mains, salads

farmhouse salad with wheat beer vinaigrette.

farmhouse salad with wheat beer vinaigrette.

Where. Have. I been?

Well, friends, I’ll tell you; I didn’t drop off the face of the planet, however; I did leave my home state for a 2-week stint in central Florida to assist in a dual move, which felt sort of like leaving the planet. My sweet grandparents moved into a sassy independent living community (because they’re still mega-sassy) while my mother silmuntaenously moved into her new house.

I saw the beach twice.

I did quite a bit of sweating not on the beach.

I missed you. 

It wasn’t terrible, but it was a gargantuan amount of work loading and unloading an incalculable amount of boxes. Here’s the thing: my people are a people prone to really caring for their things. It’s not materialism: we are curators – archivists of special things given us – and we almost never destroy, break, or mishandle items dear to our collective hearts. This is an admirable quality until you do the math on 90 years of caregiving. Math:

90 years x 2 people + friends in all 50 states and throughout the world, really + (2 birthdays + 1 Christmas) x 90 + (1 shared anniversary x like at least 65 years now, I’ve lost count) + 1 wedding + all the things people get handed down to them = MUCH STUFF.

my grandparents.

the owners of the much stuff, a.k.a my grandparents. I stole this photo because it’s one of my favorites.


And such fabulous stuff, really. As I said earlier, I wouldn’t say any of us are materialistic: often it’s quite the opposite. But we love old things…like old people. And, quite obviously, their things.

Which, during a move, can prove difficult. Especially for the movers, who look at you like you are out of your mind when you ask them to please carefully move the 3 1930’s-era buffets, the mid-century china cabinet, and an ancient desk which looks like maybe you stole it from the Oval Office. Add to that maybe 89 boxes of immaculately preserved 1970’s era toys and a Victrola, and you’ve got yourself a party.

farmhouse salad with wheat beer vinaigrette.

Did I mention that we like to craft? Because all of that came too. Plus stacks of Tupperware…from the Kennedy era. Also I don’t know how many photos, dating back to probably when photos were first invented.

Because we like to care for the past, and all of it is very organized, but unearthing all of it to move from one house to another, and then finding places for it? Similar to one of those square puzzles where the one piece is missing and you have to move things around to unscramble the picture, and that can be infuriating and frustrating and totally awesome all at the same time. Had I wanted to work, I wouldn’t have been able to, because the internet / tv / phone bundle thing didn’t get switched over for most of the trip. It was like camp, really: camp with lots of vintage glassware.

I made you this salad before I left and had zero time to write about it. It doesn’t deserve that sort of neglect, because it was fantastic. From the Andrew Carmellini cookbook American Flavor, which I continually swear none of you should be living without, it’s probably more of an autumnal salad if you want to get technical about it (which I do not.) The winter was over, the weather was getting warmer, and we were starting to fire up the grill here: the flavors felt right to me, and I think you could honestly make this any time of year and get away with it. Who’s going to turn down wheat beer vinaigrette drizzled over things like aged cheddar, proscuitto and bitter greens? No one.

farmhouse salad with wheat beer vinaigrette.

I’ll resume my regularly scheduled program after I unpack my suitcase, which is filled with stolen Tupperware, an old Japanese 35mm camera, a deluxe Auto-Bridge game, and the entire Little House on the Prairie series of books from my childhood (thanks Mom!). I missed cooking too, and I’m really ready to get back into the swing of things.

Until then –

Adapted barely at all from American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini. After 3 years of owning it, it’s still in my Top 5, with good reason.

Farmhouse Salad with Wheat Beer Vinaigrette

Serves 4

for the wheat beer vinaigrette: 

  • 1/2 cup wheat beer (pick your favorite! I like Schlafly Hefeweizen)
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 navel orange
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

for the salad:

  • 5 to 6 oz total mix of bitter greens (I used 50/50 of radicchio and escarole)
  • 2 to 3 oz fresh spinach
  • 6 oz aged white Vermont cheddar, sliced thinly into matchsticks
  • 2 eating apples, fuji or gala, cored and sliced thinly
  • 4 oz proscuitto, in ribbons
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (I was undecided at the time of the photo shoot, as you can see, but later discovered both work brilliantly)
  • 1/3 cup (small bunch) parsley leaves
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Whisk together beer, honey, mustard, and orange juice into a medium bowl. Continue to whisk as you stream in oil slowly, then add salt and pepper to season. Set aside for an hour to let flavors blend.

Toss together the bitter greens and fresh spinach; drizzle dressing over leaves and continue to toss until coated, and season with salt and pepper. Divide onto 4 plates. Top with cheddar matchsticks, apple slices, proscuitto ribbons, and walnuts; scatter parsley leaves over each salad and season again with salt and pepper. serve immediately alongside more of the beer vinaigrette.

