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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 Salads, Veggies/sides, on October 1st, 2020.

shaved_carrot_salad_poppy_seeds

An easy something-different, colorful side salad.

You may remember at least a month ago I mentioned that on September 1st, I was going to dig into my big plastic storage bin and bring out my fall décor, no matter that the temperatures here in SoCal are still hovering around 90 nearly every day and our state is being ravaged by wildfires. And I did get out the plates and décor. So the plate the carrots are resting upon are my fall/pumpkin plates that I’ve been using all month. I simply love this set of plates I bought at Williams-Sonoma last fall. They were on sale, so they weren’t as “dear” as they could have been. I’ll use them through Thanksgiving, then they’ll get put away and I’ll bring out my old Christmas set. Albeit I may be spending the holidays alone. Hope not, but all depends on Covid.

Anyway, when I had read the recipe for this carrot salad it just sounded different and relatively easy. I don’t buy big, honkin’ carrots anymore, but I get the smaller ones, so my “ribbons” weren’t quite as big as they might have been. But that makes no difference in the taste or texture. The carrot strips are tossed with salt and microwaved briefly – just until crisp-tender. Do NOT overcook them or you’ll lose the whole point of making this salad. Poppy seeds are toasted – let me just say that it’s kind of hard to determine that poppy seeds are toasted, unless there happen to be some white ones in the mix – and even then it was difficult. You’re not toasting them for color, merely for the toasted flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever in my cooking life toasted poppy seeds. Have you?

The dressing is made in the same saucepan you used for the poppy seeds, then that’s poured over the carrots and tossed. Once cool, you add the poppy seeds and parsley. Done. There is no reason this couldn’t be made hours ahead. I made a smaller batch and had enough for two servings, and it was fine the 2nd day.

What’s GOOD: loved the colorful quality, and enjoyed the just barely crisp tender texture. The lemon juice and EVOO dressing was lovely with the moderate hint of garlic. I couldn’t really taste the star anise. It was delicious altogether. Nice for guests, or a picnic too.

What’s NOT: only that  you do have to prep the carrots – not difficult. Even children who are safe with a vegetable peeler could do that part. You need to use a Y-shape peeler for this, in order to get the wide ribbons.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley

Recipe By: Milk St. Magazine
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 pounds carrots — peeled (about 4-5 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt — or more if needed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup EVOO
2 medium garlic cloves — peeled, smashed
2 whole star anise
1/4 cup lemon juice — or more as needed
1 teaspoon sugar — or substitute
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped

1. Using Y-style vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating carrot as you go. If using smaller carrots it may be easier to go from bottom to top. Discard cores. Place ribbons in a large microwave-safe bowl and toss with 3/4 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on high until crisp-tender. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, this may be 1 1/2 to 3 or up to 5 minutes total. Stir once during cooking time and taste – don’t overcook. Set aside, uncovered, leaving any juices in the bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast poppy seeds until they are darkened just slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat add oil, garlic, and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown on the edges, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add lemon juice and sugar, then whisk occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard (spoon out) the garlic and star anise.
3. Pour warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, sugar or more lemon juice as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and add more parsley as garnish.
Per Serving: 173 Calories; 12g Fat (59.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 511mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, Salads, on September 25th, 2020.

chicken_salad_grapes_dill

Maybe I’m bored with my own cooking of late. Decided to do something outside the box.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, most days I have soup (laden with lots of veggies) for lunch. But you probably heard earlier this month here in SoCal, the temps were in the 100s. One day it was 108 here at my house. Even though I have AC in my house (thank you, Lord!) I could still feel hot around the edges. I didn’t want hot soup, and the soup I had in the frig wasn’t one that could be eaten cold. So I decided to fix myself an open faced sandwich. I didn’t even have leftover chicken – so I used canned chicken. I do that sometimes when I’m not wanting to cook a chicken breast. Costco’s canned chicken is very good, if you’ve never tried it.

These days, with the pandemic still keeping me at home (oh, I’m so very tired of it), I don’t always have food items I need to make something new. So I used what I had and created a chicken salad and served it atop a nice wheat type thin slice of toast, some sliced avocado (hidden under the greenery) and with arugula. So, I thought about what I could do to make this salad different. Well, I had dill. Good, that would work. I had almonds in the freezer, so that was easy, although I didn’t toast them (it was just too hot even to turn on the toaster oven). I combined the chicken, Best Foods mayo, some minutely diced celery, lemon juice, a minced up green onion, some red grapes that I diced up (optional) and then I threw in a heaping tablespoon of mango chutney. That chutney was just the ticket. It added that slight bit of sweetness and flavor variation that I was seeking. I had enough to make this sandwich three times, although only the first time did I use the toast and avocados.

