Ocean-side Salad

Take a vacation. Do it now. Where do you want to be if not here? Do you dream of exotic lands, new people, interesting flavors, unfamiliar smells? Ask yourself what you are looking for, then find the treasure right here at your desk.

With both hands on the wheel I nervously chauffeured my two out-of-town friends from the airport to their hotel.
“What is that building?” They asked, their necks craned and foreheads pressed against the car door windows.
“I’m not sure” I said, slightly embarrassed at my lack of city knowledge.
“ooh what’s that one?”
ummmm, I dunno”
A voice cut in: a lifesaver “oooo, THAT one is HUGE, what is that?”
“Look at THIS one” there was excited pointing and window tapping, “such beautiful architecture.” My hands tightened on the wheel.
How could I know so little about my own city? To be fair, I was in an unfamiliar part of town. After seeing my city through the eyes of a traveller, though, I realized that there is so much here that I have yet to explore. I could take a week long vacation in my own backyard and still not see it all.
What I crave the most about travelling is the different pace of life that I imagine. I imagine sitting for hours at little cafe sipping coffee. I imagine smaller portions and delicate flavors. I imagine meeting new people and laughing more.
In reality, the last time I went to Europe I didn’t talk to anyone aside for my travel companions, I passed up the cafe in favor of the local Starbucks and I complained about the fact that, to Parisians a Venti Americano is really a Tall Americano in a Venti cup. The risks I dreamed of taking were lost in the fear of unfamiliar land.
So here we are, and all the adventure I seek will knit itself into stories one risk at a time. A different way home, a new coffee shop, a conversation with a stranger, a small delicate meal eaten for flavor.
A salad made in the spirit of fun.

The dressing:
Blend in Cuisinart:
1 cup sour cream
2 diced green onions (use mainly the whites)
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp dried lime (you can get this at an Iranian store..they probably have it in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store too, it is really worth buying. It is good in iced tea and on popcorn)
1 Tbsp chili powder
juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
a sprinkle of your favorite spices. Have fun..seriously..the sour cream carries spices really well. I used some cayenne and some salt and pepper. Chipoltle pepper would have been good.

The salad:
Cook ~2 servings of shrimp (your favorite size), peeled and de-veined in
2 Tbsp hot olive oil
1/4 yellow onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
sprinkle of salt
1 Tbsp dried lime
1 Tbsp chili powder
after 4-5 min of cooking, remove from the heat and squeeze 1 lime over the top
set aside

Dice 1 head red leaf lettuce (I made the mistake of buying a head of bitter lettuce from the farmers market. I didn’t taste it. Christina and I had to eat around the lettuce in this salad because it was so bitter)
Add 1 bunch of cilantro (the cilantro had a grocery store flavor. We have been spoiled with fresh produce, it is hard to go back!)
1 diced yellow pepper (ah, fresh and sweet)
2 diced green onions
Top with shrimp, dressing, and fried tortilla pieces (cut up 1 tortilla, heat some canola oil until it is sizzlin hot and add the tortilla pieces. If you add them too soon they will just soak up grease, so wait until the oil is noticeably fluid)

Christina’s vote: “All that was missing was seashore”

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3 Speeches Salad

Every time I give a public speech I find myself giving three. There is the one before the speech, the preparation. Hours are spent going through life from a little podium inside my head where my voice booms and the people throw flowers and I am carried around a room in a chair, a hero. Then there is the real speech, the one where I stumble a bit over my words, and say um a few too many times, but for the most part I am well spoken and nobody throws tomatoes. Then there is the dreaded after speech, the one where I go over every detail of what was said in the second speech and think of all that I didn’t say or could have said better. 

