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Sara

Sara and me

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Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on November 3rd, 2020.

spinach_cabbage_herb_slaw

What a super salad! Perfect for a barbecue. It’s kind of a mixture between a green (spinach) salad and a cabbage (slaw) salad. Note the cashews, halved red grapes and the grilled pineapple on top?

A couple of weeks ago my son and his wife invited me to their house for a Saturday dinner. Powell was smoking a whole beef brisket. I didn’t want to miss out on that. The last time he prepared a smoked brisket, Karen sent me home with a big chunk of the brisket and I made a recipe that’s a favorite in her family (and now for me, too) for Smoked Brisket Chili. Oh my goodness was that something special. So I made this salad to go along with the meal.

The recipe came from a cooking class more than 2 years ago with Phillis Carey. I don’t know why I hadn’t posted it before – for whatever reason I didn’t have a picture of this salad from back then. I’ve modified the recipe just a tad – I didn’t have bean sprouts (none at the market when I shopped), didn’t have green onions, either, because I forgot to buy them. Everything else I had – and since I’d purchased a big, beautiful fresh pineapple, I grilled it (stovetop) and chopped up some of it in the salad, and most of it we had as dessert.

I made the dressing the night before (it’s easy as long as you have the oranges – – I used OJ concentrate, diluted correctly — and fresh limes). I used EVOO in the dressing, so it needs to sit out at room temp to warm up and homogenize correctly – otherwise the oil sits on top. Be sure to mix it well before pouring over the salad. I was a bit startled at how much the cashews cost – I think I bought about a cup of them from a bin-type dispenser, and they were nearly $4.00. Wow. Really? You could easily use almonds in this, or even peanuts. I expect they’d be cheaper than these dear cashews! The herbs are fresh mint and cilantro. Lots of both. And of course, the fresh spinach. I ended up adding a little bit more cabbage to this salad, so the recipe has been altered to change the little things I did differently. Everything can be prepared ahead of time, except for tossing it.

You don’t want to let this sit – the citrus juices will wilt the spinach and herbs – so if you happen to make a big portion of this – only put out in the salad bowl what you think you’ll eat, no left overs. The dressing amount makes more than you’ll need – but I’m happy to have some leftover dressing for a salad on another day. I won’t have any cashews or grilled pineapple, but everything else I do have on hand now.

What’s GOOD: everything about this salad was wonderful. My son said this was, by far, his most favorite slaw he’s ever had. Nearly everyone at the table had seconds, so I’m glad I made salad for 8 people (there were 6 of us). We ate it all.

What’s NOT: only that you might not have everything on hand to make this. You can eliminate the pineapple (it wasn’t in the original) but I really liked that addition.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Spinach, Cabbage and Fresh Herb Slaw with Spicy Ginger-Citrus Dressing

Recipe By: Adapted from Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 6

DRESSING: (makes about twice what is needed for the salad)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup avocado oil — or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons serrano chile — minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced
SLAW:
4 cups fresh spinach — shredded
4 cups cabbage — green type, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red grapes — halved
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts — optional
1 cup sugar snap peas — julienned or snow peas
1 cup red onion — thinly sliced, acidulated
1/2 cup green onions — julienned
3 cups fresh pineapple — grilled, chopped (optional)
6 tablespoons fresh mint — chopped
6 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2/3 cup cashews — salted, toasted, for garnish

Note: How to acidulate onions: Soak red onion in cold water to cover with about a tablespoon of vinegar – soak for 10 minutes to take away the sharp, raw taste.
1. DRESSING: Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in oil or shake all in a jar. Stir in serrano chile and ginger. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
2. SALAD: Mix all vegetables, grapes, pineapple and herbs in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve with cashews sprinkled on top. Serve immediately. This slaw won’t keep, so dress only the amount of salad you’ll eat at that meal.
Per Serving: 517 Calories; 30g Fat (49.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 142mg Sodium; 41g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 126mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 905mg Potassium; 252mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on May 27th, 2020.

crunchy_asian_cabbage_salad_chicken

A great way to get a Chinese chicken salad but without the carbs.

Before Mother’s Day, my daughter Sara drove to my house, and we visited. Albeit, shelter-in-place style. We sat outside (without masks, but 6 feet apart). I made lattes for each of us and we just visited. SO nice. SO fun. So needed. I was just sorry I couldn’t hug her!

