Getting back into the home routine has kept me busy. In fact, it has me overwhelmed right now. I'm trying to meet my usual routines, like cleaning house (It is a mess after me being away from home for essentially 5 weeks) and my obligations, including the obligation to myself to have fun, and doing some of those necessary evils that come up on occasion, like the summer/winter clothing switch.
My living room is a clutter of storage tubs and clothing right now. I'm almost finished, but other things keep popping up that have prevented me from finishing the job. This task always takes me several days, because while I'm doing it, I also try to cull out the things I haven't worn and take them to the thrift shop. I have one tub filled with castoffs. Yay! But I still have a chair full of items to consider. Tomorrow and the weekend will be a good time to finish this up and haul everything to the thrift shop. And I still have too many clothes. I guess I will need to go back through the closet this winter with a more critical eye. For now, I just need to get the mess out of my living room!
Last night we had a potluck. Oh .... my .... gawd. The food was simply amazing! I took a salad that was super, a new recipe. I'll put it at the end of this post. It was very easy and was a smash. When you read the ingredients, you'll probably raise an eyebrow, but lawdy it was excellent! I also took a dish of candied dills and one of my cranberry relish with jalepeños and tequila. Yeah, really! Both of those are so good. There were so many good dishes on the table last night, and I ate more than usual, but it was worth it! The funniest thing is that two of us almost always bring a dessert, and last night we didn't! The only dessert was brought by a couple who were out of town all day and stopped to get a store bought (but delicious) dessert!
We had a guest couple at the dinner last night. I knew the woman's face, but couldn't remember where I'd met her. After a while I asked a friend who they were, and when I heard the names I was astounded! They are the couple who created the platter I was thrilled to get at the thrift shop a few weeks ago. It came in as a donation in a huge box of odds and ends, As I unpacked the box, putting items in stacks for the area of the store they were to go to, at the bottom of the box was a bright, colorful platter. I instantly fell in love with it. I can and do set prices for items, but when something is unpriced or in new and I want it, I'm not comfortable with setting the price. It just seems wrong. So I waited till the next person came in for her shift and asked her what price we should put on it. She said $5. I almost squealed and said, "Great! I'm taking it home!"
|Isn't this just fun?|
Then she asked if I knew what it was. No, other than a piece I really liked. She said "I'm pretty sure it is 'Animalia.' Have you checked the bottom?" So I flipped it over and sure enough, it was a signed piece, "Anamalia, 1999, Shelby & Pritchett." She said it was likely worth at least $50. Really??
Once home, I checked online, and it appears that a platter of that size would go for between $50 and $150! WOW!! It was crusted with years of grime, probably collected while sitting, unused, in someone's kitchen. I presume the young couple who brought it in were cleaning out Grandma's house and didn't know what it was or just didn't want it. It took me a couple hours of soaking and scrubbing to clean it up, but it was well worth it.
And standing before me at the home of a friend last night were the two people who made it. What a thrill! I'd met her before, and she reminded me that she had met me at a friends shop and then again at the thrift shop. Well, yes, of course! But I had no idea who she was! Then as we talked, I realized I'd admired some of their work before. They have a home here, in Capitàn, although they live most of the time in Columbia, MO. When first moved here, I was enchanted with the artwork in the yard of the house here.
Aren't those great? I smile every time I drive by the house.
Today was my day for a shift at the thrift shop. It was very slow today, but to my delight, about 2:00, guess who walked in? Yep, Todd Shelby and Karen Pritchard! we talked a while and I got their email address. They asked me for one of my recipes from last night, the pickles, and I failed to get a way of contacting them. Good! Now I can complete that task.
Isn't life interesting? I never cease to be amazed with the surprises and fun it brings to me!
Here's the salad recipe. I found it in an AARP email recently. My own notes are in red.
Chopped Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Pita Croutons
from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home
Total Time: Under 30 Minutes
Skill Level: Easy
Maybe it’s just because I’m a girl, but I love almost any kind of salad—and the more ingredients, the better. “Chopped salad,” a catchall for any salad boasting a rich variety of chopped vegetables, is my favorite.
This recipe was inspired by a low-fat dish I first encountered several years ago in Gourmet. Created by Chef Ed Brown of New York’s Sea Grill Restaurant, its most interesting ingredients were chickpeas and diced dill pickles. As a big fan of crunch, I transported those two items to my everyday chopped salad and then, for good measure, piled on some feta cheese and pita croutons.
If you find feta cheese too strong or too salty, substitute ricotta salata, an aged ricotta cheese that has a texture similar to feta but a notch or two less sharpness. As for the pita croutons, use them in any salad, as a garnish for soup, or as a partner to a dip.
Yield: Serves 6 (Trust me, this serves a lot more than 6)
• ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
• ½ teaspoons sweet or hot paprika
• Three 6-inch pita breads with pockets (I didn't have pita pockets on hand; I had multigrain pita chips, so I used those)
• Kosher salt to taste
• 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (Didn't have this on hand, but used wine vinegar)
• 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 6 cups loosely packed arugula (I couldn't find arugula in this podunk community, so I just used the mesclun, and it was fine. I love arugula, and I'm sure it would add interest to the salad)
• 6 cups loosely packed mesclun
• 2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
• 2 large yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped
• 1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
• 1½ cups cooked or drained, rinsed, and dried canned chickpeas
• 1½ cups crumbled feta cheese
• 1½ cups diced dill pickle
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix ¼ cup of the olive oil with the cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Split each pita bread horizontally into 2 rounds and brush the rough sides with equal amounts of the oil mixture. Cut the rounds into small triangles or l-inch pieces and arrange in one flat layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt when just out of the oven. (I mixed the oil and seasonings, put them in a ziplock bag, added the multigrain pita chips, and tossed everything in the bag, then baked them a bit lower, 350°, about 3 minutes. It was just enough to penetrate the flavors into the chips)
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl until blended. Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil, whisking to form a smooth dressing.
Just before serving, pile the arugula and mesclun in the center of the bowl on top of the dressing. Surround with the peppers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, and pickles. Add the pita croutons, toss, and serve. Enjoy!!