Friday, February 29, 2008

AND THE RAINS CAME (conclusion)

Apparently, it had begun raining again while we dined. I doubted that the road crews would have accomplished much on a Saturday, so we assumed that we would still need to take the round-about detour in order to get home. I really had to strain, in order to read the street signs in the rain, but finally spotted our turnoff. Much to my surprise, the detour sign was no longer there, and without the arrows marking the various turns, we soon became hopelessly lost. Eventually, we wound up back where we had started, and decided at that point to drive back to Wimberley and go home by our usual route. By then it was raining harder than ever, and the ditches beside the road were filling up. As we passed the Wimberley Inn, I laughingly asked "Anyone want to just stop here and check in for the night?" I think they were all half tempted.

As we finally approached our neighborhood, I told Bill "If the water's not gushing too hard over the first crossing, we can probably make it up to the house OK, but if it's up over the road at the second one as well, we are in deep doo-doo." We crept slowly up to the first crossing, and strained our eyes to peer through the dark. The water was rushing pretty fast, but didn't look too deep, so we decided to go ahead. Safely over the first one, we had to round a sharp corner before the second one came into view. To our horror, we saw that water was gushing over that one as well. "I don't know Bill. I'm afraid to risk it. I guess we'd better go back to town." Bill turned to stare at me, then asked "Any suggestions on how to get this van turned around now?" Uh.....sheeeyutt. "Any chance you could back up, very carefully, in the pitch dark, around that sharp corner and through the water again, without ending up in a ditch?" He glared at me for a moment longer, then shifted the car into reverse.

We hadn't rolled more than a couple of feet when Kathy suddenly yelled out "Stop! I see lights coming from the other direction! Let's wait and see what happens when they cross." We sat and watched as a big-ass truck came into view, and with only a slight reduction in speed, swooshed across the creek, shooting up huge fans of water on either side. Although I still wouldn't be willing to risk it in my car, I figured that the weight of the van, with all of us in it - considering the huge meal we had just eaten - had to be roughly equivalent to that of the truck. Taking a deep breath, I girded my loins and said "Go for it!" With four sets of cheeks clenched so tightly, they were practically suspended in air, we churned through the water and made it safely to the other side. By the time we had reached the house, I had managed to start breathing again. First I thanked God, then I thanked Bill, for bringing us safely home. Then Dani said "Yeah Bill. In the words of your daughter, thanks for not killing us!" And speaking of Merrit, guess who managed to sleep through the entire adventure, completely oblivious to all the fun she was missing out on?

MY SEASONAL SALAD (2 servings): Combine 2 T. good olive oil with 3/4 T. good vinegar of your choice, 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of kosher or sea salt and a grinding of black pepper, 1/2 tsp. minced shallot(opt.) and a dab of honey (opt.). Whisk until emulsified and set aside. In your salad bowl combine about 1 quart rinsed and crisped salad greens (baby arugula is to die for, but anything other than boring iceberg is good), 1/2 c. of fruit in bite-sized pieces(seedless grapes, sliced pear or strawberries, dried cranberries, sweet red pepper, etc.), 1/4 c. toasted nuts or crisp bacon (walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, spiced pecans, etc.) and 1/4 c. crumbled or shaved cheese (feta, goat, bleu, Parmigiano, etc.). Just before serving, give the salad dressing another good whisk , toss it with the salad and season to taste with more S&P.

SPICED PECANS (from Susan Branch's "Autumn" cookbook): Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray olive oil on a cookie sheet. In a large bowl combine 2c. pecan halves, 1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar, 1/4 c. melted butter, 4 tsp. Cholula Mexican hot pepper sauce, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Spread on pan in single layer, and bake 10 minutes, until lightly toasted, stirring once. Cool. I always double the recipe when pecans are in season, and keep some in the freezer, to add to salads, tuck into quesadillas, serve as appetizers, give as gifts, or just to snack on!

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