I made a salad for us to enjoy outside for lunch (it was a lovely day). I started with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. But I veered off a little bit from her recipe – I wanted chicken, and I added a few other ingredients, and used some different proportions of things also. Technically, it’s not a “pure” Chinese chicken salad. It’s got asparagus in it and arugula. But during this shelter-in-place, we use what we have, right?

crunchy_asian_salad_chicken_dressingThe dressing starts with mayo – but then you add in a little sugar or sweetener, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, freshly grated ginger, mashed-up garlic and a bit of Sriracha. Oh, that dressing is wonderful. I’m sorry I didn’t make more! I recommend you make DOUBLE of it, use what you need for this salad, and keep the rest for another day.

Taste the salad as you add the dressing – it might need a bit more. Then serve on plates and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds (I should have toasted them – forgot). And don’t forget the cilantro garnish too – to me that’s an essential ingredient in any semblance of a Chinese chicken salad. It’s in the salad itself, but you can add more as a garnish also.

What’s GOOD: loved everything about it – the crunchiness of the cabbage, all the different textures. And loved-loved the dressing. As I mentioned – make double so you can use it on another salad a day or two later. No crunchy won ton strips on this, unfortunately, but I didn’t miss them. There’s very little sesame oil in this, but it adds a lovely flavor.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Crunchy Cabbage Asian Slaw with Chicken

Recipe By: Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 4

4 cups Napa cabbage — thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas — ends trimmed, sliced
1/2 cup radishes — sliced into half-moon shapes
1/3 cup green onion — sliced
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped
2 cups cooked chicken — cubed
1 cup fresh asparagus — steamed and cooled
3 cups arugula — chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds — toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro — for garnish
ASIAN MAYO DRESSING:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Monkfruit sweetener — or sugar or honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce — low sodium if possible
1 teaspoon garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Thinly slice Napa cabbage, then coarsely chop. Add to a large bowl.
2. Add sugar snap peas, radishes, green onion, cilantro, asparagus, chicken and arugula.
3. DRESSING: In a bowl or glass measuring cup stir together the white wine vinegar, sweetener, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, ginger puree, and Sriracha sauce. Whisk in the mayo until ingredients are well combined.
4. Toss salad ingredients, add enough dressing to coat ingredients, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes (just until the nuts are fragrant). Add almonds as a garnish to the salad. Add more cilantro on top if desired.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 30g Fat (59.1% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on January 18th, 2020.

green_curry_salad_dressing

Different? Yes. Good? Yes, indeed.

Over the holidays I was invited to a fun-filled afternoon/evening with part of my extended family. They know I love Indian food, and every so often they invite me to join them at their (and my) favorite Indian restaurant in our part of the world, the Royal Khyber. As it turned out, the restaurant was closed that evening for a private party, so they ordered all the food at noontime, picked it up and reheated it at their home for a late afternoon dinner. Janice and I conferred and I was to bring a salad.

So, hmmm. What kind of green salad and dressing goes with Indian food, I ask you? I had no idea. Since I knew curry would be on the menu, I googled some curry dressings and finally settled on one at the Cheeky Chickpea (is THAT not a cute name for a blog?). After making the dressing, and tasting it with a leaf of lettuce in hand, I thought it needed oil. The original recipe went onto a Thai noodle salad and the dressing, as is, no doubt works well with that, but on a green salad I was afraid the dressing would wilt the greens, and wouldn’t have enough heft to hold up to sturdy greens I used (Romaine and arugula). So I added oil. Tasted it again, then decided to try a trick I’ve read in many other recipe, some mayo was needed. Not much, but just enough to emulsify the dressing. I made it in a glass jar and shook it like crazy and it held together well for several hours.

The salad – as I said – was Romaine and arugula, but then to add some interest I included some sliced cabbage and a little bit of grated carrot for color. Then I added sliced almonds, fresh mango, and chopped dates plus a bunch of green onions. You could also use peanuts instead of almonds. I forgot to take a picture of it when I served it – so all you get to see is the dressing.

What’s GOOD: it was perfect with an Indian meal – the mango and almonds added nice crunch. It was not overwhelmingly curried.

What’s NOT: only that it might not be great with a meal that didn’t complement curry/Indian/Thai food.

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Green Curry Salad Dressing

By: Inspired by a recipe on the Cheeky Chickpea
Serving Size: 6

2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
4 teaspoons green curry paste
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce — or Bragg’s aminos, or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup — or sugar free substitute
2 tablespoons powdered almond butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup mayonnaise

1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a firm lid. Shake vigorously to break up the mayo.
2. Serve on a green salad that has added cabbage (finely sliced), green onions, fresh diced mango, slivered almonds (or peanuts) and diced Medjool dates. For the greens, I recommend the heartier type – Romaine, arugula.
NOTES: This dressing contains less oil than a standard one, with other liquids added so the lettuces will wilt if left on the salad, so dress only enough that you’ll eat right away.
Per Serving: 193 Calories; 18g Fat (81.9% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 520mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on November 16th, 2018.

sherry_sesame_miso_vinaigrette

A variation on the theme of a Chinese Chicken Salad style vinaigrette.

