This week’s French Fridays recipe choice is Hélène’s All-White Salad, a bunch of crunch created by Dorie’s friend, Hélène Samuel. She has loved this salad since first eating it at Samuel’s cafe, Délicabar Snack Chic, located in Paris’s renown Le Bon Marché department store. Built by Gustave Eiffel in 1852 and now owned by the luxury group LVMH, the store still exists.The cafe does not. Luckily, Dorie asked, Helene shared, and the all-white salad still survives in Around my French Table.
This salad seemed comfy, a thumbs up. I located every ingredient at the tiny Cookie Crockery market in Cambria. The priciest item was organic mushrooms but the rest, celery, Granny Smith apples, Napa cabbage and Greek yogurt, cost less than the gas to drive there.The preparation was simple.The dressing, Yogurt Vinaigrette, parading as a light, low-calorie mayonnaise, went together easily.
Earlier in the day I baked Irish Soda Bread, using a recipe from Dorie’s Baking: From my House to Yours cookbook. My wine was Patelin de Tablas Blanc from Tablas Creek, one of many local vineyards focusing on grapes and blends traditional to France’s Rhone Valley.
Readers, sometimes hits turn into misses. The Vinaigrette was bland. After one glass of vino and half-way through another, still tasteless. I liked the salad ingredients, however, especially the apple/Napa cabbage/celery combo. For lunch the next day, I used the leftover “whites” and made chunky blue cheese dressing for the pour-over. Bingo. Blue is the new White.
FIGURE IT OUT, MARY
Today’s Post marks three years of turning my lights on bright. Disappointed the salad was not the celebratory recipe I envisioned, the birthday candles went back in the box. Then, an Aha moment. The past three years have been all about hits, misses, thumbs up and never agains. Let me explain.
This blogging adventure began shortly after my husband, Michael, was moved to the Memory Care Unit with Hospice joining the private facility to assist with his care. The good news was my day-to-day caregiving responsibility was no longer needed. The Pros wanted and insisted upon taking over. The bad news was my day-to-day caregiving responsibility was no longer needed. I was undone. “Go out and make a life, Mary,” a nurse insisted.
This was not new advice. I had tried and been spectacularly unsuccessful at the new life-thing. As usual, with each crisis, I ran wailing to my professional counselor, Paige. This woman does not suffer histrionics. She is also maddeningly unemotional. After calming my waters, she asked, “Mary, what are the two things you do best?”
After some thought, I responded, “Writing and being a good grandmother.”
Well,” she answered, “your granddaughters are nearby and you see them often. Check. That leaves Writing. Go figure it out.”
Visit over. I didn’t even get my hour.
THE BIRTH OF A BLOGGER
After some months of thought, I decided to blog. WordPress was beyond me so I found a web designer on Craig’s List. He put together the site you are now reading, albeit not without disaster. Within five minutes of my site going up, I totally obliterated it. I blogged about politics and hobbies and caregiving. Nothing worked. An article in Oprah’s magazine introduced me to French Fridays with Dorie. The dye was cast. FFWD created the structure I needed in my life.
Yes, Michael-visits were still unbearable but cooking the book with my fellow Doristas was salvation. Better yet, it framed my week. Here’s how it goes: 1) Read the assigned FFWD recipe; 2) Shop for ingredients; 3) Make the recipe; 4) Photograph, eat and share the food; 5) Write my piece; 6) Post on blog each Friday; 7) Link on thirty or forty of my colleagues‘ blogs to read/ comment on their sites.
You thought the life of a food blogger was easy?
Michael spent two years with round-the-clock care and I launched a new life. When he died, I had a framework in place as I began to build a lifestyle alone. In addition, I had met an entire family of virtual companions who joined with my family and friends to assist me. Now, with 228 Posts under my toque, I think I’ve been spectacularly successful in doing just that.
CAN “LIGHTS” GET BRIGHTER?
Today I completed Melanie Faith’s five-week online food writing class. Her nuts and bolts course was immersion at its finest. Our class waded through a 300-page text, Will Write for Food by Diane Jacob and submitted five in-depth writing assignments. Every morning, w-i-t-h-o-u-t fail, I woke up to an e-mail prompt, our exercise-of-the-day. Writers need editors. I am pleased to have Melanie in my back pocket.
After months of deliberation I just hired a young Denver firm, Peak Solutions Marketing, to completely redesign my site. Sorta excited. Kinda nervous. (No pressure, Zoe & Kenneth) It appears I’m committed to keeping my lights on. The brighter, the better.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s “Around my French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours.” If you would like to look at our group link, go here.