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I know. I know! It’s been too long. You must be thinking that since The Food Network has launched its daughter program, appropriately called The Cooking Channel, I must have gotten lost between the folds of my couch, sitting with my nose glued to the TV 24/7.
I wish! But somebody has got to pay her bills, plus Cosmo’s mani and pedi ain’t cheap. His favorite nail polish is Bulgarian Rose by the way. Don’t ask me where he got that from.
Less than two weeks ago I announced the start of my very own LUNCH DELIVERY SERVICES here, in Los Angeles. Guess what. It’s HAPPENING! I’ve been busy menu planning, then designing labels, then shopping for containers, then grocery shopping, then cooking, and delivering at last. Breathe in, breathe out.
I was also clear-minded enough to snap a few photos in all that chaos. Just imagine me with a chef’s knife in one hand chopping cucumbers, my toes holding tight a wooden spatula and stirring soup in the pot, while my jaws clenched on the camera and took some shots.
As a result of the madness, I was able to produce this CRUNCHY RED QUINOA SALAD with a Medley of Vegetables and BASIL VINAIGRETTE. Also, I made this refreshing FRUITS SALAD sprinkled with Orange Juice and MINT CHIFFONADE.
One of the meals on my Menu for this week is this delicious and healthy PAN-SEARED TUNA Over the Bed of SPINACH with Gorgonzola, Pecans and Cranberries, dressed with POMEGRANATE VINAIGRETTE.
Speaking of dressings, there’s nothing easier than making one. The most basic one is simply oil (olive) and acid (e.g. vinegar, acidic juice) in 3:1 ratio with a pinch of salt and pepper. You can get fancier than that just by adding a touch of a healthy sweetener (e.g. honey), maybe a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, or cucumber (as an emulsifier), whip it together, and just like that you have made yourself a perfectly wonderful vinaigrette.
Once you get the basics, then you’ll want to explore other flavor combinations and possibilities. One of my favorite dressings that I make for our meal ALL THE TIME is Basil Vinaigrette. To make it yourself, follow the steps described above and add a bunch of fresh basil leaves to your blender. WHIZZ. WHIZZ. Done.
Store-bought dressings are full of fat, sugar, and preservatives. Save yourself money and that unnecessary inch on your waist just by switching to home-made goods like the ones seen above. You’ll satisfy your palette. You’ll exercise your creative muscle. You’ll be healthier and closer to Nature with each bite. And it takes 2 minutes to make it, from scratch.
Go for it. Try this at home!
This morning I went on a hike with Heidi. We’ve known each other for as long as I’ve been in LA, however, life happens and we lost touch for a big chunk of that time. It felt good learning about the shenanigans she’s been up to as we struggled through the bushes up the hill.
Upon my return home circa two hours later, mildly sweaty and not at all tired, I hopped into the shower to wash off the LAZY rash I’ve been dealing with lately. Due to my soft spot for the planet, I usually take super speedy baths. Three minutes is all I need to cover tops to bottoms (yes, I need plural for my BOTTOMS). On occasion, when any labor-intensive activity is required (major scrubbing, shaving, scull massaging, egg scrambling, knitting, etc.), I like to turn off the water in between various stages of any given task. For Jason such dry shower is a DISAPPOINTING WASTE OF FUN TIMES.
Today, however, I craved comfort that only a strong stream of water running down my nekid body can bestow. And so I stood there… nekid, wet, and happy as a pig in the mud for at least a whole seven minutes. And when I cut off the downpour at last, I didn’t even mean it. It was the sense of duty that got me out of the bathtub. “Somebody should be writing now!” I kept hearing in my head.
So I stood there… nekid, wet, happy as a pig in the mud on the cold bathroom floor, drying off with a fuzzy towel, when my eyesight came to rest on our toilet. There’s truly nothing extraordinary about the white urinal, but it made me think of Terri’s recent post where she talked toilet, etc.
That’s all she wrote. That’s it! It wasn’t satisfying for me. It’s toilet talk for god’s sake. Come on! The commode comes with HOT WATER. It begs the question HOW DOES ONE DISCOVER THAT IT COMES WITH HOT WATER? Is the hot water settling like a warm mist on your bare bottom? Do you dip a toe inside to test the waters? I need more information, Woman! Terri, I have this itching urge to comment on the TOILET SITUATION in your office, the I-can’t-believe-I’ve-just-gone-there kind of comment like, uhm.., wait. I almost have it… on the tip of me tongue, uhm… Yeah, nope, I’ve got nothing. Carry on.
And just like that I was done with my hygienic routine. Time to put some clothes on.
All that treading in the dust made me hungry for something truly earthy. And what’s more earthy than a vegetable born in the dirt, then dug up to be eaten for dinner? Mr. Celery, let’s look at your root. I like it big and hard with the skin peeled off, ready to eat. But first I’ll take you gently in my hands, wash you, strip you naked, and then give you a free ticket for a ride on the food processor rollercoaster.
What I’m saying, y’all, is today I’m making a CELERY ROOT SALAD. When you get your big and chunky root all ready as described above, pair it with 2 Granny Smith Apples, cored and cut in eighths. Also, grab a half of a cup of fresh raisins, and the same amount of raw walnuts. The nuts need to be toasted. With raisins, I like to soak them in a freshly boiled cup of hot water for a few minutes before tossing them in my salad. This way they get plump and soft, and easy to chew on.
To make your life easier, let me just put together a roster of all ingredients for the Salad of Honor:
- 1 BIG or 2 medium celery roots
- 2 Granny Smith Apples
- 1/2 cup of fresh raisins
- 1/2 cup of raw walnuts
- fresh basil leaves and dill (about 1-2 tbsp of each, chopped)
- 1 container of non-fat Greek yogurt, or equivalent of organic sour cream
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (note: this salad LOVES black pepper, so don’t be shy)
- 1 tbsp of sugar (I use raw cane, organic), or honey
- 1 tbsp or so of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Once you get your celery and apples cleaned and cut in chunks, drop them into a food processor and grate. Feel free to use a hand grater if you have extra time on your hands, or your gym membership expired. Transport those veggie and fruit strips into a large bowl. Sprinkle all with lemon juice to prevent from oxidizing and thus turning dark. Season with salt to help soften the celery. The salt will also help the apples release their juice. Now add chopped herbs, soaked and drained raisins, cooled toasted walnuts (roughly chopped), yogurt/sour cream and get the whirlpool going. Using two salad forks, mix everybody together. Grind black pepper all over the bowl until it hurts your knees. Add a sprinkle of sugar, and a dash of love. Mix again, taste, fix if needed, and store in a refrigerator in a tight container.
That’s the trick. The celery root and the apple have to spend some time on their own, consummate their marriage, play with the gifts you sent with them on their honeymoon before you can fully enjoy the taste of the union. Give it an hour, at least. And the day AFTER the wedding night is like heaven. There’s the crunch, a sweet bite dancing with the sour, and a little bit of heat from the pepper – an explosive mixture and a perfect marriage recipe.
May you live happily ever after!