Tag Archives: salads

“Perennials” Anybody?

 

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Echinacea purpurea ‘Julia’

This time of year echinaceas are on my mind.  They’re not only a great perennial (my current favorite is ‘Julia’) but they’re part of our keep-sickness-at-bay routine.  Andy and I should own stock in Quick Defense after trying to get through this year’s flu season unscathed.  A main ingredient in Quick Defense is echinacea purpurea.  And – as a silly aside – I have to share this tweet I just saw:

“When I told my parents over the phone that my husband has the flu, my dad said “Have you tried euthanasia?” and in the background my mom yelled “For the last time, it’s echinacea!”  OMG. 🙂

Though I have little interest in planting annuals and lots of interest in perennials, I bristled when someone suggested recently that older people should be thought of as, yes, “perennials.”

Laura Carstensen, the head of the Stanford Center on Longevity recently wrote in The Washington Post:  “Language matters: We need a term that aging people can embrace.”  In the same article, Carstensen suggests the term “perennials” may be just right.  She continues:  

Upon first hearing this term, I was startled. The symbolism it connotes is perfect. For one, “perennials” makes clear that we’re still here, blossoming again and again. It also suggests a new model of life in which people engage and take breaks, making new starts repeatedly. Perennials aren’t guaranteed to blossom year after year, but given proper conditions, good soil and nutrients, they can go on for decades. It’s aspirational.

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Maybe I have a perennial problem, as in “they’re perennially late” or “the politicians’ perennial whining” or – especially this time of year – “his perennial allergies.”   Even negative connotations aside, I don’t particularly aspire to a Blossom-DieBack-Blossom-DieBack kind of life experience.  Andy used to be in limbo about this issue but has found a solution.

If not “perennial” or – god forbid – “elderly,” that brings up the question as to what a better choice of words might be when referring to someone……well, my age.  My suggestion? “Go-To.”  The “Go-To Generation.”  Or just think of yourself – when you achieve that certain age – as  “Grandpa Go-To” or “Auntie Go-To”  or “Nana Go-To.”  Don’t you think it has a nice ring? And an even nicer meaning?  Go to them for wisdom.  Go to them for advice.  Or encouragement.  Or tons of love.  They’ve been there, done that.

I have a bunch of old cookbooks that are my Go-To’s in the world of cooking.  Dog-earred, ripped, stained, faded – but still prominent on my bookshelf, consulted often, and loved.

I’m sharing special recipes – all apple-oriented since an apple a day keeps the doctor away – from three of them:  the Moosewood Cookbook from 1992,  Bayou Cook Book from 1974, and the Congressional Club Cook Book from 1955.  The list of contributors to the Congressional Club Cook Book reads like a “Who’s Who” from the world of politics past:  Mrs. Albert Gore, Mrs. Barry Goldwater, Mrs. Everett Dirksen, Mrs. Hale Boggs, Mrs. Prescott Bush, Mrs. Margaret Chase Smith, Mrs. Strom Thurmond, Mrs. Richard Nixon, Mrs. Mike Mansfield, Mrs. Gerald Ford, Mrs. Sam Irvin, to name a few.  And do note: I don’t find one male contributor.  Time changes all things….and sometimes for the better.

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A few of my Go-To cookbooks

 

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The original recipes – which I’ve tweeked

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It’s Crunch Time

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Andy and I are getting ready for a long-anticipated trip to Oaxaca, so for me it’s crunch time.  Actually, I’m thinking about nuts again (crunch) and seeds and New Mexico, more than I am about the lengthy instructions I need to write for our cat/dog/house sitter on dealing with our disfunctional animals while we’re on our Mexican holiday.  Andy’s got some nutty ideas too – and really, really delicious ones.

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A jicama about to go into my salad.  Crunch.

Ever since David wrote the last blog, New Mexico has been on my mind.  I love David’s New Mexican Calabacitas recipe.  I also love a jicama salad recipe that comes from one of my favorite old cookbooks, The Feast of Santa Fe.  Actually,  I just love any crunch this time of year, when garden-fresh veggies seem like a time long past.

