I used to think my Mom and I were completely different people. She didn’t see me. She didn’t understand me. She didn’t like the same things I did. Or see the world the same way I did. But as I’ve neared the age she was when I came into her world, I’ve started to realize how much of her is in me.
Despite the fact that she tries to stay out of any sort of spotlight, she’s a very deep and complicated character. She’s had pain in her life- the sort of pain that shapes you. She’s had battles; some won, some lost and some that are an everyday fight. She has spent years sacrificing time, goals and her health for the sake of her family. She’s beautiful. Determined. Creative. Kind. Stubborn. Hilarious. Sensitive. Fierce. I think she thinks that no one sees her, but I do.
She’s taught me so many things, both with words and by watching her. She’s stood by and held my hand in some pretty difficult years and been my biggest fan in the easier ones. She cries with me every time I cry. She’s always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and at the same time pushed me to be practical and think about the ways my actions affect those around me. She jokes that my Dad and I are the crazy dreamers of the family, always coming up with something new to try, but I’m not convinced she’s not a bit of a dreamer herself.
She’s at a new place in her life. And to be honest, she’s having a bit of a hard time navigating it. Her babies have flown the nest, and despite the fact that we all need and rely on her more than she knows, it’s just not quite the same.
I hope she knows how much I admire her. Believe in her. Want peace and joy for her. She is so extremely talented and I hope that she decides to pursue some of her passions- writing especially. She has a voice and stories and wisdom that I want access to. And because we are both those silly proud women who can’t tell each other how we truly feel, I’ve never been able to say that to her face. Not in a way that she believes.
This salad, made with warm spices and roasted vegetables is what my Mom and I consider a perfect meal. A little decadence, a little warmth with a hint of freshness. It was one of the first dishes I made for her after I started this culinary journey.
This weekend, my Mom is making a special trip down to Oregon to help me with a Bird is the Word event. The dream of working events with my Mom was what propelled me into exploring the idea of culinary school in the first place. You could say I’m looking forward to it, or that it’s a dream come true. But really I’m just counting the hours until she gets here and feeling pretty blessed to have such a woman in my life.
- 1 pound rainbow heirloom carrots
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 chile de árbol or other small red chile (dried- check ethnic foods section)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 orange, halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 3 Hass avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 6 wedges each
- 8 ounces assorted greens, radicchio, frisee, watercress and microgreens in my case
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 tablespoons unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream (or yogurt) mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Bring a deep skillet of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and simmer, covered, over moderately low heat until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Drain and transfer the carrots to a large roasting pan.
- In a mortar, crush the cumin seeds, chile de árbol, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the garlic and thyme and pound into a paste. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar.
- Pour the cumin dressing over the carrots and toss. Add the orange and lemon halves to the roasting pan, cut side down. Roast for about 25 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
- Meanwhile, toast the ciabatta until the edges are golden brown. Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and, in a large bowl, gently toss with the avocados, greens and arugula. In a small bowl, combine the sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds.
- Using tongs, squeeze the hot orange and lemon halves into a measuring cup until you have about 1/3 cup of juice. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1/3 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the warm carrots to the bowl along with the citrus dressing and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to plates and drizzle with the sour cream. Sprinkle the salad with the seed mixture and serve.