I should call this the Monet salad. I’m teasing, of course, but whenever I see varying tones of green and purple with touches of blue, I think of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous and recognizable series of paintings — Waterlilies.
I was hoping Mother Nature might take pity on us by wielding her mighty weather wand because October has arrived and with it, the promise of Fall. All things apples and pumpkins, steaming bowls of comforting soup to stave off a late afternoon chill in the air. New wooly socks and freshly knitted scarves in blended hues of purple and rust. Leaves that change color seemingly overnight, then fall to the ground before one realizes it. Standing on the porch in the evening to inhale the fresh air and scent of burning wood from a fireplace nearby. Cuddling and snuggling…
Wait. Not necessarily.
It’s a sweltering 94 degrees today, and for those who live inland in San Diego county, the temperatures are well past 100 degrees. There’s a breeze wafting through our house, but it’s a warm one and so the fan cycling the air beneath my desk sends welcome relief. As much as it is not all that unusual for our weather to be warm well into Fall, this is a bit much, and it’s had me thinking about the idea of looking forward to something often elusive — for me, at least — instead of embracing that which is today, and now.
The hubster and I often chide ourselves for being the weather nerds we are, but so be it. And just to confirm it, I have a weather widget on all my devices tagged with my favorite cities — or cities where my favorite people live — and I frequently check to see how their weather differs from ours. Yes, really.
Guess what? It seems to be pretty warm most everywhere today. Allow me to illustrate:
Virginia (my sister lives there) is not quite as warm as it is here, but 75 degrees today is quite nice for October 2nd even if there are thunder storms.
Toronto (where I had the great pleasure of visiting recently) enjoyed a balmy 68 degrees today.
Western New York state (my childhood BFF lives there) had rain, but it was 66 degrees. That’s warm by my standards and rain would be most welcomed.
San Francisco (teh ManBoy goes to school there) was most likely baking in the high 80s temps today and I heard from his roomie, so check.
Rota, Spain (my favorite childhood home) enjoyed 80 degree temps. Beach, anyone?
Even London, England (favorite vacation destination) managed 61 degrees today. Not enough for more than two light layers. Maybe.
Fall? What Fall? Seriously?
I’ll blatantly ignore the calendar (and far more delicately with apologies, of course, the lovely New England folks nudging the rest of us along their pipe dream), to wallow instead in the moment of now. Today. Life where I live. Life where fresh produce grows all year long and Farmers’ Markets don’t close for the season. Really! Life where the sun shines and shines. I need to embrace the warm days and nights craved in June when the calendar said I should, instead of knowing they’d show up as they always do in September and October. Brace myself for the piercing sunlight so normal here for this time of year. Welcome the nights of cool relief from the day’s heat. People who deal with excessive humidity just don’t understand the wonder of it. It’s not the same as their summer. Their heavy heat and humidity. Not even close.
Relax and enjoy that life is good, I say. Regardless.
Perhaps we’ll have a salad for dinner since I can’t bear to think of turning on the oven for the Macaroni & Cheese I promised the hubster. No, this recipe for Cobb Style Steak Salad will be something that the barbie can be fired up for if you’d like, or more easily, a panini pan used if one is handy. Either way, it’s all about enjoying the fresh flavors of a great dinner salad — warm weather or not.
We’ve enjoyed so many different great recipes this summer, I haven’t done a very good job of keeping it up when it comes to sharing them with you. What’s my excuse? Well. I’d say pull up a chair and allow me to share the photos of what we’ve been doing while enjoying the season to its fullest, but I’m out of wine and what fun is it to enjoy a slide show and chat without a beverage?
If you could have a sit with me out on the patio, you might convince me the late afternoon air is not nearly as hot as what most have to deal with — or remind me it’s most likely the humidity which is rarely as high as it’s been, especially at this time of year. And as we watch the color of the sunset turn the palms across the street a soft, glowing gold, we could plug in the party lights, light the votive candles in the jars on the table, and if you feel the slightest bit chilly, light the log I have in the chiminea, waiting for just this occasion.
We’d have to eat, of course, because good conversation flows more easily with food — as long as it’s good food. Our food is always good. Like this recipe for Fried Green Tomato Salad with Grilled Onions and Corn. I’ve never fried green tomatoes before, so when I saw them at the market thought it was about time. When I was growing up, my mother talked about eating fried green tomatoes — how her mother had made them. But we never had a vegetable garden, and I can imagine that if we did, picking tomatoes before they were ripe just might be some kind of a breach of garden etiquette.
If you’re still sweltering in the extended summer heat or humidity, then perhaps you’re like us — wanting to take in a lighter meal. One that won’t leave you wishing you hadn’t eaten all that food, but more a feeling of having had something tasty and satisfying.
Let’s say this salad has some bite, shall we? Oh, and because I made this more like I would for our family dinner — I wasn’t exact with many of the ingredients (just like my mother when she made dinner). Practice your estimation skills and you’ll be just fine.
I grew up loving my mother’s potato salad. It was a simple mixture of boiled and peeled russet potatoes she cut into cubes then added chopped onion, celery, hard boiled eggs, and pickles. The dressing wasn’t fancy — a generous dollop of mayonnaise mixed with enough juice from the pickle jar to make it tangy and tasty. I’m thinking garlic salt was involved. Me?
I don’t have a go to potato salad recipe because I’m more of a green salad lover. But when the hubster’s sister invited us to spend a day at the beach with her this summer while they were camping there, I thought potato salad was in order.
I knew they wouldn’t have refrigeration, so needed to make something that wouldn’t spoil. And then there was the consideration of continuing to make dishes that I could cut out as many bad calories as possible. Is that possible when the main ingredient is potato? Something easy, fresh, and with a bit of a tang. Not quite German potato salad, but trying hard to get there.
If you need a salad for a weekend get together, then give Potato Salad with Bacon and Buttermilk Dressing a try. Putting your own spin on it is always a good thing.
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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.