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looking back

At about this time of year, I recall and then revel in the fact that it’s warm outside. That it is obviously–and officially (!)–summertime. That, as Ben pointed out, when I walk out the front door, I no longer scrunch up my face and tighten my chest and whimper something mournful about the cold air on my face. That I sat at work this week sans tights, sans sweater, even, and just fine! It’s miraculous, really. Like a different world.

And lo, there is iced coffee to be consumed! Rosé on porch steps! There are windows to open, and elusive breezes to chase! There is fresh produce in abundance at the market, ready to be eaten without the aid of the oven nor much fuss at all!

It’s a glorious time, this.

And reveling in the no-longer-cold weather is akin to recognizing any other good that once was not. While visiting my parents last weekend, I pulled out some old journals from college and flipped through the pages, finding records of my uncertainty about what to do with my life and tales of heartache and so many questions unanswered. When I moved to this city for college, I knew nothing of the life I would experience: nothing of those years of undergrad with all of their joys and trials and growth, nothing of the job I’d tumble into afterward, nothing of the home I’d make in my treasured apartment-for-one, nothing of the boy I’d eventually re-meet and make my partner for all adventure that will follow.

When my sister and her husband were in for a few days’ visit, they, Ben and I were talking about times even further back, reflecting on how not-cool we all felt at various points in our childhood and adolescence, with our unfortunate haircuts and disproportionate limbs and under-developed people skills. We realize now, in our adulthood, that we were probably cooler and less awkward than we thought, and we know, too, that we wouldn’t be our current selves if not for all of that. Maybe everyone else already has this down, but I’m still figuring it out. Sometimes I forget that I’m no longer that little girl who has no idea how to control her hair or when to stop talking.

It’s worth thinking of these things because they make me grateful. Years ago, I wondered if I’d ever discover my passions or find people by whom I’d truly feel accepted. I wasn’t sure if I’d find someone to love who would love me back. And now I have passion and friendship and even someone to love. I’m mighty glad. There remains plenty I do not know about what I want for my life. My hair is still very big, though mostly under control, thanks to a good haircut. I still talk a bit too much, surely. But I know a good deal more than my twelve-year-old self, with her misguided fashion sense and long list of fears, or my nineteen-year-old self, confused and wary and feeling alone.

We do well by looking back as we go forward.

And so, this June day, I give thanks for salad. The recipe that follows is far from elaborate, but it is crisp and delicious and healthful and summery and easy. I am all the more glad for it when I recall that a meal this simple and fresh was more than a little hard to come by in these snow-covered Midwestern parts not so many months ago.

This is a formula for a tumble of fresh vegetables, whichever are in season, that would be good on their own but also get along famously together, especially with a bit of quinoa and a mustardy vinaigrette thrown in. This is not the salad that will sweep you off your feet, true, but it is, I think, the awkward girl who might turn out quite passably — or maybe even better than that — after all.

Chopped Summer Salad with Quinoa

Recipe my own

For the salad

approximately 1/4 cup quinoa per serving (less for a light lunch, more for hungry people / a filling salad)

a variety of your favorite in-season vegetables, such as: kohlrabi, radishes, snap peas, tomatoes, zucchini

salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula and microgreens are all excellent options)


For the dressing

1/2 cup olive oil

2 – 4 tablespoons chive blossom / wine vinegar (to taste)

1 – 2 tablespoons mustard (to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced / 1 garlic scape, chopped finely

2 tablespoons red onion, minced (optional)

salt and pepper

Follow your favorite method to cook the quinoa to your liking. (Here are instructions: written or in a darling video.) Allow to cool.

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Gradually pour in the olive oil, whisking until emulsified.

Chop the vegetables into similarly-sized pieces. Mince the chives and tear the greens, if large. Toss the veggies and greens with the quinoa. Add dressing to taste and sprinkle with chives and a bit more salt and pepper if you like.


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