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Cooking with Myra: Start new year out right with salad in a jar

By By Myra Starkey
Jan. 3, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 2, 2012 at 7:03 p.m.

Salad To-Go (Prepared in a Jar)

SALAD TO-GO (prepared in a Jar)

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar1-2 Tbsp. water (more or less depending on the consistency you want)2 Tbsp. honey 1/4 tsp. sea salt1/4 tsp. black pepperBlend ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds.

Salad

2 ears of corn, boiled, cut from cob1 cup cooked quinoa or bulgur wheat (prepared)2 big handfuls spring greens or spinach mix1 cup chopped mushrooms1 cup cherry tomatoesRed, yellow or green bell peppers, sliced thinly1/2 red onion, diced4 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigretteLayer the ingredients in the jar as follows:

Dressing, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, quinoa, spring greens mix

*Cucumbers, zucchini ribbons, carrots

The most important part of the layering is making sure the dressing and the lettuce leaves don't come in contact with each other as the oil will wilt the lettuce. As long as they stay separate, these salads can be made up to three days in advance and will stay fresh in the fridge with a lid on. When it is lunchtime, then shake it and serve.

Makes two salads (Salads were made in 32-oz. mason jars)

*Other choices

  • C.S. Lewis

Prior to reading this, please consult someone under the age of 40 to explain what the word "click" means in the computer world. While you are asking the question, get the same kid to set you up on the Pinterest.com website.

I have a confession to make, and it is that I am crafty. I don't mean that I am "crafty like a fox," but rather crafty in the sense that I love to make things. I love to create something wonderful using ordinary items, whether it is a piece of art, a re-purposed item or delicious food. I pour through magazines looking for good ideas and dog ear the pages hoping to return to them one day when I have time. The problem is that I usually forget where the magazine is, or I tear out the idea page and fill up every available kitchen drawer with them. And I really don't seem to take the time to go back and review them because I have new magazines to look at.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, my sister Cindy came for a visit along with her family. We had free time in the afternoon after washing all the dishes, and so we sat down in front of the computer so Cindy could show me a website she had discovered called Pinterest. My obsession began and has not slowed yet. The site is a gathering of artists, crafters, photographers, interior designers and people all over the world who enjoy sharing the beauty in their lives. The website was created to be a virtual message board for the user to save ideas they see.

Last week, I was talking with Taylor, who is a doctor for a living, but loves to do art, and he said that artists have a longing in their being, which they satisfy by creating something. At first, I really had no idea what he was talking about, but I realized that when I am creating something in the kitchen, it makes me happy. So maybe, I am a food artist. There are many ways to create or many mediums that people use.

I spoke to a lady who was retiring from her job at the age of 68. She confessed that she had nothing to do. She had worked since she was about 13. Her life had been filled with raising a family, being a wife and working. Now that she was retiring and would have more free time, she was coming to realize that she had no hobbies. I was amazed but quickly suggested knitting or needlepointing and then added, "look on Pinterest to find your passion."

I guess I should explain just how it works before I go any further. Pinterest is a website made up of images which are tied to other websites that explain how to do the "thing" in the picture or explain where to find the item in the picture. For example, if the picture is of a luscious coconut cake, when you place your cursor over the picture and click it, the website where the recipe is located will pop up. At this time, you are able to save this link to a message board (thus the term "pin your interest" or pinterest) and catalogue the idea. You can preset different virtual message boards, which enable you to organize your interests, such as food, gardening, shoes, etc.

I am sure most of us who "surf" the Internet are familiar with finding something interesting, and then with one click, we have lost our way and cannot find the location again. The Internet offers bookmarking these interesting places, but then you wind up with pages and pages of disorganized sites. Pinterest solves these problems by creating message boards.

My favorite sites are the do-it-yourself ones, which are connected to blogs. A blog could be defined as daily diary or pulpit where the writer talks about different things that interest them. One blog may be about food and have recipes, or another may be about making fabric roses. There are blogs about most anything a person might want to learn. My favorite blogs tend to be about making handmade items. For example, I searched the website and found out how to make a chandelier out of a hula hoop and a light fixture from mason jars . amazing. There seems to be no end to the number of creative people in the world and apparently many of them are posting on Pinterest.

Last night, I was paging through my Pinterest board and found a wonderful idea for a salad in a jar. It was so simple, yet I had not ever even thought about it. Since it is a new year, and I am once again committed to losing those pesky pounds, which were added both before and during the holidays, I am throwing out all desires for any more Candy Cane Blizzards (thanks to my friend Patti, I had one to celebrate the coming year) and trying my best to be calorie conscious.

The idea of salad in a jar is pure genius. The dressing is poured on the bottom and then you layer your ingredients and secure the lid. When you are ready to eat you shake it, turn it over and put it on a plate. This is a great idea for those who bring their lunch to work.

Enjoy the salad, forget the bread and watch those pounds melt away. My doctor/husband says the key to weight loss is cutting out starches and sugar, exercising and staying away from blizzards (the ice cream variety).

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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