I am amazed that a single olive made it into this salad. I stood in the kitchen, blue tooth on one ear like some next generation star-treck character, and listened to Rosemary talk while mindlessly picking olives off of my knife and cutting board. Rosemary, having been a radio personality in a previous career, was giving me the details of my story in preparation for my radio interview this afternoon. When I called her so that I might open my mouth to allow some of the butterflies to escape my nervous belly, she rose to the occasion of embodying all the enthusiasm I felt but was too nervous to express. I was relieved to just listen to her while I popped sweet olive slices off of my knife and into my mouth with the speed of a chimpanzee picking ants off of a log. 
The story of how I am going to be on the radio today goes something like this. I met a woman at a gallery opening. She was a photographer, and a fantastic networker. Soaring with the energy and enthusiasm of those early days of salad blogging, I found myself speaking these words to her: “I am a writer”. Had I thought about it for too long, I probably would not have been so bold. I could have introduced myself in so many other ways. It happened before there was time for self doubt. I gave her my card and the address of my blog. Then I made her a salad. 
My brother told me when I was still 15 years old that if you want to be an artist, you start by calling yourself one. He told me not to wait for others to label me as such. He was only a year older than me but he was a local hero in the music scene at the time, and every Saturday I watched him take center stage with his saxophone and microphone and make a crowd go wild. His words were powerful.  
So today I wait for the phone call from the local radio station and my 10 minutes of fame, while sweet vinegar of olives bathes my tongue, reminding me to stay present.  
The dressing: 
In a Cuisinart or mini blender mix:

6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 green onions
a large handful of basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp honey
The Salad
Rinse and slice into bite sized pieces 1 large head of spinach. Add 1-2 cups medium tomatoes sliced and sliced olives. Crumble feta cheese on top. 
Christina’s vote: “I snuck into the kitchen when I was done with the salad and spooned the remaining dressing into my mouth like soup”
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The Dog That Bites Salad

The sun cast a crystal clarity which reflected off of the towering windows of our city streets as we rode up the hill to coffee on this late Sunday morning. A crispness in the air delivers fall memories, a perfect reminder to appreciate our summer freedom. The expansive blue sky bathes us in joy, our stomachs trace the hills, up and down like children on swing sets. Friendliness is on everyone’s lips at the coffee shop. The only thing that could ruin this day is the fear of it ending. 

Why does it seem it is so easy to lose the things we try the hardest to hold onto?
Fed by your thoughts the dog of fear will break your swing set and rob you of your coffee. It follows you through your daily routine, hoping you throw it a morsel. Perhaps you knew of the dog’s coming, so you closed your blinds to shield yourself from dog and daylight both. Tear open your blinds, and reach your hand out to the dog. Give him your love and then send him on his way. Acknowledge your fear and he will leave you alone. Ignore him and he will follow at your heels, driving you to walk in funny patterns. Feed him and he will consume you next. 
I have some ingredients that I have been ignoring in my refrigerator which have been sitting on the fringes of my crisper, eagerly hoping for me to develop inspiration. They are not bad ingredients, just risky. Their flavors can be construed as bitter. Yogurt, sweet red onion and feta are good for clearing bitterness. This salad was made in the spirit of our morning. The clean taste of mint reminds me of our clear sky, the radishes and celery are the nagging bite of fear at my heels, the dressing is the hand that reaches to out to sooth. 
The dressing:
in a Cuisinart, blend:
2-3 Tbsp fresh mint
1/4 sweet red onion
1 cup yogurt
1/2 Tbsp Japanese Ume plum vinegar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
The salad
mix 1/2 head chopped romaine lettuce (I used romaine and red leaf mixed)
3 stalks diced celery
2 bunches radishes sliced
Garnish with crumbled feta cheese
dress and serve
Christina’s vote: “This salad made me feel like time was on my side”
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The Attitude Adjuster

The mood from yesterday is persistent, it hovers in the back of my throat like the flavor of garlic. It sinks to the bottom of my pours and radiates outward, forgotten then caught by it’s toe in a happy moment and pulled close again. It is a wet blanket in the cold rain, so heavy that it feels warm and shielding from the pelts of fresh cold water.

