This week I’ve been out of town as one side of my family goes through a difficult time. My role has been to hang out with my brothers, be an extra driver, and generally find ways to keep people occupied as we go through this. My husband has had weeks like these, and like he said, “Things could always be worse, except when they can’t.” I have so much to be thankful for, but seeing people you care about at rock bottom is a different kind of struggle.
This week of drawing together has been the first time in a long time that all four of us siblings have been reunited. We are bystanders — trying to be supportive, but also trying to keep on existing, being the people who keep everyone else in touch with the day-to-day. It’s just me driving us around town, buying the boys tons of sugary candy and spending hours walking around eating ice cream and talking and talking and talking. It’s almost as if I’m 18 and they’re little kids again.
This week has reminded me not to take the people around me for granted. Even as we talk in hushed voices, silence our cellphones, and drink coffee at 7:00pm in an ICU, there is some comfort in spending hours just being together.
This week I stayed with friends. Waking up to a calm, quiet house, a coffee mug, a clean towel. I know I’m lucky to have this support system branching out around me like a spider web.
This week I haven’t seen my husband. I’m reminded that every normal day is a miracle, that our life–the world where we fight over taking out the dogs, set a lamp on a timer, and complain about the workday grind–is a kind of bliss.
I made this salad at the home of the friends I’m staying with. I wanted to use up some produce I’d brought along, but I also compulsively use food for purposes other than feeding people (from repaying favors to processing a situation). I keep coming back to food. A friend once leant me a book and I tried to reject it, saying I hadn’t finished the last one she’d given me — I couldn’t possibly borrow another! She pushed the book back towards me: “Just let me give you this. This is how I express my feelings.” I guess that’s how I am with food. I don’t know what to say or do, but just eat the candy…you know…or the kale salad. I put all the things in it.
Lemony Purple Kale and Sorrel Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a starter salad, 2 as a dinner salad
Sorrel is a lemony herb that makes for a nutritious, interesting addition to salads. Its zingy flavor is quite tart, but lemon lovers will adore it.
1 head purple kale, ribbed and chopped (about 8 cups)
1 small bunch sorrel, julienned (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese, cut into tiny (¼ cm) cubes
2 Tablespoons toasted, chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
8-10 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. In small saucepan, add egg(s) and room temperature water. Put a lid on it and bring to a boil. When very rapidly boiling, remove from heat and set aside for 10-15 minutes for a hard-boiled egg. Submerge egg(s) in ice water before peeling. Roughly chop. Set aside. To toast walnuts, cook in a 375 F oven for 5-10 minutes. Pour out onto cutting board and roughly chop. Set aside.
2. For the dressing, whisk mustard and honey together with the lemon juice, and add olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine kale, sorrel, parmesan, walnuts, and chopped eggs. Cover with dressing. Toss to coat, and let salad sit for 30 minutes before eating. Serve with more olive oil, salt, and pepper.