June was a rough month for me when it came to writing for my blog. July wasn’t much better. I’d sit down day after day to write, and day after day, nothing would come of it. So I started taking “snow days’ in the middle of summer. A lot of snow days. Maybe it was the sun, beckoning me to come out to play and shirk my responsibilities. Maybe it was that other commitments took priority. Maybe I just got burnt out. Most likely, it was the last one.
For me, blogging definitely comes in spurts. I’ve read many posts from others who say the same. One month you feel like posting daily, the next month you can’t even seem to get one post up a week. Aside from my apparent writer’s block, another huge factor in this is that I haven’t felt like cooking and photographing blog-worthy food. I haven’t bothered to write down many recipes, instead preferring to throw things in a dish without having to measure or remember exactly what I did. Call it lazy, uninspired or unmotivated; it all ends with the same result: blogging comes to a screeching halt.
On the one hand, it’s nice to take a break, not be chained to the computer and or concerned with web traffic and stats. But I get this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me it’s been three days, four days, TEN!!! days since I last posted. Clearly, I have been in a blogging funk that didn’t want to go away. This always leads to the “Why am I even doing this? What’s the point of this blog?” kind of questions, which of course leads to more funk. It’s a vicious cycle. But then, when at my funkiest, and like the universe knew just what I needed, I’d get a comment that would bolster my spirits.
Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me so much after almost a year of doing this, but I find it incredible that a complete stranger can make such a difference in my day. For example, almost two months after I posted my Angel Hair Pasta with White Wine Cream Sauce, Shrimp, Bacon and Blue Cheese recipe, I got this comment:
“I was cleaning out my kitchen today. Found an abundance of shrimp in the freezer and blue cheese in the fridge. Basil has taken over my garden, so I was delighted to find your recipe this afternoon. Made this for dinner tonight, and it was OH SO GOOD! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely make this again!”
Perhaps it sounds trite, but comments like this make me want to keep blogging. To know that someone out there has made and, more importantly, liked a recipe I created makes it all worthwhile. This person didn’t have to take the time to come back and let me know their thoughts, but they did, and for that I’m thankful.
Spirit booster number two came in the form of another comment, but this time not from a stranger…well, not a complete stranger, anyway…it came from Carolyn of Care’s Kitchen. See, I’ve never met her, I’ve never talked to her, and until very recently, I didn’t even know her name. But she was one the first people I met out in the blogosphere (forgive me for using that “word”), and from the first time I read her blog, I knew I liked her. Blog friends are an interesting thing…you read about each other’s lives, you chat on Twitter, you make comments on each other’s sites…all via the internet. But somehow, you come away feeling like you know each other. So it truly made my day when Carolyn commented on a post awhile back, and ended with “PS - we HAVE to meet some day!” because I would love it if we could, and think that we’d get along famously, if for no other reason than our shared love of wine and cocktails. Blog friends…another reason to be thankful.
Comments like these remind me why I do spend an inordinate amount of time finding just the right word, the perfect mix of ingredients, the best photograph. Comments like these make me happy. And when you’re happy, it’s hard to be in a funk.
Now, let’s get on to the recipe…
Asparagus Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette and Garlic Chips
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed
1 Persian (mini) cucumber, sliced into rounds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
shaved parmesan cheese and lemon zest, for garnish (optional)
Blanch the asparagus in a pot of salted boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until al dente (tender crisp). Transfer to an ice water bath to chill. Drain and reserve.
To make the garlic chips, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan on high heat. When oil is very hot, add the sliced garlic. Let cook for about 2 minutes, until crisp and browned. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Lightly salt if desired.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, tarragon, sugar, salt and pepper.
To assemble, lay cucumber slices on a plate and top with asparagus. Drizzle with vinaigrette, then sprinkle with garlic chips, shaved parmesan and lemon zest. (Alternatively, cut the asparagus spears into shorter lengths and toss all the components together in a bowl. This is an easier way to serve it and was how I originally made it, but it wasn’t as photogenic.)
Note: Salad can be prepped ahead by chilling the cooked asparagus, cucumber and vinaigrette separately until ready to toss. Garlic chips can be made several hours ahead and left uncovered at room temperature.
This dish was created solely around the use of garlic chips, which I have
blatantly stolen borrowed from Care’s Kitchen. When I saw them in a shrimp dish she made, I knew I had to try them. What could be better than garlic chips?? As I’ve mentioned, one of my firm beliefs is that garlic makes everything better, and this salad is no exception. Without them, it would be lacking something. The pungency of the chips adds a necessary punch to the dish, elevating the fresh, green flavors to something special. (I would be just as happy just eating the chips by the handful, but Andy may not be as thrilled with that idea…)
Okay…now that I’ve gotten one post up, let’s hope I can keep the momentum going. Here's to a productive August...