What to Cook When You Hate to Cook. Recipe 8: Unexpected Salad

Sometimes I’ll come across a recipe with ingredients that have absolutely no right to be mixed together. It’s hard to believe that anyone would combine these things, and that the result would come out even remotely edible. These recipes often intrigue me, because they sound so awful that if anyone has taken the time to embarrass themselves like this, there must be something to it. The following is one of those recipes.

I came across this dish while binge watching season one of Queer Eye. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But it was pretty, and weird enough to be worth trying. And it turns out that I LOVE it. Trust me. Try it. You’ll be amazed, and your friends will be, too, because even though it takes very little effort, it looks and tastes like it comes from a Michelin star restaurant.

Unexpected Salad

1 Pink Grapefruit

1 Avocado

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 pinch kosher salt

Olive Oil

Cut the avocado in half, then cut the halves into half inch slices. Cut both ends off the grapefruit, and then slice off the rest of the skin so the fruit is totally exposed. Peel the fruit sections from the surrounding skin. (The goal is to only have the pretty pink fruit parts). Hold back the two most mangled sections of the grapefruit for juice for the dressing. Arrange the fruit and avocado together in a bowl. (The color contrasts are beautiful!)

Dressing:

Squeeze the grapefruit juice from two leftover sections into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix together. This mixture constitutes 1/3 of the dressing. Now add twice as much olive oil. Mix together, and drizzle over the salad.

Serves 2.

I know. Weird. But trust me. Try it! And tell me what you think!

Grapefruit and avocado

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Unexpected Cherries

I know someone who has been unhappy for quite some time. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She never even tried. She just assumed that this was the natural state of things; the cards she had been dealt, as it were.

And then she sold her house and moved elsewhere. And now she’s completely different. Rather than being isolated, she interacts with people. She also gets to see the most amazing things from her balcony. Parades. Fireworks. Choirs.

You might say she’s gotten her groove back. And it’s beautiful to see. She’s excited about life again. All’s right with the world.

The funny thing is, she didn’t make this move in an effort to find happiness per se. That result was just the unexpected cherry on top of the sundae. Isn’t that great?

I love it when things fall into place. I love it even more when that outcome is unplanned. May you have many unexpected cherries in your life, dear reader.

Cherry

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Time’s A-Wastin’

His Facebook page is full of lighthearted posts. Funny things he felt like passing along. Videos of cats. Smiling selfies. Humorous observations. The next post is bound to pop up any minute.

I barely knew him. He was a friend of a friend. We had pleasant exchanges in the comment section. I knew I’d like him. We’d yet to meet face to face. Vague plans had been made, and had yet to be carried out.

And now he’s dead, in his 50’s. Natural causes, they say. But there’s nothing natural about dying in one’s 50’s.

It’s all so fleeting. So unexpected. One day you’re taking a selfie, and the next you’re gone.

Life is precious. Don’t waste time. Savor every moment.

Wasting Time

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Alternate Realities

Five years ago, I remember being in a room with two good men. One was Chuck, the love of my life. The other was Glenn, who was a dear friend. I remember talking, smiling, laughing with them both. It was a good day.

I wonder what I would have thought or said or done had I known that by the time of this writing, they would both have died unexpectedly, at different times, for different reasons, leaving behind different sets of broken hearts. It was the first time they had ever met each other, and the last. They didn’t know how much they were going to have in common.

It’s a weird concept that I was the only one to survive in that room, and some day (not too soon, I hope), I will be amongst their number, as will we all. Death and taxes, as they say. Inevitable.

Another strange coincidence is that I had told people about them both, at different times, and for different reasons, thinking that they were both alive, and then discovering later, to my horror, that they were not.

Chuck, I talked about all the time. He was a character. He walked through life leaving hilarious stories in his wake. He had a quirky outlook, and it was safe to say that if he didn’t delight you, at the very least he’d make you think. There was only a few hours delay between his death and my being notified, but during that time I’m sure I mentioned his name a dozen times. (In fact, I think the sheriff’s office figured out how to contact me because I had texted him, and his cell phone was chirping beside his body.) Not a day goes by when I don’t experience a jolt, realizing he’s gone. He shouldn’t be gone. Not yet.

Glenn, I hadn’t seen in years, but we were Facebook friends. We had been in the same college classroom together for two years, and he was close to me in age, unlike the many 19-year-old students, so we kind of related to each other. I have no idea why he popped into my head during my vacation to Utah, but I mentioned him to my sister. Just a few of your basic, “I have this friend who…” stories. After my vacation, I thought, “I should say hello on Facebook, and see how he’s doing.” And that’s how I found out he had passed away weeks previously. He was a good man. He loved people. He was a family man and a compassionate care giver. I’m sure his absence is going to leave a huge void.

But what I can’t stop thinking about are those times when, in my head, these guys were still with us, when in reality they weren’t. I would have bet my life that I’d be talking to them both in no time, and that wasn’t at all true.

