Category Archives: Recipes

The Perfect Salad

I can’t really even call this a recipe. It’s more like an equation or a rule of thumb. All credit goes to Dianna Kennedy, who was the first to ever introduce me to this idea. It’s been my go-to for salads ever since.
perfect salad
By greens I mean Romaine, or spinach, or even iceberg if you really must (I’m anti-iceberg). Whatever greenery you like, or whatever’s growing in your garden. For fruits I like whatever’s in season: strawberries, blueberries, apple chunks. You can always use canned mandarin oranges if nothing in the produce aisle looks tasty. I like crumbly cheeses, like Feta or Bleu, but you could go with chunks of Gouda, bits of Mozzarella, or whatever’s in the fridge. Nuts are pretty much “anything goes” as far as I’m concerned. If you have a nut allergy get some more protein in there another way: chunks of chicken, grilled tofu, maybe leftover roast beef. I do think it’s important to use a vinaigrette for a little “bite”, but there are dozens of options from savory (balsamic vinaigrette) to sweet (raspberry vinaigrette). I always put a bit of fresh coarse-ground black pepper on mine, too, but I put pepper on everything. I’ll leave that to your judgement 😉
first salad
Here’s my very first salad after I was allowed to advance from mushy food to real food after my gastric sleeve surgery. I’d been dying for something crunchy, and this salad was just perfect. I put a picture on Instagram and shared it on Facebook and Twitter and you’d have thought I’d sculpted a masterpiece or something. My first comment was from one of the top dogs at Nerium, who was at a huge conference in Dallas, waiting backstage to be called out and presented with a huge check! They must not have had enough snacks backstage – LOL!

My New Crack:


— 1 —

I couldn’t write this last night because I was so involved in I started a 14-day free trial in the early evening, switched from my computer to my tablet when the pain got too bad, and kept going until I fell asleep, drooling on my family tree. Those little leaves – it’s worse than Farmville. There are very few pictures, but lots of census records. Let me just say that legible handwriting was obviously not a job requirement for census takers. And the forms themselves – wow. And not in a good way. In 1910 someone could actually be legalled classified as a mulatto idiot. Yes, mulatto and idiot were boxes that could be checked. And boarders were present in most homes. People just rented out spare rooms to strangers. I can’t imagine anyone doing that in this day and age.

— 2 —

 The other excitement this week has involved making financial decisions. Lots of things are up in the air, and ever since our lawyer told a big ‘ole lie right in front of us during a hearing (about a minor detail, but still!) I don’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth. I mean, yes, we’ve all heard about the stereotypical dishonest lawyer, but this guy doesn’t even lie well. Every time he lies he does it very enthusiastically. If he says something calmly chances are it’s the truth. But when he gets all earnest and gives great weight to what he’s saying he’s totally lying. And since he never gives a short answer to anything, so every interaction is exhausting. Thankfully, his paralegal is wonderful, helpful, and honest. But she’s also very pregnant, so I’m dreading her maternity leave.

— 3 —

I made Oreo balls for a Nerium party. They were supposed to look like this:
briana oreos
But mine looked like this:
my oreos
It’s obviously a technique issue, since only three ingredients are involved. You mix a box of crushed Oreos with a softened 8-oz block of cream cheese, refrigerate, and then dip in melted almond bark. Maybe I was supposed to freeze them instead. Or maybe I should have used the smaller scoop. Oh, well. They taste fabulous even if they do look pretty awful.

— 4 —

My son wanted some extra T-shirts for band camp, so we went to a thrift store I hadn’t been to for a while. He wanted shirts that could be stained, ripped, or lost since that’s pretty much the destiny of all band camp T-shirts. I was pretty excited. A chance to go thrift store shopping with a valid excuse! I took him to the men’s medium T-shirt section, and by the time I’d walked to the women’s section of the store, before I had even touched a single garment – there he was, a half-dozen shirts in hand. Thankfully one of them didn’t have a price tag so that delayed him long enough for me to find dog toys, but that was all. He very thoughtfully offered to hang with me while I browsed, but we really did have other things to do. It made me really miss my mother-in-law, Pat. She and I would spend all day thrift store shopping. It was awesome.

— 5 —

Band camp, by the way, starts Monday. I feel like John’s had no summer. He dome some of the PSAT prep book I got him, but hasn’t even cracked the copy of The Slight Edge for Teens I wanted him to read over the summer. It’s short, maybe he can read it at the pool tomorrow if we can get a day without rain.

— 6 —

I could really use some time at the pool, and tomorrow’s our last day with my father-in-law’s borrowed pool key. He gets back from vacation Sunday. The storm front moving in have been killing my neck, and the week’s other activities haven’t helped. I waited for two hours in an exam room Wednesday for my doctor to get to me. Of course, by the time he got there I was curled into a ball on the exam table with a pillow wadded up to support my neck. I had pre-op and disability forms for him to sign, and I may or may not have been a real bitch about it. I don’t even remember driving home.

— 7 —

I spent the morning running errands in the rain, and now that everyone has the paperwork they need I’m just waiting for calls about disability, surgery, and financial assistance. I’d like a large YES with a side of IMMEDIATELY, but I’d settle for a optomistic maybe soon across the board.

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What’s My Summertime Drink? Sweet Tea, of Course!

Sweet tea. It can make or break a restaurant in the South. And if you live in the South you’d better make it well and have it handy. In fact, the uber-prepared hostess these days has not just sweet and unsweet tea, but also half-sweet (half unsweetened, half sweetened). And some lemonade in the fridge in case anyone wants an Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade). McDonald’s, ever the one to capitalize on a trend, even coined a phrase of their own for half-sweet tea: Half-Cut. Go on, go through your nearest McDonald’s drive-thru and order a large half-cut tea. Of course McDonald’s sweet tea isn’t as good as Chic-Fil-A’s, but they do try.

My friend Kim makes the best sweet tea in the world, and I’ve watched her make it oodles of time and mine is never quite as good as hers, but it’s pretty darn good. I think it’s just one of those “tastes better if someone else makes it” things. So here’s my recipe:

Run six cups of water through your coffee pot with a Lipton family-size tea bag in the pot.  Yes, I said Lipton, there’s no need to get fancy with this.  And the bag should go in the pot, not where the coffee grounds go.  Let it sit for five minutes or so, and then remove the tea bag in stir in one cup sugar (or Splenda or whatever) until dissolved.  Fill a two-quart pitcher with cold water and pour the hot tea into it.  Serve over lots of ice.  Do not refrigerate – that makes it cloudy.  My husband likes a wedge of lemon in his, but I usually drink mine straight.  This is a beverage appropriate for any time of the day, and any season.

*disclaimer: This is MY sweet tea recipe.  It’s not the way my mother makes sweet tea, or my aunt makes sweet tea, or my neighbor makes sweet tea.  Everybody has their own recipe.  If you don’t like yours or if you’ve never made sweet tea, start with this one and change it to suit your taste.  Just don’t add sugar after the tea has cooled – that’s NOT sweet tea and any waiter or waitress who suggests it is needs remedial tea training.

What’s your favorite summer beverage? Got a fabulous adult beverage I need to know about? A kid-pleaser you make by the cooler-full? Jump in and share it (or any of the other prompts) at Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop!

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