2018-packingpurse10

Avocado Egg Salad

Soon after we returned home from our honeymoon in the British Isles, we hosted a small Thanksgiving meal for a couple of close friends. Having picked up an afternoon tea habit while abroad, I naturally decided to make that the theme for our festivities. (And, yes, I see the irony of using a British custom for this distinctly American celebration!) The menu included tea we’d brought back from London, homemade scones, two kinds of jam, clotted cream, and, of course, an assortment of tea sandwiches. Salmon and cream cheese. Hummus and cucumber. Apple and brie. And egg salad.

The problem was that I had never made egg salad before. Because I didn’t like egg salad. Because it almost always contains mayonnaise and often contains mustard, two condiments that I dislike. (What can I say? I’m a picky eater.) But with a vegetarian and a pescatarian among our attendees, I wanted to make it work. I looked for egg salad recipes without mayo and found one that mentioned avocado as a substitute. From there, I improvised.

Luckily, it was a hit! Today, I made my egg salad again and documented the process to share with you. It’s extremely simple, and it’s delicious, if I do say so myself.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • half a lime
  • salt
  • pepper
  • whatever other spices you want to add, you not-picky, spice-loving person, you

Dice the eggs and avocado. (Note: this step is not actually necessary. I just wanted it to look pretty for the photo.)

Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the mixture. Salt, pepper, and spice to taste.

Mash everything together with a fork. Or a giant spork. I used a giant spork, personally. (Note: If you skipped the dicing, you might need to mash extra hard here.)

And that’s it! Eat it on tea sandwiches, on an artfully-sliced croissant, or just straight out of the bowl.

Suggested modifications: Double the recipe, because eggs come a dozen in a box, after all, and what are you going to do with half a lime? Besides, that way, you might have a chance of having leftovers.

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2018-packingpurse10

My House Salad

To say that my family didn’t eat salads while I was growing up would be an understatement.

We didn’t eat raw vegetables, full stop. My parents’ avoidance of pesticides was so deeply ingrained from their Chinese upbringing that, even in America, we peeled every single piece of fruit we ate. With a paring knife and impressive alacrity, my mom could transform the skin of an apple into a long, unbroken spiral, leaving so little flesh behind that it passed for a party trick. To the never-ending astonishment of my American friends, I peeled each individual grape before I ate it, delicately splitting the skin apart with my fingernails.

Even in adulthood, long after I’d learned to bite into the skin of an apple and pop whole grapes into my mouth, I still couldn’t understand the appeal of a bowl of raw vegetables, smothered in creamy dressing. I knew intellectually that salads were healthy and nutritious, but the visceral experience of eating them felt like a chore instead of a pleasure. I experimented with creating cooked versions of salads, blanching the greens to soften their fibers, adding in sautéed slices of zucchini. Gradually, I discovered a combination of ingredients that could be palatable to me.

So now I have a house salad. My go-to salad. The salad I always make. Here it is in its simplest form: Greens. Fresh Fruit. Dried Fruit. Nuts. Protein.

And here is my favorite version:

  • anywhere from half a bag to a full bag of Trader Joe’s Sorrento Salad (a mix of baby arugula, baby spinach, and baby lettuce)
  • an apple (in the winter) or a peach or nectarine (in the summer), cut into wedges and then each wedge cut into three or four pieces
  • a handful of Trader Joe’s Jumbo Raisin Medley (a colorful blend of golden, flame, and regular raisins)
  • a handful of walnut pieces
  • chicken or salmon, cooked at home, complete with the oil from the pan in lieu of a more traditional dressing

I’ve made plenty of other variations, too, from using a simpler spinach base to a vegan version with stir-fried tofu for the protein. I even toss in cooked vegetables once in a while, if we have some leftovers in the fridge. I still wouldn’t call myself a salad lover, but learning how flexible a salad can be has helped me to understand the appeal a little better.

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2018-packingpurse10

My Favorite Smoothie

After talking about it for months, we finally got our fancy new (okay, refurbished) Vitamix blender yesterday. To call it an upgrade from our ancient immersion blender would be like calling electric lights an upgrade from candles. I’m pretty excited to experiment with all the new possibilities this promises to open up (hummus! soups?!), but for now, I’ve made my favorite smoothie twice since yesterday. The recipe:

1 banana, peeled
1 orange, peeled
8 frozen strawberries, definitely not peeled

That’s it! This makes about a pint of smoothie. Double it for a quart. Blend and enjoy!