Our apartment in Queens has really good sunlight, and not just really good sunlight for a New York City apartment. I have lived in shoeboxes that had one lone window facing a brick wall, so I don’t take my many windowed, sunlight filled, fantastic viewed home for granted. On the morning of the Great Blizzard of 2016, aka Jonas, every window was cocooned with snow. The sun was taking a much needed break after an incredibly warm winter thus far. This snow event caused most of New York City to take a much needed break too. I’m sure there were many people inviting their inner Elsa to belt out ‘Let it Snow! Let it Snow!’ to the tune of her alltoofamous song…
It was a sleepy day full of catnaps, broken up by some delicious food, wine, and emptying out a full DVR. All day I checked in with my friends via email and Facebook and it seems as though all of us put our lives on pause and granted ourselves a self imposed holiday of playtime and rest. I also had a big day of reflection. I thought about my first years in New York and some of those shoeboxes that I once called home.
In days gone by, I was the cliché struggling actor with 3 jobs, rolling pennies to ride the subway. I remember going to sleep at night stressed out about money and waking up in the morning yawning into the same financial stress. I knew it would get better. I just didn’t know how or when. I remember singing myself to sleep, well quietly humming "The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow." Little Orphan Annie made the most of things with that tune, why shouldn’t I, right?
There was a restaurant down by NYU called Dojo - a vegetarian inspired place in a world of notsomany vegetarian places like today. And it was cheap. Super cheap. They had a salad on their menu for $1.35 that I remember actually sharing with a friend to save money. This salad, though inexpensive, was exotic and luxurious because of its salad dressing. A thick concoction of zingy carrot and ginger tossed into some plain old lettuce. A contrast of perfection. I hadn’t thought about that salad in a very long time.
I tell my ‘How I Transitioned From Struggling Actor To Successful Personal Chef Story’ often, but recently someone asked me about how I started blogging and sharing my food with a wider audience. I attribute nearly 100% inspiration from a woman named Heidi Swanson. She’s a chef, photographer, cook book author, and she created my very favorite food blog, 101 Cookbooks. Heidi travels like I do, she observes and captures things like I do, and she loves sharing her life through food, like I do as well. A few weeks ago Heidi posted a recipe for Carrot Ginger Dressing and I let out a little yelp! I immediately rounded up the ingredients and made it. So similar to Dojo, and from this woman I admired so much, the dressing was almost too good to be true.
On the day of the blizzard, I brought some sunshine into our cocooned apartment by way of a simple lettuce salad and this exceptional dressing. After our 25+ inch snow day with not a sun ray in sight, look what we woke up to the next morning! It was a miraculous spectacle after 24 continuous hours of snowfall. From under the covers, I basked in the sunlight! I sent little blessings to the penny-rolling me of the past eating at Dojo. I also sent little blessings to the me of today, a food blogger just like Heidi Swanson!
It always comes down to contrast, we need the darkness to appreciate the light, and we need the lean days to appreciate the abundant ones. We need to put our lives on pause and grant ourselves a snow day to give thanks for it all.
An Exceptional Ginger Carrot Dressing
You can freeze any dressing you don't use in a few days.
- 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, or more to taste
- 5 tablespoons peeled ginger, chopped to measure
- 3 medium farmers' market carrots, scrubbed
- 1/2 of a serrano pepper, stemmed, or to taste
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon miso (optional)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml brown rice vinegar ( I used seasoned rice wine vinegar, it's what I had on hand.)
- 4 medium shallots, peeled
Puree the coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, carrots, pepper, olive oil, salt, toasted sesame oil, miso, maple syrup, brown rice vinegar, and shallots in a blender until very smooth. Taste, and adjust, if needed, with more salt or vinegar, or any other ingredient you think might need a little boost.
Makes about 2 cups.
Prep time: 5 min