Sweet Pain Salad

August 27, 2012



We still have some 90-degree days in our arsenal, but I can feel, just slightly, the beckoning of autumn. Mornings sometimes require the donning of jackets, and on the way to the bus stop last week, the girls spied a few maple leaves turning crimson. The trees always know things before we do.

We only have one full week of school under our belts, but we’re adjusting. Sort of. Miss M. is still zonk-out exhausted at the end of the day; this full-day first grade stuff takes a lot out of a girl. Miss D. is grudgingly accepting a tougher homework load, with only a few pouts and sulks. I am no longer a manic cleaning machine. I’m starting to appreciate the quiet house that greets me after the pilgrimage to the morning bus stop. It’s still eerie and catches me off guard, but I’m getting there.

I don’t know why I expected that I’d immediately return to the kitchen and the keyboard, full-throttle, the minute the girls were out of the house.  I do that sometimes, this over-estimating of my abilities and my energy. Truth is, I was wiped out last week. Perhaps I had an emotional hangover after all of the weeping and hand-wringing I’d done on the first day of school? Perhaps I forgot how much my soul and psyche resist change? Perhaps I forgot, as I forget every year, the deluge of paperwork and forms that come home from school, demanding my attention?

Whatever the cause, I did not leap into the kitchen and whip up gourmet dinners. Nor did I sit down and write anything meaningful, and I barely made inroads on my Google Reader. It just didn’t happen.

What did happen:

  • I went to the dermatologist to get my sun spots and pre-cancerous patches on my face zapped. I now look like the 102nd Dalmation. Seriously, call me spot. While I was there, she took another look at my pathetic mop of shedding hair. Still pretty grim. I left feeling so gorgeous!  I looked even more gorgeous a few days later, when the spots really started to darken. Arf. I’m hoping they’ll flake off soon.
  • I tortured a young pedicurist with my calloused feet. I haven’t had a pedicure in what, a year? The layer of skin on my feet was thicker than a tortoise shell. Poor thing had to use a grater on those puppies.
  • I made an appointment for my yearly physical. Ick. I also made long overdue appointments with the dentist, the orthodontist, the optometrist and the hairdresser. I wonder what my hairdresser is going to say about my bald patches?
  • I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in almost a year, even though she lives within a half hour of me (ouch).
  • I did lots and lots of laundry.
  • I took long walks around a nearby lake. I’d like to say that these daily constitutionals cleared my head, but I spent every walk fretting about the following: Miss M., Miss D., my hair, Mama, my spots, vicious geese, contracting the West Nile virus.
  • I invited Mama and Daddy up for Sunday lunch, which finally (!!) motivated me to get in the kitchen.
  • I dodged bullets from the nifty Nerf gun that the Minxes got from grandpa. I also had to admonish them that my ass is not a target. It may be large and enticing, but a target it ain’t.


It was a mix of good and bad, last week, but I’ll take it. Especially a lovely Sunday lunch with my parents and a rousing game of Apples to Apples afterward. Grandma won in a surprise upset. Who knew that Miss D. thinks camels=gorgeous? Apparently, Mama does. She is so wise.

About that lunch. Mama told me not to go to a lot of bother, as she always does, and of course, I bothered. But I was glad to do so, because Sunday lunch is an occasion.  And honestly, I needed an occasion to motivate me to get cookin’. It was still steamy weather outside, so most of the cooking took place on the grill, but I also made this stunner of a salad.

This is a show-stopper. And it should be, because the homemade dressing for it is a little time-consuming and some of the ingredients are pricey. This is a salad to make for people you love dearly. It definitely impresses and boy, is it good. My two little sharp-shooters wanted nothing to do with this dish, but everyone else devoured it. My kids don’t “do” blue cheese. Fair enough–more for me! Truly, I could have eaten just the salad for lunch and been perfectly content.  So hop on out to the market and make this one while the nectarines and peaches are running sweet! In no time, the winds will blow and we’ll be looking at pumpkins. But not quite yet. Please, not quite yet.



Nectarine and Blue Cheese Salad with Plum Vinaigrette

(slightly adapted from Bon Appetit magazine)

serves 8

2 black plums, halved, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons ume plum vinegar or red wine vinegar

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 cups mixed greens

4 nectarines, white nectarines or peaches, halved, pitted and cut into eighths

8 ounces very good blue cheese, such as Cabrales or Maytag

1/2 cup toasted nuts (I used pecans) of your choice


Bring plums and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally and mashing plums with the back of a large spoon, until plums have completely broken down, about 15 minutes.

Pour plum mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve. Let puree cool.

Add oil, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water to puree; whisk to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (dressing can be made up to one week ahead) Cover and chill.

On a large platter, mound greens. Scatter nectarines, crumbles of blue cheese and nuts over greens. Drizzle some of the dressing over the top. Season with salt and pepper.



{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer August 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

It sounds like you were pretty productive to me, and this looks really good. I love peaches.


dawn August 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hey girl; peaches are fresh off the western slope right now, right? When we’re out there in Aug, we order a case of peaches and when we arrive home in MN they have only been off the trees for maybe 36 hours

About the “feet”,, this made me think of a laugh I shared w/husband this weekend. We were sanding cabinets with an electric sander. I asked if there were speeds on that thing; because it would be great if you would use it on those heels of yours!! He laughed, actually, um, I was serious :)


Arnebya August 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Although I didn’t watch it often, there is one episode of Martin that I recall where the character Shenehneh (did I lose you yet?) owned a nail salon. She had a customer, Myra, and only she could do Myra’s feet. “You gots to go to work on Myra’s feet!” She put on safety glasses and pulled out a blow torch, then a chisel, then an electric sander. That image always stuck with me after I met my husband because “Holy shit, you’ve got Myra’s feet.”


