I have a page torn from the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light that has been in and around various rooms in our house. I see it most when I’m not interested in it, wedged between food magazines stacked at the end of the sofa, sticking out from between the pages of one of the cookbooks I’ve been leafing through, or inserted next to the telephone with take-out menus and reminders of dentist appointments. The now wrinkled page is from The Hungry Traveler section and sports a recipe on each of its sides, but I have paid little attention to one of them because the salad is what originally caught my eye. It had all the right flavors in it for what I thought was a special occasion salad — one served on a holiday. I suppose it caught my eye because I’d been making a salad somewhat like it for years, but there was a bit of a different spin on this one, and so I tore it out before tossing the magazine in one of my manic magazine thinning moments.
I’ve never been able to completely understand how this happens. So many bits and pieces of our lives are tucked here and there — or not — and are so much more important, yet are lost. We took the time to put them in a special pile of special things so we could put a finger on them in a second when needed, priding ourselves for our organizational skills. But when we need them, we can’t find them. Clearly, a file folder isn’t our idea of being organized. Perhaps I should rethink the entire thing, allowing the important things to also slip between magazines or beneath the sofa, trusting that when needed, they’d miraculously appear.
So why this salad?
I think it was the dressing. I’m always ready to try something light and flavorful, but different than our usual citrus vinaigrette — if you can call it that. We squeeze citrus over our salads before drizzling extra virgin olive oil and call it dressing. But once in a while, I do enjoy actually making dressing and this one included dried apricots. When I first read it, I thought the apricots were mixed into the salad because that’s what I’ve done over the years — their bit of sweetness mixed with the other ingredients is wonderful. I was wrong, and when I finally looked carefully realized the apricots are blended in.
What a delicious difference.
I suppose I should be thankful the torn page has not been lost or I’d have never realized my mistake. And I’d throw it in the trash at this point, but the recipe on the other side has finally gotten my attention, so I know I’ll have to make that soon to relieve the poor page from its duty.
The dog days of summer seemed to have passed us by this year without ever actually arriving, unless you consider the phrase to have more to do with one’s lethargy than hot, sultry weather. The windows are open, and from time to time, chilly breezes waft through the house forcing me to don a sweater but I acknowledge that it’s worth not having to tolerate the excessive heat everyone else seems to be dealing with this year. I prefer cool weather and this morning, we’re shrouded in fog, with large puffs of it lazily slipping past the kitchen window. It feels more like spring than summer on most days, and so of course daydreams abound and hours pass with much less accomplished than I like to admit. Even cooking has had little appeal, odd if you’re someone like me who measures life in food years. Is there such a thing?
It would seem then, that dinner should be something cool and light to share with those sweltering in a too hot summer. And for me, it should be something to work on slowly as thoughts come and go, with no particular focus. Unlike other tasks begun and left to be finished in a day or so, at least I know dinner will happen. It will be flavorful, fresh, and worth every single bite.
Like a BLT, without the bread.
The weather here has been remarkable for the past few days with temperatures reaching nearly 80. Blue skies stretch on forever, and because it's so dry, visibility is about as clear as I've seen it in a while. I've had the patio door open during the day, and a few windows open at night to move the air around and keep the house from getting stuffy.
But wonder of all wonders?
I actually got off my rump and went for a walk today, pounding the asphalt of my old route back and forth through the neighborhood across the street — the one that affords me a breathtaking view of the San Diego skyline, Mission Bay, and the beach each time I make it to the end of a street. Down the hill and back takes me about 45 or 50 minutes, and I'm proud to say that although I haven't walked for more than a month — make that two – everything seems just fine. No aches or pains — yet. When I got back home, I put a salad together just for me.
Although I finally broke down yesterday and went to the grocery store for some produce and other necessities, I did have half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the scarlet runner bean soup I made last week.
Wait. Squash in a salad?
That's what I thought until I saw the piece in next month's issue of Food & Wine in "Six Hearty Winter Salads." The Butternut Squash Salad with Hazelnuts had my name all over it. And if you're too chilled about the prospect of a salad in the wintertime — it's a warm salad.
How can you refuse? Mumbling about not liking squash doesn't count.