The past couple of weeks have been full of challenges and in between all of the chaos, it has been a joy to receive the miracles. It all started with my husband heading to a conference, which usually leaves me a bit apprehensive about how my children and I will get through our days solo. Partially, because Xerxes offers additional hands for doing chores and caring for our children, but also because his emotional support and kind nature are critical to my personal sanity.
Of course, maybe to keep my mind off of his absence, my evenings were scheduled full of goodness and busy-ness. Looking at my evenings of to-do’s, without much help to make it all happen, made me very nervous. Fortunately, a few days before the week started my Mom and I found a ticket for her to fly out to be with us during this time to help us: the first miracle.
My baby Zed also had an appointment at the start of the week to determine if he would need surgery for a hernia that kept popping out the last few weeks. Low and behold, he did! And asap! After a phone call to Xerxes, we all agreed Friday would be the day, even though he would still be at his conference. Knowing my Mom would be here to help, I was able to breath relief.
As I wandered in to the hospital cafeteria with my two cuties in tow, feeling an aching sensation of concern for the coming Friday and the low-blood sugar of hunger, I looked up to see the mother of one of Juliette’s preschool classmates. I told my tale, and she brightly suggested Juliette spend Friday afternoon with her and her daughter: the second miracle.
The week went on smoothly. The dance classes I taught were made easier knowing my Mom was watching my children. The next day’s opportunity to share Lilly’s Table with Juliette’s preschool was also easier than expected. Again, all because of the extra hands.
Zed playing in the children’s hospital waiting for surgery
The big day arrived too quickly and I found myself most concerned that my husbands’ family history of hernia operations, (three men had a combination of at least seven hernia surgeries!) would mean Zed would have to go through all of this again for the left side as well. Xerxes and I each swore we felt a second hernia, too, which was seemingly undetected by our medical advisors. It was decided that while he was under, the surgeon would check to see if the left side had anything.
I attempted to stomach another meal at the hospital cafeteria during his surgery, which was briefly interrupted when they called to say that YES in fact Xerxes and I were correct. The left side showed a similarly sized hernia that had managed stay hidden. The surgery was a mere 20 minutes longer and future surgeries suddenly became much less likely: the third miracle.
There are certainly more details to this story, but there was another element that I consider the fourth miracle that kept giving to us all week… our garden! It is overflowing with salad greens that need just a kiss of dressing, some sort of protein and a few slices of my sourdough bread to make a meal. Throughout this trying week, I found myself indebted not just to my Mom, but to this greenery that fed and nourished my family during a time when making another trip to the grocery would have simply pushed me over the edge.
I also have to say that this is the first time I have experienced such lushness in my garden. I have historically lamented about my ‘brown thumb’. Even though I love the process of gardening, luck rarely seemed on my side. Until this year. In honesty, I want to say that not everything planted is abundant… yet (fingers crossed). It certainly helps that Xerxes built a hoop house that has extended our rather short Rocky Mountain growing season, too. Thanks Sweetie!
We all have weeks that push us a bit more than others. I realize gardening with all of its preparations, patience, and unpredictability seems the last thing that will help when life seems to be testing you, but the rewards bring balance to the challenges. Being outside, moving dirt, watering and harvesting when my mind wanted to be fretful kept my spirit calm. My Mom always talks of gardening’s meditative powers and I am finally starting to believe her. Meanwhile eating the powerhouse of nourishing leaves kept my body and family satisfied.
You and I, we are all still at the start of the growing season this spring. I encourage you to prepare a bit of soil. Tuck seeds down into the cozy bed of dirt. Moisten it and wait…
for the miracles.
I offer you this salad dressing recipe as a mini-miracle. Because you may not have the time or space to garden (although, I would love to argue the contrary! If I can do it, you can, too) the very least you can do is make your own dressing. You will save money. You will save your health. You will save your greens from being abused by the chemical liquid combinations that one calls salad dressing.
Start with your large salad bowl. Place the greens, washed and dried on stand-by.
Dip your whisk into your favorite dijon mustard. Pull out a dollop. Place it in the large bowl. Add about twice the amount of balsamic vinegar. Drizzle in just a slight swirl of honey or maple syrup. Beat the small amount of ingredients together smearing it all over the bowl.
Take a generous pinch of salt. With your hand high above the bowl sprinkle it all over, dusting the tiny base of your dressing.
Grab the olive oil, again high above the bowl, pour it gently in a steady stream that is just a bit more steady than a drip, drip, drip, drip…. As the olive oil trills in slowly, madly beat your whisk to incorporate the fat into the molecules of your dressing. It will start to thicken. The dark balsamic will become lighter in color, or dare I say fluffier in appearance. Stop pouring the olive oil to rest your beating hand and to taste. Does it need more salt?
Sweetness? Vinegar? Add accordingly.
Too tangy? More olive oil is needed.
Add olive oil again as you pour with one hand and beat with the other. Taste. Adjust until you are satisfied. Taste. I trust your tastebuds. Just as you should trust your own.
Now, I often pour out about half of my dressing in to a small dish to reserve for later. Next I add the greens and with a spatula fold them lightly into the dressing. I add more dressing to the top as needed. Swirling it above, again high, until each leaf receives a simple kiss of goodness.
Nuts & seeds, shreds of veggies, pieces of fruit, dried, fresh, never frozen, or even bits and pieces of your favorite leftovers can serve to complete your salad, but really…
It is all about the greens and the dressing. May this serve as a simple little miracle for your day.
And for all of you who rather work with measurements, here is the list of ingredients:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less as desired)
1/4 teaspoon salt & black pepper
Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and sweetener. While beating wildly, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is slightly thick and tastes delicious. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live blessed,