Most of the salad dressings that I have made in the past in the style for Chinese Chicken Salad have contained a lot of sugar – honey, or molasses, or both, or sugar, period. And if I’d made this one per the directions, I’d have one that’s similar, but this one contains a lot more ingredients than most. And I cut way back on the sugar. (Actually I used Swerve, but you could easily substitute sugar or honey). In fact, this one had so many unusual ingredients I had to keep looking back at the recipe because I couldn’t remember more than one ingredient at a time.

It all starts out in the food processor. With fresh ginger cut up into little pieces. You need to start with the ginger all cut up because sometimes the food processor doesn’t mince up ginger very well. I have an older food processor, however. So old that I’ve been thinking of buying a new one, but my old one actually works well enough. It’s just that the work bowl has gotten cloudy with use and time, and the plastic that’s supposed to cover up the pulse button has broken off. Underneath it’s still plastic so I’m not worried about electrocution, thankfully. I have a new S-shaped blade than Cuisinart sent me a year or so ago when they had a recall. A few years ago I had to replace the lid because it had worn out and wouldn’t push the slide down inside indicating the cover was on tight, so it didn’t work at all! But now that I’m a single person (widow) I don’t actually use my food processor as much as I used to. I could have made this dressing in a blender, or perhaps even  used a stick blender too. But with the latter, the ginger wouldn’t likely have gotten chopped up much at all.

Anyway, I piled in the ingredients (except the oils) and got it mixed up well. What’s different about this dressing is the addition of white miso, a full 1/4 cup. That’s a lot. And tahini, of course. Not much toasted sesame oil, however. It’s powerful. Rice wine vinegar is called for plus the sherry vinegar. Garlic, soy sauce, even a pinch of cayenne too. The miso gives it a lot of thickening, and likely gives it emulsion too. The original recipe, from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook, calls for honey, 2 T worth. I didn’t want to use honey, so I substituted Swerve instead, and only a rounded teaspoon of it. So this dressing is nowhere near as sweet as most dressings of this type. I liked it. You can adapt it to your taste – use honey, or sugar. Even agave if you’d prefer.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first and foremost. I’d have felt really badly if I’d made this and then decided I didn’t like it – since it was more work than most and contained so many ingredients. I used EVOO in this, although the recipe calls for vegetable oil. It was lover-ly on a Romaine-centric green salad with some chicken. Nice for a change.

What’s NOT: only thing I’d say is the list of ingredients. I try not to make salad dressings just before dinner time – I get bogged down with making it (because most of my salad dressings have a lot of ingredients in them) so I made this a few hours ahead, and I have at least a cup left in the refrigerator. Am sure it’ll keep for at least a few weeks.

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Sherry Sesame Miso Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from Soup and Bread Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon
Serving Size: 8

1 piece ginger — about 2″ long, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic — peeled
1/4 cup miso — light style (white)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar — or mirin
1/3 cup sherry wine — sweet type [I used sherry vinegar]
2 tablespoons soy sauce — or tamari
2 tablespoons honey — or less [I used a rounded teaspoon of Swerve, a sugar substitute]
1 pinch cayenne
2/3 cup peanut oil — [I used EVOO]
2 teaspoons sesame oil — toasted type
1/4 cup sesame seeds — toasted

1. Combine in food processor all the ingredients except the oils and sesame seeds. Pulse and blend until it’s smooth and no pieces of garlic or ginger are visible.
2. Pour the oils through the feed tube as the dressing emulsifies. Add sesame seeds and pulse a few times to combine. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. There are a lot of calories in this dressing, so use it sparingly.
Per Serving: 236 Calories; 22g Fat (80.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 572mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on October 10th, 2018.

fresh_lime_vinaigrette

What do you do when you acquire a windfall of limes? Well, you could make margaritas, or some other refreshing drink. In this case it’s salad dressing.

