giveaway now closed... congrats to the winners & thank you all for your wonderful comments!
I dreamt I had a baby last night. Her name was Lily, and she was a disturbing shade of suffocated purple. I awoke from the dream still wishing I’d held Lily more and wishing she’d been named something else, something like Imogen. But I crawled out of the warm bed & blearily stumbled into the shower. Our heating doesn’t work properly (read: at all) upstairs so I huddle under the warm water, rotating constantly trying to get 360° warm. I flossed. It hurt. I just started doing it religiously. It’s the New Year and, yes, I started flossing. And drinking more water. And waking and sleeping at the same time each night and day, sort of. After the hot-cold shower and the flossing, I’ve also begun drawing an Elder Futhark rune out of a velvet pouch each morning. I place it in a gold dipped ceramic bowl, read about the rune, and then meditate for ten minutes. It sounds more eccentric than it is, the runes. It’s like daily devotional Russian roulette. I’ve done this every morning for six days now. Pried myself from dreams at the same hour, taken a hot-cold shower, brush, floss, rinse, rune, meditate. For me, this is a monumental accomplishment.
Resolutions, you might call them. I make them all the time, but I don’t see them as such. They’re blueprints, drafts for the edifice that is my life. I imagine my perfect life in 3D, hold it in my hands, fondle it, go inside it, explore its order and it’s secret passage ways (that’s where sexy things and magic things live…). Then I build it, brick by brick. My life lived is my life’s work.
So the thing is, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions per se. This new found routine and discipline is a coincidence. I started December 28th motivated by a desire to best my raging lack of self-discipline. I’ve an entirely unimpressive knack for doing precisely what I want and nothing else at all ever. That means I take pictures, cook, write, and watch Dr. Who while the rest of life crumbles and wheezes, sorely neglected, around me. I’ve no interest in “New Year’s resolutions” similarly to how I have no interest in Valentine’s Day. I’m into living well and loving well most days of the year & I don’t think we need permission or a reason to do either. You can restart your day at midnight & your year in June. I must say, these new habits have been glorious. I love routine, love it. There’s an odd amount of freedom in it.
So have I resolved to floss, drink 8 glasses of water a day, never let the laundry or dishes or housekeeping get ahead of me, meditate daily, practice yoga regularly, volunteer weekly, plan meals ahead, keep a regular bed and waking time, and (deep breath) post at least once a week? Well, yes, sort of. I’m working towards that, more accurately. But it just happens to be the New Year, I swear.
So here’s a diplomatic salad for the New Year whether you’re a zealot on a diet with aerobics videos poised to go (do people still do aerobics?) or whether you, like me, have a bit of a distaste for the January headlines that squawk things like “trim down!”, “shed pounds!” (sounds like fur…gross), or “something, something waist line!!”. This self-proclaimed “not too virtuous” salad is from the new Food52 cookbook that they graciously sent me. I’ve been perusing and garnering inspiration from it for the past month, and this salad in particular has so many of my favorite flavors happening in it. I am a huge fan of fennel & celeriac (the latter of which I think is sorely neglected in the states). I had some celery tops languishing in my fridge so I tossed the leaves in (I think celery leaves make excellent salad material) for more celery action, along with a bit of chopped fennel frond, mint, and parsley. I like it herbaceous.
Being a dyed in the wool home cook, I’ve always had a natural affinity for the recipes of my fellows, and this is a cookbook comprised solely of recipes from people such as you and myself. And they’re good. And this salad, most especially the caramel apple & thyme vinaigrette, is something to have in your fridge at all times to make all those New Year’s resolution salads you’ll be eating satisfy that “baby, it’s cold outside” need for comfort. Comfort in the form of bacon and caramel.
And because I love it (because I would never do a giveaway of something I don’t use myself) I’m giving not one but two copies away. The cookbook includes what the community said about the recipe when they tried it as well as tips and techniques from the community, which is super useful, the benefits of a crowd sourced cookbook. So leave a comment with a life goal below (we won’t call them resolutions!) whatever they may be...from smell the roses more to travel to Thailand or say thank your more often (that’s one of mine),
and in a week I’ll pick two winners
at random for a copy of the new Food52 cookbook! Good luck… and I’m curious
about what other people strive for! So very curious.
Not-Too-Virtuous Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette
copied (verbatim) from the Food52 Cookbook Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes
by wanderash / serves 4 to 6
Who: wanderash is a mom, caterer, and writer living in Wilmette, Illinois.
What: A salad that isn't wimpy or chaste, with sultry, thyme-laced caramel apple dressing and a bacony chew.
How: Make the most amazing salad dressing in the world and drizzle it on the salad.
Why We Love It: For every lardon, there's a crunchy hit of celery foor and a slice of fennel or tart apple. By the time you've emptied your bowl, you're sated and happy and have forgotten the chill of the outside world. The dressing recipe makes much more than you need, but you won't mind. Make more salad, or warm it gently to drizzle over a pork chop, duck breast, or anything else.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, or as needed
2 ounces brown sugar
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch lardons (1/2-inch-long strips)
4 big handfuls mixed greens (about 6 ounces)
1/4 celery root, peeled and very thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, and very thinly sliced
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1 tart apple, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1. To make the dressing: Combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and the brown sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat. Stir and cook until the mixture turns a dark caramel color and begins to thicken. You will start to see big foamy bubbles on the surface. Add the apples and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and put i a blender, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, the thyme, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Whoosh until blended. Then, with the motor running slowly add the oil, blending until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and season with salt and perhaps a splash more vinegar.
3. Meanwhile, make the salad: Cook the lardons in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.
4. Combine the lardons and the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour 1/4 of the dressing over the salad and toss well. Taste a piece of lettuce and add more dressing if you like. (Reserve the rest of the dressing for another delicious use.)