Thursday, May 15, 2008

Salad Days

I know my great-great-grandma would recognize all the ingredients in this salad

Salad days are finally here. Well, most of the time. Truth be told, our weather is all over the place at the mo; tornadoes, severe thunder storms, torrential rain, but it is mostly warm, and we have had some sunshine.

The big advantage of salad days is we do most of our cooking outdoors on the grill, now when I say we, I mean Mick does most of the cooking on the grill. And this does mean that I get to unchain myself from the stove for a few months, and just make lots of lovely salads. At the moment, I’m still having to use mainly store bought ingredients, but as soon as everything in our garden ripens I’ll be able to use homegrown produce.

Last week, I saw an interesting article on Nightline. They interviewed a guy called Michael Pollan who has written a book entitled, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Pollan states that much of what Americans consume is not food. He says, "There is food and there is what I call edible food-like substances. These are things we've invented in the last 50 years or so that, you know, smell like food, taste like food, look like food, but they're very different than the kinds of things people ate a hundred years ago."

Pollan thinks that we shouldn’t eat anything that our great-great-grandmothers wouldn't recognize as food. And while he does recommend doing your shopping at Farmer’s Markets, he does understand that most of us have no choice but to shop at supermarkets. That being the case he says, the bulk of your food should come from the periphery of the store, i.e. fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, and dairy, and not from the center aisles.

Well, I must be doing something right because I’ve had supermarket cashiers comment, "I bet you make everything from scratch, don’t you?" And mostly, I do. That’s usually followed by, "I wish I had the time." I don’t have the time either, but I make time, because it’s important. (I am, of course, far too polite to say this, but maybe I should).

The cashiers around here also don’t know their leeks from their rutabagas, because whenever I buy them they always have to ask me what they are. :-)

By way of a contrast to Michael Pollan you might want to check out the 20 worst foods in America. BTW, I can say without fear of contradiction, that I have never eaten any of these "foods."

Summer Salad


½ an iceberg lettuce, chopped into strips
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ green or red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
¼ cucumber, deseeded and chopped
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped.
6 radishes, halved.
12 manzanilla olives, halved

The radishes did come from our garden


Throw all ingredients in a bowl.

You can use whatever salad dressing you like, I just drizzled this with some olive oil, added a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and a dash or two of fresh ground black pepper.

I served it with a peppered pork loin, and rice, both cooked on the grill. Those recipes will doubtless appear here over the coming months.


Jan said...

I love salad - especially with radishes! Looks yummy!

Heather said...

I know how you feel, getting confused looks from the cashiers. Though I do buy frozen veg once in awhile.

Emiline said...

I have the same problem with cashiers. Think brussel sprouts vs. tomatillos.

I need to read this book, I think. I've started eating like this, for the last month or two. I think I feel healthier already.

Jan said...

Jan, thanks for popping in, and good luck with the chili peppers.

Heather, I confess I buy frozen veg occasionally, too.

Em, I wish I could claim to follow Pollan's credo, but I'm sure my great-great-granny wouldn't recognize all of the food I eat today. But I do at least do most of my shopping in the outer aisle of the supermarket. And, weather permitting, we do grow our own veg, and some fruit.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I totally agree with all of his philosophy that I have heard. I have yet to read the book! I need to get that one on my library list! But I always shop on the perimeter of the store, and only venture to a few aisles of dry goods.

I get the strange looks too, but it is worth it!!!

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll! :)

EAT! said...

Don't you just love the grilling season?!! I can't wait until the really warm summer months to be able to sit outside and eat dinner al fresco. Love the olives addition to your salad.

Jan said...

Eat, thanks for stopping by.

We love to grill, unfortunately dining al fresco is not an option here in the bug capital of the world. :-)

But, we can at least sit outside on the porch, while the food cooks.

Jan said...


BTW, I should have mentioned, as far as possible, I try to avoid using salt in my cooking. The addition of these olives though does give a nice salty tang to the salad.

Drew Kime said...

I'm so jealous of your garden. The farmers' markets around here are too far out of the way to stop on the way home each day.

Jan said...

Hi Drew, good of you to drop in. I loved your chive flower vinegar.

At the moment we are just eating bits and pieces from our garden, but they have all been delicious. I'm looking forward to the tomatoes coming on line, you can't beat homegrown tomatoes.

Here in Oklahoma there are a lot of things we would like but cannot buy. We may be able to grow our own veggies but frssh lamb and fresh fish ae hard to get. Yo've just got to work with what you have.