I actually have a lime tree. A dwarf one that lives in a big pot on my patio. To date (about 5 years) it’s yielded maybe 3 limes. This year I got one. I’m not sure what to do with the tree – I guess I’ll keep watering it (it’s on automatic drip) in hopes that it will suddenly decide to fruit more of them.

limes_in_a_bowlBut meanwhile, when I was at the gym the other day, one of the trainers mentioned there was a bowl of limes at the front counter and that I should help myself. I thought about taking one (to be nice, and assuming others would want them too), but she said, oh, no, take all you want – I have hundreds on my tree. So I took a bunch. If there are more the next time I go in, I’ll help myself and probably freeze the juice in 1/2 cup portions. Of course, limes don’t yield a whole lot of juice so it does take a bunch to make up 1/2 cup of juice – I think it took 4.

Here on my blog I have a recipe for a cocina salad with cilantro lime dressing, but I knew if I made that one, I’d need to use up the dressing within 3 days because the cilantro gets icky, even suspended in the dressing. So I went hunting for another recipe, and found one at epicurious. Its only unusual item is the addition of ground coriander. And it also called for cilantro, but I eliminated that part and merely added it to my salad itself.

Surely I’ve mentioned it recently, but I dislike bottled salad dressings. I always prefer my own homemade ones. And because I’m eating a salad nearly every evening, I like variety in my dressings. I have 3 in my refrigerator as I write this. But this one is the first one I go to if I have a choice!

When I mixed it up, I tasted it, using the directions as written. I found the dressing just a tetch too sharp, so I added in another tablespoon or so of oil. I also used a new artificial sweetener that I like. It’s liquid monkfruit. I’ve never had monkfruit – – from wikipedia: monk fruit is a herbaceous perennial vine of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, native to southern China and northern Thailand. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks and in traditional Chinese medicine. They extract the juice and concentrate it and mine is a liquid in a little bitty bottle and it drips out. I used 8 drops of monkfruit extract to sweeten the salad dressing. Monkfruit has all kinds of healthful qualities and it slips through your system without being digested, mostly.

What’s GOOD: the dressing is very lime-forward – you truly can taste it. Liked it. The sugar/monkfruit took the edge off, but also the other tablespoon or so of oil helped moderate the sharpness of the lime juice. I liked the flavor altogether, and the ground coriander added a little extra flavor – it’s hardly discernible, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, unless limes are ridiculously expensive where you live.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 (click link to open recipe)

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Fresh Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from epicurious
Serving Size: 4

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 whole garlic clove — finely minced
2 teaspoons sugar — or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — or more if needed

1. On a cutting board, mince the garlic first, then add the salt to the garlic and continue to mince. Set aside for a few minutes.
2. In a tightly lidded jar add all ingredients together including the garlic. Allow to sit at room temp for about 30 minutes before using, so the garlic will mellow a little bit. Taste for acidity and salt – it may need another tetch of oil if it’s too sharp.
Per Serving: 260 Calories; 27g Fat (90.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 941mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on August 31st, 2018.

blt_salad_grilled_corn_buttermilk_parm_dressing

 

There’s still time, this summer, to make this really refreshing and satisfying salad. Grill the corn, fry up some bacon, plus a few croutons while you’re at it, and add usual ingredients.

You will need buttermilk, to make the dressing for this salad. Frozen and defrosted buttermilk doesn’t hold together, so you do have to buy some buttermilk. The dressing is easy – shallot, cider vinegar, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and a tiny sprinkle of sugar. Plus the buttermilk. The mayo gives it plenty of richness and thickness as well as there is only 1/2 cup of buttermilk in the dressing. It won’t keep for too long, so better to use it and then make it again fresh. OR, Phillis said if you wanted to make it further ahead, don’t add the shallots until an hour or so before serving.

This came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. My friend Cherrie and I love going to classes with Phillis – she makes the kind of food we both really like. Only trouble is we have to drive to San Diego to attend. We leave at about 4 from Cherrie’s house and get there about 5:30 for a 6:00 class. Then, of course, drive back north, drop off Cherrie and I can get home by about 9:30 pm. Cherrie is suffering from two “frozen shoulders,” so she really doesn’t drive except close to home as it’s painful and she doesn’t feel as safe on the open road or freeway, so I’ve been doing the driving for awhile.

Anyway, you’ll see at least 4 recipes from the last class (this one, watermelon sangria, a shrimp and cheese toast kind of appetizer, a skirt steak one too). I think the skirt steak recipe would be a great addition to this salad and it would be a complete meal with just the two items.

Phillis made home made croutons, but you could buy ready-made ones if you don’t want to bother. The dressing should be made a few hours ahead so the flavors will meld. The corn could be grilled earlier in the day – you don’t want to serve it hot on the salad as it would wild the greens. Phillis grilled the corn on an indoor grill, and she put foil on the grill pan, greased it and the corn browned beautifully through the foil. Such easy cleanup.