It took me very few minutes to make the salad, toast the bread, slice the avocado, chop up the arugula, mince the dill, and it was done. Don’t add salt until after you’ve tasted it – the mayo has some already – so I didn’t add any, though I did grind in some pepper.

What’s GOOD: very easy and quick to make. The mango chutney was the surprise flavor here, and I really liked it. The dill was another flavor profile I enjoyed. I don’t suppose this recipe will win any county fair prizes, but it was just the answer to my wish for something easy and different.

What’s NOT: well, during a pandemic, you might not have all the ingredients. I always keep Major Gray’s mango chutney in my refrigerator – it virtually keeps forever, and the other ingredients were all staples, except for the dill. I wish I could grow dill at my house, but it’s always too hot. This sandwich isn’t low calorie – I was kind of surprised when I looked at the nutrition count. Must be the mayonnaise!

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Chicken Salad – for open faced sandwich

Recipe By: My own combo, 2020
Serving Size: 3

CHICKEN MIXTURE:
1 1/4 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise — Best Foods
1 tablespoon lemon juice — or more to taste
2 tablespoons red grapes — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
1/4 cup celery — minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill — chopped
1 whole green onion — diced
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
SANDWICH:
3 slices whole grain bread — toasted
1 avocado — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups arugula — chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill — for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced almonds — for garnish

1. In a bowl combine all the chicken salad ingredients, reserving some of the almonds. Taste for seasoning. It may not need salt, but pepper for sure.
2. Place toast on individual plates, add avocado slices, mound arugula next, then spoon the chicken salad on top. Garnish with additional almond slices, and a sprig of dill.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 24g Fat (43.5% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 89mg Cholesterol; 406mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 817mg Potassium; 378mg 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.

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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 Salads, Vegetarian, on March 25th, 2020.

veg_sheetpan_bowl_arugula_wh_beans

A great combo of flavors – all tasty by themselves, but tossed with a light balsamic dressing, it takes it to a tastier level.

When this veggie bowl was served to me I was certain I wasn’t going to care for it. I was at a cooking class, and often this instructor includes a vegetarian entrée at her classes. Then I took a bite, and decided it was really quite wonderful. I don’t eat very many beans (carbs) and I definitely don’t eat hardly any potatoes, either (more carbs) so I ate a bite or two of those things and devoured the rest of the bowl. It’s the dressing that pulls it all together.

Truly, I love sheetpan dinners – and this one is very easy – it’s just done in stages – pine nuts first (and removed), then potatoes and garlic, and zucchini last. Meanwhile, you make up the dressing – adding the roasted garlic to it once you take the sheetpan out of the oven. The arugula adds a lovely texture to this – making it equally a salad rather than just roasted vegetables, and as I mentioned, the dressing just enhances it all. When I make it myself, I’ll probably use sweet potatoes since they are healthier for me.

I’ve adjusted the recipe to use fewer potatoes (and added the sweet potato option). Do chop up the arugula – if it’s mature arugula it can be quite unruly to eat – easier to eat if chopped. The cold halved tomatoes also add a nice textural contrast. Making it for myself I’d add more zucchini and fewer beans, but that’s totally up to you. I don’t think you can buy half cans of cannellini beans!

What’s GOOD: for me the dressing brought all the various ingredients together and made it more of a salad than a sheetpan dinner, exactly. Loved the dressing element. Liked the contrast using chopped arugula and fresh tomatoes.

What’s NOT: only that it helps to have everything out and ready when you start – you make this in stages, but still, all on one pan. Yeah!

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Sheetpan Veggie Bowl with Cannellini Beans and Arugula

Recipe By: Cooking class with Susan V, 2/2020
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes — cut into 1-inch cubes (or substitute sweet potatoes)
4 cloves garlic — unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil — divided
3/4 teaspoon salt — divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper — divided
2 zucchini — quartered and cut into 1-inch slices
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
15 ounces canned cannellini beans — drained and rinsed
3 cups baby arugula — chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes — halved

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200 degrees C).
2. Spread pine nuts on a sheetpan; roast until golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Place potatoes and garlic on the sheetpan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake 20 minutes. Add zucchini and rosemary, toss, then continue roasting until vegetables are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool about 5-10 minutes.
4. Squeeze roasted garlic out of its skin into a small bowl, mashing it slightly with a fork. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; whisk to combine.
5. Toss roasted potatoes and zucchini in a large bowl with beans, chopped arugula, tomatoes, and dressing. Serve in bowls sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
Per Serving: 670 Calories; 19g Fat (25.0% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 97g Carbohydrate; 20g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 436mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on December 27th, 2019.

cabbage_kale_radishes_buttermilk_dressing

Such a refreshing salad, and so low calorie it hardly counts. Yet it’s got great taste.

