Posts Tagged ‘great summer salads’


Just heard an incredible statistic. Today, one out of three marriages is between couples meeting on a dating site. Thinking about it, I don’t know why I find this incredible. The average adult spends a lot of time on-line. If you are single and looking for the perfect match, such a huge marketplace makes narrowing the search easier. Definitely it narrows the chances of finding someone with the specific traits you are looking for in a life partner.  Was I in a room and the question asked “who here met their mate on a dating site”, my hand would be enthusiastically waving in the air.

Eighteen years ago Rick left me a message on one of the more famous dating websites. Truth be told we are an unlikely match. I believe I was number 221 on his list of suitable matches and he didn’t even show up on mine.  At the time I was working insane hours at a dot.com startup in the Bay Area leaving little time for socializing. Often I would leave work after logging in hours of overtime only to be called back into the office in the wee hours to edit a file or create a new one. Exhausting.

Originally I posted my profile during a winey night spent with a dear friend of mine long single and looking for love. After uncorking our second bottle of chardonnay, we made the decision to get her on a dating site. This is one of those questionable decisions associated with too much alcohol intake often leading to disaster. However, in this case it turned out quite well. For me at least. The first step began by creating the usual inane profiles for ourselves. You know, “I like dogs, walks on the beach, and candlelight dinners”. Then we uploaded a couple of flattering recent pictures, and promptly put the whole thing out of our minds. Recent is highlighted in the last sentence because some people put pictures up taken after they graduated from middle school rather than what they actually look like at the time they post their profile. In the end if you meet the cat, as they say, will be out of the bag unless you have a particularly clever plastic surgeon on the payroll. About two weeks later we found ourselves again together and decided to look up the site and see what the results of our efforts were. Amazing. It was like panning for gold. You dip your pan in water once only to find a huge nugget nestled among the sand and gravel. Wow. Now, all these prospects are certainly not going to be either people you are interested in or necessarily even people seriously looking for a real relationship. Like everything in life you have to sift through the chaff in order to find the wheat.

Even though I was a novice at this type of dating, this was not my first rodeo. Through trial and error I’d hopefully picked up a few pointers along the way about the do’s and don’t of looking for a mate. Heavy emphasis on the hopefully. Dating to my mind is always a mine field. Aside from the benefits of finding a partner among such a wide selection of candidates there is, as always, a darker side to the picture. Predators feed on such a readily available population like sharks circling an area replete with an abundant food source. Discretion and good sense are the words of the day when taking on such an endeavor. Don’t meet anyone alone in a non-public environment. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Lastly, someone gave me some great advice once. “It’s not what people say that’s important, it’s what people do.” You can say you’re the C.E.O. of Ebay or that you are not married. This does not make either statement based on any semblance of fact.

At that time I was not looking for a serious relationship. Rather I was hoping to find several different people with whom I could perhaps share an interest like hiking, or someone who enjoyed the theater or visiting art museums. I adjusted my walks on the beach profile (actually my favorite pastime) to include other activities I also sincerely enjoyed. As the months progressed I met an interesting person here and a not so interesting one there but no one who felt like a good match. Though I became acquainted with some really great people no one enticed me to turn around for a second look.

When Rick popped up he was most unexpected. Though in the right age group and appealing according to his photograph, on scratching below the surface his profile indicated that might be where the commonalities came to an end. After he made several knocks at my on-site door I decided to open it a crack and see who was standing on the other side. Our first “date” if you will was just to meet and see if any fires were lit. From the moment he sat down across from me our conversation flowed easily. Still does. Always having a fascination with Egypt I was enthralled with his stories of growing up near Cairo and having access to all the wonders I had only been able to read about.

Soon we became regular companions and eighteen years later we still look forward to seeing one another across the table every morning (even before coffee).

So, if you are contemplating giving on-line dating a try I would. Perhaps you’ll be lucky like we were, perhaps you won’t. However shake the dice. Like playing the Lotto if you don’t buy a ticket you’ll never know if you might have been a winner.

This salad is just sooooo good. If you added chicken it would be a perfect light meal for those warm summer nights.

Vegetable Salad with Sesame Seed Dressing

2 1/2 cups Napa cabbage shredded
6 oz. Mung bean sprouts
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 hard boiled eggs cubed
4 radishes thinly sliced
1 avocado, diced
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 English cucumber sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Salt and pepper

Serves 4-6

Sesame Seed Dressing

2 cloves garlic
2 green onion finely chopped
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/3 cup EV olive oil
1/4 cup Canola oil
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Pour in cruet and shake well. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss with salad just before serving.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Susie Nelson


Well, I seem to have made a mess of my posts. I found out I don’t have to have surgery next week and it threw everything out of whack (in a good way) for me and in my typical Susie way I published the right post with the wrong recipe. Forgive me. I apologize if they’ve been jumping around a bit.  Somehow I trashed items I didn’t mean to and published the wrong recipe.  If this is not the feed and grain story and the strawberry salad I’m quitting.

