There’s a part in the movie “Up In the Air” where George Clooney’s character comments that he is surrounded, rather than isolated, in the traveling life that he leads. Physically, yes. There are people everywhere! But emotionally? I think he needed a bit of a reality check.
That’s just what I got the last two days. I have always enjoyed traveling, even for work. Educational conferences are usually beneficial and have me leaving with a sense of cognitive renewal. At 6:17 tonight, I returned from one of those conferences that, while started out a bit rocky, ended up leaving me with some new insight and information. But the travel? I needed my own bit of therapy at the end.
It started with a four-hour drive, mostly in the dark with the first Oregon Autumn rain. Pouring rain. Then, arriving to our destination close to 11:00pm, I drove up and down the same ½ mile of street looking for the small motel that would serve as our residence for the following two days. Once the motel (that shall remain nameless due to liability reasons) was found, and we were properly checked in, the overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke and pet urine overwhelmed the fact that there were no doors on the bathroom. I’m not recalling a four-hour rain-soaked delusion – it really smelled. And had no doors on the bathroom. Really.
So, with a few quick phone calls and a small argument with the lovely lady at the front desk, another hotel was promptly booked, which, in educational standards “met” (rather than “did not meet,” nor “exceeded”) what we needed for our stay.
After two NyQuil-induced nights, one of which was restless, another four-hour drive home, and the residual effects of conference food (while tasty at the time, you know what I’m referring to), there was something left to be had: my own therapy. Veggie therapy.
So I whipped up a spesh. A lovely fruit and veg salad that not only hit the spot, but reminded me that the lovely fall air was still crisp and comforting. Combined with my favorite sweatpants, a good glass of wine (Oregon’s first Baco Noir), and a DVR’d Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the night erased all travel stiffness.
Please, don’t wait for a memorable travel experience and vegless conference food to make this salad; it’s easy, comforting (thanks to the oh-so-wonderful sharp cheddar cheese), and slightly unexpected on the taste buds. It’s good for any night, not just a veggie therapy night.
For the salad:
- 2 c torn baby red lettuce (I prefer the tender tops rather than the inside ribs)
- 1 medium sweet apple, cored and diced (I used Gala – their season is just starting up here)
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 c red grapes, sliced
- 1 med head broccoli (or two small heads), stems removed and cut into florets
- about 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced (really, use as much cheese as you want – the cheddar flavor pairs perfectly with the onion, apple, broccoli, and apple).
- 1 large sprig basil, leaves removed and thinly chopped
For the dressing:
- 1 tsp good quality honey
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp fresh lavender buds, rubbed between your hands to release oils
- 1 ½ extra virgin olive oil
Mix the dressing by adding the honey, vinegar, and lavender buds. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Season to taste, and set aside.
Put all of the ingredients for the salad into a bowl and quickly mix to combine. Pour over the dressing, and toss again, just so the dressing lightly coats the ingredients. Taste for seasoning (I found I needed more pepper), and serve.