This is a salad that’s already in my repertoire, and was posted years ago – I looked it up, in 2012. I altered it a little bit, added a tiny bit more mayo to the dressing, and here it is. The kale is an addition to the original – it was is just a Napa cabbage salad. No darker greens in it except some chives. But this new revision is so much better. It’s a very light salad. Refreshing. Would be wonderful for a summer barbecue. I loved the look of the radishes, that I painstakingly julienned. I tried using my mandoline and it was just impossible to work for radishes. I don’t know why. Took about 10 minutes to do the radishes. The kale was already pre-washed (Trader Joe’s) so I merely chopped it up more finely. Added the celery, made the buttermilk dressing that has no added oil (just the mayo which provides a little bit) and as I mentioned, put in a tad more mayo to it this time. I tossed it just before serving, although those kinds of greens can stand well. There is about a cup of leftovers which I’ll enjoy for my dinner one night soon. I expect it will still be fine.

What’s GOOD: the lightness of it – easy to make, and delicious. I doubled the recipe and I saw several people take seconds. I like this salad a LOT.

What’s NOT: well, maybe just the julienne-ing (is that even a word?) of the radishes, but you don’t have to do that part – just chop them any way you want. I merely wanted the finished dish to be more attractive.

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Cabbage Kale Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Recipe By: adapted from Gourmet Mag, 2017
Serving Size: 6

1/2 cup buttermilk — well-shaken
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon sugar — or use artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chives — finely chopped
1 pound Napa cabbage — cored and thinly sliced crosswise or Savoy cabbage
3 cups baby kale — finely chopped
6 whole radishes — cut in tiny matchsticks
2 whole celery ribs — thinly sliced diagonally

1. Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl until sugar has dissolved, then whisk in chives.
2. Toss cabbage, radishes, and celery with dressing. It’s perhaps more attractive if the radishes are dressed separately and sprinkled on top.
Per Serving: 103 Calories; 6g Fat (50.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 266mg Sodium.

Posted in Gundry-friendly, lectin-free, Salads, Veggies/sides, on November 24th, 2019.

warm_brussels_sprout_salad_bacon_apples

Trust me on this one – so delicious. The Brussels sprouts are raw – it’s the bacon dressing that makes it kind of warm.

This was a stunner of a recipe at a recent class with Phillis Carey. She made a huge amount of it and I gobbled every bite on that plate. I have all the ingredients in my frig right now, to make it myself. The recipe came from Rachel Ray (from her magazine, I think).

Phillis cut up the apples in advance and kept them soaking in Sprite (or use water with some lemon juice) until she was ready to assemble. The pecans were toasted ahead also. The dressing she made at the moment – mostly because you start off with some bacon slices and you use the bacon fat + some EVOO (yes it needs it) to make a bacon vinaigrette. If you made the dressing ahead, the bacon at room temp would congeal and you’d have to heat it up anyway. So just keep the bacon grease in the pan once you’ve fried up the bacon pieces.

She told us that for this salad she uses her food processor to slice the Brussels sprouts – she likes them sliced at 3mm (one of the slicing disks that comes with a food processor) and she stands each trimmed B.S. in upright (several of them in the feed tube) and slices away. It takes just a minute or two to make enough for this entire salad. The Manchego cheese may be grated or in small slices/shaved. The recipe calls for Fuji apples, or Ambrosia. Phillis said she bought Ambrosia and mentioned that if you buy organic (sweet crisp style) you can leave on the peels.

What’s GOOD: this salad is stupendous. It will be my dinner tonight, and probably for a couple of nights to come. I won’t mix it up to keep it, however. Maybe the B.S. can be done ahead, the pecans too. The dressing except the bacon fat could be done ahead too.

What’s NOT: there are several steps to making this . . . would be a marvelous one to make or take to a Thanksgiving dinner, just saying .. .

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Pecans and Manchego

Recipe By: Cooking class with Phillis Carey, Nov. 2019
Serving Size: 8

1 pound brussels sprouts — trimmed
3 Ambrosia apples — or other sweet, crisp apple
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices thick-cut bacon — cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic — finely chopped
4 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup pecan halves — toasted and chopped
3 ounces manchego cheese — shaved or grated

NOTE: Don’t not add the EVOO to the dressing – the salad needs it.
1. Using a food processor fitted with a slicing attachment (use the 3mm one if you have it), thinly slice the brussels sprouts by placing them into the feed tube stem end down (standing up like trees).
2. Core and coarsely chop the apples. In a bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. Add the garlic to the remaining fat in the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the mustard, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. In a large bowl, combine the brussels sprouts, apples, pecans and cheese. Toss with the bacon and warm vinaigrette. Make this salad just before serving as the bacon fat will congeal if left to sit – it needs to be served warm.
Per Serving: 139 Calories; 12g Fat (68.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, Salads, on October 29th, 2019.

smoked_salmon_pea_prosciutto_salad

Talk about a vibrantly colored salad, and full of texture and flavor!

