Sunday, March 30, 2008

Salad-brate good times . . .

I fear this is going to be a mighty boring post, but I will persist because back in February, I talked a big game about a new culinary endeavor: salad. I promised I was going to try new salads of all kinds plus experiment with making my own salad dressing. And, I shared my hope that switching from my soup project to a salad one would help spring to come more quickly. I'm posting for two reasons. First, to show that I have actually been acting on these salad goals as promised. Second, I am completely desperate for spring to really arrive. When this past Thursday in Chicago was cold and rainy, I felt depressed and annoyed. When it began snowing, I was just pissed off. I have tried to maintain a positive attitude all winter, have really made an effort not to complain about all the snow, and to appreciate sunny days even when it is freezing cold outside. But now, my cup is nearing empty. This endless winter needs to end and to end soon.

So here's my salad update.
1. Balsamic Buttermilk Salad Dressing: I had high hopes for this dressing and imagined a creamy, delicious dressing with some tang from the balsamic. It ended up just okay. I used it on several salads (my hubby declined) but mostly out of obligation. However, I think the problem is not with the recipe but with my execution and ingredient choice. It calls for Dijon mustard, and I used stone ground mustard instead (see what I mean about how boring this post is?) and, I fear, used too much. The mustard flavor was a bit overwhelming. The good news for anyone who wants to attempt this dressing on his/her own: it seems fairly healthy. There is no oil and only 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise.

2. Dianne's Southwestern Cornbread Salad: My mom, PITA, and I are all fans and subscribers of Southern Living. I generally skim or skip the features on where to eat breakfast the next time I am in Biloxi or the arts scene in Lexington. I don't even pretend to read the gardening features as I have no green thumb and do not live in a Southern climate (see weather rant above). But I love reading the recipes and try a fair amount of them out. For Christmas, my mom got me two Southern Living cookbooks, and I found many salads in them that I am interested in trying. One was this cornbread salad. When the bub and I were in Ohio with my parents, I brought one of my cookbooks home and talked my mom, always game to try a new recipe, into giving the salad a whirl. I admit that she made the salad not me and that it was a labor of love, especially when she realized the buttermilk salad dressing it called for required a fair amount of mayonnaise (a condiment that she avoids whenever possible*). The end result had lots of "eye appeal" (a favorite phrase of my mom's) and was really delicious. We ate it again the next day and found that the lettuce had not gotten all wilty and soggy, despite the fact that the salad is layered. I would attempt it again, maybe for a potluck, were I ever invited to a potluck.

3. Birthday Party Salad: This is not the real name of the salad, but I served this salad at the bub's second birthday party (with my mom's help) and then my sister served it at my niece Swiper's** second birthday party last weekend. This recipe came from one of my mom's friends, and I'm not going to give you amounts, just a list of ingredients. I'm pretty sure you can figure it out. Basically the salad consists of lettuce (romaine or maybe butter--but you choose for yourself), little chunks of pear, little chunks of apple, cashews, swiss cheese, and dried cranberries. For the dressing, combine one part Newman's Oil and Vinegar Dressing and one part poppyseed dressing. The result is delightful.

That's all I have on the salad front for now. I hope you have not fallen asleep. Better yet, I hope you salad-brate good times in your own homes soon as I really need some springtime.

*Actually, all the members of my family (except me) are rather mayonnaise-averse. If you happen to go through a fast food drive-thru with one of them and order a sandwich without any special instructions, it is likely that someone will look at you with alarm and horror and then remind you urgently, "That comes with mayonnaise you know." NTB, but I'm a risky girl who sometimes eats mayonnaise on her sandwiches.

**I haven't cleared it with LAP, but I have decided from this point forward whenever I mention her daughters in a blog post, I am going to refer to them by the code names "Swiper" and "Fancy."


Anonymous said...

I have been called high maintenance by friends for the way I ask to have ingredients omitted from my food orders, Mayonnaise, always a no brainer, so I was aghast at the amount of mayo required for the salad but I determined light and fat free were also interchangeable in this recipe. It was pretty tasty.

Actchy said...

I'm thinking that I would be a good passenger in the car with your family at a fast food drive-thru, because I've always hated mayo, too.

Wait. I haven't *always* hated mayo. I actually recall being a really little kid and stealing the mayo jar's lid on a regular basis and (shudder) licking it while my mom wasn't paying attention. That overdose probably made me mayo-averse.

LAP said...

I admire your persistence in trying new recipes. I don't do so often, but did yesterday. It was a high fiber banana bread recipe (you're familiar with my children's high fiber needs, but I won't subject anyone else to the details), and it was gross. Non-edible gross, and I followed the directions exactly (which, I might note, required several items I had to go speficially get from the store). So, from now on, I will only try recipes that come recommended from a trusted source. In my mind, those sources are a friend or a church cookbook (as those seem to be the most tried and true receipes around.)

I give official clearance to J as Fancy and N as Swiper. Speaking of which, Fancy has asked that I paint her nails during Swiper's nap, so I best be going.

Anonymous said...

I could join your family easily as I sometimes have been known to give out a high pitch squeal if I see mayo coming my way. This is the main reason I loathe box lunches. Not everyone likes mayo!

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