Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bumps in the road and friends for lunch

Today started out kind of rough. My son dribbled a “spill-proof” cup full of milk on the floor as we walked out the door to drive him to school. Since we were already running late and couldn’t stop to clean it up, I looked forward to having that waiting for me when I got back home.

Then, halfway to school while driving through stop and go traffic, my dog threw up, half in my purse and half on my back floor mat after heaving for no less than two minutes. The warning sound of his impending sickness only helped to build the anticipation of its arrival. I drove home looking forward to also cleaning up the new mess after I got there. For obvious reasons this one took priority over the spilled milk in the entryway. It is times like these that I remind myself that it could always get worse, so I count my blessings and move on. Some days you’re the bat…some days you’re the ball.

No matter how badly it started, today is still a blessing because this is the day of the week that I meet up with two of my favorite girlfriends for a little lunch, a lot of laughs and a bit of problem solving. If anyone has any pressing problems that you need help with, just drop me a line and we'll have a profound answer for you after our next weekly meeting.

I was lucky enough to have met my friend Joanie through our two teenage daughters. We first met several years ago during a kid swap at the parking lot of our local supermarket. We had an immediate connection and I knew that we were meant to be friends. She was with me in New York when I won the Ocean Spray Cranberry Recipe Contest so in a way she’s also my good luck charm. Joanie is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. She radiates optimism and sweetness. After a couple of hours with her, I am a better person.

I met Anita, the remaining member of our group, several years ago when we first moved to Colorado from Texas. She lives down the street from me and we were brought together by another neighbor who organized morning walks around the neighborhood. We didn’t walk for too many weeks before the winter weather moved in and we had to disband with plans on starting back up the following spring.

When spring came, I was painting my basement and Anita was a busy working mother, so life just got in the way. On one regular day in March, after a routine medical procedure, Anita had a dizzy spell and fell, hitting the back of her head on one of her kitchen cabinet doors paralyzing her.

After many months in the hospital, she returned home to her husband, sons, daughter and the bossiest Jack Russell terrier I have ever met. He really runs the place, but he depends on Anita to be his second in command, or so he thinks. Their lives together are a testament to honoring marriage vows, raising a close family and being a dedicated hands-on mother. I admire her more than I can say.

Well, I guess you can see how lucky I am to have such a wonderful support group; so when things get a little challenging, like they did this morning, I know I only have a few days at the most until I meet up with the girls again for a therapy session. Thanks so much Joanie and Anita, for including me in your group. Our luncheon date is truly one of the highpoints of my week.

More often than not, Joanie volunteers to bring some sort of wonderful lunch for the three of use to share. Every now and then she takes mercy on me and allows me to bring something to soothe my guilty conscience. My favorite “go to” recipe is super simple but contains a secret ingredient that really, truly makes a huge difference in this run of the mill, everyday recipe. I really think if you'll give this recipe a try, you'll be glad that you've rediscovered this old favorite.


Extreme Tuna Salad

I worked for a caterer many years ago who also sold sandwiches out of the front of her shop. This girl could really make a sandwich. One of her best sellers was her tuna salad and as an employee I was privy to her recipe which I have embellished a bit and made it my own. The addition of crumbled saltine crackers mellows the flavor of the fish and creates the best tuna salad you’ll ever eat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

1 – 5 ounce (150g) can tuna in water, drained and flaked
2 tablespoons celery, finely minced
1 large spring onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons yellow, orange or red bell pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped Serrano pepper (optional)
1 egg, boiled and chopped
6 saltine crackers, crumbled (cream crackers can be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
A generous grinding of black pepper
2 – 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (depending on how moist you like it)
1/4 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Place all the ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir well. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

This makes 4 medium size sandwiches. YUM!
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