Super Salad: eat and be inspired

My mom is a great cook.  She’s one of those naturals who, out of love for health and the desire for her family’s well-being, chooses the purest ingredients and whips up the best meals — and not just around the holidays. Growing up I never ate burgers or mac and cheese, but developed a (snobbish?) taste for tuna steaks and eggplant parmesan and Caprese salads. Surprisingly, although I always acknowledged Mom’s flair, I never took an interest in learning to cook.  I don’t really know why.  Maybe it was the part of me that swore I’d never grow up, that Mommy would be there to cook for me always.

Well, when I graduated from college with two degrees and an F- in the kitchen, I decided that one of my “New Summer’s Resolutions” would be to learn to cook.  Or at least some basics of cooking.

Because I am leaving for France in September, and it’d be a darn shame if I couldn’t replicate some of Mom’s healthy comfort food — or just make myself a good dinner in the country that’s known to have the best ingredients on the market.

So far I’ve bitten off (almost) more than I can chew.  I bought Mireille Guiliano’s cookbook (You know — that lovely lady of French Women Don’t Get Fat fame) and made Salmon en Papillote (wrapped up like a present in parchment paper), then Chicken en Papillote…a bit fancy for my beginner status.  Leave it to me to dive right in.

Yesterday I made a simple salad with pears and gorgonzola, but I was impressed with the outcome because it was one of the first times I worked without a recipe.  Mom, Aunt Caroline, and I had eaten at The Butterfly Garden a few weeks back and after all three of us indulged in the same salad, I became determined to replicate it off the cuff.  It took a few weeks to face the challenge, but, I did it.  The secret was in the “finishing touches” that made the salad different from typical old spinach with pear.  I candied the pecans (which turned out to be really easy! Hooray!).  I made a special Dijon vinaigrette with honey to sweeten it a bit.  And, I arranged the servings individually.  That’s it!  It was so yummy.  And it gave me confidence.  I’ve been “cooking” for a month now, and things are starting to look up.

As a matter of fact, I just read David Lebovitz’s post about interning at a French restaurant.  Maybe I’m too big for my britches, but now that I’ve made this salad, I might raise the bar a bit: I could become a stagiere in France…


Filed under Adventure, Inspiration, Recipes/Cooking

7 responses to “Super Salad: eat and be inspired

  1. Emmy, your salad makes me want to jump through this computer screen and gobble it up! It looks so good!

    Love, Aunt Caroline

    PS-That was a fun day. We need to do it about ten times more before your departure~~<3

  2. Hi,
    Caroline and I have been friends for many years and she told me about your blog. I thought I’d check it out. I have thoroughly enjoyed it!! And I hope Jan had a smooth flight too….
    Have a wonderful time in France. I lived in La Rochelle when I was a kid.. If you get there, say hi for me…

    • Hi Gail!

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so excited that you read my blog. It makes me nervous to put myself out here like this, but I’m starting to like this whole blogging thing…your encouragement helps!

      I’ll definitely visit La Rochelle. And when I do, I’ll remember you in my blog post about it. “Promis!”

  3. Travis Presley


    Really impressed by your blog, Well done and very professional. And MORE THEN CONGRATULATIONS are in order, for your large leap in life. Best of Luck in France and Love you so much.


    And yes i know i didn’t follow Blog etiquette by posting my “YOUR AWESOME” post somewhere appropriate. But ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME.

  4. Sanna Sharp

    Beautiful salad! Cooking is like a combination of math and art, and if you are just starting it just takes a little time. Once you get familiar with ingredients and cooking times you can come up with your own formulas and aesthetics!
    Regarding learning to cook..take advantage of some of the people you meet in the area to do recipe/lunch dates. That really was something I have loved as an expat..formed a rotating lunch group with people from different areas of the world, and hosted them in our homes to share a home country dish. I learned to make Indian dishes, roll sushi, several lovely French dishes…all in the company of friends and much less stress than in a restaurant! It eventually led me to start a supper club for expats which included 40 people!

    Best of luck in your transition. I hope to see you as we will be quite close. And, I love your blog.

    • Thank you so much for your post, Sanna! I am excited to hear about your awesome idea, and how it evolved into a supper club. I’m adding that to my list of goals for the year, and I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading my blog!

      I’ll be sure to come visit. Will you teach me to roll sushi or something? 🙂

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