No Need For Dressing Salad

“Emily, how are you?” Tammy said, as she dropped off a bag of completely foreign looking greens. It’s not often that somebody outdoes me at picking obscure produce, so I was very excited about MCing Tammy’s demo at the farmers market. Tammy is the owner and chef at Rainbow Chinese restaurant. Everybody at the market knows and loves her. As an outsider coming in to the community, I had always just assumed that this was because Tammy walks around feeding everybody. That was before I had tried her cooking. Tammy, doesn’t just make food, she performs alchemy.

“You will help me today, right?” Tammy asked. This I was also excited for. Tammy helped me with my first ever demo, the one where I cut my finger and had to cook with a giant bandage on my hand in front of a large crowd. She stood behind me and executed my recipe with elegance and skill as though she had done it a hundred times.
“Of course I will” I responded. “How can I help?”
“Pick off these basil leaves” She responded, and handed me a bunch of Thai basil. Tammy worked next to me, on a batch of sweet potato leaves. She kept asking me questions, and methodically picking off the leaves as though prepping with me were her sole reason for being there today.

Vines, fruits, and flowers covered the entire stainless steel table where we were setting up. She had giant daikon radishes that looked like white swords, globes of light green cucumbers, warty looking bitter melons, tangles of sweet potato vines, and dark purple carrots. It was exactly the sort of set up I would love to have, but at the last minute I always seem to chicken out and grab a couple of modest ingredients that I think people will be more comfortable with.

“Do you have a set of knives here?” Tammy asked, looking me directly in the eye while julienning some carrots with impeccable speed and precision. She chopped Asian style, by slicing straight down as opposed to rocking her knife. I hope someday to acquire her level of skill. She told me that she has been the chef at Rainbow for over 20 years. When I told her she didn’t look old enough for that to be true, she told me it was her fathers idea to open the restaurant. I wonder if Tammy had grown into her love for cooking, or if her father had recognized her passion and insisted that she have a venue. I suspected the latter.

“I am going to make a couple of dishes for you today that I don’t have on my menu. This is fancy food, not every day Chinese food.” She said into her microphone, as she tossed a large handful of potato leaves into a wok. Everyone laughed, and she looked up and smiled. “no really, it is. Trust me.” Potato leaves only cost a dollar at the market, only because most people have never tried them and don’t know how to use them. They are rich and decadent with a meaty flavor similar to artichokes.

I could go on for hours about the fun I had today, but instead I will stop here and feed you with this simple salad featuring some local fresh produce from the market.

No Need For Dressing Salad
2 of your favorite heirloom tomatoes
2 unique varieties of cucumbers
1 small bunch of basil (about 1/2 cup chopped)
drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Christina’s vote: “This conjured memories of Persian rummy in Iran”

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Sweet and Toasty Quinoa Salad

I arrived during a storm, just in time to see the ship come in from a day of sailing. She was crafted of wood, with a broad beam and a high bow, and she was to be my future home. Her sails hung loosely over the boom, having not yet been properly furled. A band of sailors were positioned all over the deck. They wore red, orange, or yellow foul weather gear, and they stuck out against the rain haze. The ship inched toward me, and I prepared to catch her lines. The smell of damp wood saturated my nostrils as the rain poured over the rotting docks. This was the smell I would come to love as home.

As soon as the lines were tied, and passengers were unloaded, I boarded the ship and was introduced to the crew. The current cook, whose position I would be taking over, was sitting on a cabin box pulling slowly on a cigarette and eyeing me with scrutiny. He had deep wrinkles on his face, and curly black hair that had not yet turned fully gray. He was the sort of man to sit with his legs crossed while he smoked, yet despite his loose wrists and his casual appearance, I soon learned that he had a temper which could chase a bear away from her cubs. We called him Crunch, though I never did learn why he was given that name.

Crunch wore dentures, which he often forgot to put in before he scurried up on deck to rage at the interns. This caused the crew to giggle, which only enriched his rage and lengthened the show. Crunch drank whiskey, and whined into the evening hours about why he couldn’t stop his pursuit of oblivion. Crunch claimed to have spent 9 years in a Thai prison, though sailors are known to be storytellers.

The only one of Crunch’s stories that I was relatively sure was true, was that he had a son who is a famous ballet dancer in New York. I could see the love he had for his son when he talked about him, which was rare but beautiful.

It’s raining outside today, and the temperature and the humidity have reminded me of my first days on the ship, and of Crunch. I am wondering where he ended up. Rumor has it he signed on to another ship and eventually went AWOL somewhere in Canada, but then, sailors are known to be storytellers.

