This is the summer of counting my blessings. It’s a stay-at-home kind of summer. And that’s okay! I recently found myself thinking, “I wish we could go someplace a little bit cooler. Eat buckets of rich food and wash it down with gallons of local wine. Maybe do a bit of shopping after seeing the sights…”. There were loud notes of complaint in that daydream and I had to remind myself that I am damn fortunate exactly where I am. Even if it’s not the most exciting place. Mama taught me that lesson a very long time ago; a lesson she learned when she was a little girl in Puerto Rico. My mother’s family lived in a town called Fajardo, pronounced fah-HAR-do, on an enormous piece of land my grandfather inherited from his father who, in turn, inherited it from his father, etcetera, etcetera. Mama had four sisters and five brothers and her mother ran a smooth household. My grandfather, whom we affectionately called “Papa Pepe”, tolerated no misbehavior from my uncles although they all had near fatal adventures never known to him. The boys all had their own horses and rode through the fields and stream on their land. They chased animals, had races, swam, played Zorro and indulged in all usual hijinks of young boys.
The girls, on the other hand, were almost housebound. My mother and aunts could read and do needlework. They played with china dolls, sang songs and made up skits under the shade of mahogany trees. One day my mother found herself standing alone in the house, looking out of a large window onto a splendid meadow. Mama said the sun was shining, the grasses were green and there were butterflies. Under the butterflies was a little boy, dancing and skipping, the happiest ever. It was Miguelito, the youngest of Pedro, my grandfather’s driver, and Angelina, who helped my grandmother with the children. My mother was entranced….such freedom…such happiness! Standing at the window she thought, “Oh, how I wish I was Miguelito!”. She stayed looking out of the window until long after he was gone. When suddenly came Miguelito’s mother, Angelina flying around the corner of the house, leather belt in hand, all the while roaring, “MIGUELITO!!!! Ven aca! Te voy a dar! Miguelito!”, “Get over here! You’re gonna get it!”. Crystal clear was the realization Mama had that you never know what life has for you or anyone at any given moment. Life can change on a dime. She was practically limp with relief that she wasn’t, and never would be, that little boy, Miguelito, whose happiness would end as soon as that leather belt struck his scrawny legs. This was what I told myself when I started grousing about not going away for the summer. This was what I told myself when I whined of not being in Greece or France or England. I quickly reminded myself of the beautiful neighborhood I live in and see every morning when I workout. I thought of afternoon dips in our pool, wearing flip-flops every waking moment of the day, summer hours with girlfriends and cool drinks and foods we savor day in and day out. No. I’m blessed beyond belief that I have all this and more. I’m happy to munch on mountains of cold, crisp salads, refreshing myself with tervis tumbler after tervis tumbler packed with ice and coconut water and doing this in my beautiful home. Because life is very, very good.
This salad dressing is a marvel. Whether it’s plain field greens you are dressing or the combination of arugula and shaved fennel, this dressing will be a summer favorite. The coconut oil will solidify as it is kept in the refrigerator so I portion out the amount I’ll be using when I want it. I allow it to come to room temperature on the counter or gently zap it in the microwave to liquify the coconut oil. The dressing may be prepared with fresh orange and lemon juice or with just fresh lemon juice. It is extremely thin and runny but somehow works really well. The citrus is like a tonic and the coconut oil gives the dressing a sweet smoothness as no other. Every night I heap this salad on my dinner plate and I am happy, happy. Hope you like it!
Citrus and Coconut Vinaigrette
- 2 navel oranges, juiced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, can be found at the grocery store
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
- Taste for any needed salt or pepper and adjust as needed.
- Bring to room temperature to liquify coconut oil before serving.