Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back At the Walnut Room

I’m on the El on my way to my semi-annual micro-vacation at the Walnut Room. Why is the train going so slowly today? At each stop, I glance at my watch hoping that I’ll be on time. Finally, the train arrives at Lake Street. I elbow my way out of the train and go through the Pedway and up to the seventh floor of Macy’s (formerly Marshal Fields) anticipating a relaxing lunch with my friend from the western exurbs.

Fortunately, it’s early enough in the holiday season that we can be seated without a reservation or having to wait on long lines. Coming here is always a vacation. We can sit in the paneled room overlooking the Chicago Loop as we talk of all things important and trivial, personal and professional without being rushed out.

Although it’s before Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree is decorated and all the other seasonal decorations are on display. As we bite into our salads, the fairy godmother stops at our table. “Do you beautiful ladies want to make a wish?”

“Yes, I do,” says my friend. Closing her eyes, she wishes for things unknown.

Next it’s my turn. There’s only one wish per customer. What will I wish for? My family is healthy and I don’t need any more material things. Do I wish for world peace? The success of the Affordable Health Care website? Peace in the Middle East? There are so many things to wish for in our imperfect world that it’s difficult to make a choice. The pressure is on. The fairy godmother has a lot of other tables to visit. I settle for economic justice and prosperity for the 99% and wish the Fairy Godmother a Merry Christmas.

Our squash soup and salads eaten, we talk about how the year has treated us. While the salads are good, they aren’t outstanding. Nevertheless, the ambiance is delicious, proving once again the
importance of eating in a warm, conducive atmosphere. Good conversation always adds to the flavor of the meal. We wish each other a Happy Thanksgiving and continue on our day.

While I’m at it, I want to share a favorite quick recipes for salads. It takes a few minutes to prepare, leaving time left over to perfect the world.  Remember - ambience is half the battle.

                                                     Easy One-Week Salad
Cucumbers cut into pieces
Green peppers cut into pieces
Tomatoes cut into small wedges
Any other salad vegetables you like
Cut enough salad vegetables to last a week. Put aside in a plastic container in the refrigerator.

To individualize the salads, here are two of my favorites:
Greek Salad

Take enough salad vegetables for one meal. Add Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Cut in some pieces of Bermuda onion. A couple of anchovies (optional) chopped up add flavor. For dressing, add olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano

Black Bean and Cheese Salad

Take enough basic salad for one dinner. Add cilantro leaves, green olives, black beans drained of most of the liquid, and cheddar cheese diced into small pieces. For dressing, add lime juice and olive oil.

Good with wine, good bread, and whatever else you’re serving. Bon appetit!



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