Some times I surprise myself. If any of you follow facebook, no doubt you have seen a gazillion recipes and tips that will make your life easier. I copy and paste about a billion of the those that make my mouth water. The other day I saw a clip of a man putting together salads for a week’s worth of lunches. He packed glass quart jars with all kinds of amazing stuff and stuck them in the refrigerator. “Easy peezy,” he said. All weekend I thought about jars full of lunch. So last night I did a market run and came home with all that you see in the photo below.
I don’t work away from home but I love the idea of having a meal premade and ready to consume, preferably in large amounts. I am a foodie only in the sense that I like to eat. I don’t like preparation, I don’t like cooking, and most of all, I don’t like to plan menus. I do love it when someone else does the cooking. I really love it when a meal prepared by someone other than myself is beautifully presented. And don’t forget comfort food. Apparently I must need a lot of comforting because I love comfort food. We live in Louisiana, so comfort food here is anything with rice and gravy, potatoes, fried anything and sweets. I could live (and die) with any kind of deliciously sweet, preferably gooey, delectably chocolate or cinnamon desert. My favorite good group is cookie. Mr. Pete said I have well earned the title of cookie monster. I love them. And because I love deserts and comfort food, I expand, not only my worldly knowledge of good food, but also in girth. Therefore, it is my curse to discipline myself to occasionally diet, as in cut back, eat right, eliminate my favorite food group. It’s hard, but necessary. So when the salad-in-a-jar fellow came along, I thought ‘I can do this. I’ll eat better. Mr. Pete will eat better. It’ll be good.’ I said those things to myself even knowing how badly I hate to fix salads. Putting together several at one time sounded like a great idea which in turn takes the pressure off making sure I eat right. I’ve read that a diet full of fresh, colorful, uncooked fruits and vegetables can ward off inflammation, problem digestion, aid in healing, and make your skin glow. I’m in.
This morning I was determined to make salad-in-a-jar come hell or high water. I gritted my teeth and struggled into preparation mode. I had to clean, chop, and decide what foods would be palatable when paired together. I pulled all my bowls out of the cabinets and began to fill them with chopped veggies and fruits so assembling the salads would be easier than trying to make one at a time. See how my mind works? It ain’t pretty. As I worked, a rhythm began to develop. I don’t know, it was something about rocking the big knife on the cutting board as I chopped the crisp veggies. I’m sure the knife has a name but I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I made friends with it and together we put on quite a show. Food flew. But I got it done and, I must say, with a certain level of satisfaction. Maybe this thing called food prep isn’t so bad after all.
Next up, assemblage. Salad-in-a-jar guy said to put the ‘wet’ stuff on the bottom of the jar, ie; dressing, tomatoes, etc., then follow with fresh what ever you want, saving the leafy greens for last. He said jam it in there till you can’t get any more in. That sounded easy and guess what? It was. My first combination started with pineapple. I bought a package of individual servings of pineapple chunks packed in 100% juice and used that instead of fresh pineapple because I didn’t want the hassle of … well … you know. It was easier with the pre-packed stuff. And I figured the juice would make a great dressing. On top of that I packed in sliced carrot, cauliflower, and so on until I got the jar about 2/3 full. Then I stuffed greens to the top and screwed the lid on. Keep in mind I am making two identical jars, one for Mr. Pete and one for me. Other combinations included salsa for the dressing, tomatoes, sweet peppers, avacado, broccoli, peaches, and leafy greens. I did not include any cooked meat, boiled eggs or onions in any of the salads like the salad-in-a-jar guy did, nor did I add seasonings other than fresh parsley. I’m kind of funny that way. I prefer to add it just before eating and I keep cooked chopped chicken and beef in the freezer for that purpose. I chose not to cut up the grape tomatoes because they would give off to much juice that way and I wanted to keep the ingredients as dry as I could so the salad would stay fresh longer. And I only used parmasean cheese and sparingly at that.
I paired pickled beets with red cabbage, celery and carrots. I made a cole slaw dressing and topped it with green cabbage, dried cranberries, raisins, carrots, celery and romaine lettuce. I topped every jar with a tablespoon or two of sunflower seeds. One tip: you can eat the salad straight out of the jar if you use the wide-mouth kind. Just turn the jar over before you open it so that the dressing will coat everything first. Another dressing I used was extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.
I can’t even tell you some of the combinations of every salad I made, but I can tell you this – they were beautiful. The colors! Looking at the salad jars makes me hungry. It’s like salivating over a box of crayons.
By the time I made up TEN jars of salads, I had used nearly all of the fresh veggies and fruit with the exception of green cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, spinach, parsley, and pickled beets. I spent no small amount on all of this food, so I wanted to be sure not to waste even one little piece. I cooked the green cabbage with a little crispy fried bacon and put it in the refrigerator. Tomorrow I will stew a couple of potatoes with some Andouille sausage and bake a cornbread to serve with the cooked cabbage. Although I won’t eat it, my husband will be happy. Then I cooked the spinach and put it in the freezer. The broccoli and cauliflower too. As for the red cabbage, I boiled it in the juice from the pickled beets. Yum. It is going in the refrigerator to use later for garnishing, probably with roasted pork. I chopped up the parsley and am drying it. Mr. Pete likes to cook with parsley so he will be pleased. And the radishes? Well, they are still sitting in the bowl. I don’t know what to do with them. This bunch is particularly sharp and the one I ate gave me heartburn. Dang it, I hate that.
So there you are. That took several hours and I am tired now. Despite the fact that today started off a painful one in terms of FMS, I accomplished quite a bit and I’m satisfied. I wish I would have gotten the floors done before I started another tangent, but on the other hand, if I had maybe I wouldn’t have done the salads. Oh well. The great thing is we have a week’s worth of salad lunches all made up and pretty enough to eat. I am sure my body will thank me. I don’t know if this will be a weekly jaunt or not but it was fun today.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, please please please pray for world peace and for impoverished people everywhere. I know very well that there are tons of people who don’t have the opportunity to eat food as wonderful as that which I have shown in this post. I urge you to pray, and if you can, put some action behind your prayers in any way you can to help others.
God bless you.