“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”
– Mark Twain
It might be hard to believe, but I was an extremely picky eater as a child. I, who am fascinated by all manner of delicious foods and read cook books for pleasure, used to turn my nose and literally gag at simple things like vegetable soup, onions, almonds, spinach and many, many more things. I received my first and only spanking that I can remember for refusing to eat my supper of carrot stamppot, a Dutch meal of mashed potatoes and carrots with gravy and sausage. And even after that, I still couldn’t force it down. My stomach roiled at the mere mention of new foods.
Until one day, when I was a young teenager visiting my older sister Shirley for dinner. She is an excellent cook, but as a child I dreaded eating at her house because she loved trying new recipes, like hot spinach bread (yuck!) and clam chowder (gross!) and barbecued salmon steaks (ewww!). You may stop drooling now. She was also less willing than my mother to continue putting up with her youngest sister’s pickiness.
So on this particular evening she had whipped up a salad to go with dinner. One look at it and I groaned inwardly. Hiding amongst suspiciously different-looking leaves were chunks of things that didn’t belong in salads – oranges, avocados, nuts! Oh no, I thought, what was I going to do? I spied some fresh sliced strawberries lying on top of the bed of lettuce and friends, and so I began to selectively place them – and only them – on my plate.
My sister, bless her, didn’t let me get away with it. She insisted (ordered? convinced?) that I must try the salad, and that I might just be surprised how good things taste if I would just give it a try. Well, fine, I thought, one mouthful ought to make her happy. To my great surprise one bite turned into two, three, and then second helpings of the most amazing salad I had ever tasted. And who knew almonds were so good?
Thus began my journey into the world of trying new things. It was a turning point for me, and not just with food. I now love experiencing all kinds of new things – foods, places, cultures, friends, languages and facts, and different styles of worship and prayer. I think it’s a healthy and vibrant way to approach life. There are times when I need to cling to tried and true “cheese pizza” realities in my life, but soon I’m ready to explore again. God has given us this world to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) and I intend to do just that!
- ½ cup good quality olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 head of butter or Boston lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 10 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained
- ½ cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced (or substitute sliced cucumber)
- ¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp butter (for frying nuts/seeds)
Combine dressing in a jar; shake well to blend. Heat butter in non-stick pan and saute nuts and seeds on low heat until light brown. Drain on paper towel. Toss all other ingredients together with dressings and nuts/seeds. Serve immediately. Won’t keep.