Ideally, if you’re making this for a big platter presentation (it’s really beautiful), you’ll spread the Romaine lettuce you’ve chopped up, then the tomatoes, the corn, and the bacon last. You drizzle part of the dressing on top and serve the remaining dressing on the side.

What’s GOOD: such a lovely summer salad. I succumbed to the corn and ate some (not on my diet, but I enjoyed the few kernels that jumped onto my fork!), and all of it has a lovely full-flavored taste. I could have eaten an entire meal of this salad, it was so good. And as I mentioned, the skirt steak recipe coming up in a few days would be especially good with this.

What’s NOT: A bit more prep since you do need to make the dressing, grill the corn and crisp up some bacon. But oh-so worth it.

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BLT Salad with Grilled Corn and Buttermilk Parm Dressing

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6
CROUTONS:
2 1/2 cups French bread — cubed
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
DRESSING:
1 tablespoon shallot — minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
SALAD:
3 ears corn — husked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces Romaine lettuce — chopped (use hearts for best appearance)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes — assorted types, chopped
6 slices thick-sliced bacon — cut in small strips
1/2 cup fresh basil — chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. For croutons, toss bread with melted butter, salt and pepper. Place on foil lined baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. DRESSING: Combine shallot and vinegar in a medium bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk, mayo, Parm, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover and chill until ready to use, up to 2 days ahead. If you want to make this further ahead, don’t add the shallot and vinegar – wait until half an hour before using to add that, then use it within 2 days.
  3. CORN: Brush corn with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until nicely brown on all sides. Cool and cut corn from the cobs.
  4. SALAD: Ideally serve this on a large platter (presentation is best this way). Arrange lettuce on the platter. Top with tomatoes, all over, then corn, then sprinkle on the cooked bacon. Drizzle with about 3 T. of the dressing, then sprinkle with croutons, parsley and the just chopped fresh basil. Serve with more dressing on the side.
    Per Serving (you may not use all the dressing, so the calorie count may be off): 712 Calories; 44g Fat (53.8% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 68g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 1531mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on May 25th, 2018.

orange_smoked_paprika_vinaigrette

A vinaigrette riff – kind of regular ingredients – but with smoked paprika for flavor.

Smoked paprika may be an acquired taste. And really, until about 15 years ago I’d never even heard of it. Then it began showing up in food magazines, and cooking classes, and visiting Hungary, I enjoyed it in several things. I bought some in Hungary, and on a subsequent trip I bought the sweet, half-sharp (half sweet and half hot) and smoked. In fact I still have a vacuum sealed bag of sweet in my pantry. It’s about 5 years old (never opened) – I hope it’s still good. But I’m now out of smoked, so will have to find a local source, probably Penzey’s.

Awhile back, because I subscribe to a free book website called BookBub, they sent the daily missive with their list of special-priced e-books at Amazon. In the mix that day was a book called Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day. It was a real bargain price – probably $1.99. For that day only. So I downloaded it to my Kindle.

If you really asked me, though, I’d tell you that I don’t much like looking at e-cookbooks. It’s not my favorite thing to go find my iPad stand so I can prop it  up on my kitchen counter to read and prepare a recipe. I suppose that makes me old-school in this regard. But I did order this one, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have ordered the hard copy (for a whole lot more money, of course). So I did read it – in bed at night, over 2-4 evenings. And I liked the sound of a bunch of recipes in it. This is one of them. I brought my Kindle downstairs to my kitchen and flipped through all the recipes after I’d read the whole book, and I copied the recipes I liked into MasterCook. And here we are.

green_salad_w_orange_paprika_vinaigretteLately I’ve been eating a lot of salads. In that salad above I’ve got a mix of all kinds of veggies, plus a few sliced almonds and bocconcini, the little fresh mozzarella balls.

I’m on a diet. Probably one of these days I’ll write a post about it, but for now, I’m sticking to this new diet that has been very easy for me. In the mornings, I eat my regular yogurt bowl (unsweetened, Fage, plain) with a few berries, walnuts or almonds, a scoop of whey protein powder, a squirt of concentrated liquid turmeric, a drop of vitamin D & K, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and now SAM-e). That’s breakfast. Mid-morning I have a handful of nuts. Lunch is usually a bowl of soup – mostly vegetables in chicken/mushroom broth with either ground turkey or chicken, or even lean grass-fed beef. The soup is loaded with all kinds of non-carb vegetables. It’s satisfying and filling. I’ve made 2 big batches of this type of soup recently. Then another handful of nuts in the mid-afternoon, and a 6-ounce “shake” mixture of prebiotics mixed with unsweetened almond milk (which I’ve found I actually like!), and sometime during the day I also have a square or two of intense chocolate (dark, 80% or higher). That’s allowed.