A woman was killed by a garbage truck yesterday morning while walking her dog outside our window. That was before 6 am. Then, we walked passed a large bellied man in the lonely streets with a small head who had been badly burned and was missing his ears. There was the chronic alcoholic woman with ovarian cancer from the night before. News casters cover the deaths of pop icons and the nation plays videos of the early years, conjuring sensations of an era lost. My list of grievances builds into a scroll. 45 days of salad have gone by, meaning summer is half over. The cilantro at the farmer’s market has gone to seed. 
The new restaurant across the street has already begun building tumbleweed as novelty has taken his dollars elsewhere and the townspeople returned to their homes in fear of the bandit who calls himself financial crisis.

We got home late last night from our failed search for open pizza joints which landed us in the not-so crowded new place across the street where they now have to cut their “blue cheese” with an orange cheese which sweat dark grease droplets when it melts into smooth wax. I told Christina that it feels like we are buried under a dark cloud right now. 
“I don’t think so” Christina said. “I think it feels like you are under a dark cloud because all this is happening, but really all this stuff is happening to make you appreciate your life more”. 
I heard a fantastic definition of spirituality once. “Spirituality is finding meaning in all aspects of your life.”
Sometimes it is helpful to have other people point you to the meaning. 
I decided to stop building my list of grievances and build a list of gratitude. It started with basil. Basil carries strong memories for me, it is the powerful waft of air that surprises me every time I open the fridge, carrying in it’s smell fragrances of every other time I opened the fridge to be greeted by basil. 
Basil is the Caprese salad we had in the summer time when families would gather together. Tired from a day of swimming, my friend and I would sit on the deck in the grey night surrounded by adults and citronella and steal finger fulls of basil spiced olive oil from the tops of tomatoes while we swung our feet from the wooden benches and waited for the meat to grill. 
Basil is the flavor of my first Margarita pizza. I remember it was so exotic, so refreshing to me, I never dreamed I would order another boring old pizza again. I was angry that I had wasted so much of my life in ignorance of it. I was probably 10 at the time! 
For every loss their is a gain, there is always something new to gain. In between the gains and losses is a single moment, where hope and despair are both on the menu. 
The salad (this salad is only as tasty as the ingredients you use. We are not hiding anything behind vinegar or lemon here, so really taste each ingredient)
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and add 3 zucchini cut into half moons. Add some mashed garlic (really mash it with the edge of your knife blade). Sprinkle with salt. Add 1/4 head of cauliflower broken into small flowers. Heat until the zucchini just begins to soften, then remove from heat. 
Slice 1 container cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls (little ones). Add 1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade. Drizzle liberally with olive oil (make sure the oil tastes fresh). Add salt and pepper. Add the cooled zucchini mixture.
Christina’s vote: “This salad made me feel like I can go home again”
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Splash of Cool Water Salad

The evening moonlight shed a grey haze over the hedges which neatly outlined the large brick houses along our evening walk. We meandered with full bellies through the warm summer air, our conversation steady as we moved in and out of the scrutiny of each golden street light. 

