Chopped Late-Summer Salad: eating has rarely been this good

Dear chopping and slicing summer-savers,

Hooray for Throwback Thursday! This is the day we take a field trip to visit the old blog, and steal one of the best-loved recipes from that sacred time capsule. This is one of my personal, heart-warming favorites, because I remember making it repeatedly when I was hot, tired, bored and hungry in Coronado, California! I started trying lots of variations from our CSA box at that time, and this one for some reason stuck as an outstanding, winning combination. As with all salads (like our prize-winning Overnight Cold Salad, you remember that!), you can vary, change and convert as suits your lifestyle, garden, region, favorite dietary sensitivity … So enjoy this recipe, loaded with sweet and precious memories, and let me know how much you love it, too!

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Dear reader with the Kleenex stuffed miserably up your nose,

I hear reports from my beloved, soggy Pacific Northwest that the traditional damp-weather sicknesses are plaguing and besetting them all.  Half my family contracted the dreaded strep throat in a wave of plague, and had to languish in quarantine separated from the other half which still had day jobs, school, and everyday interactions to be accomplished!

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I wished I could whack up a big bowl of this refreshing, germ-sizzling salad for them … Not only is it splendidly crunchy and delicious beyond all reason, but it packs a punch to whallop those wintery diseases in the red, chapped nose.  This recipe emerged triumphantly from a smattering of miscellaneous CSA-box produce and farmer’s market leftovers that I had lying indulgently about in my fridge – Mr H enjoyed it with a hot lunch of fry bread with hasty dipping sauce, and the whole meal was speedily assembled by myself only minutes after he requested a mid-afternoon repast.

As a practicality, if you are staggering from the black plague yourself, this salad is deathly simple to prepare.

Chopped Late-Summer Salad 

Download the recipe here

This is a splendid little salad I dreamed up when we had our first CSA membership out in Coronado, California.  I first named it Kick-the-Sickness Salad, because it seemed to be able – every time – to just wallop a burgeoning illness and send it packing!  Pair this with a glass of cold, sparkling kombucha and you have a lunch made in heaven, loaded with enough nutrition to stock you for hours.  As always, mix and match what you have available in your region, at whatever time of year you choose to make it! I like to vary the texture – some firm, some soft, some chewy – and the flavors – some neutral and fatty, some crisp and sharp.  Do you have a winning combination for a chopped salad?

3 medium-small tomatoes

1 thick slice of yellow onion

2 thick slices of cheese

1 ripe avocado

Olive Oil

White or Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Fresh-ground black pepper

Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Fresh ground cumin or taco seasoning

Coarsely chop the first four ingredients and put them in your lunch bowl.  Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil, and then a dash of vinegar.  Grind some pepper over the top (pre-ground won’t have the same effect), and sprinkle with sea salt and ground cumin or taco seasoning.  Stir together.  Eat immediately or let marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Variation: Add coarsely chopped or pickled garlic for extra power.  Add minced cilantro (my favorite!).

Download the recipe here

Life is short! Enjoy every … last … morsel!

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I really enjoyed this short sally out onto the memory highway, where recollections and amusing anecdotes come flying at me like speeding cars on the interstate. Let me know if this works for you, or if you have another genius ingredient to add!!

Cheers,

Mrs H
Also cheering you on Facebook, very facely
Snapping the best of the messes on Instagram, grammarly

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Kenyan-Style Chai Masala: how to welcome an honored guest

Welcome to my first instructional cooking video!  
Advice and pro tips? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below! 

Hodi hodi marafiki zangu, hello dear friends!

I am blessed to have two beautiful Kenyan women as neighbors, one across the street and another down the road. We all share children, dinners, stories with each other and combine our cultures and tribal knowledge. My African sisters taught me that every welcoming and gracious home in Kenya has a pot of hot chai masala on the stove, ready to serve an honored guest at the drop of a Masai headdress. I posted about this hospitable tradition on my Instagram account and it got a lot of feedback there and on Facebook – it’s hard to say what my muzungu friends were more excited about: the recipe for chai masala, or the thought of dropping in on friends, unexpected!

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There are 1,001 ways to make chai masala, and they are all right. There are millions of different spice blends, milks and creams and bases, and every one is unique and delicious!

Kenyan-Style Chai Masala

Watch the instructional video, and read and download the recipe below!

Download recipe PDF here

Chai spices*
Loose or bagged black tea, about 3 teaspoons per half-gallon
Milk**, water, cream or a combination of any of these
Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, sucanat or another sweetener to taste

The goal is to heat the liquid, and get the tea and spices to soak in this liquid for about ten minutes, and sweeten the tea. You can do this many different ways.

Method 1: Fill the pot with liquid. Sprinkle in tea and spices – you’ll find that preferences vary, but I like a few teaspoons’ amount of each.  Turn to medium heat and slowly warm for about ten to fifteen minutes, to just below simmering. Strain out spices and tea leaves; add sweetener and whisk briskly. Serve hot or cold!

Method 2: Fill the pot with liquid. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat; sprinkle in spices and tea and let steep for ten minutes. Pour through a strainer; add sweetener, stirring to dissolve. Serve to a lucky guest!

A note on straining: You can strain through a fine mesh sieve, or layer cheesecloth in it to really get out the tiny grit. I find I prefer it to be very finely strained!

*A note on chai spices: I love the Kenyan blend that my sisters bring back from Africa, but you can also find beautiful blends from India, other countries and also in the US. I’ve found some wonderfully fresh and fragrant blends from the high-quality spice purveyor www.marketspice.com in my native Seattle. Yes, you can order online! The Spicy Seattle Chai is outstanding. Look for blends that are just pure spices, no added flavorings, sugars, or other non-essential ingredients. Some spice blends are ground very fine; others are coarse or may have whole coriander, cloves et cetera. Explore with abandon!  Invent your own!

**A note on milk: You can use just milk. Just water. A mixture; almond milk, coconut milk, goat’s milk. I use raw cow’s milk most of the time, and mix it with up to 50% water. It depends on what’s available! Slightly sour milk is perfect.

Download recipe PDF here

How do you welcome guests into your home?  Do you enjoy unexpected drop-ins?

Mrs H
Killin time on Instagram – it’s a slow death
Fresh faces on Facebook. Are you a bookie, too?

As seen on The Prairie Homestead Round-Up