Dinner is usually a salad with plenty of good veggies, some kind of protein (chicken, tuna, or even some lean pork) and a good olive-oil based dressing. And eggs are fine. What’s OUT of my diet is any sugar. Period. (He does say stevia – I use Truvia – is fine in small amounts.) No desserts, and fruit (except berries, although there are a few other fruits you can eat in very small quantities). And it’s working. That’s what I’ll tell you. I’m not eating any complex carbs at all – no bread of any kind, no flour, of course, no beans, no grains, no starchy vegetables (including peas and corn, of course). And no dairy except yogurt and a dib-dab of butter if it’s essential to cooking something. He also allows small portions of cheeses. Do I miss all those things? Sometimes. But it’s not because of hunger. I’m positively amazed that I’m not hungry in between meals, but I’m not. The handful of nuts satisfy any in-between hunger. I can have canned soybeans or edamame beans, so I plan to pick up some of the latter at TJ’s this week. They’d be good added to a soup – for texture. I can have red wine or an ounce of liquor if I want. In moderation of course. There’s a whole lot more complexities to the diet, but that’s it in a nutshell. It’s a diet proscribed by Dr. Stephen Gundry (a heart surgeon). He’s the one who wrote The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. The conundrum in that book is about the hidden threats in eating lectins, something that exists in lots of foods. There’s a cookbook that goes along with that as well. But his 2017 book is the one I’m following, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline. If you’re interested, go to amazon and search for The Plant Paradox and you’ll get to a page with all of his books and books written by others about his 2 books, including several cookbooks, even one for an instant pot!

But because I’m now eating a salad at least once a day, I’m wanting more variety in dressings. There are a whole slew of oils you can have on this diet, but EVOO is the fav. No cream dressings at all, no sour cream or cream anything (except yogurt, I suppose). I’m fine with salads, as long as I can vary them with different proteins, veggie options and a different dressing every few days. Thank goodness! Hence this new dressing came into rotation.

The author of the Modern Sauces book mentioned that of all the salad dressings she makes (she considers a salad dressing a sauce) this one is her favorite. When an author or writer says that about any food, I’m all in. I made a half of a batch of this to try it out. It’s gone already, so I’ll likely make it again soon. You may see more salad dressings here in coming months. And more veggies, I suppose, in one form or another. Probably not any desserts, though, unless they’re mainly fresh berries! And I’ll still be preparing a protein entrée, so you’ll see some of those recipes. I went to a cooking class (actually 2) recently and I’ll be writing up all those recipes. I took a teeny-tiny taste of each item so I could decide if it was blog-worthy. All of them were.

What’s GOOD: loved the smoked paprika scent/taste in this. Different. Good, for sure.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Fresh Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

Recipe By: from Modern Sauces, 2017
Serving Size: 4-8

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest — lightly packed, finely grated
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar — or substitute Truvia or stevia
2 drops sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup EVOO

1. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, paprika, sugar [or sweetener], Sriracha and salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually whisk in oil a little at a time, until the dressing is creamy and blended.
2. Taste and adjust the flavor balance and seasoning. Whisk again to blend just before using. Will keep for a week.
Per Serving: 124 Calories; 14g Fat (95.7% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on May 13th, 2017.

green_goddess_dressing_spoon

A winner of a recipe from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated.

You’ve read here before that I record all the TV shows from America’s Test Kitchen and from Cook’s Country. I’m not sure which one discussed this recipe, but it’s credited to C.C. (the magazine) in April of 2006. Here on my blog I have another version of Green Goddess that is supposedly from the source, a hotel in San Francisco. But, the folks at ATK wanted to make it even better, and now that I’ve made it myself, I agree, this version is just wonderful. And much better than the other one.

