Certain images conjure my inner romantic—fields of sunflowers, rows of grapes, olive trees dripping with fruit. A Tuscan villa, complete with orchards, where we wander rows filling baskets with deliciousness.
The reality is—I'm not going to be a large commercial flower farmer, vineyard owner, nor olive oil manufacturer. Still, we all know how I like to push boundaries, and in a fit of romantic longing, I ordered an olive tree.
There is, of course, a backstory.
Like all of us gardener folks, I can't resist a too-good-to-be-true offer.
For plants, that is.
Typically, I'm not a coupon clipper. More power to those people who head out with their binders organized to find the best deals on twenty toothbrushes, but it will never be me. In fact, as I watched the woman in front of me spend $30 for $200 worth of products, I was in awe...until she argued rudely with the (amazingly sweet and patient) Publix cashier for twenty-five freaking cents. Apparently, the woman had spent FOUR HOURS in Publix, took a break for dinner with her husband, and came back to finish her shopping.
Did I mention that I stood in line behind her for 25 minutes, until I finally took everything off the checkout counter and moved to another line? However, I didn't move quick enough before she thrust her business card in my hand, along with a photocopied biblical passage, promising me she could teach me the fine art of saving money.
Anyway...I digress. I may not be good about saving money at the grocery store, much to Peter's chagrin, but if there's money to be saved on a plant I covet, I'm all about a deal.
Last spring, I scoured the web for a reasonably priced, decent size olive tree and was deciding between a couple sites when fate entered our mailbox.
“Try us now!” screamed the coupon. “$25 to spend on anything in this catalog. If it's less than $25, it's free!”
Well, now! That's my kind of coupon!
And there, tucked in the back pages, was my olive tree. It was kismet.
I never ordered from this company before, so I figured this would be a good trial. (The company's name begins with a “G” and ends in an “-urneys.” Please keep that in mind.)
I attempted to order the olive tree online, but interestingly—the site wouldn't accept the coupon code. I called customer service, placed my order, gave the gentleman the coupon code. The olive tree was $14.99, plus shipping, and I was still well under my $25 coupon. He was perplexed.
“I need a credit card,” he said.
“No, you really don't,” I reminded him.
“But you're paying nothing,” he said.
“Yes, that's what your coupon promised. My order, including shipping, is less that $25.” I felt like the Publix coupon goddess.
After several rounds of coupon shenanigans, including his need to talk to a supervisor, my order was confirmed.
Yea! My olive tree was on the way! Maybe it's a direct descendent from Athena's olive tree planted at the site of the Acropolis!
And then this arrived:
Now, I realize that it was free. But really, if a company wants to attract new customers by using a promotional offer, wouldn't you think they might want to send out something that is, oh, bigger than a pruning of an olive twig?
Here are a few shots, just for perspective:
No, that isn't the actual, full-sized R2D2. It's Mikey's Lego.
At first, I must say...I was ready to relegate the twig to the compost pile. But then, some latent hormonal nurturing urge took over. After all, it wasn't the twig's fault I was disappointed. Maybe I could give it the TLC it needed to grow lush and produce olives—well, if not in my lifetime, then for our grandchildren. I seriously doubt Peter and I will be feeding each other olives off of this tree.
So, the challenge is set.
And, six months later, my little Charlie Brown olive tree is trying its best to grow into a real tree.
I think it even needs a new pot.
Although I won't soon be using our own olives to make this recipe, it is pretty tasty, and with the holidays approaching, we can all use good, tasty, easy recipes, right? I suppose I'll go stand in line behind the coupon goddess to buy our olives at Publix.
Olive Tapenade with Feta (adapted from epicurious.com)
- 1 1/4 cups pitted manzanilla olives (or other green Spanish olives)
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- Toasted baguette slices
Combine olives, capers and garlic in food processor until well chopped. Gradually add lemon juice and oil and process until blended. Transfer tapenade to bowl. Stir in parsley and feta. Season to taste with pepper.
Serve tapenade with toasted baguette slices.