TKW August 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm


I loved that show! And yes, my feet require a blowtorch and a chisel. The shame!


TKW August 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm


bring the sander over now. And the wine. We’ll shave the heck out of those things!


Arnebya August 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I will have you know that there are fake pumpkins in the grocery store here and (gasp!) Halloween decorations in at least one eerily presumptive CVS. We’re still in the 90s this week and while yes, I am ready for them to go away, I’m not fully ready for autumn either. Also, nectarines mmmmm. Also also, still sounds like you had a busy week. And also too, my boy likes bleu cheese on his salad. (If it’s any consolation, though, the girls will have no part of it).


TKW August 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm


Your boy can eat salad at my house any time.


BigLittleWolf August 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I remember those first 2 or 3 weeks of school all too well, including the adjustments (for the mother!!!) to homework, energy levels, and all the damn forms…

Sounds to me like you’re hanging in and then some! (As for this fantabulous looking salad, I don’t “do” blue cheese either, but it otherwise looks pretty spectacular.)

If only I hadn’t just shipped off my Peach-and-Nectarine Pie-making college student… He’d take this on, and likely devour it!


TKW August 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm


You have (had) a pie-making student? Oh my heavens. You are one lucky girl.


leslie August 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Sigh….I wish we could wear jackets.
You are making the Dr. rounds. I need to get to the dermatologist too, they alway lop off bunches of spots on me too. I suppose that is what I get for laying out in the sun EVERY day after school..with my Mom yelling from the balcony…”Don’t forget to put the betadine in the baby oil honey, It will make you tan faster!”
Fast forward 20 years, Ummmm, yeah, Thanks Mom.


TKW August 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm


That’s funny. None of my spots are anything current…ALL past damage, from years when I didn’t listen to my mother about sunscreen. At least you can blame your momma and not your own stupidity, right?


elizabeth August 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm

You sound like you’ve been highly productive in your girls’ absence, and that salad looks pretty divine. I know you are the Condiment Queen and therefore would have plum vinegar in your pantry. :)

And my feet are always nasty like that, because I seldom get pedicures. I shudder to think what will happen prior to our vacation in a few weeks when I will get one to feel more put-together.


TKW August 28, 2012 at 4:20 am


Vacation? My ears just perked up. Where?


Heather August 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Ok… Now I’m realizing that I need to make a doctor appt. for kid #1 and a dentist appt. for me and an eye doctor appt. and a, and a, and a… Just wondering where I’ll find the time. It doesn’t seem to be showing up underneath any of the rocks I’m grabbing.
How is your mama? I’ve been thinking about her a lot recently, and you too. I hope you both are well. Hugs your way :)


Caitlin August 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

to echo everyone else.. you were definitely productive and reminded me that i need to set up an appointment with my dermatologist!


Annette August 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

Glad you’re taking care of yourself! I was always so relieved when school started because I was the Chief Playmate, but I also had pangs of missing her, and still do. Let’s get together for a walk one of these fine mornings!


The Meaning of Me August 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm

My stupid grocery store has fall wreaths, Thanksgiving napkins (nearly sold out and on clearance already), and Halloween candy for a week already. I love fall as much as anybody – maybe more. But please don’t rush me.

Love the salad.

Be well! :)


TKW August 29, 2012 at 9:12 am


Thanksgiving? Argggg! Say it isn’t so! Dangit, why do they keep rushing us?


Jamie August 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm

That moment when you realize how close someone lives to you, RIGHT after realizing how longs its been since you’ve seen them…THE WORST!


Dawn August 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Lovely salad! I’m glad you got through that first week! I think it gets better now.


faemom August 29, 2012 at 12:44 am

That looks so good that I want to lick the screen.
I totally understand about not getting back into what we consider the swing of things, like doing things we like, once those kids are in school. I still haven’t found my stride, and they’ve been in for three weeks.


TKW August 29, 2012 at 9:13 am


I’m doing no better this week. Maybe week three will be the week I get my butt in gear? Maybe?


Biz August 29, 2012 at 8:43 am

I had to laugh because on my yearly trips to get my feet done, I always apologize in advance for the state of my calloused heels!

You had me at blue cheese with this salad. My husband cannot stand fruit on a salad – I’ll have to make this for me and my SIL next week.

You got week one under your belt – you’ll be fine!


TKW August 29, 2012 at 9:14 am


I used to be with Tony on the fruit-on-salad issue. But last year, something shifted? No I don’t mind it at all. Odd, right?


Tiffany August 30, 2012 at 6:22 am

Oh my….yummmmm…..I will need to make this soon. I hope your skin flakes off and your hair grows back in! ;)


Mary Lee August 30, 2012 at 8:53 am

No kidding, when I saw this, I turned off computer and rushed out to farmer’s market. Loved it.


grace August 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

my stepdad got his spots zapped recently too–it wasn’t fun for anyone. hang in there–it’s no doubt worth the hassle!
LOVE this salad. nice job.


Naptimewriting September 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm

That sounds effing awesome. Will make when my kids are both in school (squee! terror! sobs! squee!)
Miss D things camels are gorgeous because of their legs. Right? And Mama knows those legs. Right? Right.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri September 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Always looking for a new salad in the Chez Vegetarian household. Thanks Kitch!


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