It’s perfectly normal for me to ask my mom to bring her delicious, crisp, flavorful, and colorful Green Salad to our holiday celebrations. And it’s perfectly normal to ask my dad to please pick up the beef tenderloin on their way. It’s great to see them pull up in the driveway – he opens her door and helps her carry all the green salad fixin’s inside. And she comes in and raves about what a great piece of beef he got this time. He says thank you, Dear. All normal. All good. What’s NOT normal is that my parents have been divorced for over a decade. Not kidding. A few weeks ago my sister tried to call my mom’s cell phone and couldn’t get through. Then a few minutes later, she got a text from my dad’s phone (I think it’s very cool that both my parents text, even though they’re in their 70s!). I’m out to dinner with your dad, so if you need me just call his phone ~ Mom. Not normal. My divorced parents were out on a Friday night having pizza and wine? And apparently, they do this all the time. They go to dinners, they watch movies, he helps her out when she needs a picture hung on her wall or a piece of furniture moved, etc. etc. What’s up with that?
My sisters and I get a big kick out of it (as do my mom’s neighbors). It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it does make our family get-togethers easier in many ways, and more interesting in even more ways. Whenever we have a gathering, my dad picks up my mom on his way and they arrive and leave together. They spend the car ride discussing everything from kids and grand kids, to politics and religion, to travel and “chem-trails” (Don’t ask about that one… We’ve learned not to…)
Whenever our kids hear that Grandmom and Granddad are coming over (I think some of our kids still think they’re married… ha!), their eyes light up because they know my mom will be bringing her famous fresh, cool, crisp green salad. She’s done this for years, and quite honestly, I’ve kind of taken it for granted. She shows up with her bag of goodies, and the next thing I know, placed dead center on the dinner table is the most beautiful, rainbow of fresh, crunchy, healthy, and delicious green salad! Everyone loves it! Truth be told, I kind of suck at making a green salad, so I don’t make them all that often. But I finally sat my mom down and made her tell me exactly what her secret is. And it’s really not difficult. It just takes a little forethought. Get the freshest most colorful green salad ingredients out there – usually this includes Romaine lettuce (always Romaine), ripe, red tomatoes, crunchy baby carrots, crisp English cucumbers, red, yellow, or green peppers, peppery radishes, sliced black olives, and fresh shaved or shredded cheese on top. The dressing is a very simple extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper mix with a hint of Dijon mustard that’s drizzled on top. And the real secret is… she chops up everything several hours in advance, then places each item into a zip top bag with some cool water and refrigerates everything most of the day (except the tomatoes, which are better at room temperature). For the lettuce, just wash it and sprinkle it with a bit of water, then place a damp paper towel into the bag with the chopped lettuce. This will keep it fresh, crisp, hydrated, and prevent it from getting soggy. You don’t want to soak the lettuce in water.
So, there’s the secret to my mom’s amazing cool, crunchy, crisp green salad. Just don’t ask me the secret to my parents’ relationship – that one I can’t answer… (And in case you need proof… here’s a picture of them from an Alaskan cruise we all enjoyed last year. Go figure!)