The Salad Bar Life

Several weeks ago, my children informed me that they were quite tired of eating. Not of actually eating….but eating. Dinners. Cooked food. And I think I do a pretty good job of providing a healthy variety of foods as a rule. I enjoy hunting down and trying new recipes and foods. But actually, their announcement couldn’t have come at a better time because, quite frankly, the ‘what’s for dinner?’ query has begun to sound like a thousand fingernails raking across a chalk board to me. REALLY grates on my nerves because I am tired of cooking.

We decided that – for the summer – we are going to live the ‘salad bar life.’

My daughter will have no problem with that. HER favorite snack, after all, is a stalk of celery with a ribbon of Ranch dressing down the center. She has been a fruit and veggie fanatic since we got her at the age of five. We are not really sure what kinds of foods she was exposed to at her Russian orphanage. We saw a lot of potatoes and potato soup and a kind of wheat gruel when we were there during meal times. The first day she spent with us in our hotel she very quickly ate her way through three bananas and an orange….which made her break out around her mouth. Later, in our Moscow hotel, she darn near ate the entire watermelon display at the American style breakfast buffet….every morning. And then there was the day, not long after our arrival at home, when her brother (who was six and a half at the time) came running into the house shrieking, ‘Stop her! Stop her before she eats the stem!’ I hurried outside to find our Russian Princess happily chomping away on the rest of an apple – core, seeds and all…but not the stem.

My son makes me wonder however. He has been suspicious of anything green or crunchy in his food since accidentally finding out around the age of nine that I had been adding shredded zucchini and carrots to my spaghetti sauce – his favorite meal. And since I am not one to cater too much to picky eaters, his plate will generally have a little pile of leftover peas when he is finished with tuna or chicken casseroles or a pile of peppers and mushrooms after pizza. He is big on any kind of potato and abhors onions and tomatoes. He likes his green beans best when they are swimming in cream of mushroom soup and smothered in dried onion rings. He does like corn however. Just like his Dad.

Hubby has been known to get up in the middle of the night and ‘snack’ on a bowl of salad. He is not much of a vegetable connoisseur however….unless its part of a pot roast. Potatoes, corn, the afore mentioned green bean casserole and an occasional carrot dish are about it for him.

I grew up with a grandfather who farmed the back half of my parents’ property in Waterford. Things like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, raspberries, rhubarb and grapes were pretty plentiful in our house. I remember a summer when a strike at my dad’s plant had us eating out of the garden for nearly every meal. I know my parents were glad to have it during that time. And we have managed to garden a little bit now and then. Mostly I tend to frequent local farm stands though. After all, I LOVE a meal of just vegetables….even if I AM eating them alone.

We spent the weekend at an out of town soccer tournament – which generally means restaurant meals where everyone’s tastes are satisfied. And no cooking for me. I was not looking forward to getting back into the kitchen routine. Now was as good of a time as any to begin our ‘new’ life. I asked each of them what they liked best at a salad bar. She just rolled her eyes and said ‘all of it.’ He thought for a moment and then added cheese, ham and bacon to the list. Hubby tossed in crunchy Chinese noodles and green peppers…oh…and beets. Hmm.

I invested in some small glass bowls with tight fitting lids. I intend to fill them with grated carrots, beet slices, garbanzo beans, new peas, bean sprouts, pineapple tidbits, chopped boiled eggs and green onions for tonight. Cheese keeps in its own bag, as do the bacon bits and grape tomatoes. Already have a container of sweet pepper slices. I’ll peel and slice a cucumber as needed. I’ve got raisins, walnuts, sunflower seeds and seasoned croutons. Oh, and his crunchy Chinese noodles. And I have a big bowl of crisp romaine lettuce ready to go.

I am actually kind of looking forward to mixing it up with other vegetables as they become more locally available. I am also planning to figure in other kinds of lettuce and greens. This is going to be fun.

But I am also a realist. My family are too carnivorous to go without meat for long. We would never make it as vegans OR vegetarians. Grilled steak and chicken are the hubby’s specialty. And they do love their Chinese/Thai takeout. Which is fine….as long as I am not cooking it.

So thus begins our summer ‘salad bar life’ experiment. I will let you know how long it lasts.


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One Comment on “The Salad Bar Life”

  1. Jim Says:

    The salad bar can be both liberating and boring. Rhonda and I love Romaine lettuce, since Iceberg seems to be little more than green tissue paper. We do spice it up with other stuff, though. We have found a five bean salad at Costco that comes in gallon jars and has a little pickle spice to it. UMMM. I am also crazy for raisins, Craisins, chopped nuts, and even shredded carrots. Any of that sound apetizing? Let me know…

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