A thin old woman stood holding a hose to darkened rosebushes, looking nervously over her shoulder at us as we passed her by. One single light glowed in a corner window of her house. “..a huge house for a single lonely old woman” Christina said as we passed by on our tour. We see her almost daily, fitted in a proper dress wearing makeup and earings and keeping always to the confines of her yard. We said hello and she smiled and looked back to her flowers. 
I was chatting away getting lost in the rhythm of our steps and the circles of my thoughts and Christina appeared to be listening peacefully when suddenly she stopped. A figure moved awkwardly in the shadows along a walk at the bottom of the hill. It was black flowing hair on top of a young female body, bare feet, and the glint of a bottle. “Oh my god, that woman is seriously drunk” Just then the woman stopped and gestured as though having a sudden conversation with a lamppost. In the dark, and given the setting we were in, I suspected some teenager had stumbled out of her parents house and lost her way along the path. We continued on our walk. As we began the descent from the hill of mansions to the sparkling lights of our downtown galaxy, we found ourselves walking behind the drunk woman again. She was not a teenager, but a homeless woman. She appeared to be wearing a beautiful wig, and she had on a 1970’s golden bikini top and a pair of black men’s boxer shorts. Her feet were blackened on the soles, which she flashed every so often as she picked them up to stumble from one side to the other. 
She hovered dangerously close to traffic and occasionally lifted her arm at the passing cars, but quickly lost herself in drunken apathy. As we passed her by Christina said, “do you have somewhere you can go to get off of the street with that bottle? You are going to end up in jail” The woman looked at Christina shocked, unsure how to react. It was as though she had just been splashed with cold water and she wasn’t sure whether she should be angry about it. She quickly decided against anger. 
“am i being too obvious?” she said in a meek voice. 
Christina said “well, you DO have a bottle of vodka in your hand, where are you going?”
“to the river. I was going to go to the river, but they told me the current would suck me under” “do you want to die?” asked Christina. 
“oh, honey” the woman said apologetically “I am already dying. I have ovarian cancer and it has spread to my lymph” 
The woman, who, apart from her swollen belly, was so thin that she resembled a man wearing a bikini began to tell us her stories. She told us about her son who was a professional football player, and about her boyfriend whom she had stolen from, and about her 48th birthday which was less than a month away. She told us about how she felt like 48 sounded really old, and about how she missed her clothes which she had left in treatment, and how she once had 15 years of sobriety, and about how she liked it in the psych ward because they let her play scrabble. 
Christina asked her if she wanted to quit drinking so she could laugh some before she dies. 
“this is nice” she said at one point, barely able to focus her eyes “I don’ have female friends, wouldn’t it be great to jusss hvvv female friends an wen we see each other we could juss be like, wasssup!! and we wouldn’t have to do anything but say hi” At this her face lit up in a huge radiant smile. 

The woman hadn’t eaten in five days. She didn’t ask us for money or food. She just wanted our friendship. She asked us if she could give us a hug and she kissed us each on the cheek with parched and frothy lips. She had tears in her eyes. “You smell good.. and clean.” she said after the hug. We offered to walk her to the hospital. 
“No, I am gonna finish this” she said and held up the transparent bottle. With that she walked off, and we called the police, and followed her from a distance, and waited while she teetered to the ground. When the police drove up, we pointed her out. They nodded a serious nod before driving her way to gather her up for another round of detox. 
The salad: 
dice 3 large cucumbers. Mix with 3/4 container greek yogurt, 5 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dill. Mix well and serve.  
Christina’s vote: “A couple of shots of ouzo and this salad would be complete”
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"Chasing Unicorns Salad"

When you were little you stared with wonder at the bright pink disks served before you at dinner. Your eyes traced the exotic patterns, light and dark pink swirls, and your mother smiled and said “these are beets, they are a vegetable” and you felt as if she had just introduced you to a unicorn. THEY WERE PINK and when you touched them they stained your fingers the prettiest color. You were certain that beets were invented just for you, until..you put the pretty morsel into your mouth. The bitter flavor was too adult for your little palate, but you WANTED to like them. Slowly you brought little bites up to your lips, and though your face went sour every time, you forced a smile for your mother, eager to show of your sophistication. Your lips grew pink from the hesitant bites that crammed against the closed mouth forced open. Your mother could not suppress her laughter.
Beets were enticing in the days where all you every wanted to be when you grew up was 16. You skipped over them at holidays on your way to the children’s table. You would not have been able to keep them off of your little white dress. You watched curiously as your towering aunts and uncles neatly nibbled on neon pink beet slices with smiles of delight.
In college you lived with the radical environmentalists, who bought everything free range, local, organic and grass fed. They brought home boxes of dirty round roots with long curly points and leafy green stems. You observed as the short, dark haired, sophomore girl wearing homemade clothing shaved down the dirt of one of these curious creatures and revealed an intoxicating bright pink swirl of beet underneath. She showed you how to slice them thin and cook them with a little bit of water. She showed you how to pinch the salt, to sprinkle evenly, and how when the cooking is done you bathe them in vinegar to cure the bitterness. You ate them with chopsticks then, hungry for any experience not charted on the map of your upbringing.
One day, after the dogma of college years had melted onto your palate of life experience, you stopped into a neighborhood café on the water. You were enjoying the sound of the ocean and the feel of the warm deck beneath your feet as you toyed with the prospect of discretely removing your sandals. The sun still lit up the sky, but hung low enough to reflect golden light on your skin, like a desk lamp, conjuring the pensive glow of evening. A plate was placed before you and you stared with wonder at the bright pink disks on stark white background over tangles of green lettuce. It was the beet and goat cheese salad. The beets had the perfect softness, and your teeth felt like they were made to cut them. These were the beets you had imagined during your childhood, which you were not yet ready to experience. Here at this restaurant, with awakened senses, you finally met the beets that had been waiting for you all along.

