(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman by Carole King
So what IS a natural woman anyway? Does it involve a way of life? Does it embody a point of view? Are we embracing a particular stage of life here or are all stages eligible? Are natural women sans silicone or artificial joints or must they be as they were on the day they were born? I was on my way to making this favorite holiday salad and I ran into a women's issue. Read on ~
So, last post I was raving about my Dad's stuffing and how he was Commander-In-Chief in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Today I'd like to give my mother her fair share of kudos for creating some of those wonderful dishes that graced our feasting table as well.
I can't remember a single Thanksgiving growing up that didn't have a Waldorf Salad on the table. I remember my approach to eating the salad - I would eat each ingredient one at a time. For instance, I'd pick out all the apple pieces and eat them and then I'd move on to the celery, then the raisins, and then, if I was feeling like it, I'd eat the walnuts. And those are pretty much the ingredients that make up the salad. It's mixed with a mayonnaise-based dressing and you have a tasty dish with tarts, sweets, and texture. Every bite is satisfaction!
I didn't have a recipe to follow as I'm sure my mother didn't follow one as well. She just winged it, as she did most of her cooking. I decided to wing it as well. For color, I decided on two kinds of apples - Golden Delicious and Fuji.
You don't peel your apples for this salad, which, not only gives you color, but really cuts down on the prep time!
I toasted my walnuts to enhance their flavor and, for the dressing, I decided to cut back on the mayonnaise and substitute some of my homemade yogurt in its place.
And then it came down to these.
While I was shopping for the ingredients, I got to thinking that I liked the idea of using grapes in place of the raisins. I went ahead and bought some red Globe grapes but, just to be on the safe side, I bought some raisins, too.
Once home, the slicing and chopping began and, before I knew it, I had before me a beautiful salad. I tasted it. It was good! Very good! Mom would be proud! But the face of that SunMaid raisin girl caught my eye as she sat on my counter - just begging to be part of the fun. And then the issue arose. Did I dare toss those raisins - in essence, dried up grapes - in with its more plump, and, dare I say, younger version of itself?
The salad suddenly took on a personal note. I sometimes feel like a raisin. I'm not quite the perky little grape I used to be, you know? Most of the time I'm fine - loving the wisdom and experiences I've had that have gotten me to this raisin stage. But now and then it stings a little. Like when I'm in my water aerobics class - with many other arthritic and older women - and, right in the middle of class, a young "grape" emerges from the steam room or sauna in her little bikini and saunters across the length of the pool towards the locker room. Ouch!
I was afraid if I added the raisins it'd be like that pool scene or a reenactment of the parking lot scene from "Fried Green Tomatoes!" You remember, where Kathy Bates' character is about to pull into the parking spot and some young chick swings into it with her sporty little car and says something snotty about being younger and faster. Bates response is priceless. She rams her substantially larger car into the little car repeatedly, laughing the whole time. When the young gal comes running out and asks if she's crazy, Bates replies, "I'm older - and I have more insurance!" Ha! Brilliant!
I didn't want animosity in my salad. I wanted harmony. I decided I'd do a trial run by adding a few raisins on a spoonful of the salad. Why add to the whole shebang and risk ruining the whole thing?
The taste test made my eyebrows go up. Hmmm. These girls play well together! There's no ugly drama going on here. There's no pool envy or parking lot anger! The older girls completely make this salad! But you wouldn't want to be without the younger ones either. Just to be sure, I had my daughter do a "with and without" spoon taste test as well. She didn't even hesitate. "With raisins" was her quick verdict. I shared with her my hesitation to mix the old ladies with the younger ones and I garnered a common reaction. "You're soooo weird!"
So, weirdness aside, I stand by my combination of grapes and raisins! They're both natural woman, after all!
Apple Walnut Salad
serves 8 - 10
2 green or yellow apples, such as Granny Smith's or Golden Delicious
2 red apples, such as Fuji or Gala
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 c. walnut pieces, toasted
2 stems of grapes, halved and seeded, if necessary
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
2 T. sugar
Core the apples and chop into bite-size pieces. Squeeze the juice of the half lemon over the cut apples to keep them from turning brown. Add the chopped celery, toasted walnuts, grapes, and raisins.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, and sugar and whisk together well. Add the dressing to the apple mix and stir to coat thoroughly. Peace and harmony!