As I’ve said in previous posts, at one point in my travels I settled in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. My husband at the time worked as a pipe fitter at a refinery about 45 minutes drive from the house. With him working long shifts, I was left to create my own entertainment. Summer months there it was on average 105 degrees outside and 98% humidity, so after cleaning and walking the house for a few weeks (I became an excellent house walker, I highly recommend it), I needed to think of something to occupy my time. Since I didn’t know many people in the area the idea of getting a job seemed to make sense. The construction jobs were temporary in nature. Consequently, I didn’t feel right taking a permanent job knowing I would only be short term. Soooo, I signed up with a local temp agency. Within two days they called offering me a secretarial job at a local feed and grain. It was a three month assignment assisting in the office. Well, to say that the care and feeding of farm animals was not strongly stressed in my educational background would be like saying that Mick Jagger is eye candy. No letters please, I love the Stones. Smile.

What the hell. Life is short and in my world all new experiences welcomed. I accepted. The following Monday I found my way to their office, which was located directly across the street from the stockyards.Being a true animal lover does not eclipse the fact that a large group of farm animals placed in a stressful situation generate a serious amount of ammonia. Whew, or pew being the more appropriate word.

Meeting my supervisor, Link, and the rest of the staff I was given a mini-tour of the facilities. Out front loomed huge grain elevators with chutes pointing down toward the yard. Behind the elevators a large warehouse dominated the yard. Doors open, huge pallets were stacked everywhere and the area was buzzing with sounds of forklift motors and trucks loading and unloading. Quite impressive.

The office itself housed around twenty employees set up in cubicles. In addition to this, on one side of the building there was what looked to be a booth of sorts which could double for a box office at a movie theater. After an hour of minimal training the realization that this box had something to do with why I was there began to sink in. Link explained that there would be a more detailed training period the following day but at the moment he was “busier than a cat covering it up”. True story, like I said you just can’t make this stuff up.

Next I was set up in the box office window. It was equipped with a lengthy list of products for sale, a cash register and a metal handle, not unlike a gear shift, with push buttons on it. There was one flat window directly in front of the cash register with one that slanted out on either side. My instructions were to wait for vehicles to drive up and then move the lever forward whereupon the box office with me in it would propel us into space to take customer orders. Kind of like a McDonald’s only mobile and for cows. The list of products was done is sort of code. Dog chow might look like “DCHW”. Great. The cash register had corresponding buttons, also in code. Not only didn’t I have a clue at the time what was the breakfast of choice for livestock, but I had to break the code it seemed before I could place the order. Could I have gracefully ducked out the back door at that point I would have and never looked back. Intuition told me this was not going to end well.

Somehow I got through the day. Back and forth I drove in my little window. Understand now, these were very thick southern accents coming at me through a grainy speaker asking for products that I had no idea what they were. They could have been speaking Klingon.

Not being a quitter, I went home that night, had several fortifying glasses of Chardonnay, and showed up the next morning asking for more. The stockyards were open that day so the first flatbed truck that pulled in had two newly purchased calves in the back. One of them leaned over the rail, placed a very generous and gooey tongue on the side window and offered a long lick along the glass to announce his arrival. Jeez.

Later in the day a pig farmer showed up. Usually you can tell they’re coming from a mile or two away. No offense. He had two very large pink porkers in the back who cast their well lashed eyes on my moving box office with some suspicion. Behind him he had a ranch hand driving a much larger truck, I assumed to transport their order. He asked for a large amount of what sounded to me to be “hog cone”. Looking at my coded list, there was only one code that even vaguely resembled that, it said “Hog Conc”. Feeling confident, I pushed the corresponding Hog Conc button on the cash register and slicker than ordering a Big Mac and biggee fries, sent them on their way to get their order loaded.

Shortly thereafter this same farmer accompanied by the back manager showed up in the office. This guy was obviously not happy. He had that “damn northerners, not worth killin”, look on his face. After much waving of hands, flapping of overall bibs and speaking in tongues it was concluded that he had a truck full of whatever this hog concentrate was when all he had asked at my window was a dang old load of corn. Speak up!

They were a great group of people to work with. All the farmers were interesting and funny, for the most part at least. The hog farmer never exactly warmed up to me after our initial encounter, and always checked his receipts. This story must have been repeated a hundred times since I worked there. It’s my mothers favorite among my travel stories.

Check out this video for an interesting take on shucking corn.  Cool idea.


Strawberry Spinach Salad with Sesame Seed Dressing

1 bag (10 oz.) fresh baby spinach, rinsed
1 quart strawberries, hulled, halved and sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup mandarin oranges (canned or fresh)
1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Sesame Seed Dressing

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hr. prior to serving.

Rinse spinach and tear into large salad bowl in bite sized pieces. Top with all ingredients. Toss with dressing.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Susie Nelson

They were discussing the growing concern over obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children on The View the other day.  Contributing facts, to their way of thinking, were that kids don’t devote the hours to play that children in past generations did, as well as being offered little by way of physical education in our schools.  As a child, speaking only for my peer group, once breakfast dishes were done and chores finished we disappeared out into the sunshine to cavort with the bees, stick our toes in the frog pond and generally explore the nooks and crannies of our worlds until our names were called out the back door to come in for a meal.

