The Weekend Dish – Saddleback Salad

Here’s today’s hot tip.
Leave the leftover 4th of July cookies in the kitchen instead of taking them to your desk. Whoops.

Here’s today’s cold tip.
Make a salad. Call it dinner. Pack it up and hike to your favorite swimming hole for a picnic.

I created Saddleback Salad, which takes its name from the mountain where I watch sunset shadows play outside my kitchen window, based on what I picked up at the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market one Saturday.  The arugula tastes perfectly at home in a wild grass and meadow setting; the mango is like a little shady spot for your tongue.  Transport the lettuce, mango, pamplemousse, and almonds in separate containers.  Make the dressing at home; toss right before serving.

Saddleback Salad
4 C mixed greens
2 C arugula
2 C mango, peeled and diced
1/2 pamplemousse (This is the French word for grapefruit and I swear if you call it a pamplemousse it tastes better)
1/4 C slivered almonds

2 T apple juice
2 T honey
2 T lemon juice
2 T honey mustard
1/8 C olive oil
1/2 T ground ginger
3 chunks crystallized ginger, slivered

Toss greens and arugula in a large bowl.  Add mango and pamplemousse.  Pour dressing over all and garnish with almonds.

Round out your meal with a strawberry, blueberry, raspberry medley, and some fresh honey goat cheese spread on slices of full grain bread, garnished with a few dried cherries.

If you’re the type who likes to read a little poetry with your al fresco meal, Mary Oliver’s, “The Summer Day,” is as good as grace.  You can read it, or listen to Mary read it aloud here.

Hurry! There are only 78 summer nights left. Don’t waste a one.
With wild abandon,
~ C

The Weekend Dish

Pritzker Pavilion Millenium Park

One of the many things I have learned from my visits to Chicago is that when the weather  warms up the slightest bit, people come outside. They will be out walking, riding bikes, roller skating and running. So in summer, it goes to reason, they are out in droves. This past week, I was one of them enjoying many of the outdoor activities that city has to offer. As my daughters and I sat on the lawn of Millenium Park on a Friday evening relaxing, enjoying a picnic and listening to the sweet sounds of the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, it struck me how nice it is to just be outside. When the concert ended, I wasn’t ready for it to be over. So we sat there being entertained by all the other lingerers, not yet ready to move on, until it was almost dark.

Pritzker Pavilion Millenium Park

Another night we went to a movie in one of the many parks. Nothing makes it feel like summer, to me, more than getting outside and watching a movie or experiencing a concert. Now that summer is officially here, the opportunities to get out and play are numerous in many, if not most, cities. Chicago has parks galore. Several of them are the sites of events during the summer such as movies in the park. There are festivals, parades and markets and the Chicago tourism website is a wonderful resource for locating an activity.

My hometown of Los Angeles offers many opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities during the summer months as well. Saturday night is movie night throughout summer in Exposition Park. Street Food Cinema, features food trucks, a band and a movie. The Getty museum hosts music on certain Saturday evenings through their Saturdays off the 405 series. Jazz at the LA County Museum of Art  can be found on Friday nights as well. Of course, one can’t forget the quintessential outdoor venue in LA, the Hollywood Bowl. Or, check out the lesser known Ford Theatre, right across the freeway from the Hollywood Bowl, for a smaller venue and eclectic mix of events featuring acts from Los Angeles County based artists. To find many al fresco activities all around LA try the Eye Spy LA website. I bet you can discover outdoor activities in your city too. Let us know maybe we will stop by for a visit.

Now go outside and play! Happy Summer!
~ Sue

I waited all winter to tell you

under the ancient oak
an empty picnic table

I wrote those lines late last December after a walk with Chester, the big white dog. I remember well the afternoon we wandered in the gloaming, he with all the bounce and romp of a puppy and I with some elegiac tang induced by another year’s looming end.

fog swirling mist
descends upon the night

the stars are crying.

Why so sad? I wonder now in summer’s glare.

summer afternoon shade
untied my shoes

I wanted to tell you how the table surprised me that afternoon when I turned left on the path instead of right. There were no tables anywhere else in sight, just this one simple wooden stopping place.  I waited through January, February, the bluster of March to give it to you, not from the vantage point of the path which ran past it, but with the solidity of its worn wooden bench beneath me, with the joy of describing the summer solstice meal I ate from atop its uneven surface, with the fervent vow to eat al fresco more this summer than last.

So much depends upon a wooden picnic table in a winter afternoon.  I felt a new comprehension of William Carlos William’s 1923 poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I wanted to tell you how my table seemed embedded in the grass, as if it had roots like the oak above it, how it was the soft brown of shadow on bark with bright orange streaks where a kind of moss grew upon it as if it were a living thing.

By April I vowed to eat at a different picnic table each week this entire summer. I would dine under the sky! Describe parks and beaches and campgrounds! Find new vantage points!

Then I wondered; would that plan celebrate the novel and restless over the warm familiar? Maybe instead, I should resolve to meet this table and this table alone with my basket all summer.

so much depends

I think of Monet’s Haystacks, the artist’s study of light upon a common object.

I think of Antonio Porchia‘s slim volume, Voices, the writer’s light fixed on common man.

I have scarcely touched the clay and I am made of it.

I think of something as solid as wood in a world which feels more like a river than stone.  Anticipation is delicious.

under the ancient oak
an empty picnic table
summer afternoon shade

Summer begins yesterday.  I wait as long as I can.  Noon turns to afternoon turns to almost twilight. I’m ready with camera and Chester and a brown paper bag full of first peaches because it’s the kind of day where I don’t have time to cook.

We go the long way, take the path which curves first left, then right, then around the bend of the seasonal creek, the path which places the setting sun behind my shoulders which casts my shadow long and makes me look as if I’m always arriving.

Chester pulls on the leash.
And there under the ancient oak.

It’s demolished. The table top now lies at the bottom of the creek bed.

“Certainties are arrived at only on foot,” Antonio Porchia writes in Voices.

Past tense and future crumble the present I was given and never received. As I walk home, I know. I waited too long to whisper my secret wish to picnic with you, but I will tell you now.

~ With high hopes for surprises along your own path, C