Monday, July 9, 2012

Best Salad Ever Recipe

Sometimes you want something special for salad and not the same old. So I googled best salad ever which is step one on pretty much everything I make. "Best muffins ever", or "best peanut butter cookies ever"... you have the idea. That's how I found my favorite chocolate cake recipe and how I found my favorite macaroni salad recipe.

But right now I'm into this salad. In a big way. I have made it four times in the last month and every time had people to share it with on top of my family and the same thing always happens. People eat seconds and sometimes thirds of it and are way too stuffed for dessert because it's so good. Then there's still a little leftover for me and I eat it for breakfast so it doesn't get too soggy and inedible. Because I am a good person. And wasting this salad would be a crime.

So here it is, it mostly follows this recipe: Jamie's Cranberry Spinach Salad, but I have modified it to make it amazing by following a composite of suggestions found in the reviews:
  • 1 package (about 1/4 c) of slivered almonds, toasted.
  • 1 apple, finely sliced
  • 1 container of low fat or full fat feta, whatever is on sale. Don't buy the flavored kind, I think that would ruin the neutral creaminess. 
  • 5 generous handfuls of mixed greens, I buy the pre-washed kind to save time.
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion - red is best but yellow is fine. And no chopping. Mince them finely.
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
So here's how I put all this magic together. I grab my biggest salad bowl. I grab 5 or maybe 6 big handfuls of mixed greens and put them in. Enough to fill up the bowl, you want a lot of good greens to soak up all the dressing. I know this salad was intended to be spinach, and you can totally do that, but sometimes I have textural issues with spinach stems and, yeah. I prefer the mixed greens. Next you can finely slice your apple. I peel the apples first, again textural issues with apple peels. Dump in your feta. Dump in the cup of craisins. Now for the toasting. Depending on how much you want to babysit it, you can do it one of two ways. The low maintenance way is to put your almonds on one side of a cookie tray and the 2 TBS of sesame seeds on the other side of the tray. Ten minutes in the oven at 350 F* will toast them all nicely. Or, a faster way but riskier, is to do it in a little pan on the stove top at medium heat, about 3 minutes, tossing and watching frequently and waiting for a little golden color, will work for the almonds. Only about a minute and a half will do it for your sesame seeds. Take them off the heat and toss them again and let them cool, they will continue to cook just a little afterwards due to the heat in the pan. Once you're finished toasting, put the almonds directly on the salad and save the sesame seeds for your dressing compilation. I have a handy plastic dressing bottle that has a wide enough mouth to pour all the ingredients directly into it and when it's done you can shake the crap out of it and it won't leak. Dump in your sugar, poppy seeds, paprika, vinegars, olive oil, minced red onion and your cooled sesame seeds. Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Also I like mine slightly chilled so if there is time I put the dressing in the freezer or fridge for a few minutes. You don't want to pour it over the salad until right before you sit down to eat. So delegate the tossing and pouring and tossing to a guest while you get your other stuff done.

This salad *might* be a little extra work but once you've tasted it, barring a life-threatening allergy to almonds... you will feel privileged to make it again. It's that awesome. It's like, this salad chose you. If you are just reading this right now, you are special. Because now you know how to make the best salad ever. And no one can ever take that away from you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brunch and other Happenings

I refuse to believe that it is now afternoon. Also that snow will fall in fifteen weeks. This morning I made brunch which I always feel is the best food in town. When the day comes where I will actually be able to go to a restaurant in Fairbanks and get the same quality of breakfast food that I can make at home at a reasonable price, I will be amazed and that place of business will have my loyalty.

The menu for this morning was:

- Nitrate-free bacon
- Stove-top strawberry compote
- Whipped cream
- Sour Cream Waffles Recipe by Art Smith
- Fried eggs

In case you think we eat like this every day... no. It's Sunday and the first of four days off for Jason, and I'm a little bit in party mode. Tomorrow it's back to the high-fiber cereal everyone. Today the blur of summer makes me feel unproductive, the sky is moody, blue and fluffy white clouds in parts and dark foreboding in others. The wind is playing on the waters of Mia's kiddie pool. The curtains are blowing in the windows and the air smells intoxicating.

I've had my one cup of coffee and as it grows ever closer to one o'clock in the afternoon, I'm casually entertaining thoughts of changing out of my bathrobe and actually attempting some productivity. I have grand schemes of reorganizing everything but it's more in the dream phase today. Perhaps I will do just enough to trick myself into thinking I deserve that nap on cool sheets, light streaming in.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Righteous Ronnie Road Rage

To the young man riding a motorcycle on the Steese Highway the day before Mother's Day: Wear a helmet!!!!!! To the two other people riding motorcycles the day before Mother's Day, good job, your parents would be very proud of you for wearing a helmet.

 To the people who keep on forgetting to use their blinkers. Don't even get me started. Before operating your motor vehicle, check your mirrors and seat to see if they are in an appropriate position. Acquaint yourself with the position of your vehicle's wiper and turn signal controls. If you drive an air-colored car, consider turning your headlights into the "on" position. And then for the love of all that is holy put your cell phone away and use your blinkers! Gah! The rule is 100 yards before the turn. Not two seconds before you turn you inconsiderate, self-absorbed person who thinks the roadways exist for them and by them. You are not the center of the universe!

To the people who I see texting in their cars and not watching the roads. Please stop.

To the people who must talk on your cell phone in the car, I'm not saying I've never done it. And it's still legal in our great state. But most of the time (according to my extensive body of unbiased evidence) when I observe you doing stupid things, driving recklessly, or being generally inconsiderate you are discussing trivial matters on your cell phone. So if you must talk on the phone, make sure you're not being a terrible driver while you are doing it.

 Trivial matters include (in no particular order): Cheese. Television shows. The weather. Anything that isn't "Oh dear God, both of my legs have fallen off and I am bleeding to death and can you meet me at the emergency room!" And really in that case you should call 911 and pull your car over as you can no longer drive with bleeding leg sockets. Ok, here's a good reason to use it while you are driving, you are being followed and you are calling the troopers or a well-armed loved one to help you.

Finally, if you are driving a car at one time our government thought you were talented enough to pull that off. Think about that for a second. What I am getting at is, it doesn't mean you are!!!!

With no love lost for bad drivers who just don't care - Righteous Ronnie

Friday, April 6, 2012

I'm on Team Coco

I don't want to be a follower, but more importantly I don't want to be thought of as a follower. Regardless, I have recently decided to boldly declare my allegiance to Team Coco, for the simple reason that it's been making me laugh. And if a supposedly funny person can do that, I say job well done. In the spirit of my new-found devotion, I wrote a poem the other morning when I glanced in the mirror and realized I am becoming Conan O'Brien. Prepare to be brutalized by poetry written by a woman before she has eaten breakfast:

Dear Conan,

I wake up in the morning looking a lot like you
Yeah I've even got a vein under my eye, it's true
Did I mention I'm part Irish, it explains a lot
The weird part is I'm female and I'm...... 22.
We don't have anything else in common
Except I laugh at your jokes
When I saw your facial vein, though
I knew I had to give your fb page a poke.

Hold the applause, I know everyone loves my poetry. If you are vomiting, I did warn you. Disclaimer: If you are not nice to me about my poetry and go to extra work to mock my poetry, my actual eye vein will eat you. And now the frosting for this delicious piece of poetry-cake, a picture of me, resembling Conan:

And a close-up of my eye-vein:

You are welcome world.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Well I just feel like writing today.

Most importantly I feel like I smell spring. Is that crazy? I don't know. But I smell it. It's supposed to get down to -17*F again by Friday but based on the accuracy of any weather-predicting person, website, or phone app... we really really don't know. I'm hoping we have the earliest ever spring. Sometimes I care so much about the weather I dream about it. One year I dreamed that we had a snow-free Halloween. It almost happened but then no cigar. I just wanted a Meet Me In St. Louis Halloween for once. One where the kiddies don't have to wear their costumes over their warm snow clothes. If you live where the daffodils are threatening to bloom and the baby lambs are ominously frolicking in the vast expanse of green, please don't tell me about it right now. I'm too scared for you. I have too much empathy.

I'm not asking for your compassion. I don't need it. I eat snow for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes midnight snacks. I may have a touch of cabin fever though. I have had a cold for a while and so have felt like doing nothing. Correction: My body has felt like doing nothing while my brain is screaming about the fact that it is atrophying. So I am going to compile a list of extracurricular projects and start. This may mean that I am getting better. Dear God, I hope so.

On the list:
- Apple Sharlotka. I still haven't made it and I bought green apples and a spring-form pan, so as soon as I can cook without sneezing, bring it on! (Check out Smitten Kitchen for the recipe.)

- Organizing and cleansing the large upstairs closet. No elaboration needed.

- Buckle down on the French lessons.

- New crochet project.

- Catch up on laundry. Not a glamorous item but I think a worthy goal. Well it's not really extracurricular but it needs to happen.

We'll see what happens. At the moment I want to eat a steaming hot bowl of buttered maple oatmeal and take a mid-morning nap.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Day

I played lions a lot today. I also did some other stuff but playing lions was the most important thing I did. In between laundry and lunch and dinner and changing bedsheets I crawled around on all fours and talked in a Sarabi-esque voice. I let a baby lion ride on my back as I crossed a deep river. I hunted with my cub and ate the meat we killed together. I groomed my cub by pretending to lick her hair lovingly. I admired her teeth and how strong they were (as I was required to incorporate playing lions into the flossing routine.) I even said the goodnight prayer in my lion-mother voice. And called my own daughter Simba for most of the day. Right now my darling cub is nestled in her bed and this memory is nestled in my heart.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to say goodbye...

The past week has been difficult. For me and for many people in our community. What are the words when you lose someone that you know truly loved you and cared for you. I will miss you and never forget you. You were always so generous with your love. I hope in some small way I can be like you as a tribute to you and your love. I know you didn't want to go but sometimes we don't have a choice. Thank you for fighting so hard. I believe in heaven and I believe I will see you again. Until then, I will miss you.