It was suggested that healthier meals need to be offered in our school cafeterias.  From what I can see between my children and their children, meal selections don’t appear to have changed much since I was in school, not really.  Basically, at break when I was in high school, if funded, I could purchase the most gooey and ridiculously unhealthy cinnamon rolls or a bread loaf sized piece of coffee cake.  Lunch, if not brought from home, ranged from processed cheese and macaroni, pizza slices, chocolate pudding with a glop of whipped cream to an occasional offering of chicken patties or what we referred to as “frisbee burgers” which were guaranteed to sail 50 feet without dropping if you gave them the right twist of the wrist. In my humble and often offered opinion, there’s more to it than that.

In the end, isn’t it our role as guiders and molders of little beings to instill in them healthy eating habits at home first?  Provide them as best we can with a balanced diet to choose from and choose from this ourselves to show them how it’s done. This brings to mind individuals who bring suit against fast food chains because their children eat at these establishments regularly and now find themselves grossly overweight.  Is it just me?  This being true, if I frequent a casino and lose all my rent money can I, in good conscience, sue the casino for drawing me in with their shiny machines and blinking lights and enticing me to deposit my paycheck in the nickel slots?  Seriously?

Let’s say, I got coupons for pizza rolls and purchased a freezer full. If my thighs are now twice the size they were prior to my purchase, can I sue the company that manufactured them because my right toe now no longer fits in my size 4 pants?  Where did we stop taking responsibility for our own behavior?

Not long ago I had occasion to spend a few days with my son and his children.  Watching the feeding program there was eye opening for me.  To preface, they are excellent, doting parents to their two nose miners, yet I was fascinated to watch how meal times went with regards to the kids.  My grandson, for example, was asked what he would like for breakfast.  I’m old school, so usually breakfast was served and thank you’s were said, and there was more cooking and less asking going on. I get that things are different these days.  Oatmeal was his first choice.  Good choice.  Healthy.  After it was served to him and one bite consumed, he determined instead he wanted eggs.  Really?  So, a pan was retrieved from the cupboard, eggs whipped up in a bowl, and in short order (a little play on words here so you won’t get bored) a plate of fluffy scrambled eggs and wheat toast appeared in front of the young prince.  I was still on board at this point.

I watched as the eggs were maneuvered from one side of the plate to other with encouragement to do more than toy with their affection from my son. Then after one bite (this is where I got off the train) this plate was pushed away as well and a request for a waffle and heated maple syrup came in.  As I watched the train leave the station two waffles were dropped in the toaster which would, for the most part, also remain on the plate they were served.  Whew.  I was worn out just watching that procedure.

One full year, in my memory, another of my grandchildren only ate hot dogs because that’s what she liked.  Every time I saw this child she was eating another dog in a bun.  On Thanksgiving she had two in honor of the holiday. This expanded to popcorn (which I was told was her vegetable), then chicken strips, and I believe since then, corn, tacos and French fries have been added to the acceptable list for her discerning palate.

As children my two wild things were served a meal of my choosing for the most part and ate what was presented to them.  By this, I do not mean that I purposely served them food they didn’t like, but that they didn’t lay out the meal plan for me on Sunday so I could be sure to be up to speed once they were seated at the table.  Consequently other than one not liking pickles and the other peas they were never picky eaters.

In my mind children are entitled to like or dislike peas, and not be forced to eat peas. However, they have to at least try the food a time or two and there is no cupcake if your dinner plate was fed to the cocker spaniel.  Once when my son was a little boy my husband totally dug in at the dinner table and insisted my son eat his peas, which, for my son were his kryptonite.  Quietly, I reminded my husband that he loathed ham. That particular cut of pork was never served at our table unless brought into the house by another person, and even then eyed with suspicion lest a piece approach his plate.  Not willing to back down, the peas were reluctantly consumed by the six year old over a half an hour period, but I have to say were returned to us by his stomach in a much more expedient manner.  After cleaning up my little guy I handed my husband the necessary cleaning utensils to handle the rest of the mess.  A lesson was learned by all.

In the end, I don’t have a thought as to the solution.  It’s hard to push our children out the door to an unsafe world, and fast food in our busy lives seems to be a go-to place after a long day at work.  It worries me to see less and less activity and more and more intake of useless calories, but such is the fast paced world we live in I guess. For me it looks like this:

More of this …..

Less of this

This salad not only looks fabulous but offers up such a nice delicate blend of flavors.  It’s a bit of work, but well worth it.

Youth is a perpetual intoxication; it is a fever of the mind. – François Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Shaved Zucchini Salad

4 large zucchini
12 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced and seeded
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
Garlic salt, pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan for garnish


Shred the zucchini lengthwise in long ribbons. Discard the pieces with just green as well as seedy centers. Slice tomatoes thinly and seed. Cut thin slices of onion and separate rings. Place all ingredients in bowl (glass is nice for this pretty salad) and toss lightly. Grind once or twice with pepper and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt and a splash of garlic salt.


2 1/2 Tbsp. EV olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dill weed

Whisk together ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. Toss with salad just prior to serving.

Photo by Susie Nelson – April in Paris

© http://www.susartandfood.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: