Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Few Days in DFW and a Favorite Salad

At the Arlington KOA, Arlington, Texas...

Once again, we have landed on our former home turf to help our doctors fund their 401K accounts. It continues to amaze me how often one or more of our body parts develops some sort of pain, irregularity or malfunction that needs the attention of a medical professional. If that weren't enough, we are constantly reminded by e-mail, text or phone that it is time for a checkup. And then there are the prescription drugs that are sufficiently numerous that Sandy has to keep track of them in a small ledger. I suppose we must be doing something right, however; we seem pretty healthy and we don't really feel as old as we probably should.

By the way, you may not know the origin of the word "checkup," but it started a long time ago in my home town after my doctor became tired of accepting payments from patients in chickens, pigs or other farm animals. The old doctor had an office above the bank, and one day, I overheard a telephone conversation his nurse was having with one of his patients. The patient obviously was calling to make an appointment and asked how many chickens he should bring upstairs as payment for the doctor's services. The doctor figured out who was calling and hollered to his nurse, "Tell Herschel we don't need any more chickens; just bring a check up when he gets here." Hence the origin of the word "checkup."

What? You have doubts about my veracity in this matter? Well, it could have happened, couldn't it? Besides, I'm not George Washington; I can tell a lie.

Okay, I digress. I'm pretty sure that the need for all these doctor visits is karma. I'm more convinced than ever that this is payback from the Almighty for my having scoffed at old folks and their pill alligators when I was young. On the other hand, it's hard to argue with the current crop of doctors can do miracles for you with the proper chemicals if you try to keep healthy and continue to come in for a checkup.

Speaking of keeping healthy, Sandy and I have been trying to eat healthier food, and we have developed a couple of low-cal recipes that we rather like. One of these is our version of Salad Nicoise (pronounced knee-shwahs):

Now this salad consists of lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, boiled eggs, tuna and peppers, topped with garlic salt and pepper and using olive oil and red wine vinegar as the dressing. (Note: Using anything but red wine vinegar is not permitted; if you use some other kind, you need to be punished.) An authentic salad Nicoise is supposed to include anchovies and Nicoise olives, but we're not so fond of those things, so we use the peppers instead. It's pretty easy to see from the photos how it's made; just arrange all the stuff on a large plate on a bed of lettuce and sprinkle with the seasonings and oil and vinegar.

It is important to use high-quality ingredients; we subscribe to the philosophy that, most of the time, you get what you pay for. For this recipe, the tuna and the peppers should be top shelf. We use only canned albacore tuna that we order from a small private cannery, Chuck's Seafoods, in Coos Bay, Oregon (there are others that are very good, like Sportsmen's in Winchester Bay). Is it a bit more expensive than Star Kist? Oh yes. But after you have it, you will throw rocks at Star Kist.

By the way, here is a photo of the cannery itself, where we picked up a case of tuna last summer:

The peppers are Mama Lil's Goathorn Peppers, ordered from a small specialty foods place, also in Oregon: 

These peppers are wonderful; they are slightly spicy, tangy and garlicky, packed in olive oil, and are unlike any we have ever tried. Nothing could be better on this salad or a lot of other things; the possibilities are endless. A warning for the faint of pocketbook: These peppers are quite rare and are, unfortunately, priced accordingly. But I still think they're worth it. 

We also wouldn't think of serving this salad without our favorite cracker--Trader Joe's Everything Crackers. Here's the box, with a Mama Lil's jar keeping it company:

For those who would deny themselves a little splurging now and then, here's a thought about budgets: Almost everyone except someone really rich has one. But life is short; you will likely not remember the mundane, but you won't forget giving yourself a little treat. You're worth it.

I've been busy helping edit a book being written by Ed, a friend and fellow retired pilot about his flying career. This has had the unexpected benefit of bringing back memories of my own flying escapades about which I may write a memoir just to see what I can remember. It was a great career, and I may just do it for my grandkids.

In a few days, we will be heading eastbound for Red Bay and new stuff for Phannie. She's excited!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life. Please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

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