When my family went on vacations, my mother would start packing months before our departure date. She would pull our suitcases from the attic, and we would get to go through our summer clothes and pick out our favorite items to wear while away. All the while, we'd be dreaming of warmer weather and our upcoming trip. We'd take inventory and sometimes buy a special "vacation outfit," carefully tucking it away so it would be fresh and new for our travels. Anticipation built with every packed dress, t-shirt, and bathing suit. This routine was, I'm sure, part of being organized and making travel with three small children slightly easier. As we did it more, it became our little vacation ritual, part of the experience of travel itself, and a way to begin the fun and daydreaming a bit earlier.
As I travel more and more as an adult, I am starting to develop little vacation rituals of my own. The pre-vacation pedicure (to start the relaxation a day early). Staying up almost all night before an early flight (to sleep better on the plane). And, the week of salad upon returning home. Salad week is less about prolonging vacation, and more about transitioning back to real life. Because as much as traveling is relaxing and fun and full of adventure and good food, settling back into day-to-day living recharged and with a refreshed attitude is what going away is all about.
I was just here:
for a week with my family celebrating my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. Coming back to the cold feels cruel and inhumane right now, and so to ease back into it we went out for dinner tonight and had one last Dark and Stormy. Tomorrow, though, I'm making this:
With it, I'm going to start the process of getting back into life, while hopefully maintaining some of the relaxed attitude that is so characteristic of island living.
Carrot and Beet Salad
adapted from Jamie at Home, Jamie Oliver
4 large or 8 small beets (golden, red, chiogga, or a mix)
1 bunch carrots, peeled and tops trimmed (I like to get the rainbow ones when I can find them)
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
fresh herbs: rosemary, parsley, basil, and/or mint (or whatever else you have kicking around that needs to be used), roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400 F. Roast beets using your favorite method. I alternate between wrapping them individually with foil and tossing them in the oven for 40-90 minutes (until soft when pierced with a fork), placing them in an inch of water in a pan and roasting for 40-90 minutes, or placing in a foil lined pan, covering with foil, and roasting for 40-90 minutes. With the latter you could add a few sprigs of rosemary to the pan for a nice flavor. Remove from oven and cool, peel and cut into approximately 1 inch cubes.
While beets are roasting, place carrots on a foil lined baking sheet, toss with 1-2 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. You could also add some fresh rosemary. Place in the 400 F oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes, until softened (but retaining some crunch). Chop into roughly 1 inch lengths.
Place beets and carrots in a medium bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, remaining oil, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and herbs. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve over mesclun, add goat cheese and chicken breast or pork tenderloin medallions for a main course.