I made a salad tonight to take to a dinner at our friends' home.
It's a great salad recipe, compliments of my old friend from our Young Married days, Amy. It's complete with romaine and iceburg lettuce, green onions (which I promptly remove every time since my husband despises anything with the O-word), mandarin oranges, homemade candied almonds, and a delicious dressing to top it all.
It's a killer salad. It's a great take-along, and it's a winner every time.
Okay, not every time. Not so much today. Truth be told, I really have a hard time making this salad well... the almonds get me every time. But when I get it right, it's pretty phenomenal. I was banking on the phenomenal part.
I followed the recipe closely, and I put the almonds in the microwave for their 5-6 minute marinade in butter and sugar. (I know... your mouth is watering. It's so good.) I stirred frequently, as directed, and I was so pleased I hadn't burned them, since that's usually the culprit. Except then, I took them out of the microwave...but I didn't hold the bowl carefully or give due respect to the heat of a bowl that contains boiling sugar and butter.
Despite my best efforts, the bowl came crashing to the ground, spilling those delectable almonds all over my kitchen rug. Let me tell you: there is simply nothing stickier than candied almonds that have not yet cooled.
So, now I'm in the market for a new kitchen rug.
But never fear, I had the ingredients to start again. This time, I got distracted by someone's two-year-old (Okay, okay... mine. It was my two-year-old.) practicing his tumbling routine on the couch. He was jumping, landing on his bottom, and perfecting the jump back on to his feet. He got the warning, then he got the smirk on his face, and then he had the audacity to try it again before I even left the room. Um, okay. Game on, Mister.
(Have I mentioned that my heart breaks every single time I have to spank my child??)
When I got back into the kitchen after that whole scene, my almonds were not in good shape. Burned BLACK. More carefully than before, and in an desperate effort to avoid third degree burns, I took them out of the microwave and poured them into a plastic disposable cup... which crumbled and contorted from the heat and pressure of those blasted almonds.
Determined to make this work, I cooled the first-batch almonds that had not fallen on the floor, and I set about making the dressing. It's yummy. For real.
The day was not lost. Finally, my salad was good to go, all the ingredients were packed in separate containers to be tossed together just before serving, Robb was home from work, and the boys were ready to travel.
We journeyed nearly into the mountains to join our friends whom we love so much... and it's a good thing they love us, too. Because we arrived nearly empty-handed. A bump in the road just after we left the house caused the dressing (although seemingly well contained in an airtight something) to topple over and fill the back of the CR-V.
Our car smells like vinegar. FYI: apple cider vinegar is not a great plan for a car air freshener.
So, we arrived with a bowl of lettuce, some mandarin oranges, and a measly amount of candied almonds. Oh, and a bag saturated with dressing.
Thus the question: why do I try? Why, oh why, do I try?
Because I like to love people in practical, tangible ways, even if I end up showing less than my best side in the end. That's why. And I'll probably try it again someday soon. Some days are better than others. This was one of those OTHER days.
Oh, and on a sidenote: turns out Robb hates this salad. Good to keep in mind.