Crunch cooked everything in toasted sesame oil.

Sweet and Toasty Quinoa Salad
Heat 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil and add 1 1/2 cups quinoa. Toast the quinoa until it starts to brown a little. Add 3 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) until all the water is absorbed.

In the meantime, cook the veggies:
1 medium green and white striped zucchini
2 small paddy squash
3 medium orange and purple carrots (or just plain orange)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Heat olive oil in a frying pan, so that it coats the bottom. Add a pinch of salt. Add 1/2 of your zucchini/squash/carrot mixture and 1/2 of the garlic. Lightly cook, so that the outside starts to get soft (al dente). Remove from the heat and place in a salad bowl. Put the bowl on ice. Repeat this until all your zucchini/squash/carrots are cooked (You really can’t cook it all at once, because it will turn out mushy).

After the zucchini/squash/carrot mix has been removed, add
1/2 large, diced, sweet vidalia onion to the pan. Saute in olive oil and salt until the outside is a little brown.

Remove zucchini mix from the ice and drain the excess liquid that has sweated out. Mix the quinoa into the zucchini mix. Add a little
chopped basil. Toss in
1 Tbsp ume plum vinegar.
Serve warm or cold.

Christina’s vote: “This salad made me want to dive in after my fishing pole”

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Warm Heart of the Summer Salad

“Here is your batch of veggies for the week, we grew 5 different varieties of basil for you” I grabbed the bag with the crook of my arm and propped it against my hip as though it were an infant. I could feel the soft greens through the bag, and the hefty zucchini and cucumbers shifted their weight as I tightened my grip.
“It smells really fruity, what is that?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s one of the types of basil” said woman, with a wink. She was short and tan and had dirt stained hands and thick calves. She is my CSA farmer. As I got into my car, I began to brainstorm the ways in which I would use the basil. Every avenue of ideas that I took seemed to end up at tomatoes, but I knew that we had only a few cherry tomatoes at home. I envisioned our refrigerator. After closing my eyes I could see it. There was the little light at the top. There was a greasy line-up of condiments in the door, and the bag of protruding calcium chews that I always forget to eat. There were cheeses and bagels and bottles of water. The shelves were smooth and white.

It occurred to me that there was an awful lot of white space in my mental image of our refrigerator, which means that our fridge is nearly empty. I have been too busy to shop. Luckily, I remembered the potatoes and pole beans in the crisper. The salad started to build. I would cook it in stages, each vegetable would be subjected to heat and either garlic or onion. The oil would be cooked in with the food, the vinegar sprinkled on at the end. I got home and started vigorously chopping zucchini. “Could I use Kleenex as a diaper?” Jesse had come to sit at the table and keep me company while I cooked.
“No Jesse” I knew what was coming next.
“What would happen?”
“Jesse, you are 36 and much to old to wear diapers”
“What would happen if I wore Kleenex as a diaper?”
“People would have quite a shock”
“Would I go to jail?” I didn’t answer. Jesse likes to talk about the things that might put him in jail. It’s like he is affirming where his boundaries are. Just as I was about to give in and answer, he surprised me by shifting his focus.
“What are we having for dinner?” He asked.
“Zucchini salad.” I replied, cheerfully.
“What’s zucchini?” Jesse asked. Christina whizzed behind me and stopped at the cutting board, popping a piece of raw zucchini in her mouth. “Try some”
“Hey, don’t eat that raw” I said.
“Why not?”
“Cause it is meant to be eaten cooked.” I replied, trying to assert myself but realizing the ridiculousness of the statement.
“I like it raw, like cucumber.”
“Yeck!” Jesse said, after eating a piece of raw squash. “I’ll just have a cheese sandwich”
Christina shouted after him as he got up from the table and walked away “Wait until it’s cooked Jesse and try it again”

Warm Heart of the Summer Salad
1 medium green and white striped zucchini
1 medium green zucchini
1 medium yellow summer squash
2 small paddy squash
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Heat olive oil in a frying pan, so that it coats the bottom. Add a pinch of salt. Add 1/3 of your zucchini/squash mixture and 1/3 of the garlic. Lightly cook, so that the outside starts to get soft (al dente). Remove from the heat and place in a salad bowl. Put the bowl on ice. Repeat this 3 times, until all your zucchini is cooked (You really can’t cook it all at once, because it will turn out mushy).

In the meantime, boil a pot of water and add
4 small diced Yukon gold potatoes
When they are tender (about 15 min) drain the water and set aside.

