"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein
Some of my favorite things to do are so simple: pajama day with the family, taking a walk while listening to my favorite songs on my iPod, having the whole family together at the dinner table, reading a book by the pool, or simply talking to my husband over a glass of wine.
I love the sound of my children laughing (especially when they are getting along with each other and laughing together). It makes my day when my mom calls me in a good mood. My heart fills with hope and joy when my dad is happy. You wouldn't believe my delight when I go to hug Jack and he doesn't flinch away from me in disgust. This usually only happens when he's half asleep. My dog, Mustard, makes me joyful when I come home and he smiles at me while bouncing around sideways. Yes, he actually bares his teeth and gives me a big smile. It's fantastic.
Fresh, fruity Strawberry & Spinach Salad
Bumblebees, butterflies, fireflies, and dragonflies make my day. The blossom of a vegetable that is about to grow in my garden makes me smile. The new strange flowers growing out of the top of the palm tree in my backyard are delightful. The realization that I have slept in past 9 a.m., talking on the phone with an old friend, or sipping coffee outside while the birds chirp are all amazing experiences. Yes, simple but incredible.
The other day, I sat with Daphne and her friend, Phoenyx, on the floor of my closet going through boxes of old photographs. That was some simple fun. The old hairstyles, those high waist shorts, and all of the memories of friends made me feel extremely happy. I posted a few on Facebook to share with those friends. They loved seeing the old pictures too. This one simple task led to making others smile too.
Sometimes the simplest tasks are the best experiences. These uncomplicated experiences often produce the most peaceful or blissful feelings. I find that this applies to food as well. Some of my favorite dishes are the simplest: Piedemontese peppers (3 ingredients), Lemon pasta (3 ingredients), a slice of avocado on a piece of toast with a squeeze of lemon, salmon in foil (15 minutes to prepare), roasted or grilled vegetables, and now - spinach and strawberry salad.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Time: 10 minutes
4 cups fresh, washed and dried, spinach leaves
6 strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons pepitas
1 avocado, sliced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette dressing (recipe follows)
Divide the ingredients above into two bowls.
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
dash of salt and pepper
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Whisk together. Pour over salad.
My neighbor, Sunny, left a huge bag of spinach in my refrigerator the other day because she was leaving town for a vacation in Florida. She dropped off her parakeets, which I am babysitting, and some veggies. She didn't want the veggies to spoil in her refrigerator while she was away and knew I would make good use of them. So, yesterday, I took the spinach out of the fridge and looked at it for a while as I decided what I would make with it. My initial thought was to saut the spinach with onions and garlic. Then, I thought of a spinach omelet. I remembered this delicious Thai salad I ate a while ago at a restaurant. The menu read, "Our signature dish: an award winning spinach salad." Well, I ordered this. It came to the table and the spinach was fried. I was surprised to get a fried spinach salad. This was probably the most delicious spinach salad I had ever eaten. It was crispy and topped with the tastiest tangy and sweet dressing. I didn't know how to make this particular salad and it was too complicated for what I was in the mood to do. I was looking for effortless yet delicious.
I spied a bowl of strawberries on the counter. What about a spinach and strawberry salad? It doesn't take any cooking and it would be undemanding, but I thought it would be delicious. I sliced the strawberries, grabbed a ripe avocado, and got to work. I like the taste of balsamic vinegar on strawberries and on avocados. I decided that a simple balsamic dressing would be the perfect complement to this salad. I was right. The combination of these few ingredients makes a salad that is easy to prepare but it is amazingly delicious and satisfying. It's colorful, flavorful and complex.
The deep red strawberries on the vibrant green spinach are beautiful to look at. The flavors of all of the vegetables and fruits combined with the balsamic create a more sophisticated taste.
Daphne woke up just as I was putting this all together. It was noon. I read somewhere that teenagers need lots of sleep and use this as an excuse to let she and Jack sleep in very late in the summer. Really, it's not because I want less time with two hormonal teenagers. I swear! When Daphne came into the kitchen, she wanted me to make her one of these salads too. Luckily, because of the salad's ease of preparation, I could throw one together for her in no time. She and I enjoyed the salad together, alone in the kitchen. She told me about her dreams the night before. I couldn't have been happier. Ahh - simple pleasures.