You know how sometimes when you're feeling down, just seeing something that's bright and sunny can make you feel a little bit better? Well, as silly as it might sound, that's exactly what creating this salad did for me...
Last night, my mom called to tell me that she had finally decided to put our cat, Natasha, to sleep. We've had Natasha (or "Tashie," as we liked to call her) ever since she was a kitten and I was about 8 or 9 years old. She was a Seal Point Siamese cat, with blue eyes, beautiful white fur, and the typical black legs/ears/face that're associated with Siamese cats.
Tashie was a sweet and affectionate, yet calm and sophisticated pet. She was the kind of cat who could even make sworn "non-cat people" want to pet her, and was the envy of my friends when I was growing up.
My younger brothers and I would squeal with laughter when she purred - she was so loud that we eventually tacked "Moto" (short for "motor") onto her name - because her purr sounded just like a running motor! We would also sing the "We are Siamese" song to her (from the Disney movie "Lady and the Tramp") when we were little. The fact that she was Siamese - the novelty of it - never quite wore off, I guess...
After I got older, went away to college, and eventually moved out altogether, I saw less and less of her. However, whenever I went to visit my mom and little brother, the sight of Tashie - in "her" spot on the couch - always made me feel like I was home.
Unfortunately, as the years went by, Tashie developed arthritis and could hardly walk - it was so painful to watch her try to jump down from the couch onto the floor - and she eventually lost the ability to keep most of her food down.
During the past several weeks, my mom said that she had to check Tashie's breathing when she got home from work, just to make sure that she was still alive. Sadly, her movements finally became so limited that she stopped being able to use her litter box. And, eventually, Tashie Moto could no longer even purr. As a result, my mom made the difficult decision to have her euthanized.
Even though I'm glad that Natasha is no longer in pain, it's still sad to think about the fact that she's gone. I'm really dreading the first time that I have to walk into my mom's house without Tashie being there - it'll be hard. And although I realize this isn't the last time that I'll lose a pet, and that lots of my other pets have gone before her, it still really sucks.
So, since there's really no good way to segue here, I'll just jump right into my "feel better" salad recipe... If it can bring a bit of levity to my otherwise dreary day, I surely must be doing something right.
Recipe: Brighten Your Day Salad
Note: all ingredient amounts are "to taste"
baby spinach, washed & dried
red onion, thinly sliced
Mandarin orange segments
fresh ground black pepper
1.) Place spinach in serving bowl.
2.) Add red onion & Mandarin oranges, tossing to mix ingredients.
3.) Sprinkle salad with raisins & walnuts, adding a bit of ground pepper, if desired.
4.) Top with Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing (recipe follows) & serve immediately.
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Recipe: Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. yellow onion, grated
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1.) In a small bowl or jar, whisk together all ingredients, except poppy seeds.
2.) Add poppy seeds to dressing, stir, & serve.
Note: If storing dressing in refrigerator, remove before use to liquefy, & whisk before serving.
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