The Salad:
I cannot eat beets without expecting the smooth feel of goat cheese on my tongue. After years of eating beet and goat cheese salads they are now like the songs that come on my play list back to back; as soon as beet ends I start singing to goat cheese.
It is a hot day today, so I added some cucumber to this salad for a cooling effect.
Rinse and chop a bunch of spinach (if you have arugula use it instead of spinach. I love arugula, but I don’t have any today). Add 1 medium peeled, diced cucumber. Add ¼ diced red onion. Stir the spinach, cucumber and onion together and drizzle with the juice of 1 small lemon and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Add some salt and pepper. Shave and slice 1 bunch baby beets and cook them in 1 inch of boiling water (optional, add some mint leaves to the water but remove them before serving the beets). When you like the texture, stop cooking and rinse with cold water. Season beets with ume plum vinegar. Pour beets on top of salad. Garnish with goat cheese dollops, or stir the goat cheese in to make a creamy pink dressing.

Christina’s vote: “made my tongue burn with delight”

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The Treasure of Chaos

Creativity is the child of chaos. These are words I just happened across in a book. What does it mean? Creativity is not born out of order….hmmm makes sense (it certainly agrees with the appearance of my spice cabinet). According to the book I am now reading, chaos is embedded in all of nature (yes, even your mind is filled with the stuff). Chaos is what gives us the ability to respond to the constantly changing environment. A universe in perfect order would have no need for creativity. There would be no problems and therefore no need for solutions. Suppose that the mysteries of nutrition were answered. All of natures secretes unlocked, the recipe for life distilled, preserved and packaged for your convenience. There would be no need to stand over burners, sizzling red onion in curry, unlocking the intoxicating musk of this mysterious tincture. If we knew what our bodies needed from spinach we could encapsulate in gels or press into powders what now wilts eagerly into the bubbling yellow fragrant lava in your pan.
“Wait!” says the television commercial “Before you throw that orzo into the delicately brown, sweet red onion mixture and mix it with those crisp red peppers and crunchy apple bits, and shower it lightly with crystals of salt, try our new nutritionally balanced electrolyte enriched calorie free soda. You don’t have to waste time on cooking and eating. You are too busy for that!” Natures secretes appear to be scattered among the proprietary files of nutrition scientists, and delivered to the public in food label format, and yet.. something is missing. Something is driving us to keep seeking nourishment. The food we are eating is not making us full. What could it be?
If I held out my hands and in one hand gave you the gift of time, creativity, the feel of fire in your cheeks, the inhalation of sweet vapors, a clear energized spirit and a belly filled with meaning, and in the other hand gave you a brown rectangle promising “your daily requirements” and “all you need” which would you choose?
Trust your creativity to tell you what you need. Your creativity is a wise guide. It helps you to catch the many bunnies of change, it has moved you to dream the lush and adventurous path you are living, it guides your perception and it will help you to imagine the meals that will nourish you.
This salad is dedicated to C and E in Arizona. Thank you for the inspiration.

