Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Upon Us

It's just that time of year. That wonderful crazy sometimes overwhelming time of year. An acting teacher I had in college said something once which I never forgot. He said, "You do the things that are important to you." Meaning there's really no such thing as I Don't Have Time or I Just Couldn't; there's only I Chose To Make Time for Something Else. So I won't say I haven't had time to blog, I'll just say I have not been making time for the computer. I have been making time for Luciana (who has her first tooth poking through! And she's celebrating by waking up every hour from 1-5am), for a little holiday shopping and cooking, for "Dexter" once a week, though never on Sunday nights and I haven't watched the season finale yet so don't tell me what happens, and for, gulp, getting ready to go back to work for a couple of months. I'm doing a play in January/February for which I'm really excited; I'll tell you all about it as well as my process in deciding I could do it, which was, I think, the hardest decision I've just about ever made.

But for now I want to wish you a truly beautiful holiday full of all the stuff a good holiday should be full of. A year ago we weren't even telling anyone other than family and closest friends about Luciana, who was a mysterious embryo--what a year it's been!

I also want to give you a super-easy and very delicious salad which you can bring to any and all holiday potlucks or family dinners. It's so delicious, in fact, and I have so much faith in you being able to tell that when you read it that there is no picture. I am obsessed with fennel, by the way, and this has only intensified my current addiction.

Fennel Salad
in theory 4 servings, but more like 2 in our house
lightly adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

2 fennel bulbs
2T lemon juice
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
1 t white wine or champagne vinegar
salt and pepper
1 t chopped fennel tops

any or all of these optional add-ins:
parmesan cheese curls
1 1/2 T chopped green olives
2T chopped Italian parsely
celery and/or radishes

Trim tops and root ends from fennel bulbs; save a few feathery leaves for garnish; pull off and get rid of any discolored or dried outer leaves.

Make dressing by stirring together lemon juice, zest, vinegar, salt and pepper then whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Use a mandoline or a very very very sharp knife to shave or thinly slice fennel crosswise. Toss with dressing, adjust seasoning, and garnish with the fennel tops.

Add any or all of those add-ins up there. I'm a big fan of the parmesan/parsley combo myself.

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