What’s different? Well, first off, you soak dried tarragon (not fresh) in some water and lemon juice for 15 minutes. That obviously brings out the tarragon flavor. I think I like dried tarragon better than fresh anyway. I have a very hard time growing tarragon here – perhaps our summers are too hot. Don’t know . . . so what I have is French tarragon. Then you mix the tarragon concoction with mayo, a little bit of sour cream, fresh parsley, garlic, and one full sized, good-quality anchovy fillet that’s rinsed and blotted with a paper towel. This is whizzed up in the blender. Now, I also added the chives to the blender – in the recipe it said to add them after whizzing in the blender. Then I tasted it for salt and pepper (didn’t think it needed either) and let it chill. Right out of the blender it didn’t wow me at all, but several hours later, after melding the flavors, I thought it was delish.

green_goddess_in_saladAccording to the recipe, the dressing only keeps for 24 hours. I wasn’t sure why that would be – after 2 days (so I was a whole day past it’s use by date) I made one last salad for myself to use it up, and what I noticed was that the garlic had overpowered the dressing – that kind of sharp, not-so-good hot taste. As a family of one, I would not make this size (to serve 8) as I’d never be able to use it up. So keep that in mind when you make it – only make enough to use in 24 hours!

What’s GOOD: the tarragon flavor, which is part of what makes Green Goddess a Green Goddess, is perfect – just the right amount. The anchovy fillet is not noticeable at all – kind of like in Caesar dressing – it’s a good umami flavor. It’s a lovely green color. Rich. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you’re supposed to use it up within 24 hours.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Green Goddess Dressing

Recipe By: Cook’s Country
Serving Size: 8

2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley — roughly chopped
1 medium clove garlic — chopped
1 anchovy fillet — rinsed and dried
1/4 cup chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the tarragon, lemon juice, and water. Allow those ingredients to sit for 15 minutes.
2. Using a blender, process the tarragon mixture, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, garlic and anchovies until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender jar as necessary.
3. Transfer to bowl, stir in the chives, season with salt and pepper. Chill about an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
4. Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 1 day. (After 24 hours the garlic overpowers the flavors.)
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 19g Fat (96.0% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 141mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on December 13th, 2016.

meyer_lemon_vinaigrette1

A simple dressing – amped  up with the tiniest amount of balsamic and  mayo. But loads of garlic give it flavor.

Running out of salad dressing is a semi-catastrophe for me. I like home made salad dressings, and now that I’m a family of one, when I make them, they last awhile. So I make smaller batches. This one was just perfect for that, as it made enough for about 5-6 salads. I often make myself a green salad with oodles of veggies in it, for lunch. I either have a hard boiled egg to put in it, or some leftover chicken. I used to buy lots of Trader Joe’s prepared salads (they carry a bunch and they’re quite inexpensive) but I’ve gotten tired of them, and they also aren’t very discerning when it comes to chopping up Romaine ribs. I don’t like the base ends of Romaine (do you?) so I have to pick them out. Once, with one of those prepared salads, after removing all the big chunks of Romaine ribs I had a very, very small salad! That may have been the day I decided I really should just make my own. I have a certain combo of things that I like in my salads: thinly chopped celery, a few sugar snap peas, a radish, a carrot, maybe a bit of chopped fennel, and either Feta or some of the Mexican Cotija cheese crumbled over it.

This particular recipe came from Sunset Magazine, and the people who tried it gave it a 5-star rating. I knew I’d try it at some point. It was in with a stack of magazine clippings I’ve recently added to my computer. I’m so happy to NOT have little piles of them here and there. The joy of the internet is that when I spot a recipe in a magazine I just go to my computer and do a search and 99% of the time I can find it online and it’s such an easy task to transfer it to my MasterCook software. If I’ve read the recipe when I’m out somewhere, I type it into my smart phone app Evernote, then when I get home I just look it up. I’ve found, after years of doing this, that it helps to put in, for instance: meyer lemon vinaigrette sunset magazine. It will find it right away. Putting in just the title will give you 1001 results. So do write down the source and use it in your search string.

The dressing: It took little or no time to put it together. I smashed the garlic clove first, measured out the lemon juice and oil too. A note about the MEYER LEMONS. Not everybody can get them, I know, so my advice is to use regular lemons and add either a little bit of orange juice (about 15% or so) instead of lemon juice, or add a bit more sugar. Meyer lemons are a hybrid of Mandarin orange and a regular lemon, so the juice is slightly sweeter. I have a very prolific Meyer lemon tree outside my front door that just keeps coming nearly year ‘round. It’s an old tree, and I suspect it’s in the beginning of “old age,” so it’s not producing as many as it did before, but then, so am I, and I don’t use them as frequently now that my DH is gone. So maybe the lemon tree and I are aging gracefully together.