The Treasure of Chaos Salad:
Boil a pot of water and cook 1/2 pkg orzo for about 8 min. Drain the pasta and toss it in a little olive oil and salt to prevent it from sticking.
Heat 3 Tbsp oilve oil in a pan and add 1/2 red onion diced and a sprinkle of salt and 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp cumin. Cook until onions begin to soften, then add a large bunch of spinach. Cook until spinach wilts. Remove from heat and toss mixture into orzo. Allow orzo to cool. Dice 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper and 1 green apple and mix into the orzo. Add 1 juicy lemon. Sprinkle with rice vinegar, salt and pepper.

Christina’s vote: “Nice flavors, too many noodles”

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The Iceberg Revisited Salad

It was one of those moments, like when you look in the mirror and realize that a new mole has taken residence of your cheek. It snuck in without your noticing, and now you must grieve the passing of smooth skin that, until now, had greeted you every morning. You have a new look, and there is no going back. It was one of those moments.
We sat on the cool grass in the middle of small yard surrounded by dreadlocked, tie died, Frisbee carrying college kids. The crowd was peppered with the occasional grey bearded old mind that expanded too far in college and never quiet made it out of the drum circle, not even for long enough to get a fresh shirt and a bath. Christina and I were seeing a friend play in his band. We sat in the middle of the scene, wearing our beautiful X Factor jeans looking freshly groomed watching the people; every so often ducking filthy, slobbery tennis balls followed by the near pelting of a wet dog. Nobody talked to us and we made no effort to be friendly. We were like Ebenezer Scrooge, visiting our past, ghosts to all the people around us. Soon the bugs drove us from our spot and we were on our way home. We both agreed that outdoor “parties at the homestead” no longer fit in our closet and needed to go in the give away pile.
On the way home we stopped at a place called the “Alien Restaurant” hoping for some sort of adventure. Instead we were served with the predictable pre-formed hamburger patties with artificial grill marks, a light pink tomato slice, some long soggy white onions and a giant umbrella leaf of iceberg lettuce. The side salads were of the classic, all-American side salad variety- iceberg lettuce scattered vegetable pieces and a sprinkling of ready-boxed croutons complete with crumbs. I picked at my salad. “WHAT do you have against iceberg lettuce?” Christina boomed. “Why can’t WE have iceberg lettuce?” This is a reoccurring conversation topic for us. Somewhere along the line, while declaring my independence from the foods of my upbringing (which was during the peak of the salad bar age), I had decided that iceberg was a useless commodity. During my college years I subscribed to a farm crop share and explored new landscapes of mustard greens, arugula, red leaf and spinach. I decided never again would I turn back to the conventional, watery crunch of a flat plastic coated globe of iceberg. Of course, I didn’t think of all that at the time, I simply looked at Christina speechless. “I don’t know, it’s just….bland, or something”
Christina has a way of questioning everything, of pointing out belief systems and challenging them. She is really quite brilliant at it. So here I was, faced with the realization that I have been operating under a belief system based on a decision I made about 10 years ago. The decision, at the time, wasn’t about iceberg. It was about independence. Perhaps it has outlived its usefulness.

In making this salad, I noticed a few things about iceberg. Iceberg is like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever it happens to touch (which might explain why your side salads taste like a concoction of onions and dish soap). You can use this to your advantage. I plan to try some techniques out capitalizing on the chameleon qualities of iceberg in the future.

The dressing, whisk together:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 cooked egg yolk

The salad:
1 small head iceberg lettuce, diced
1 green pepper, fillet out the whites, slice thin and dice
2 cups diced or shredded red cabbage
¼ diced red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced small
1-2 hard boiled eggs cut into pieces

Christina’s vote “a good old fashioned salad”

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Sweet Pea and Little Sprout Salad

Peas and bean sprouts have a raw garden-like flavor, a vulnerability that is better accented than hidden. Avocado adds a nice creaminess without robbing the sprouts of their chance to shine.

