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Amelia and Teddy's Very Special Salad

Oof.

That's where I am right now, friends. Just, oof.

You all know what my politics are. So yeah, after this clusternut of an election, I, like so many others, have been in a miserable pit of despair. First there was disbelief, a palpable pain, then came anger. So much anger. Bargaining didn't last long, though I tried it, I really did. Now I think I've arrived at the depression phase of grief, but it's all a bit fluid. I feel like I keep starting at the beginning. Each morning, I wake up and for a second, I've forgotten about it all. Then it hits me again and the disbelief-anger-depression loop begins anew.

And how are you supposed to blog when you feel like that? I find it easier to read other people's thoughts. And I'm grateful that some, at least, are able to find ways to productively channel their feelings as the days inexorably tick by. In case you want to read along, there's this and this and this, which helped the other day, day 13 of this bizarre new world, and this, which might have even made me crack a smile. (Today, I'm back to denial.)

I'm also grateful for fun distractions, like Amelia Morris's cooking show on mom.me in which her sweet little boy Teddy plays a starring role and her talented film-making husband Matt is behind the camera. I've always loved Amelia's videos on her blog Bon Appetempt, but her Amelia & Teddy videos, in which Amelia and Teddy attempt everything from miso banana bread to lentil soup to Ruth Reichl's Chinese dumplings, are just adorably, addictively good.

Easy salad

We do still have to eat, and many of us do still have to get dinner on the table every night for our families, even if we literally lose our appetite every time we look at the news. I'm lucky that in this house, a nice big salad with some bread and cheese counts as "cooking". We're big salad people over here, even Hugo. (And this pregnancy has me craving salad more than anything else. Weird.) Usually, my salads consist of either mixed greens and quartered tomatoes with a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing, or, if it's wintertime, I'll swap the tomato out for some chopped fresh oranges or clementines and some roasted chopped hazelnuts (always with the same oil-and-vinegar drizzle at the end). But the salad that Amelia and Teddy make in their "Easy Salad" segment really elevates the term into something pretty darn special.

"Easy" is a little misleading - to make this salad, you need boiled eggs, homemade croutons, chopped onions and grated Parmesan. But don't you need a little distraction? If so, it feels good to busy yourself in the kitchen with these mindless little tasks. Cubing a ripe avocado, marinating the chopped onion in lemon juice, grating the boiled egg... none of it is rocket science, but it keeps your hands busy and your mind off the state of the world. What results is the biggest, most satisfying Very Special Salad, whether you're eating it as a main course or alongside something else. What also results is the very brief soothing of your nerves. A nourishment of a different kind.

(Note that the photo up there shows a head of soft lettuce in the salad, which is kind of a mistake. Definitely stick with mixed greens and/or arugula.)

Croutons

This is Thanksgiving week, so I know many of you are already planning your menus or the dishes you'll be bringing to your various potlucks, getting ready to travel, and gearing up for tense family interactions (and hopefully some really good ones, too). I hope your turkeys are juicy, your cranberry sauces puckery and your pumpkin pies smooth and spicy. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Amelia and Teddy's Very Special Salad
Adapted from Amelia & Teddy
Serves 2 to 3

For the dressing:

Scant ¼ cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Scant ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup chopped yellow onion (optional)

For the croutons:

About one third of a sourdough baguette or peasant-style bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the bread into bite-sized squares. Toss these pieces onto a small baking sheet. Drizzle the pieces with olive oil, just enough so that each square gets at least one stripe of oil. Then, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands or a utensil, stir the bread around on the pan so that each piece becomes lightly coated. Pop into the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For the salad:

8 ounces of mesclun or arugula, washed and dried
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Homemade croutons
1 avocado, pitted and sliced or diced
1 super ripe tomato, chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, grated

Place lettuce in a large bowl. Top with Parmesan. If using, add the croutons, avocado, tomato, and/or egg. Pour over most of the dressing, toss, and taste. If it needs more dressing, add it.

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