Last week my friend Cherrie and I attended a cooking class with Phillis Carey. It was all about salmon. And I’ll share all the salmon recipes she prepared that evening (four) plus the dessert (cookies – I didn’t eat them because I shouldn’t but Cherrie attested to their deliciousness). This salad was such a standout. On this anti-lectin diet I’m on, I’m not supposed to eat sugar snaps or peas, but I ate the peas and one sugar snap; I just couldn’t help myself! What I loved about this salad was all the textures in it – Phillis even mentioned it as she was explaining the recipe – it’s served with a simple lemon vinaigrette. It was SO good. All of it. She blanched the sugar snaps and the fresh peas (although you can use frozen, thawed peas). Everything could be made ahead – you’d just have to compose the salad immediately before serving it – and it would be best to serve individual servings because you can make sure each person gets a specific share of the smoked salmon. And the crispy prosciutto added a lovely saltiness to the salad. So worth the effort.

In this case, Phillis said to use hard-smoked salmon. This is not a place for regular, thinly sliced smoked salmon, lox style. So seek out a grocer/butcher store that carries chunks of smoked fish. Or you could use canned smoked fish (which I just happen to have in my pantry). This could easily be a main dish, just make it in a larger portion. Great for a warm summer night – it was one the night we attended the class. We’ve been having Indian summer weather in SoCal this past week or two. Much too hot for my liking.

But, as a complete aside – – – a few months ago I had solar panels installed on my house. It was a big undertaking, and expensive (I paid up front for it). They guaranteed I’d have a 55% or more reduction of my electric bill. Not only did I have 2 swimming pools (regular and separate spa), but 3 A/C units (one for each floor of my house plus the wine cellar). Hence I use a lot of power. But then, I decided to empty my big swimming pool and had a deck built into/over the space. Last week I got my first electric bill since I did that deck. Talk about thrilled. We’ve had summer weather here since June and the A/C units run a lot . . . my bill was $37. Oh my goodness, was I thrilled. I danced a jig! That’s WITH the A/C running every day but about one or two. Over the winter, I’m certain I’ll be getting a $0 bill. Happiness.

What’s GOOD: Do try it. Look how vibrant it appears – love all the colors of green, and I did love all the texture in it. Loved the hard-smoked salmon with the greens. A keeper.

What’s NOT: nary a thing.

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Smoked Salmon, Pea, Arugula and Prosciutto Salad

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 4

4 tablespoons EVOO — divided use
2 ounces prosciutto — thinly sliced across into strips
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups green peas — fresh, cooked, or frozen, thawed
12 ounces sugar snap peas — about 3 cups, trimmed, blanched
4 ounces arugula — about 6 cups packed
10 ounces hard-smoked salmon — flaked in large pieces

1. Heat 1 T. EVOO in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Set aside.
2. Whisk lemon juice and mustard in a large bowl. Gradually add 3 T EVOO, whisking constantly, until emulsified; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
3. Working in batches, cook green peas and sugar saps in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 minutes per batch. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and swoosh peas around until cold; this sets their color and halts the cooking. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Add green peas, sugar snaps and arugula to bowl with vinaigrette and toss until well coated with dressing. Toss in prosciutto strips; season with salt and pepper.
5. Arrange salad on a platter or individual plates and top with smoked salmon and serve.
Per Serving: 307 Calories; 18g Fat (53.4% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 26mg Cholesterol; 957mg Sodium.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Salads, on December 1st, 2018.

cranberry_jello_salad_walnuts

A really simple salad to serve with a holiday meal – or more likely with Thanksgiving turkey.

As it happened, I was watching The Pioneer Woman last week, and she showed something similar to this salad above, that was her mother-in-law’s standard for Thanksgiving. Her MIL passed away recently, so Ree was making this salad in homage to Nan. It reminded me of a salad I had once upon a time, years and years ago and really liked, and never found out who made it, to acquire the recipe.

So, first off – if you follow the recipe – you need to find cranberry Jell-O. Well, that proved an impossible task in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Supposedly Target has it, but perhaps it’s only available online. I gave up looking after visiting 3 grocery stores + Target. So I bought Black Cherry Jell-O and used that instead.