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I’m trying to stick to my New Year’s resolution – at least for one blog.  That is, I’m going to loosen up and be adventurous and less recipe-focused in my cooking.  All of the following salad recipes encourage you to branch out and create!  Also, in accordance with my NY’s resolutions, I promise not to have my suitcase packed and sitting by the door 2 weeks prior to our departure for Mexico. Continue reading

Lettuce Alone

 

Lettuce alone!!!  Lettuce alone?  Or no lettuce at all? That is a salad issue which deserves delving into.

And Andy’s Corner is delving deep into Army Officer Candidate School, circa 1968, looking at beans and donuts.

What would I do without my compadres giving me inspiration and feedback? The other evening I got an email from Jane W in Sonoma, following up on our pun-filled last post. Jane sent a pun about lettuce. And voila – this blog’s title was created!

And as I was thinking about salads, another friend and CC-mate, Joanne, emailed me the title of a book on food she highly recommended: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. I ordered it.

At dinner that week our friends, Buck and Carolyn, served a fabulous green salad with a dressing which I thought was perfect – not too vinegary, not too oily, just a touch sweet. Buck, who likes simple cooking, said it was a super simple recipe and agreed to share it: Seasoned Rice Vinegar Dressing, our newest Best of the Besties.

That Friday Andy and I went to the great little farmers’ market in Sonoma and I loaded our bag with Romano beans and haricot verts, little radishes, and some Black Krim tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, and, of course, sweet corn.

My blog ideas had congealed! But there will be no congealed salad recipes offered here.

LETTUCE ALONE

If you really must have lettuce by itself – perhaps you have no vegetables in your refrigerator except some Iceberg lettuce – it’s going to be all about the dressing.  And here’s the winner in our minds: Blue Cheese Dressing (and/or dip). Don’t despair that the recipe is too much for just one or two of you, since it will keep up to 5 days in the fridge and can be used multiple ways (maybe it’s because I add a touch of Accent – aka MSG – but I am slightly addicted to carrots dipped into this dressing).  Quick idea: pound flat a couple of chicken boneless/skinless thighs or breasts; quick fry them with salt & pepper, add a little hot sauce to pretend they’re Buffalo Wings and serve them with the dressing along side.

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About the MSG – it’s gotten a bum rap, so be sure to read the two articles that I just posted under Food for Thought.  And while you’re there, read the article I posted on “Why Salad is so Overrated” from the Washington Post.  Gives one pause.

LETTUCE-LESS

Lettuce-less gets my vote for salad preferences, and I’m not alone. Deb from smittenkitchen.com, my very favorite food blogger, has this to say about lettuce. We know that there is some question about whether growing lettuce in huge quantities is really that good for the world’s environment (see Food for Thought post from 5/21/2017), but even putting that aside, I find iceberg and romaine and butter lettuce all a little boring. I had a brief love affair with Baby Gem, but I’m over that too.

Lettuce-less idea #1: slice your freshly-picked, height-of-the-summer, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and/or quickly blanched string beans. Drizzle a little of the Seasoned Rice Vinegar Dressing on them, plus a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper – and eat and enjoy. Or if you can find Buffalo Mozzarella, put some of that on your sliced tomatoes, along with the drizzle of dressing and a little fresh basil, and you’ve got an Italian salad – plus, sheer utter deliciousness.

veggie dish for salad dressing

 

Lettuce-less idea #2: if you want a tossed salad, take the same veggies and cut them up; add a little diced red onion and some diced feta cheese, sliced Kalamata olives, and a bit of minced fresh oregano leaves, if you want. Then toss gently with the Seasoned Rice Vinegar Dressing to taste.  If you’re having company, impress your guests by referring to it as a Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad).

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Lettuce-less idea #3: if there’s beautiful sweet corn at the market or you grow it in your yard, you’ve got to try Corn Salsa Salad which comes mostly from Tacolicious and Sara and is summer perfection. It keeps well; it’s easy; it goes so many ways, and it’s YUM. Plus, it doesn’t have any oil in it, if that’s important to you.

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Lettuce-less idea #4: if you’re loaded up on freshly-picked carrots and bell peppers and cucumbers and/or zucchini and want something Asian-inspired, try the Peanut-y Asian Slaw.  Salt Fat Acid Heat has a Vietnamese Cucumber Salad with peanuts and a similar dressing, but I decided to branch out from that and incorporate more fresh veggies….and even kale, should you have it.

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Finally, a reminder that you’ll find other tempting lettuce-less salads under the Recipes category.  One that got rave reviews recently is Mystery Mix Rice Salad.

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