Smoked Salmon Salad

You will need:
Spring greens or torn lettuce (no iceberg, please!)
Carrot curls
Raisins
Smoked salmon, “hot-smoked” style (like jerky)
1 hard-boiled egg, cut into slices
Kalamata olives
Feta cheese crumbles
Yellow or red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips (optional)
Olive oil

Toss the greens, carrot, raisins, and bell pepper, and put into bowls. Scatter the egg, kalamata olives, and feta over the salad; top with shreds of salmon. (Make sure you remove bones.) Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately.

Wilted Asian Salad

You will need:
Small cucumber (preferably under an inch and a half in diameter)
Daikon radish (preferred in Japanese cuisine; try an Asian market)
Kelp (no… really)
Rice wine vinegar
Shrimp, cooked and ready to eat, then chilled

Slice the cucumber and the daikon radish very, very thin. If you’ve got a mandoline, use that. You want slices of no more than a millimeter or two. Chop the kelp into little pieces. In a shallow bowl, soak them in rice wine vinegar for five to fifteen minutes. (I am fairly sure that you could leave them soaking from morning without damage, but let’s call that good.)

Serve in small portions with shrimp on top. Rice wine vinegar has a gentler flavor than white vinegar, so serve with something that complements a faintly bitter taste.

Rapunzel (Into the Woods)

Analysis

There are three motivations in life: money, power, and love.

One can see the mother in the shadow she cast on her daughter:
Power-hungry, clever
raising her daughter to be intelligent
in a world that valued neither women nor intelligence.
Always pushing her daughter for more
but never thinking to offer praise.
The daughter, later, finding it impossible to fit in—
looking for sympathy and finding only accusation
(small wonder, though, considering the history with her neighbors).
She made the classic mistake,
thinking a child will be someone who loves you
when instead, a child is one to whom you give love.
And then, the real tragedy,
assuming that since her upbringing was so harsh and unloving
that the reverse would be ideal
and took matters to the other extreme,
stifling,
smothering with love,
so it is small wonder that the child, once grown,
was fair prey for the first heartless handsome wretch to come along.
And then life in the world being too much for one raised behind tower walls,
broke beneath the pressure of its demands.
One wonders if the giant’s step came as a relief,
though that, in turn, broke the one who needed her,
craved the love of a daughter, a family,
any family.

Rapunzel sobs that her upbringing has insured
that she can never be happy.
A pause, then,
“I was only trying to be a good mother.”
And we laugh, because, after all,
What would a witch know of love?

May 18, 2009

Dad Salad

This recipe is so named because it was entirely a product of my dad’s garden – I didn’t realize for years that many people consider lettuce to be an essential part of the salad experience. You cannot grow lettuce in Sacramento in the summer. We’d have a bowl apiece for two or three months almost every night – this is how you stretch your food budget.

Required:
A very sharp knife
A really big bowl
Cucumbers
Bell peppers (of varying colors – yellows and reds are the same as green except they’re left on the vine longer, while special varieties, such as “chocolate”, have different flavors)
Tomatoes (homegrown or farm stand/farmer’s market—it is not worth buying tomatoes from the store)

Use as available:
Carrots
Celery
Radishes
Lettuce (yes, it’s okay to use, just not required)
Mushrooms
Peas in the pod
Sprouts
Green onion tips

Wash the vegetables and cut them into little tiny pieces. The goal here is to make it so that you can get a little bit of everything on your fork. Toss and drench with Hidden Valley Ranch made from the mix because it’s EXTREMELY different from the stuff you get in the bottle, and considerably more tasty (and runny.) Serve by the bowlful with barbecue or Italian – the cool, runny salad is a perfect counterpoint to thick sauces. Of course, it goes with just about any main dish.

Hawaiian Spam Roast

It’s no secret that Hawaiians are the nation’s biggest consumers of Spam. It’s kind of like Australia and Vegemite: it’s a little taste of home wherever you go. My Nana spent her childhood in the islands and brought back a love for this recipe.

You will need:
Toaster oven (a full size oven is way more than you need)
A small roasting dish (some toaster ovens come with their own)
A can of Spam
A can of pineapple rings
brown sugar

Place Spam on its side in the roasting dish. Cut slices about 2/3 of the way into it. Stick pineapple rings in the slices. Dust with brown sugar; spoon pineapple juice over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Serves four small children or two Spam-loving adults.

Iron John

My Teacher Said
(a requiem)

“This symbol is often displayed
incorrectly,” he said,
“The yin descends. Darkness
descends. But do not forget
that there is some light in the darkness
and some darkness in the light,
yin and yang. And far too often
we forget the value of darkness.
The Hebrews created the concept of the Sabbath,
a stroke of brilliance.
It is a natural rhythm;
when we rest, we step outside
and then we can see clearly.”

“It is as though our lives are a stove.
We burn to warm; we burn for light.
But burning creates ashes which, unchecked,
will eventually fill the stove
and choke it out.
Some who burn too brightly will burn out
if they do not take the time to sweep the ashes clean.
And if you only clear enough to light the stove again
it is only a matter of time until
the fire goes out once more.
Deal with the ashes in your life;
scoop out the cinders, and sweep the flue clean.
Only then can a new fire be laid.”

You can rise up high and fall down low;
We all must to ashes someday go.

May 3, 2009