I needed to find a little slice of beach, some warm sand to dig my toes into and crashing waves at sunset. I wanted to trade in my ski gear for a cute
bikini, one-piece and a soft towel to lay my head on. I love my Rocky Mountains and their majestic beauty, but I was suffering from cabin fever, so my husband and I headed towards the sound of the sea.
California is the land of my past, my history of childhood and teenage years. It is the place where I took afternoon naps on the beach after kindergarten and a couple of years later, where my brother and I would get up at five o’clock in the morning to ride our bikes to the Newport Pier where we would fish. Head a little further down the boardwalk and you’ll find the best school yard of all time at Newport Beach Grammar School, right on the sand, overlooking the Pacific ocean. I loved this school, from riding my tricycle on the little track in the kindergarten yard to hanging upside-down on the monkey bars. There was a candy store down the boardwalk from the school where we would ride our bikes to for Abba-Zabas and Smarties. It was a time when Newport Beach was still a seaside town unfettered by the glitz and glamour that now exists; those were very happy days for me.
Now when I return, it comes with a tinge of nostalgic bitter-sweetness. Most of my family has moved away, however, longtime friendships have remained intact though the years. There is still a sense of home upon the sight of the sea and a whiff of the salty breeze.
My friendships here are the kinds that are deeply rooted in a shared history. There is something very powerful, especially as I move further into my second half of life, in relationships where we understand how and why we are the people we have become – knowing the good and the bad of someone else’s life is a confidential and sacred insight that is hopefully regarded as information to be cherished quietly. These are the friendships where long gaps between get-togethers carry very little significance. There never seems to be any awkwardness, we simply pick-up where we left off.
It may be awareness of the complex nature of someone’s past that allows for a free pass once in a while for behavior not so becoming and it is also what causes my friends and me to giggle across the dinner table with a knowing glance – we share secrets that we will take to the grave.
We returned to Boulder to freezing temperatures and an insane amount of snow at our home. I’m looking on the bright side of the weather situation and hoping to squeeze in some epic late winter and spring skiing.
In honor of my sunny California trip down memory lane, I’m sharing this healthy and fresh salad. This is one of my favorite salads as is but you can also dress it up with a protein, such as, sliced grilled chicken, salmon or tofu.
|California Romaine & Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds, Green Raisins, Avocado and Lemon Honey Vinaigrette|
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut in medium shreds
- 1 cup kale, washed, dried, rib removed and cut in thin shreds
- 1 ripe avocado, cut into 6-8 slices
- ½ cup blanched almond
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup golden or green raisins
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon herbs du Provence (or a mix of dried herbs)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, honey, herbs and black pepper. Set aside.
- In a non-stick pan, over medium/high heat, scatter the almonds and then sprinkle the sugar over the almonds.
- Stir and shake the almonds and sugar in the hot pan. The sugar will liquefy and the almonds will brown fairly quickly so keep the ingredients moving so the almonds are uniformly coated with the sugar.
- Once the almonds have toasted to a light brown color, transfer them to a plate or wax paper to cool.
- Place the raisins in a cup or small bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for 5-10 minutes and then drain and dry on some paper towels.
- Place the lettuce and kale in a large bowl.
- Add the cooled almonds, cheese and raisins and toss with just enough dressing to coat.
- Plate and garnish with avocado slices.