They were both too young. They both had so much more to do. It makes me wonder how much I can really count on knowing, you know?

But maybe they are here after all. The human heart has room for many people to reside. And in my mind I’ll always be able to see their smiles. May they rest in peace.

Heaven

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Transformations

Not long ago, I had a good dog. He was my best friend. He was my emotional bedrock. In a time when all the sand seems to be shifting beneath my feet, he was the one living thing that I could count on.

And then I went to dinner.

And when I got back home, he was dying.

I didn’t know it at first. I didn’t want to see it. But he was lying on the living room floor, listless. He wouldn’t eat. He never does that. He wasn’t acting as if he was in pain, though, so I thought I’d take him to the vet first thing in the morning, and everything would be fine. Just fine. Just like he had been before I went to dinner. After all, he was only 10.

I dragged a mattress into the living room and we slept side by side for the last time. Not once did it occur to me that it would be the last time. I thought maybe he had had a seizure. I’ve had dogs that suffered with seizures before. We could handle this.

At 8 am I was waiting with him as the vet unlocked the doors. By 9:30 I was putting him to sleep. I kept thinking, “This isn’t how the day was supposed to go.”

It seems he had a tumor on his heart, and it burst and filled up the pericardium, the sac around his heart, with blood. That pressure was making it hard for his heart to beat. They say he felt no pain. He was just getting increasingly sleepy as his blood wasn’t giving his body the needed oxygen. So I did the right thing.

Next thing I knew, I was burying him.

This wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. And now nothing will ever be the same.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced a sudden transformation. I think we all experienced one on 9/11. And I definitely experienced one when the sheriff called me to tell me my boyfriend was dead. And many of us experienced one when Trump was elected.

That there is so much potential to wake up and find your world irrevocably changed terrifies me beyond words. You can’t anticipate it. You can’t control it. Things happen.

I know it will happen to me again, probably many times in my life. I can’t predict these things. There’s nothing I can do to prepare for them. And that makes me feel sick. So I try not to dwell on it.

Not all transformations are necessarily negative, though. I love waking up to a snow-covered landscape when I went to bed to one that was green. I love those rare moments of clarity that we call epiphanies. I love meeting someone that I can tell is going to influence me in one way or another. I love learning something new.

But I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t trade all that to have my dog back.

img_2187
My last Christmas with Devo.

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Lightning Strikes and Other Unforeseen Events

The other day I was lying in bed, in the desperate pursuit of ever-elusive sleep (which is the life story of every graveyard shift worker on the face of the earth), when BOOM!!!! Lightning struck the house, and I instantly had two very terrified dogs on top of me.

I went without internet for three days and without a land line for four. It’s funny. For more than half my life internet didn’t even exist and yet I got along just fine. But those few days of total communication blackout nearly drove me insane.

I do not like the feeling that things are out of my control.

I had that very same thought yesterday when an extremely large tug and barge grossly miscalculated and wound up drifting toward my bridge sideways. It was slowly, inexorably coming toward me, capable of doing millions of dollars worth of damage, not the least of which was knocking the tenderhouse into the river, me along with it, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it other than look on in horror. At the last possible second the captain was able to right himself and missed us by mere inches. I was shaking afterward and felt quite sick.

I also hate having to rely on others.

And I had that very same thought upon the inexplicable disappearance of the flagman who is supposed to prevent cars from driving into the drink while we’re under construction and can only open half the bridge. This rendered me incapable of opening the drawbridge for a sailboat for 45 minutes. I was livid, because contrary to the stereotype of the sleeping bridgetender who is only there to draw a paycheck, the vast majority of us actually do take our work seriously and want to do a competent and efficient job. I had a hard time unwinding after that particular shift.

And nothing rattles me more than erratic drivers who put my life in danger, like the guy who nearly ran me off the road the other night. Sometimes I wonder if I’m invisible.

All of these events are unforeseen, and leave me feeling as though all my nerves are on the surface of my skin. It’s not that I don’t deal with them well. I have no choice but to do so. I just tend to be shaken up in their aftermath, and that feeling is unpleasant at best.

I long to be one of those people who takes everything in stride, who rolls with the punches, who is quick on the uptake, but the fact is, that’s just not who I am. I’m a plodder. I muddle through. I make it, but it isn’t always pretty, and there’s usually a distressing recovery period afterward. Oh well.

So I was driving home and I had this whole blog entry plotted out in my mind. The whole thing was going to be about how I hate the unexpected. And then something unexpected happened.

I came around a curve to discover that every car was at a standstill on a 4 lane highway. What the heck? Instant spike of anxiety. But then I saw what was going on. Everyone had stopped for a procession of eleven very slow moving Canada Geese. I was delighted, and impressed with the teamwork and the overall humanity of it all. It made my day.

So I can’t say I always hate the unexpected. Life does have a way of presenting you with delightful surprises every now and then. But even those would be preferable with some advanced notice.

geese

(Image credit: nj.com)