First you make the underneath gelatin part – adding 2 cans of whole cranberry sauce and a 6-ounce can of crushed pineapple (drained). I also added about 2/3 cup of chopped walnuts (my addition to the recipe because walnuts were in the salad I remember from long ago). That was chilled until set (overnight in my case). Then, I started on the topping. Ree said to add 1 1/4 cups of milk to an 8-ounce package of cream cheese. That seems like too much to me, so I added just 1/2 cup and spread that all over the top of the chilled Jell-O. Then I microplaned some fresh orange zest on top (in Ree’s recipe). I covered it with plastic wrap (elevated above the cream cheese) and chilled that until we were ready to eat.

Was it up to my expectations? Absolutely. I loved it. And I shouldn’t have had any of it (not on my no-sugar, no-carb diet) but I ate it anyway. AND, I had a serving of it the next day when we had leftovers. By then it was nearly gone.

What’s GOOD: love-loved it in every way possible. Sweet, tart, piquant, satisfying, easy. What more could you want?

What’s NOT: really nothing. It was a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.

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Cranberry Sauce Salad

Recipe By: Adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe from her MIL, Nan
Serving Size: 12 (maybe 16)

3 packets cranberry gelatin — (small ones) or use Black Cherry as substitute
2 cans cranberry sauce — 14 ounce size (whole cranberry style)
8 ounces crushed pineapple — canned, drained
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese — at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 orange, zest only

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the gelatin until completely dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup cold water, the cranberry sauce, chopped walnuts and pineapple. Mix well, ensuring you break apart any large chunks of the cranberry sauce.
2. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
3. Beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar with a hand mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the milk and mix until completely combined. Carefully spread the cream cheese frosting in a thin layer over the cranberry sauce. Zest the orange directly over the frosting. Can be chilled (covered in plastic wrap, but elevated up above the cream cheese) overnight. Serve in individual squares.
Per Serving: 365 Calories; 11g Fat (25.8% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 63g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 225mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on October 27th, 2018.

grilled_potato_spinach_corn_onion_salad

Does it look like I mixed this salad right on my granite countertop? Uh, no, there’s actually a glass plate in between.

The one thing you need to remember about this recipe is that you cook the small red-skinned potatoes ahead of time, but not quite all the way. Because after that you’re going to grill them. They don’t want to be so tender they’d not hold on the skewer. A vinaigrette is made – using champagne vinegar AND raspberry vinegar, a little honey mustard, fresh basil and olive oil. So delicious all by itself – or on any green salad.

If you’ve still got availability of fresh corn on the cob, do use it, although you can use frozen corn too. Buy some cotija cheese. Cotija is a Mexican dry cheese, crumbly, similar to Feta, so if you can’t buy cotija, use Feta. You need a package of baby spinach too and a red onion. The pre-cooked potatoes are tossed with a little olive oil and they’re threaded onto skewers. The corn is brushed with the same oil  and grilled along with the red onions.

Once the potatoes are done, they get put into a bowl and let them cool some. Add the spinach, cut the corn off the cob, add the onions, toss with vinaigrette and top with the cotija cheese. So good. Recipe came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s GOOD: loved the grilled aspects of this salad (potatoes, corn and onion) and really liked the combination in a salad with spinach and the tasty vinaigrette. I didn’t eat the potatoes (a no-no on my diet) and I ate just a couple kernels of the corn (also a no-no) but I gobbled up the onion and spinach in the dressing. Delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you do have to do the grilling soon before serving – you want the grilled stuff still warm.

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Grilled Potato Wedges with Spinach, Corn and Red Onion

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter class, Sept. 2018
Serving Size: 6

VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar — or pear vinegar
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 tablespoons basil — thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
SALAD:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon spice rub — your choice
1 pound potatoes — red-skinned, roasted at 375°F until almost tender, then cut in half
5 ounces baby spinach — or arugula
2 ears corn — husked
1 whole red onion — cut in 3/4″ slices
1/2 cup Cotija cheese — crumbled

1. VINAIGRETTE: Shake the vinaigrette ingredients together in a sealed jar. Set aside.
2. POTATOES: Mix the olive oil and spice rub together. Toss the pre-cooked potato halves with some of the olive oil, thread on skewers and grill until tender. Brush corn and red onion slices with olive oil mixture and grill until tender.
3. Place warm potato halves in a bowl, add spinach while they are still warm. Cut corn off the cobs and add, along with the red onion rings, cut into quarters. Toss with vinaigrette to coat and sprinkle in the cheese.
Per Serving: 387 Calories; 32g Fat (72.4% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 66mg Sodium.

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