After the zucchini is cooked, add
1/2 large sweet vidalia onion to the pan,
cut into large pieces. Saute in high heat in olive oil and salt until the outside is a little brown. Add
1 cup diced pole beans (they look like green beans but they are more lumpy and have a nutty flavor).
Pour potatoes on top. Season with a little olive oil, pepper and salt.

Remove zucchini from the ice and drain the excess liquid that has sweated out. Mix the potato mixture into the zucchini. Add a little
chopped basil and some sliced cherry tomatoes for garnish. Toss in
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar.
Serve warm or cold.

Christina’s vote: “Wild taste”

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Sweet and Spicy Rice Salad

Being new at a job is is both sweet and spicy. The days fly by, but every moment you are completely engaged. At the end of the day your mind feels saturated. It is only once you begin to wind down that you notice how your hair was out of place and your shirt was wrinkled. All day long you were bounced from one person to the next, learning this thing from that person and that thing from this one. People talk down to you when they are feeling particularly full of ego, but you know better than to take it personally and soon they feel embbarrased and apologize. The best thing to do is to enjoy it, the difficult times never last, and soon the challenge of the day becomes finding new ways to approach a comfortable task. Own your insecurities, but challenge yourself not to be limited by them. Speak your mind, but know that you have a tall ladder to climb before you have a full view of what is actually going on. Above all, stay active, and do not let yourself feel badly about not knowing everything. You are here to learn, so get comfortable being uncomfortable and enjoy the ride. When you get home, make yourself a nice bowl of sweet and spicy rice salad.

Leftover rice salad
1 cup long grain white or brown rice
Rinse rice 5 times before cooking according to instructions on package. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil to the cooking water and 1/4 tsp salt.
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
3 medium orange carrots, diced
2 medium white carrots, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
lemon zest
mix ingredients together.

Sweet and spicy dressing
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 tsp muchi curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp raw honey
1 clove fresh garlic
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp champagne vinegar

Christina’s vote: “This salad has moxie”

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Tricky Moon Salad

The moon smiles down, with his unfaltering poker face. Every motion of the earth projects onto his lasting impression, and though his creviced face is fossilized and unchanging, I get a different feeling from him every time that I look.
Moon, how are you today?
Angry and alone.
How are you today moon?
Elated, I feel set free.
How are you today?
Fearful and tired. Too tired to go on. I am glad that you are here.
How are you now?
And today, how are you?
feeling satiated and a little sleepy. Thank you for joining me.

When I was small, I leaned my head against the backseat window of our car, and noticed for the very first time how the moon sometimes steals a glance of the world during the day. I noticed how it followed us wherever we went.

I imagined the earth from the moon’s perspective, and felt the presence of what some like to call God. I felt that the world was much bigger than me. I felt that the universe possessed infinite tricks, and that I might never understand them. I felt like I was a living breathing dynamic part of it all.

The moment passed. Like the remembrance of a dream I tried hard to hold onto it as it slipped away and got lost amongst the car songs and the games of mad libs.

Avocado tarragon dressing
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp soy lecithin
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
salt and pepper (lots of pepper)
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp raw honey
1/6 avocado, mashed
1 Tbsp water
blend all ingredients together and add some lemon zest to taste

Tricky Moon Salad
1/6 red cabbage, diced
1/4 cup red pepper
3 medium fresh carrots, cut into half moons
fresh peas, shelled
fresh pea pods
edible flowers
1/2 avocado, cubed

Christina’s vote: “This salad sparkled on my tongue”

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Reach and Relax Salad

“Do you just keep wearing yourself down to the point of near death so that you can feel grateful to be alive?” Christina asked, as I stood hunched over the counter after a 17 mile run. My clothes were soaking wet. My shorts clung to my thighs stinging in places where the hem had chapped my skin. My calves felt like they were being pulled back and clipped tight with clothespins. A thin layer of salt was caked on my forehead, which crinkled and cracked like glazing on a donut every time I wrinkled my brow.

“I guess so, yeah!” I replied, and then I shoved a small piece of Ulle’s Honey Pumpernickel bread into my mouth. Ulle’s is my new favorite bakery.

Mr. Ulle (I am guessing that is his name) is a large German man who bakes traditional German breads and pastries out of one oven, then sells them at the farmers market. His business is still small enough that he can manage all the baking himself, so the product tastes like it has been made with love. I had been standing in front of his booth for awhile that morning while I was at work. I was questioning him about his business. Every time a person lingered by he would pull out a toothpick, open up a little Tupperware container, and offer them a sample of pastry. Then he would glance sideways, and slowly pull out another toothpick and hand me one, out of obligation. I took the sample, also out of obligation, but felt bad about it. I wasn’t really there to shop, technically I was working.

