Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Brussels Sprouts Duel

Brussels sprouts stumps me. Not what they are—I microwave the loose, fresh balls in a Pampered Chef steamer. A tip of the pan to drain the liquid through the perforated lid, a couple of grinds of Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorns or sprinkles of dried Parmesan (don’t tell my cardiologist), and the sprouts go from microwave to the table in less than five minutes. The trouble came when the fresh, full stalks at Trader Joe’s beckoned me. I bought one without the slightest inkling of how to cook them in the natural state. At home, I left the stalk on the kitchen countertop and searched online for a recipe.

Most of the recipes capitalized the “B” in Brussels as though a proper noun like the city in Belgium where this vegetable was once said to originate. Microsoft Word spell check agreed with chefs—a red underline for any chef who dared spell the word with a lowercase “b.” I chose an easy oven recipe. While they cooked, I was plagued by the proper capitalization for the green knobs that dance in my head.

The green stalk waited while my inner editor led me to Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition. I hefted the 3-lb., 1144-page book to a comfortable reading level. A search of the 129-page index referenced Section 8.61. There it was—lowercased brussels sprouts. CMOS added a disclaimer,

Although some of the terms in this paragraph and the examples that follow are capitalized in Webster’s, Chicago prefers to lowercase them in their nonliteral use.

Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style duel over the use of capital B like Brussels, Belgium (literal), or lowercase “b” as in the vegetable (nonliteral). On my next grocery shopping trip, I skipped the sprouts and bought broccoli (lowercase “b”). It was great, ready in three minutes from the same Pampered Chef pan. And broccoli is packed with multiple vitamins that outduel the basic C and K in brussels sprouts.

P.S. Brussels sprouts, although a plural sound, takes a singular verb. That’s another editing puzzle.

Disclaimer: Neither Trader Joe’s nor Pampered Chef is aware of my blog unless an individual team member stumbles across it while searching for a recipe.



Filed under Events, Publishing, Writing

Goodbye plastic 2012 and welcome reusable 2013

recycled bagOn this first day of 2013, I dismantled holiday decorations. I repacked the porcelain nativity that has graced my home for almost three decades, placing Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in the manager, shepherd boy, and animals in their original Styrofoam container. I removed the Charles Dickens made-in-Japan Christmas caroling family and took down the enameled metal poinsettias, artificial pine branches, and polyester fur-trimmed stocking. Outside, I unwound the poly garland and removed a half dozen three-foot plastic candy canes. With all signs of synthetic Christmas holiday cheer removed, time to plunge into the New Year au naturel.

I use that term, not meaning naked or raw, but in the context of moving away from synthetics. Today is the beginning of the plastic bag ban in Alameda County, California, my domicile. BYOB (bring your own bag) is the new rule. I’ve practiced for this day, bringing recycled bags to shop at Trader Joe’s. If I’m short one bag, the clerk graciously gives me a brown paper bag for the overflow. That generosity stops today with the new mandate that T.J.’s must charge me a dime for that bag.

I won’t pay it. I keep a stash of colorful reusable bags from Grocery Outlet (brown and beige), Target (red), Sprouts and Livermore Library (green), Office Depot (fuchsia) and a cardboard box (white) in the trunk of my car. If I don’t have enough bags, I’ll ask the clerk to place the other items loose in my shopping cart. I’ll choose a bag by my color mood when I reach my vehicle.

Next step in the BYOB mandate is editing The Glass Wall, my mystery manuscript. Detective Taylor Madrid, my female protagonist from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), Arizona keeps a plastic grocery bag in her Mustang convertible for accumulated trash. It wouldn’t do for her to get caught throwing it into a dumpster while chasing clues out of her jurisdiction in Alameda County. Perhaps she’ll buy a brown paper bag from Trader Joe’s.



Filed under Blogging