking happens to be one of the ways I would deal with stressors, starting when I was in my early 20's.  Since then, my hobby has grown into my profession and passion, I express myself through sharing that passion in my writing and recipe development.   Cooking is Therapy, Cooking from the heart is Love,  Cooking and sharing is comforting.  I find solace in this space we share together.  
The original name for this dish was A Comforting Casserole, but I found that name a little flat, albeit true, at least for my case.  I changed the name to be a little more uplifting and inclusive, but it will always be associated with my emotions on the day I created it.  I'll just leave this here and I hope it brings you comfort in your time of need, even if the need is simply for a side with lots of green, flavorful and economical, as it did for me.