Monday, July 26, 2010

Reach and Relax Salad

"Do you just keep wearing yourself down to the point of near death so that you can feel grateful to be alive?" Christina asked, as I stood hunched over the counter after a 17 mile run. My clothes were soaking wet. My shorts clung to my thighs stinging in places where the hem had chapped my skin. My calves felt like they were being pulled back and clipped tight with clothespins. A thin layer of salt was caked on my forehead, which crinkled and cracked like glazing on a donut every time I wrinkled my brow.

"I guess so, yeah!" I replied, and then I shoved a small piece of Ulle's Honey Pumpernickel bread into my mouth. Ulle's is my new favorite bakery.

Mr. Ulle (I am guessing that is his name) is a large German man who bakes traditional German breads and pastries out of one oven, then sells them at the farmers market. His business is still small enough that he can manage all the baking himself, so the product tastes like it has been made with love. I had been standing in front of his booth for awhile that morning while I was at work. I was questioning him about his business. Every time a person lingered by he would pull out a toothpick, open up a little Tupperware container, and offer them a sample of pastry. Then he would glance sideways, and slowly pull out another toothpick and hand me one, out of obligation. I took the sample, also out of obligation, but felt bad about it. I wasn't really there to shop, technically I was working.

I confess that the only reason I bought the bread was because I felt guilty for gobbling up all his free samples. Now I was so thankful that I did. This one loaf of bread was the only morsel of pre-prepared easily digestible carbohydrate left in the house. I smeared it with salty butter and chewed it slowly until the nausea started to fade.

I forced my legs to straighten, and my calves began to unclasp releasing a tingling acidic burn which washed into the bottoms of my feet. Normally, now would be the time that I would return to my computer and get some work done, but Christina's words sunk to my heart. The pushing yourself to the limit strategy is not completed if I don't take the time to do the other half of the cycle: allow myself to fully feel grateful to be alive.

I was not particularly looking forward to sitting at my desk, so I decided to take the night off. After a hot shower I jumped giddily into bed, pulled the covers up to my neck, and cracked open a good book while moon climbed up the skies golden ladder of clouds.

Reach and Relax salad
1 small bunch baby Swiss chard
baby green leaf lettuce (or mixed baby greens)
1 cup crisp pea pods
1/4 cup shelled peas (for garnish)
edible flowers (for garnish)

Mango Sweet Onion Dressing
1 mango
1/4 medium vidalia onion
1 Tbsp grape seed or sunflower oil
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

In a small food processor, blend together all ingredients (except the poppy seeds. Fold poppy seeds in and adjust seasonings to taste.

Christina's vote: "This salad was worth the risk of failing a drug test (due to the poppy seeds)"

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