We didn’t eat spinach often.  But when we did, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

Mom would often ask me to go to Dominion Food store to pick up groceries, a job she didn’t much care for.  Spinach was often on the list, along with raisins, margarine, sugar, and cauliflower, provided it was on sale.

Spinach was packaged in a cello bag, with the label on the bag making the claim that it was washed. Mom would dump the spinach in a pot of boiling water and rather than using a colander to drain the water, she would leave a fair bit of water in the pan.  Next came a teaspoon or so of cornstarch, and the result was mushy green spinach surrounded by tasteless gooey liquid.

I never really understood the point of adding cornstarch, but I suppose it added body to the spinach.  We obediently ate the spinach, albeit reluctantly.  All eleven of us.  It was good for us we were told.  Something to do with Popeye.

The worst part of eating spinach was the gravel.  Despite claims printed on the bag, there was often a bit of dirt in the spinach.  With each spoonful of spinach eaten, there was a dangerous risk of soil to be found in the mix.

The last time I ate Mom’s spinach was when I left the nest to go to College.  For the next 20 or 30 years I wouldn’t touch the stuff.

These days, if you opened our fridge, there’s a good chance you would find spinach.  I now love spinach, mostly adding it to sandwiches or wraps.  I find it is tastier, heartier, and longer lasting than lettuce.  Spinach is a great complement to stir fry dishes, provided it is added near the end, and cooked for only a minute or so.

Perhaps spinach is best used in salads.  Add a few mushrooms and bits of fresh cooked bacon, topped with almost any dressing.  I don’t make it often, but for a killer culinary experience, try a warm spinach dressing.

Plant spinach early in spring.  Sow seeds an inch or two apart, and only ½ inch deep.  For continuous harvest, plant new seeds every two weeks until June.  Spinach does not mind a light frost after planting.  It grows quickly and can be harvested 6 weeks after sowing.

Spinach likes to grow in cool weather and will perform disappointingly if grown in summer’s heat.  These days, we will often go the Farmer’s Market and pick up a bag from Aslans Organics who grows spinach in a cold frame all winter long.  Try planting a spinach crop in early September for a surprise fall harvest.

There are several varieties of spinach available, all with similar taste.  The most popular is Bloomsdale, which claims to be heat resistant.

Whichever variety of Spinach you chose, I recommend a thorough wash, rinse and repeat to remove any chance of dirt in the harvest.