Re-Gifting… Well, Re-Gift Bagging.

For Christmas, my friend, Deborah, gave me a present of 12 year old Balsamic vinegar. The vinegar came from Green Gate Olive Oils in Pinehurst, NC. The bottle was smaller than a wine bottle, but shaped similarly, and the glass was dark brown. This was inserted into a red textured paper gift bag that had a fancy green artificial olive & olive leaf sprig secured to the bag. Green gift paper lined the bag.

The vinegar was delicious, and I kept the gift bag because I thought I might find some gift that would fit it in the future. However, the bag was too small for inserting a wine bottle.

I found a purpose to reuse the gift bag this morning, but more on that later.

I couldn’t remember the name of the shop where Deborah had bought the vinegar so I googled on “olive oil, Pinehurst” and quickly found the name and their home web site: Green Gate Olive Oils I was hoping to find a picture of the red gift bag displayed somewhere to include in this post, but not so.

As I scrolled through their site, I came across an cooking event which included Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Cheese. This sounded delicious and since I currently have a bunch of asparagus in my refrigerator (going bad), I googled to find “asparagus parmesan soup”. The first recipe I looked at sounded like what I was looking for

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Sprinkle (2005).


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 pounds asparagus, tough ends snapped off, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
4 cups good-quality vegetable broth
4 teaspoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste


Looking at some other recipes, I realized that adding a thickener to the pureed soup might be preferable, but “white flour” wouldn’t be the choice for a diabetic. I googled on “soluble fiber as soup thickener”. Actually, I googled on “soulble…”, but was corrected by Google.
That brought me to the following: According to their site, “Konjac Glucomannan Powder” is an excellent soup thickener as well as ingestible soluble fiber.

I had my initial visit to Fayetteville Gastroenterology yesterday in preparation for my colorectal exam on April 26. The visit went well, although I had not thought that they would want to prod any further than I had initially thought. I did not realize that the operation would require me to be anesthetized and have someone to drive me home, or that I would have to give more blood and return a stool sample.

The nurse gave me two plastic bags with a total of 4 plastic, capped vials. Three of the containers contained some type of liquid and the fourth container was completely empty. I was told that if I was not able to return the sample, in the empty container, within a day, that I should freeze it. The bag had the reminder to “FREEZE” MICRO on the outside in large letters.

Well, I’m not sure how long ago I had to produce a stool sample, but I had little idea about how I was going to go about getting it in a pristine form. Fortunately, I had asked the nurse and she had offered several suggestions which guided me in the right direction.

I awoke about 4am and got up. I was a man on a mission. My first goal was to remove the water from the toilet bowl. This was so I could place a container in the bottom of the bowl. I took the lid off the water reservoir and tried to figure out how to make the refill “bobber” stop from refilling the bowl. I finally decided that I didn’t need to stop the refill process. I would just scoop out the water from the bowl and place my chosen receptacle at the bottom.

I went looking for a suitable receptacle. I passed by a cabinet with dishes, but thought that I would never be able to eat off of “that plate” no matter how many times I washed it. *I guess if I shuffled the plates after cleaning, and didn’t know the specific plate maybe that would have sufficed. However, I looked over to another shelf and saw a doggie bowl. I don’t have a dog. I haven’t had a dog since I was a young boy. I’ve had many cats as pets through the years. I had bought this doggie bowl because it had, I think, cartoon “dogs & cats” pictured around the outside. I was probably going to use it as a themed dinner vessel, for a dinner that never occurred.

So, I washed the bowl out and dried it, and took it to the bathroom. I placed the bowl at the bottom of the toilet bowl and it fit just fine.

Okay, so when I defecate, I usually urinate. That’s natural. Isn’t it? I urinated in anticipation of the “big event”. I then placed the seat down and turned around and sat down, scooting to the back of the seat and hoping that I wouldn’t need target practice. *Oh, what a mess that would have been. But, let me say, “Everything came out okay… and even right where it needed to go…

I opened the first vial. They were marked with a black highlighter pen as to the height they needed to be filled. The actual quantity of feces for each container was relatively small (thank God). Soon, I had all four containers filled and tightly screwed shut. I took the bag with the 3 vials in it to my front door. *I didn’t want to forget them. I then took the single vial and put that bag into my freezer.

I watched some TV, showered and dressed. But, while I was showering, I began to think about what I was going to say when I brought my baggies into the doctors’ office. I’m sure they have heard all the clichés. It was then that I thought I might say, “I’ve brought you some gifts,” and hand the receptionist the containers. As my mind works, I then thought that if you are giving someone a gift, you normally should wrap it nicely. No reusing a plastic grocery bag. This was something special. Then the thought came to me, “Why not see if the vials would fit in that fancy red gift bag that Deborah had given me.”

olive branch gift bagI finished showering, laughing several times in the shower, and once with the towel over my face as I dried my hair. I dressed and went looking for the gift bag. I found it. It was narrow, but if I removed the green gift wrapping paper, it might be possible. Sure enough, all four vials fit easily into the bag. I snipped the tag from the bag. The tag included a personal note from Deborah. [Imagine the illustrated bag being red.]

I walked out the door carrying my little red gift bag, and smiling to myself. Fayetteville Gastro is just a few minutes from where I live. I pass it quite often going to and from breakfast, and never knew it existed.

It was about 7am when I drove into the parking lot. There were no vehicles at any of the other businesses, and only about 10 right around FG. I saw lights on inside and walked in. As I came to the counter I saw that there was a nurse, on her knees, doing something behind the counter. She looked up and asked if I was there for an appointment. I said, “No. I’ve brought you some gifts.” “Some gifts,” she said as she looked at the little red bag. I said, “Well, there actually samples.” I think she realized what gifts I was leaving and she said, “I’ll just leave them over here on the counter.” I turned and said, “that’s fine, thank you,” and walked out.

ADDENDUM:  Okay, so I found the image of a bag that was much like the red one I had received. Now that I look at this site, it makes Green Gate Olive Oils appear much less “unique” than I might have supposed.  Seems like this wholesale site is where you can go if you want to make a quaint little shop for selling olive oil, etc.  *But, I still enjoyed the Balsamic vinegar… and appreciate the gift;-)