In less than two weeks I have my first appointment at Fox Chase and I’ve started doing all the things I want to get done before then.
Like getting the knitting projects organized and making sure that I have what I need. I know all too well from my previous post-surgical recovery experiences that if I’m stuck at home without any planned projects, it’s so, so simple order the yarn online and have it show up on my doorstep a few days later.
And, it’s easy to do that with food, too. You pick up the menu, and you find something that sounds tasty. A little while later you’re digging into shrimp lo mein or an eggplant grinder, which is all very well and good until your sweats start getting snug around the ankles.
I’ve been making and freezing a lot of soup so we won’t have to resort to take-out while I’m getting better. So far, there’s two bags of split pea and one of lentil tomato and I’m going to add some marinara sauce and a bag or two of rolls and a couple of loaves of my friend Nate’s fabulous beer bread.
This means we’ve been enjoying lots of soup for dinner over the past couple of weeks. It’s also still August, so we’ve been eating a lot of salad with those soup dinners.
We’re big salad eaters. There’s always a jar of vinaigrette or some other homemade salad dressing in the fridge along with a bottle of Ken’s or Newman’s. Our usual go-to salad is the standard lettuce-and-tomato combination and with good greens and tomatoes and homemade dressing, it’s very good and goes with everything.
So, here’s two salads and my current favorite vinaigrette. You can make them all year ‘round and if you make these a couple of times, you’ll no longer need a recipe for any of them.
The cucumber salad from my childhood! It was always made with fresh cukes, but you can use the long European seedless ones in the dead of winter, too. This will keep for a couple of days
And if you’d like to make this Polish, add a little bit of sour cream and some fresh dill to the dressing.
- 2 medium or 1 large unwaxed cucumber, sliced thin
- ¼ cup of cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground dried mustard (I use Colman’s)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slice the cucumbers into ⅛ to ¼ inch rounds.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard in a serving bowl and stir until well-blended. Toss the cukes in, give it a good stir and add pepper to taste. Serve it immediately or put in into the fridge for later, where it’ll keep happily for a few days.
Dee’s Cold Broccoli
This is a salad my late stepfather’s family always served with a pasta dish. For some reason, it was always made with frozen broccoli and either a package of “Good Seasons” or bottled “Wishbone” Italian dressing, but it was always good.
And it makes sense; it’s easy to put together, especially if the cook is going to spend a lot of time at the stove making lasagna or gravy or manicotti. You can even make this the day before you plan to serve it and it’ll be just fine. Maybe even better. Remember this one around the holidays when you’re looking for something you can make ahead of time or stash in the fridge for later.
- 3 or 4 broccoli crowns, bottoms trimmed and cut into quarters
- 1 bottle of good-quality Italian salad dressing, or homemade
- Red pepper flakes, optional
- Freshly ground pepper
Steam the broccoli until it’s the way you like it. Really. If you like crunchy broccoli, only a few minutes. A bit softer? A few more. Just check it as you go along and make sure it’s not mushy.
Place the warm broccoli into a large lidded container. Shake up the dressing and drizzle it over the warm broccoli. If it looks like it needs more, add it. Just make sure it’s not drowning in dressing.
Add the pepper. Put the lid on and give it a good shake to mix everything. Stick it in the fridge and you’re done.
My New Favorite Vinaigrette
For the longest time I loved Nigella’s vinaigrette to the point where I was wondering if I should have it tattooed somewhere on my arm for easy reference. It’s great stuff, but it’s a bit heavier on the olive oil and…everything, it seemed.
So, here’s my latest version of one I learned a long, long time ago. You mix it all up in a glass jar, give it a good shake, and let it chill out in the fridge until you need it.
If you wanted to change it up, you could always add some feta or blue cheese crumbles. This is another recipe you can play around with.
Vinaigrettes keep well for about a week or so in the fridge.
In a clean glass jar, add:
- 2 Tbsp. of vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- A few drops of cold water
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅓ to ½ cup of olive oil
Put the lid on and shake until it’s all combined. Taste it and see if it needs anything else.