Well, first let me just say that you guys are swell.
Here I was, thinking I had made a Guinness-worthy effort of procrastinating, only to find I'm not the only one with picture paralysis. Talk about buoying. I feel fortified, understood, ready to conquer those walls!!
Thank you, truly.
Also, I've made pretty much no progress since we last spoke.
Because what was I thinking?
There was the small matter of that birthday, see. And in one of my more exuberant examples of compartmentalizing (and there are so very, very many from which to choose), I had it all figured out that I'd tackle a three-year-running project AND celebrate my birthday boy, all at once.
I am really very good at this sort of planning on paper. I make lists, set goals, give pep talks, go go go! The hitch in the giddy-up being the timing (sound familiar?): ...and between Tuesday's 32nd and 35th hours, scrape frames and trim down prints and measure and ... The logic of which has all the watertight integrity of mosquito netting.
Needless to say, I made a few executive decisions, most of which involved ditching framing for fêting. Which, in my book, is entirely as it should be. After all, seven year old boys don't come along every week. Particularly seven year old boys who want a snow party. Whee!
Decorations were made.
Favor bags were painted. " 'Smore fun for later" kits assembled. Then run through rigorous feasibility testing.
Snowflakes were cut.
Pencil sharpeners and Storm Fighters wrapped.
Gifts started, and shelved, due to the aforementioned hours-per-day ratio imbalance.
Treats were baked.
Respite was taken, which of late often means the watercolors were pulled out.
And which for me, when I realized, mid-clean-up, that I had four children in the house all playing happily, meant seven gorgeous, quiet minutes with fresh coffee and the new Canal House. Talk about respite.
And then yesterday, post-party, post- week of preparation and celebration, the question of Downtown Abbey was floated. We're talking Season 1, Episode 1, I'm-behind-on-way-more-than-my-walls here, folks. To which the only reasonable answer was oh HECK, yes.
There was a wee bit of framing. But it was a mighty scant wee. So I've officially granted myself an extension. Putting my feet to the fire is useful. Staying up until three a.m. is not. End of February it is, then, which this year just so happens to be the 29th. Not that I'm planning on cutting it that close...
But we still need to eat. Again and again. And for obvious reasons—see above, treats in triplicate—salads are my sanity right now.
Salads are also, apparently, my minor in life. I do love a good salad, you know that already, and I'm ordinarily loathe to pick favorites. But this, my friends, this is a favorite. What this is is your basic citrus-avocado salad, tweaked over the years to my particular tastes. Tart, drippy grapefruit and creamy, suave avocado are, all by their lonesome, Fred and Ginger and then some. There's a giant squeeze of fresh lime, which works counter-intuitive wonders on grapefruit. Instead of OD'ing the fruit's storied sour side, the lime somehow plays up its secret sweetness. Clever fellow. Add to that a good throw of cilantro, another guac alum, and a less-familiar friend to grapefruit. But a friend it is, bright, verdant, cheeky. And, to top it all, a scatter of squeaky cheese, queso fresco or ricotta salata, fresh and white, for chew and salt.
It is not your mother's grapefruit salad, one cherry-topped spartan half, the stuff of diets and denial. It is grapefruit gone decadent, a knife-and-fork affair, grapefruit as it should be.
Grapefruit + Avocado Salad with Lime, Cilantro + Queso Fresco
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side
I love the tidiness of this salad: one avocado + one grapefruit = one grand meal. That said, it can obviously be scaled up as needed, to serve a crowd. Squeeze the lime over the avocado just after slicing, and the salad will hold for an hour or two, refrigerated.
Segmenting (or supreming) is what takes grapefruit from good to grand, in a salad such as this where the citrus plays a starring role. Removing the pith, leaving only juicy meat behind, is so worth the five minutes' time it takes. In a nutshell: slice off the top and bottom (for stability), then take a paring knife and, following the fruit's contour, slide it between peel and flesh, top to bottom. Repeat. Once the fruit is exposed, hold it firmly in your palm, and slice a "V" in each segment with your paring knife, removing flesh from pith. This work is best done over a bowl, to catch the abundant juice, and takes about twice as long to describe as to do. Tea has a wonderful, illustrated write up here.
1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented (supremed)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 fresh, juicy lime, + more to taste
several tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
several tablespoons ricotta salata, queso fresco, or feta
Arrange grapefruit and avocado in alternating layers. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over all, sprinkle with a few pinches' salt, scatter cilantro and cheese, and dig in.