I confess that the only reason I bought the bread was because I felt guilty for gobbling up all his free samples. Now I was so thankful that I did. This one loaf of bread was the only morsel of pre-prepared easily digestible carbohydrate left in the house. I smeared it with salty butter and chewed it slowly until the nausea started to fade.

I forced my legs to straighten, and my calves began to unclasp releasing a tingling acidic burn which washed into the bottoms of my feet. Normally, now would be the time that I would return to my computer and get some work done, but Christina’s words sunk to my heart. The pushing yourself to the limit strategy is not completed if I don’t take the time to do the other half of the cycle: allow myself to fully feel grateful to be alive.

I was not particularly looking forward to sitting at my desk, so I decided to take the night off. After a hot shower I jumped giddily into bed, pulled the covers up to my neck, and cracked open a good book while moon climbed up the skies golden ladder of clouds.

Reach and Relax salad
1 small bunch baby Swiss chard
baby green leaf lettuce (or mixed baby greens)
1 cup crisp pea pods
1/4 cup shelled peas (for garnish)
edible flowers (for garnish)

Mango Sweet Onion Dressing
1 mango
1/4 medium vidalia onion
1 Tbsp grape seed or sunflower oil
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

In a small food processor, blend together all ingredients (except the poppy seeds. Fold poppy seeds in and adjust seasonings to taste.

Christina’s vote: “This salad was worth the risk of failing a drug test (due to the poppy seeds)”

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When I Grow Up Salad

The little girl sat quietly at the table, watching intently. She knew that this show was for her and her alone. None of the other kids would remember what happened today. They would later think back on this day and recall the corn dog that was the size of their head that their little brother swiped from them, or the bright pink flowers that their mother bought and then put into a vase in the kitchen, or the clown that took a balloon and twisted it into a little dog with a puffy tail. They might think of the smell of the kettle corn popping, the smoke of the bratwurst grilling greasing their hot skin while they sat at the picnic table, or the cool refreshing stream of water down the back of their throats after drinking from blue plastic bottles that their parents seemed reluctant to shell out the cash for.

It seemed the little girl was not even in the same market as the rest of the kids. She was not in a market with carnival noises and mini doughnuts. She was too busy studying, carefully, taking note of every move, to notice the fair like atmosphere. She was going to be a chef someday. She was to cook in front of audiences and she was going to do it well.

It was the same look that I saw yesterday on a little boy who had waited eagerly for the slam poetry competition to begin. He wore a black bandanna on his head, and an unstylishly stylish pair of nerd glasses. He wore a set of headphones around his neck and had a tape player in his hands, which stuck out like a black squirrel in the snow and distracted me from hearing his question when he approached the counter. I was cleaning up from the previous demo, and trying to set the stage for the poets, whom I had only just learned were coming to perform.

“Are the poets here yet?” said the small, inquisitive 11 year-old boy.

“I’m sorry, who?”
The boy looked a little upset at my response, as though fearful that they may not actually be coming.
“The poets..for the Slam poetry. Are they here yet?”I shot a glance around. His desperate voice was so sweet that I wished I could make them appear at that very moment.
“I think they are coming” I said. Soon a lanky group of 20 somethings with 1960’s haircuts came sauntering in.

“Yo we are here to present you with our lyrical charm. Where do we set up.” I looked at the kid, whose black bandanna matched exactly with the leader of the slam poet crew. He looked as though he wanted to jump out of his chair and tell the poets every joy and pain that has ever beaten him off course in his entire 11 years of life. It was precious.

This was the same look that I saw in the little girl, whose brown eyes lit up the moment the woman began demonstrating how to make a health shake with zucchini. She hardly blinked until the demonstration was over, at which point she gingerly approached the counter to ask the woman if she would be back next week.

