Lately, when I have been frolicking in Ward Lake, the ducks have seemed to move in closer than ever. I am duck-friendly, but I have to ask, why are they getting closer each time I am on the dock? Do I smell like potato chips? Do they sense that certain individuals have an array of snacks in our satchels? Today I heard ducks squabbling, at least that’s what I assume the aggressive quacking was. I think they were tussling over who got dibs on my honeydew melon and peanut butter sandwich cookies. Allow me to be clear: I never intentionally feed them. I have to set a fine example for my children of noninterference with wildlife, even if what passes for wildlife are Pringles-addicted waterfowl. But despite my policy, they mill around with their unreadable duck faces, waiting for the day I come to the lake without children and chum the water with a bucket of chopped oreos.
Or maybe their fractious squawking was due to the same summer’s end ailment I have been experiencing. I get wistful and cross when August draws to a close. Change is hard, as we used to say whenever our children would wail during a diaper change. Transitions can be painful. I really want a chance to get sick to death of summer, to say things like: “If I have to eat another slice of crisp watermelon and feel the sun on my face one more minute I am going to lose it!” My sister-in-law tells me that I am not at peace with the seasons of life. The ebb and flow? No, I don’t really care for it. It’s true I can be pro-wax, anti-wane.
But in the midst of my whining and waning, I did make a vastly cheering salad that two friends went cuckoo for. It involved beets, so some of you are tuning our right now, and I get that. I am crazy for the wacky little tubers myself, but I know a lot of folks can’t get past the fact that they taste like dirt.
I had a beet salad at Brasserie Four in Walla Walla where my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. It was so fantastic that I asked the waitress what was in the dressing, and she wrote it all down for me. Can you believe that? I was so elated. That never happens to me at restaurants and if there had actually been real, live French people there, it never would have. The French are a lot of things, but they are not keen to write down a recipe; I think they figure if you don’t know how to properly infuse a Prosecco-based vinaigrette, then you can just go hang your head in shame at McDonalds! Thai restaurants are the worst though. I have come close to weeping as I begged to know what was in the peanut sauce. JUST TELL ME SO I CAN MAKE IT AT HOME AND HAVE IT NOT TASTE LIKE SILLY PUTTY. But no, nothing.
But I don’t have to hang my head in shame at McDonald’s! At least not over this. I steamed some beets, sliced some fennel and tried to mandoline some carrots. Yikes, I would have had better luck rubbing them back and forth on a mandolin while someone was strumming out a tune. I’ll figure that contraption out another day. Just grate the carrots with whatever. Chop some flat-leaf parsley, and then either stack it all tidy like they did at the restaurant, or toss with this vinaigrette. See if it mollifies your Seasonal Dissociation Disorder. That flower on top is a nasturtium, an old favorite of mine with a radishy bite.
No Shame Dressing for your Malaise Mollifying Salad
Mix olive oil and champagne vinaigrette in a 3.1 ratio, add a chopped shallot, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and honey. Do all this to taste, and don’t ask me for exact proportions because I am just enough French on my paternal grandmother’s side so I can’t be bothered, sorry.
P.S. They call this Trois Salad. I think that’s charming. I actually said, “Oh, does Trois mean beets?” Ah, no, it means three, as in Menage a…oh yes, how could I forget? Oops!