Salad Days, Week Nine in the No Longer New Abnormal


"Salad can get a bad rap. People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact, salads are an art form." - Marcus Samuelsson


I made miso dressing this past week. It turned out well.  I tweaked the recipe so that it had a slight sweetness to balance the umami tones.  Before that it was buttermilk dressing.  Growing up we had a fresh salad every night.  And my mother was a stickler for homemade dressing.  She favored vinaigrettes when I got older, but before that we enjoyed homemade Russian dressing, Thousand Island Dressing, Italian, and Roquefort.    There was a distinct difference between her dressings and the bottled versions of Wishbone and Kraft.  

The same was true of baked goods.  Though my mother was a health advocate, adding up to ten vegetables in our salads, when guests were visiting or a birthday was upon us, she baked from scratch.  I could tell immediately when a boxed mix was served because, once again, there was a noticeable discrepancy between completely homemade and Betty Crocker.  Because our mother also taught us manners, though I was disappointed when bottled salad dressing or boxed cake was served, I simply say, “Thank you,” rather than explain the virtues of flavor from the real thing.  


In short, my mother created a food snob.  Now, making my own salad dressing, unless I’m simply having olive oil and vinegar, is a fact of life.  I like having two on hand depending on my mood that day.  And, though, like my mom, I throw in a lot of ingredients in my salad, I’ve tweaked my preferences, opting for cooked mushrooms over raw, and possibly finely-chopped, leftover roasted vegetables instead of all crunchy toppers.  I Like my mother I also add fruit to my salads.  Recently it’s been figs.  Though in the winter, clementines are a favorite.  I am so grateful to my mom that she taught me to enjoy the creative process of good salad making, and the pure enjoyment of a delicious salad dressed with homemade ingredients.     

Self-Care Tips:

  • Get creative with your salads.  In the winter see if you can add heartier ingredients like grains or winter squash.  And, if you can, create a simple homemade dressing, giving yourself a special treat.  
  • Try a balancing exercise.  It’s great to practice balance.  Even if you lift up a foot and stand on one leg, then the other, for a few seconds, it will help your brain as well as your balance.  
  • Simply say thank you if someone shares something with you, even if you don’t particularly like it.  It’s kinder than sharing your disapproval.