Between driving to and from the hospital, mowing the lawn and walking the dogs my brain has had rather a lot of downtime lately.
For those of you who don’t know, my mind has a disconcerting tendency to wander down little-trodden paths at the best of times.
Here are a few of the random thoughts and observations that have tripped across the neurons of late:
What happened to the ‘Second World’ countries?
The pundits talk about First World and Third World…. What happened to Second World?
Why do Europeans insist on driving standard transmissions? Since the technology is available (automatic transmissions) why hasn’t it been accepted? After spending 15 minutes in stop & go traffic on a hill yesterday…. Why would anyone want to do that when they don’t have to? It’s only fun for the first day or two, after that it’s a pain in the ass. All the cars have cup holders; why not automatics?
Farmers keep bovine families together here. The bulls are right in the same field as the cows and calves. I’ve never seen that in the U.S. Yes, they are proper BIG bulls, and, usually, several of them.
On a mountain hike in Andorra, we were passing through a large herd in one of the upper pastures. A woman walking near me (a proper lady from the American south) was a little afraid and had heard that bulls could be dangerous. Attempting to be prepared, she asked me how to tell a cow from a bull. She was 50 years old.
I kindly explained that, from the front they are about 50% more massive than the cows, and from the rear…. Well, LOOK! (You stupid twit!)
She figured it out.
Europeans (at least, some) take driving seriously. One drives on the right and passes on the left. If one is in the passing lane, and not passing quickly enough, the driver behind flashes lights to gently encourage one to get the f*** out of the way. They would never consider moving into the non-passing lane to get around.
The other day a car was merging next to me. I moved over into the left lane to pass and allow him to merge. He was already going faster than I was (bad lad!) but, rather than pull ahead, he braked and waited for me to move back into the proper, right lane. Than he pulled out and passed me like I was standing still… But using the proper lane.
We never see two conscientious drivers going side by side at exactly the speed limit here.
Prescription drug are all sold in small, pre-packaged, dated, blister cards here, 30 days maximum. There are no loose pills in the pharmacies, no impossible to open child-proof plastic bottles.
Plus, the pharmacists are trained in mushrooms! You take your haul in, they’ll sort through, getting rid of the poisonous ones (if any) and give you a mini-lesson.
There will also be a chart of edible, local plants, herbs and flowers… so one can pick a salad whilst walking the dogs and staring down bulls – the country version of multi-tasking.
We eat a lot of lettuce and other greens in spring and early summer. Because we eat local produce (normally, from my garden), we don’t eat salads during the rest of the year.
So, if it seems like I’m stuck in salad gear, it’s because it’s salad season!
We eat salads for first courses, light lunches and hearty dinners.
We add meat, fish, potatoes, rice, pasta and just about any vegetable that’s in the fridge. They replace risotto as my favorite way to use up leftover bits.
And I always make my own dressing with fresh herbs from the garden, usually tarragon and chives.
Tarragon has a slight anise flavor to it, and it works wonderfully with fish, chicken, and (for me) anything with mustard. If you want to grow it be careful to get French Tarragon, which you need to buy as a plant. Most seeds are really Russian Tarragon which is a gorgeous plant but almost tasteless… not worth the effort to snip!
This salad and vinaigrette are being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, started by Kalyn, of Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted this week by Maninas, of Maninas: Food Matters. Visit her blog on Monday for the complete recap.
Composed Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
2oz (60gr) ham
2 eggs, hard boiled
6 cherry tomatoes
1/3 red pepper
1 oz feta cheese
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Cook eggs. Slice ham into strips. Clean pepper and slice 1/3 of it into thin strips. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Wash and dry lettuce, leaving leaves whole if possible. Cut the avocado in half and remove pit Wrap half in cling film and place, cut side down, on a plate and refrigerate. When eggs are done, cool, peel and slice or quarter. Make Vinaigrette.
To assemble: Lay lettuce leaves flat on 2 large plates. Arrange ham, pepper, tomatoes, eggs and avocado artfully on lettuce. Crumble and sprinkle feta over the top. Drizzle with 2 tbs of dressing and serve, remaining dressing on the side.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
2 tsp honey
1 tbs tarragon white wine vinegar
4 tbs olive oil – the good stuff
1 tsp snipped fresh tarragon
1 tsp snipped fresh chives
In a small bowl whisk mustard, honey and vinegar. Add olive oil and whisk until incorporated – this will get very thick. Add tarragon, chives and stir well to combine. This will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Mon mari is home, the girls are happy… And I’m still mowing the damn grass!