I had, at one time, a pile of secretes that I buried myself under. I asked a friend how to be truthful about something when afraid of the terrible reaction it might ignite. Her response was, “it’s simple. Do it at dinner and then immediately say: please pass the peas”

I wrote you a poem:

The things you never say
are the heavy door you carry
hinged by your own shoulder
it shields you from the light

To every eye who peeks
every ear who stops to listen
you rattle iron door grates
then duck clear out of sight

The notches on your cell door
they grow across in number
and your skin sheds it’s brown armor
and you start to crave the sun

So with courage that you muster
you sprout out little feelers
you open up to sweetness
you walk before you run

Creamy avocado dressing:
put into a blender, or mash with a fork
1 whole ripe green avocado
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
2 mashed cloves garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp canola or sunflower oil

The salad:
Rinse and dice equal parts sugar snap peas, pea pods and bean sprouts. Toss with dressing until coated to the consistency of a mayonnaise based dressing.

Christina’s vote: “A new experience in every way”

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Father’s Day Salad

It was extremely difficult to ward off Eugene, one of our cats, for long enough to get a picture of this salad. Every time I had everything set up just right, a little nose would poke into the picture, sniffing out the giant scoop of tuna with entitlement. I kept shooing him off of the counter and again he would jump up, just in time to get his curious little whiskers in the photo. My frustration built until it cracked into amusement at the realization that I was expecting a cat to be capable of human understanding and restraint at the sight of something fishy that came from the sound of a can opening. I imagine this encounter to be somewhat similar to how my father must have felt at my inability to sit still in church, solve my math homework, or to “be good” as a teenager. My father is an incredibly patient man with a wealth of experience that seemed to have a quieter voice than the booming demands of impulsiveness which drove most of my behavior throughout my young adult life. I had no more capability of listening to my fathers wisdom, it seemed, than Eugene has to resist the demands of tuna.
Parenting is the ultimate service, it is a thankless job. Your children charm you with their attractiveness, you give them everything, they grow up and begin to resist your gifts. As adults they are accustomed, it seems, to living without you.
Still whenever I need to, I can close my eyes and imagine my father’s arms cradling around me.
I remember how it felt like magic when the humming of the car engine finally turned off, my head lifted off of the smooth door interior, and suddenly I was flying through the cool summer night. I remember the feel of his suit, and the smell: chap stick and office papers.
I remember when he would cut my fingernails I would feel the scratch of his whiskers tickling my cheek and I would laugh and laugh.
My brother and I used to wait eagerly for him to get home. Like koala bears we would latch onto his feet and ride down the hallway and up the stairs to bed. Or sometimes, after dinner, he would get out his guitar with the high heel shoe hole in it (actually I think he knocked it against the piano, but it looked like it had been smashed in by a high heeled shoe and it made for a better story), and play us some evening lullaby’s.
This salad is for father’s day.

Tuna fish is not necessarily my fathers favorite thing. In fact if I were making a salad for my dad it would probably have a lot more garlic, something grilled, a balsamic vinaigrette, perhaps some spicy mustard greens. I still plan on making what I imagine to be my father’s salad, but today circumstances called for different plans. Tuna fish is more of an after golf, nothing else in the fridge, something to eat with potato chips and iced tea on a hot day-sort of a food. I made this recipe to be a little crunchy and a little spicy so that it is more reflective of my father on father’s day.

Lemon mustard dressing:
in a cup, mix
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard

Tuna salad
Mix 10 oz tuna (in water, rinsed and drained) with two large scoops mayonnaise, 4 green onions (diced) 3 stalks celery, 1 Tbsp pickled ginger, 1-2 tsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard. Taste and adjust.

Rinse and chop 1/2 head romaine lettuce. Add one bunch diced radishes, 3 stalks celery, 4 mini cucumbers, a sprinkle of chickpeas (if you want, I had some on hand so I did). Dress the salad with the dressing and top with tuna salad.

Christina’s vote: “This salad made me feel like I was having lunch with royalty in Monaco”

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