One time when I was in college, my apartment was selected to be the weekly "spotlight apartment" at a get-together that was held in the complex every Sunday evening. This meant that someone from the complex would interview us, find out some random facts, and share them at the get-together. Seeing that my roommates and I thought the get-togethers were pretty lame, and that the spotlights were even lamer, we made up some facts about ourselves that sounded interesting and thought we were pretty clever.
At least, we felt pretty clever until someone came up to me afterward all excited to ask how I had enjoyed my time at the Culinary Institute of America.
And I had to explain to her that it was all a bad joke.
A really bad joke, apparently.
It turns out, people actually did listen to the lame spotlight, and after another person asked my roommate what it was like to meet Prince Harry in person (we had thought Harry was more believable than William, for some reason) we realized that making things up is even lamer than simply telling the truth in a dumb apartment spotlight. It's no fun to have to explain to people why you lied to them.
That's the reason why I'm not going to share some elaborate story of kidnapping, international travel to remote areas without the internet, or even a coma to explain my long absence from posting here, though it is really tempting. The simple truth is, my husband and I are expecting our first baby at the beginning of June. And growing a baby seems to make my body very unhappy, at least for the first few months or so. I know some women manage to keep up with everything while they are pregnant, but I'm learning that am not one of those women.
When I first found out we were expecting I had grand visions of how I'd somehow manage to keep posting and cooking even through any kind of nausea that might come. Then morning sickness hit, and all plans went out the window. I remember coming home sick from work the first day and calling my mom to complain that I had been tricked because "morning" sickness actually lasts all day. Then I made the error of watching Steel Magnolias during my hormonal state and ended up with a headache from crying to add to my nausea.
These days I'm feeling better in the illness department, and I'm gradually getting back on top of things. I've been starting to cook more (for which my husband is grateful after living on pizza rolls and grilled cheese sandwiches for months. Actually, come to think of it, he probably thought that was heaven.) Given that I wasn't just away from the kitchen, but the internet, too, I've been trying to catch up on reading my favorite food blogs now that mere pictures of food don't make me ill anymore. And the house has definitely been staying cleaner lately. I want to thank everyone who has been checking up on me while I was temporarily away. Seeing that this is our first baby, my husband and I weren't sure what the protocol was for telling people you're expecting. Or when it was safe to do it. Or who to tell first. So we just didn't tell anyone.
One sign that I knew I was feeling better after so many months of feeling sick was when I found myself craving salad for the first time. I've mentioned before on this site that green salad is possibly my favorite food (it's fighting with cookies for the number one spot) because it is so versatile and I love all the different flavors you can have in a single bite. It felt like an alien took over my body, then, when I was so sick that salads didn't remotely sound good (and when beefaroni did, of all things) so after my stomach started to calm down it was like being reunited with an old friend to be able to eat them again.
This salad is one I love in the winter because it is still reliably good in those months when fresh summer fruit and veggies seem so far away. The recipe is from a book of favorites from Vermont restaurants, and I love that the dressing uses real maple syrup. In my opinion, that alone should make it a keeper. The slightly sweet dressing with the tart apples, dried cranberries, goat cheese and toasted pecans is perfect as a side for soup or as a light lunch. (Or second lunch, as the case has been for my lately.) It's fast to prepare and requires very little chopping - always a win for me when it comes to salads.
Mixed Baby Greens with Maple Dressing, Cranberries and Apples
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T maple syrup
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thin strips
1 T fresh lemon juice
8 cups mixed baby greens, lightly packed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1. Make the maple dressing: Whisk together the oil, garlic, vinegar and maple syrup until well combined. Add kosher salt to taste. (I usually need 3-4 generous pinches, tasting after each addition.)
2. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
3. In a large bowl, combine the baby greens, apples, cranberries and half the pecans. Toss the greens with maple dressing to taste and divide among serving dishes. Top each dish with remaining pecans and goat cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: Dishing Up Vermont by Tracey Medeiros