THE AMISH COOK: Gloria springs into salad
Ah, this Spring weather gets me going.
I can’t wait to start planting the garden. Daniel plowed our garden plot a couple days ago in hopes to have it dry out faster. Digging deeper by plowing also helps some of those buried nutrients get closer to the surface where the plants will take be taking root. The way it sounds, we have more rain coming the next couple of days, so we’ll try to stay patient. There’s just nothing like fresh goodies from the garden. Equally fulfilling is watching the children’s eyes widen with delight, as they help harvest veggies straight from plants they started from seed, weeded and helped keep watered.
A couple girls from our church own a greenhouse, and have been experimenting with growing greens all winter long. That is quite impressive if you ask me! Fresh, nutritious salad greens in December is surely an amazing experience. Even children will eat salads better if it’s made of tender, young greens, fresh from the patch. We have found, too, that having a good dressing on the salad does go a long way, whether you’re feeding youngsters or even Daddy. Daniel is just like my dad has been for as long as I can remember; to them, it’s not worth eating a salad if you don’t have some good old-fashioned homemade dressing to go with it.
Another alternative I’ve found when it comes to salad in the dead of winter (or when you run out of patience waiting for spring) is sprouting your own seeds. It doesn’t take nearly as long as planting and waiting until your lettuce is ready to harvest; not only that, but you can keep growing it on your countertop through every inch of rain that falls relentlessly outdoors.
Talking about rain, yesterday when Julia stepped inside after her walk home from school she said, “Mom, I know what we could do to help the garden dry off faster. We could use buckets and dip the water out of those furrows.” Bless her heart. Obviously, she heard Daniel and I discussing the matter the day before, and noticed all the water that still needed to dry out as she walked past the garden.
I went with her to investigate, and, yes, she was correct. Gardening does look like it could be a little way off yet, but this really can be an example to the children for being thankful for the weather God sends us, and not spend time pining over it.
Flowers are another thing I enjoy, but I want (and need) to keep things basic this year. Never again will I have Summer with two one-year-old boys and a two-year-old girl. As my aunt would say, “Your flowers run around.” Yes, I wouldn’t trade my darlings for the world’s most stunning flowers. And neither do I want my little ones to grow up with the memory of Mom constantly saying, “No, no, don’t pick Mommy’s flowers!”
One goal I do have, is to grow a few nice, long rows of flowers in the garden, solely for the children to be able to go out and pick bouquets. I’m not sure what kind it’ll be yet; perhaps some gladiolus and freesias Cousin Owen gave us. Since Owen is staying at our house, we also have the blueberry plants he planted in large totes a year ago. A brainy idea, so he could just move it with him. I can just see the little boys’ hands reach up and pick fresh berries–that is, if we can keep their hands off long enough to allow the berries to ripen.
As we think of Spring, how about trying a spring salad and our homemade dressing?
Gloria’s Spring Salad
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 cup sprouted alfalfa seeds
1 hard boiled egg, diced
1/4 cup each of the following:
Ham or chicken, diced
Raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans or nuts of your choice
Cut veggies, ham and bacon into chunks. Toss everything together. We prefer using chopped pecans and lightly browning them in a tablespoon of melted butter, then sprinkling them with salt. This adds an outstanding flavor to the entire salad. Last but not least, remember to toss in only what strikes your fancy and don’t be limited to these options.
Sweet and Sour Dressing
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seed, optional
Mix and drizzle over salad. Extra dressing will store refrigerated for months. I like making up to 8 batches of this at a time and using it for tossed salads. Daniel even likes drizzling it over some types of casseroles.