What’s GOOD: the overall CLEAN flavor. Even with the speck of balsamic and mayo (neither of which I could discern) it had a lively, bright taste. The lemon zest gives it a bit of zing. Altogether lovely. Do I like it better than any of my favorite salad dressings? Hmm. Perhaps not, but I liked it for a change.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. I liked the dressing.

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Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Sunset Magazine
Serving Size: 6

Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cloves garlic — minced or smashed

1. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Keeps about a week, chilled.
2. MEYER LEMONS: If you don’t have them, use regular lemons and replace a bit of the juice with orange juice and/or add a bit more sugar. Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons.
Per Serving: 71 Calories; 8g Fat (94.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 124mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, Salads, on February 8th, 2015.

arugula_greens_salad_oranges_peppered_walnuts

 It seems like most green salads, these days, are filled with all kinds of non-vegetable goodies. In this case, instead of tomatoes, or sugar snap peas, celery and carrots, this one has crumbles of blue cheese, peppered walnuts, some orange slices, and it’s tossed in a sweet honey and apple cider vinegar dressing.

A few weeks ago I needed to take a salad to a church event (a ladies luncheon). Most everyone brought a salad, a couple made dessert. I went through all kinds of salad recipes looking for one that interested me. Finally found one in a relatively newer cookbook I have called From Terra’s Table, featuring recipes from the author’s restaurant and some other San Diego restaurateurs. But I changed it all around. It called for arugula and radicchio. I couldn’t find the radicchio, so had to substitute greens that contained some radicchio and colorful red greenery. The recipe called for walnuts that were coated in a spice egg white mixture and baked. I decided to make my favorite Peppered Pecans, but instead of pecans (the way I usually make it) I used walnuts instead. I had mostly walnut oil for the dressing, but not enough to make this, so had to substitute hazelnut oil for part of it. I had some good Humboldt Fog blue which I did crumble in the salad, and just because I had a nice, big juicy orange in my kitchen, I decided to add that as well.

Hence, this recipe is not true (much) to the original recipe. I altered the dressing a little bit. I altered the greens. And I made different nuts. So, really, it’s almost a new recipe. I’m sorry my photo isn’t better above – I used my cell phone at the event and didn’t have the best light.

What’s GOOD: I really liked the dressing, but it is on the sweet side. I also enjoyed the orange in this, and the texture from the peppered pecans for sure. I used less of the blue cheese since I think blue can overpower a salad. I’d have liked some sturdier greens in this (maybe some Romaine, but not a lot) because those multi-colored greens are so very tender. I’ve changed that in the recipe below, but you can use your own judgment when you make it yourself. It’s very pretty – especially with the orange slices visible.

What’s NOT: nothing really, other than you do have to prepare the walnuts, the dressing, and at the last minute toss it all and peel & slice the orange. Not something I’d make for a weeknight dinner, but great to take to someone else’s home if this is all you’re making.

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Arugula and Radicchio Salad with Blue Cheese, Oranges and Peppered Walnuts

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe from (now closed) Terra Restaurant, San Diego
Serving Size: 5 (maybe more)

PEPPERED WALNUTS:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnut halves
HONEY-WALNUT VINAIGRETTE:
3/8 cup honey
3/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil — plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon shallots — minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
SALAD:
1/2 pound arugula
1/4 pound radicchio — sliced (or use multicolored greens)
2 cups Romaine lettuce — chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese — (I used Humboldt Fog)
1 whole orange — peeled, thinly sliced

1. WALNUTS: Place a baking sheet or jelly roll pan next to your range before you start.
2. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
3. Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add nuts and toss until walnuts are warm, about 1 minute.
4. Sprinkle nuts with HALF of the sugar mixture and toss until the sugar melts. Add remaining sugar mixture and toss again until sugar melts, then IMMEDIATELY pour out onto the baking sheet. Spread nuts out and allow to cool. The nuts won’t absorb all of the sugar mixture – it caramelizes, but just throw out the extra. The nuts will keep, stored in a plastic bag, for about 3-4 weeks. (Allow pan to cool, then fill with hot water – I use a nonstick pan for this.)
5. VINAIGRETTE: Combine the liquid ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a jar, add other ingredients, shake and set aside (extra dressing will keep for 2 weeks, refrigerated). You won’t use all the dressing on this salad.
6. SALAD: In a large bowl combine the arugula, Romaine and radicchio (or greens). Add enough salad dressing so the leaves shine. Taste for seasonings, then add the crumbled cheese on top, add peppered walnuts and orange slices. Serve immediately.
Per Serving (incorrect as you’ll have dressing left over): 611 Calories; 53g Fat (74.2% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 377mg Sodium.



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