The Salad Surprise

So there I was, feeling all virtuous about my Sunday dinner planning. My husband and son were having steak and fries but I was going lo-co and making a one-person salad using lettuce from my CSA farm share, topped with warm chicken (which I had roasted 2 days ago!) avocado and tomato.

Nevermind that this plan came together at, oh, 6:30 pm with me getting provisions on the way home from tennis. I’d had all day to plan a healthy dinner – my son’s baseball game was cancelled – but I was busy, OK? Had to upgrade our iPhones to iOS 5.

And let me just say that my upgrade went fine but my husband’s, not so much. Sigh.

But I got that fixed…and exercised…and shopped…and so now it’s 7:00 pm on Sunday night, and we are making dinner together: Michael grilling away and me shredding lettuce. Such a warm family tableau (please ignore that our son is on computer for 8th straight hour.)

I even scored points with my husband by pre-heating the oven for the french fries he was cooking and which I was NOT going to eat.

They were short-lived points. Lasted only until the timer binged and the fries were not even remotely crispy.

What had happened was this: I had pre-heated the oven to its default 350. Michael opened the Ore-Ida bag, cookie-sheeted the fries and shoved it in without noting the baking temperature needed to be 450 (see prior post about men and directions).

So now it’s 7:30 and we have one nice-looking, totally lo-co salad, two perfect steaks and very mushy fries. With much husbandly grumbling, up went the oven temp and in again went the fries.

Finally, at 7:45, we sit down to eat. Our son takes one look at his plate, heaped with steak and fries and broccoli and says, ‘THANKS, this looks great.’

Then he glances at my big bowl of salad and his eyebrows raise. Doesn’t say a word, but doesn’t have to. He is visibly sad for me.

Ordinarily, I’d add the fact that I’d passed down my I HATE SALAD feelings to the ever-growing list of my failures as a mom. But in this case, I’m off the hook as he is allergic to lettuce. (Truly – allergist said so, ridiculous as it seems.)

So I smile and say, “I think my salad looks great.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

“Uh, sure Mom,” my son mutters and shovels in a forkful of steak.

Still sweetly smiling at him, I take a bite, then spit it out. ”Uh, honey?” says my husband. “What’s the matter?”

“It’s, um, really chewy.” I try another lettuce leaf thinking maybe something was wrong with the first piece. But no, the second is the same. “And, it tastes like dirt.”

“Did you wash it?” I roll my eyes at my husband. Luckily my son is transfixed by his so-not-low-cholesterol dinner. (See, I really am a terrible mother.)

“Sorry,” my husband says. “That was a stupid question.” I nod. (You know this conversation, right?) “What kind of lettuce is it?” he asks. “Green leaf, is what I thought,” I say. “But it’s really weird – bitter and chewy.”

After gulping my Montepulciano (what, I didn’t mention my wine?) I go over to my Mac and search for the ‘what’s in your box this week’ email explaining what’s in this week’s CSA farm share. As I read it, I start to laugh.

“What is it, Mom?” (Oh, so the 16 year old was listening…who knew?) “Escarole,” I say. “What’s that?” he asks. “A green that you usually cook,” I say. “Not eat raw in salads.”  Staring at my bowl of green uncooked leaves, he says, “So you CAN’T eat it raw?”

“No, you CAN,” I say. “But apparently,” I continue, reading from my screen, “it tends to be chewy and bitter unless you cook it.”

“Oh.” My son turns to my husband. “Dad can you pass the steak please?” My son holds the platter out to me. “There’s plenty left, Mom.”

But I don’t spear a piece of steak. Instead, I pour another glass of wine – a big one – and slowly eat the uncooked escarole topped with no-longer-warm-chicken, avocado and tomato. The wine gets me through it. Well, most of it.

Later, I reward myself with Mallomars. Did you know they are back ‘in season‘ (not even joking), so are piled high at supermarket cash registers everywhere right now. This is a real problem for me.  Almost as bad as Easter candy and Girl Scout cookies.

I wonder if 2, 3 OK OK, it was 4 Mallomars (with a glass of skim milk, I’ll have you know) has more cholesterol than steak and fries.

If I can get up the courage to look, I’ll let you know.

Going Lo-Co is a blog about one woman's journey to lower cholesterol without medication via food and lifestyle changes and the crazy things that happen along the way.  Read more at www.golowcholesterol.com.

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