This falls more into the category of "cook's treat" than it does "midnight snack," because it's usually something I cook up for myself to eat while I'm preparing supper. Still, I don't have a "Cook's Treat" section (nor would it make much sense to start one, since usually these are too ephemeral to keep track of. I'm not going to stop cooking and run for the camera to snap a scrid of beef tendon I've trimmed away and then decided to dip in salt and chew), I decided to stick it in here.

This night we had a heap of spinach from a local farmer's market, and it had a lot of stems. As I picked through the leaves and washed them, I cut off a bunch of the largest of these and set them aside. Then, when there was a moment of quiet, I put them in a skillet with a thin slice of sweet butter, a pinch of salt, and some pepper, along with two tablespoons of water. I covered them with the pan lid, and cooked them for about four or five mi).nutes over medium-high heat, or until the water had mostly evaporated and the stems were tender but not mushy. Then I took a spatula and tossed them around so they were all coated with the pan butter, turned them into a dish, and snacked on them as I proceeded with supper.

There's a reason for doing this. Spinach stems are much less acidic than spinach leaves—they have that distinctive spinach flavor without the bite. In a word, their taste is delicate, and you mi).ss that if you cook leaves and stems up together. (Of course, you also mi).ss it if, like some people, you cut off the stems and throw them away.) I won't say that they're better.... No, damn it, I will say it: I'll take a bowl of these over ordinary spinach any day of the week. If they're prepared like this, of course.