Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A crowd pleaser

You can't please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people (and animals) some of the time. What am I talking about? Well, the other day I really think the universe was trying to send me a message. Perhaps that was what it was, but I'm still not entirely sure. Either way, this salad will please all of the people all of the time:
but we'll get to that a little later. First the story.

On Monday we had a fourth annual charity golf outing that my company sponsors. I organize and run the event, which basically involves several weeks of bugging people to sign up and donate.

Then the day of, myself and a few other volunteers register all the participants and ask them again to donate money toward the cause in the form of raffle tickets and mulligans, ie do-overs, for their golf game. I don't mind hounding people for the money since in the end it goes to help out a great charity, The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Montgomery County,

It's a feel good day - one where you know all day that what you're doing is serving a purpose. And I think on a day like this, you try to do whatever good you can. It becomes addicting, that feeling of helping out.

So that said, one of the gifts we distributed at the outing was a travel mug. Each mug came packaged in it's own cardboard box. We unwrapped about 100 mugs to give out to the players, leaving a stack of cardboard boxes. Thinking of the state of our environment today, I really hate to see all those boxes just be thrown away. I remembered that there is a bin in our office parking lot for cardboard recycling, so I volunteered to take all the disassembled boxes home with me. We got a separate trash bag, broke down all the little boxes, shoved them in the bag and set it aside to put in my car after registration so I could take them to the recycling bin on Tuesday.

I should have put them in my car right away because the maintenance crew at the golf course - simply doing their job - thought that the trash bag was full of, well you guessed it, trash. So when I wasn't paying attention my bag of cardboard boxes got swooped up and hauled away to be put in a regular dumpster. I was truly deflated when I discovered the bag of boxes missing. One of the volunteers put a positive spin on it, "Well, you did try," she said. And I guess at that point that was all I had going for me.

The day moved on and the event came to a successful close - we raised about $20,000 for the charity. I left the country club at around 9 p.m. to head home and while driving down one of the back roads I saw a shadowy figure on the road. At first I thought it was a deer, but upon closer inspection I realized it was a large white dog walking down the middle of the road!! It's pitch black and I'm on a windy back road. But what could I do? I couldn't just keep on driving without trying to help the poor dog?

So I stopped my car in the middle of the street, grabbed some turkey from the "doggie bag" (how appropriate) that I packed for my husband from the leftover buffet food, and started calling him. "Hear puppy, you're such a good boy! You want some turkey?"

And as luck would have it this dog would not come close. The one fortunate thing was that he finally ran out of the street and into a nearby field, where at this point I'm also standing, talking like an idiot and offering slabs of turkey. I finally got the dog to come to me, and he was super sweet but very skittish. He was dirty - mud was caked all over one of his hind legs. I was willing to put him in my car though and shelter him for the night but I had no way of capturing him. After many feeble attempts of trying to get him to follow me, I had to give up. I mean it was pitch black, getting cold and I was in the middle of nowhere. When he finally ran off and kept running I felt seriously defeated. "Stupid dog! You're going to get hit by a car," I yelled. It didn't seem to phase him because he just kept running. I got back in the car and cried, thinking of all the horrible possibilities of what might happen to this dog.

I guess I should have been happy that I was able to do so much good that day for the charity, but all I could think about on the ride home was how every other good deed I tried to do just fell by the wayside. It was discouraging.

I finally made it home and sauntered off to bed. Then at around 5 a.m. I heard a banging on the screen door. I shook my husband and we had the proverbial "did you hear that?" conversation. Our bedroom looks down over the patio so I clandestinely peeked through the blinds and thought I saw an animal.

Curious, I went downstairs and sure enough there on my patio, practically attached to the screen door was a little orange kitten with white paws. "You have got to be kidding me", I thought to myself. What is it with me and homeless pets? I opened the patio door and he let me pet his little head. He was so skinny so I filled a little bowl with food and put it on the patio for him. He ate the whole bowl and by the time I woke back up at 7 a.m. he was gone, only to return again the next night for some attention and some more food.

I just thought it was pretty ironic after so many failed attempts to do good - ie the recycling and the stray dog rescue - that this little homeless kitten practically fell right in my lap. Maybe that was the universe's way of telling me that no matter how hard you try you just can't control what will be. But that sometimes you can make a difference and because you never know when that sometime could be to never stop trying. Or maybe, like my husband said, I'm just overthinking the whole situation. Could be.

Which is why I offer a simple recipe that truly will please all of the people all of the time.

End of Summer Salad
1 large tomato
1 ripe avocado
1 ball of fresh mozzarella packed in water
1 bag of field greens lettuce
1/2 cup pesto
My pesto recipe (these are estimate measurements, I truly just eyeball everything and go by taste):
a large handful of fresh basil leaves
a slightly smaller handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted or untoasted
1 teaspoon of minced garlic or roasted garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese (add according to taste)
about 1/2 cup olive oil

Slice your tomato, avocado and mozzarella evenly and layer on a bed of field greens.
For the pesto, combine all the ingredients in a food processor, drizzling in the olive oil last. Process until smooth and spoon over your salad.


Anonymous said...

This sounds really good, I'm gonna try it this weekend maybe! And keep on trying to help, I loved your story!

Stephanie said...

that looks yummy! This summer my husband and I saw a dog running on the side of the interstate. I made him get off and turn around to try to find it. Well we found it and tried and tried to get the dog to come to us, DH even chased after it on the side of interstate, but it wouldn't come. I cried for a while at what might happen to that dog. I can totally relate to your story. We've got to keep trying though:)

The Home Cook said...

This looks SO yummy!

KMAYS said...

What a delicious-looking salad and a great story! Something that I try to remind myself, all we can do is our best.

Cate said...

That is a BEAUTIFUL salad!

That Girl said...

You are a good person, and I'm sure that dog made it somewhere safe. And that salad? I'm sure it pleases all of the people all of the time.

Anonymous said...

This salad looks great! Great presentation!