Weekend Salad
In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add 1/4 tsp salt. Add 3 cups sliced, quartered zucchini and squash, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 Tbsp butter. Cook until zucchini are tender and brown (if your pan is too small they won’t really brown, you want just one layer of vegetables on the bottom)

Have ready 1/2 box cooked penne pasta. When the zucchini is done, mix with the pasta and add some diced basil. Dress with leftover creamy herb dressing from the Universal salad made a few posts ago. Serve warm or cold (if you serve cold, revive with some black pepper and 1 tsp red wine vinegar)

Creamy Herb dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup basil
1/8 cup sorrel
4 mint leaves
1 garlic clove
1 tsp sherry vinegar

Christina’s vote: “Somewhat bizarre”

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Beyond the Barrier Salad

“Possibly I will need get samples so that you have some cells to analyze” said my new advisor Dr. Wang, in his thick Chinese accent. Dr. Wang has a long wizened face, and dark, kind eyes, which remind me of my grandfather. His hair is impeccably straight, and cut across in the sort of bowl haircut you might see on a small boy. He is remarkably slim, and most of his pants are too big for his belt such that the material cinches at the loops. Most often his belt is covered beneath a long white lab coat that hangs to his knees. Dr. Wang always has a spring in his step and a smile on his face, which reveals a large set of white teeth. Until he became my advisor, I didn’t pay too much attention to him when he spoke at meetings. This is mainly because it was so difficult for me to understand what he was saying, both due to his accent and the complexity of the subject that he researches. As soon as I began to work for him, I started listening intently when he speaks, knowing how important it is for me to understand every detail.

“Can you show me how to do that?” I asked.
“YES OF COURSE” he said flashing a huge grin as though this were already implied in his previous comment.
“Okay, thank you” I said, and I followed the tail of his lab coat as he turned and swiftly walked down the hall.

Dr. Wang and I arrived in the laboratory wearing hairnets and booties. I carried a notebook and pen. Dr. Wang had magnifying glasses fastened around his head. His blue hairnet billowed underneath the strap of the magnifier, as though it contained a bun of hair. He looked a little like a lunch lady, and it was difficult for me not to laugh, particularly when he flipped the glasses down and his eyes bulged through the lens. We talked a little, but mostly we worked in the confines of our own language barriers.

As he reached for a tool he mentioned that he used to be a mechanic back in China. This peaked my curiosity. I remembered that he had been a medical doctor back in China before coming here. How does a person go from working as a mechanic in China, to going to medical school? I had thought that Chinese students went to medical school right out of high school. Then I got to wondering: why would someone who had been working for 8 years as a medical doctor in China want to come to the US only to go back to school for a PhD in nutrition? I decided to ask. “Dr. Wang, why did you decide to move to the US?”
“I was not happy with the political climate in China.” He stated. Then he launched into his story.

“I was a little boy in China, even though both my parents were highly respected intellectuals, my family was given trouble during the cultural revolution. During middle school, my siblings and I were sent to the countryside to work in the fields. The conditions were horrible. My mother would have cried very much had she known. It was freezing and we had no electricity or running water. We had to work very hard, and live in terrible conditions. We did not know when we would be allowed to return home. After 5 years I was told that I could return home to take care of my parents, but my sister had to stay behind in the field. Eventually she got out and got her degree too, but that is another story.

After returning home, I got a job working in a factory. I worked very hard, and was able to get a good recommendation. After the end of the cultural revolution, when the university opened up, they administered a test to people who were interested in attending. Only the top 5 % were accepted. I worked very hard, and was very fortunate to be accepted. Some of my friends were not so fortunate. After medical school I worked in family practice, and in endocrinology. In 1989 there were the killings in Tiananmen Square, do you remember? That was what finally drove me to leave China. I applied for a scholarship, and the University of Minnesota gave me a full scholarship. I have been here ever since.”

I stared, amazed, at the incredible phenomenon of human spirit standing in front of me. He blinked back at me through magnifying glasses, is blue bonnet crumpled onto his shoulder. Then I noticed the shiny silver, oddly patterned designer collar hanging over his lab coat. A symbol of a man determined to enjoy his life.

I had one more burning question. “Dr. Wang, do you miss the vegetables in China?”
“Oh NO!” he replied. “I have a big garden in my yard. I grow all my own Chinese vegetables.” He grinned a huge grin.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to introduce you to the incredible Dr. Wang.

Frisee salad with fresh tomatoes and sweet peppers
2 cups frisee
1 sliced and diced tomato (fresh from the garden)
1 fresh orange sweet pepper

Dress with sweet Gorgonzola dressing
1 Tbsp Gorgonzola
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp raw honey
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
whisk together vigorously for about 5 min. The cheese should partially incorporate into the liquid.

Christina’s vote: “A bright surprise”

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Universal Connection Salad

I stood across from one of the vendors tables, at the farmer’s market. His products were splayed out on table before him like a dinner waiting to be blessed. We were talking excitedly about food, and about interesting characters whom we know that are involved in the local food movement, which has recently erupted from a grassroots revolution to a mainstream ideal.

