“You make plans, and God laughs.” This is something my Mom always used to say. It was her way of telling me that no matter how much I tried to carve out my own destiny, there was no way of knowing how things would turn out. She wanted me to let go a little, chase my dreams for sure, but let things unfold without forcing them or being disappointed when things turned out differently than planned. And as the years pass, I think I’m getting better at rolling with it – though it takes a bit of effort on my part. Take this blog for example.
I began this blog because I wanted to really focus on finding interesting and unique vegetarian and vegan food. I wanted to share my ideas on healthy eating and help other veggie eaters out there figure out how to navigate the meat-centric restaurant market. And I’ve done that, to an extent anyway. But when I talk to readers about my blog, they all say the same thing: I love the writing. Sure, the pictures are nice and the food looks good, but I love the stories.
This is, of course, a very wonderful compliment, one that makes me feel all happy and embarrassed at the same time. Because the truth is, I can be pretty shy in person. Once I get to know people, I’m good to go, but until then it’s all awkwardness and uncomfortable silence. I’m much more comfortable hiding behind my computer screen and the great veil of the Internet than I am taking photos at a restaurant or asking my server what the cook would be willing to make for a vegetarian. And anyway, every time I make a dish to be featured on my blog, I think about what drew me to the dish in the first place and what it reminds me of, and off I go down Memory Lane or into my imaginary future, and the stories emerge.
So I’m going to roll with it. I’ll rework the “About” section in a few days and start thinking about a face lift for the blog. I’m no longer a vegetarian cook writing a blog. I’m a writer with a cooking blog. Sound good? Good.
And if you need something to munch on while you mull all of this over, may I suggest this Mexican chopped salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette? Bright, cheerful cilantro dressing tossed with crisp fresh veggies, roasted peppers, pinto beans, and fresh avocados, and served over greens. It’s summery and delightful enough to make you forget all about the great existential debate over whether we control our own destiny. Eat the salad, roll with it (pun intended). It might not be the adventure you planned for, but it’s always an adventure.
Mexican Chopped Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup corn kernels
2/3 cup finely chopped red onion
3 red bell peppers, roasted, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces
6 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 15oz can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 tomatoes, diced
3 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
Combine the cucumbers, corn kernels, red onions, roasted bell peppers, celery, and beans in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette (recipe below) to taste. Mound salad greens on a plate and top with veggie and dressing mixture. Add diced tomatoes and avocados on top and drizzle with additional dressing if desired.
1/3 cup chopped red onion
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
Process all ingredients except the oils in a blender or food processor until smooth. Gradually add the oils with the machine running. Add salt and pepper to taste.