“She is sort of a travelling farm warrior, always following around the farmers and volunteering to help on their farms. She also does food photography.” I said of a woman I had met recently at the market.
“No I have never met her” The vendor said. He kept talking, but I became distracted. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an older woman watching me intently. She had dark hair, large eyes, red lipstick, and a bright white teeth. Her smile was huge, and she appeared to be really appreciating our conversation. She looked familiar, like a woman I used to work with in Minnesota. My gut gnawed at me, telling me to include her in the conversation.

“Hi, you look familiar, do I know you?” I asked the woman.
“I was just thinking the same thing about you” She said.
“Do you have a sister?” I asked, thinking of the Minnesota woman I used to work with at the co-op.
“Yes I do” she said “but she doesn’t live around here, she lives in Connecticut.”
My ears perked up “I am from Connecticut!” I said, “Where does she live?”
“In the Northeastern part.” She said.
“oh. Then I wouldn’t know her. Does she look like you?”
“No, not at all” the woman replied, in a typical sisterly fashion “She has blond curly hair and is tall. Her name is Barbara. She used to live in New Canaan.”
“I AM FROM NEW CANAAN!” I said, getting excited. That must have been it. I must have seen this woman before at Starbucks or something in New Canaan. It would have had to have been 10 years ago, at least!
“Kathleen McClintock” the woman said, and she put out her hand to introduce herself. At the exact same time I had said “Emily Noble” and put out my hand.
“Whaa?? your sister is Barbara McClintock??? SHE WAS MY NEIGHBOR!!” I shouted.

The woman and I looked at each other, mystified. How strange. The look of recognition that we saw in each other was not actually from a previous connection, but as it turned out, from an important future one. Barbara is someone that I had known when I was in a particularly self destructive point in my life. I owed her some words of gratitude, and a major apology. I gave Kathleen my email address and asked her to pass it on. I left our meeting shivering at the mysterious ways that the universe keeps us connected.

Universal Connection Salad
1 cup baby Swiss chard
1 cup baby green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup diced pea pods
1 tomato, diced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced

Creamy Herb dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup basil
1/8 cup sorrel
4 mint leaves
1 garlic clove
1 tsp sherry vinegar

Christina’s vote: “This salad made me want to walk on my toes for 48 hours”

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Simply Fruit Salad

The trail was thick with the scent of cedar, and branches hung heavy with leaves on the moss painted trees. We trotted in unison hiding from the city beneath the shady lid of the forest. It was a vacation from the scratchy, air conditioned grays and whites of the office, a little adventure in the middle of the day. My travel companions were people whom I had only just met, a middle aged man, a young research scientist, and an intern. We talked mainly out of awkwardness at first: how did you start running, where are you from, what races have you done, but it was not long before things got personal. Do you believe animals are sentient beings, how do you feel about your neighbors, what are some of the ways your belief system has changed over the years, do you feel connected to your parents, do you believe that everyone has an awareness of some sort of a God. Do you meditate?

We trotted deeper and deeper into the woods, sometimes talking, sometimes just breathing, and the path grew mossier. The air was laced with pockets of hot and cold. The two men wore 5 fingered shoes, the kind that make your feet look like they have overgrown hobbit toes. They don’t provide much support, but protect the soles from rocks and gravel. The intern went barefoot, I am afraid to say, at my encouragement. That was before I gave myself a bad blister and resigned to stopping my barefoot endeavors until I am able to purchase some 5 fingered shoes. I tried to plead with her, but I had already been too convincing yesterday. She had gone home and researched barefoot running online. Now she was determined to be able to claim her first barefoot run on her facebook status. My convincing her just made it look like I didn’t want to be the only one wearing shoes, and I had a moment where I needed to question whether that was in fact the case. My role in the group was not to be the 22 year old bad ass pushing the limits. My role is to be the organizer, to keep people engaged, to build a team. At work I have felt locked outside of a world that is foreign. Running is familiar to me, and runners are people I feel I can trust, once I have run with them that is.

Later that day we sat in lab meeting, the few scattered runners whose legs were splattered with dirt under their clothes amid a collection of scientists. All of us with rosy cheeks and fond memories of our sprint during the lunch hour, and our cool down banter of races to come.

Simply Fruit Salad
1/4 cantaloupe, cubed
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries

serve with
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped mint
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/4 lime
1 tsp raw honey

Christina’s vote: “This salad made me think in stereo”

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