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  • Reply mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry April 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Having just moved all of our stuff from SC to NY I sympathize with how much work it is – how wonderful of you to help them! I never thought I had a lot of stuff…until I tried to fit it all into a 16 foot rental truck. In other news, this salad has so many of my favorite things in it and sounds amazing. I am also super jealous of your Little House on the Prairie books because I had the entire set too and have read them HUNDREDS of times but lost them years ago (probably while moving.) I’d forgotten about them until I read your post and was then hit by massive tidal wave of nostalgia at the many hours I spent reading them under my bed with a stash of peanut M&M’s! I’m heading to Amazon to reorder the set right this minute! Also a 20lb bag of M&M’s – you know, for old times sake! 😉 Welcome back!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      UGH I BET THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY CRAZY, MELLISSA! i can’t even imagine..i’ve never done a state-to-state move but i know it’s a nightmare (b/c my mom has done it and will i’m sure be doing it again in a few years). Isn’t it crazy how much stuff you don’t realize you have? even just the square footage of it all…it’s baffling what comes out of closets and storage – like a clown car!
      Aw, little house on the prairie twins! You have to reorder the set and we can do a little dual book club and read them all again. order me some of those m&m’s too b/c that sounds like THE WORLD’S MOST PERFECT PAIRING.

  • Reply Ashley April 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Way to be daughter/granddaughter of the year! And I know what you mean about the frustrating-yet-triumphant puzzle of arranging belongings. It’s one of my favorite-yet-least-favorite things to do when reorganizing (or moving). This salad sounds awesome, particularly a wheat ale vinaigrette. Seriously, that’s brilliant, because you kinda have to drink the rest of that beer….

    By the way, you really need to try the new Jeni’s Color Collection. I bought the orange yesterday (despite participating in a fitness/nutrition challenge where I’m trying to actually follow the nutrition plan, which, decidedly does NOT include copious amounts of Jeni’s). It is so, so, so good. Juicy, tropical, and above all, orange.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      HA! probably still have a long way to go to deserve that title, but i AM proud and happy that i was able to go and help them get things accomplished. Plus, they have shuffleboard courts and checkers at their new place and i want to use them, so…tradeoff. 🙂

      that is EXACTLY what i was just saying! DRINK THE REST OF THE BEER B/C YOU HAVE TO! it’s like total motivation to make dinner.

      Say WHAT? I’m looking up the Jeni’s color collection b/c i’m sorry that sounds amazing. I heard about the whole recall thing anyway and they’ve been handling that so well that i’d like them to be back up and rolling *crosses fingers*

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      OMG I WANT ALL THE COLOR FLAVORS! Sadly, still unavailable, but i have a little “notify me” when they’re back. that GREEN THO.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs April 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    We have way, way too much stuff. We’ve gotten rid of tons of it over the last decade or so, but have more tons to go. 🙁 Including way too much kitchen stuff. Can never have enough Tupperware, though, and those oldies are the best.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      There’s no such thing as too much kitchen stuff, John. NO SUCH THING.

      (says me, with the two huge utility racks of kitchen-related items downstairs…)

  • Reply sue|theviewfromgreatisland April 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Welcome home! We missed you too 🙂 Both my husband’s and my parents live in Florida, so we may be doing the same thing one day…glad to hear you survived! We’re on the same page with unusual vinaigrettes today, and you’ve intrigued me about the American Flavor book, I’m going to look it up.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you! You’re too sweet, Sue. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck if and when you have to do the same type of move with your husband’s parents, but tell them ahead of time to get rid of some things! 🙂 I wish we had started going through stuff last year when we were there for vacation, although we would have still had tons to do. Definitely 90 year olds deserve to have lots of stuff.

      Definitely check out American Flavor: i sing its praises on the regular…it’s just a super solid cookbook with great food, nothing crazy in terms of ingredients, but so interesting in the results.

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook April 23, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I helped my parents downsize last year. 240 boxes, 3 storage areas and 3 weeks before I found their silverware, was enough to make me come home and start tossing! Slowly I am going through my stuff. It is the pictures that take so long to organize, but I vow to do it. I could have used this salad to get me through! Thanks Shannon!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Isn’t downsizing just a total 4 letter world when you have to do it? UGH so hard! Especially when things have been meticulously cared for, or have sentimental value, etc. I don’t envy you at all! It definitely does make you want to assess how much stuff you have at your house: that’s a huge lesson learned. 🙂

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends April 23, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Oh, man… moving! So many people I know are moving right now, too. It’s great that you were able (and willing) to go down there and help your grandparents. Moving is like a Herculean effort even WITH help, so I’m sure they were really glad to have you there and not have to do it alone.

    Also, this salad — you had me at beer vinaigrette, cheddar, and prosciutto. And are those apples I see in there? To hell with what season this salad belongs in, it belongs in my belly! (Speaking of seasons, WHERE IS THIS SPRING PEOPLE KEEP TALKING ABOUT?! It snowed here yesterday. It snowed on all the daffodils. Not cool, weather, not cool.)

    In other news, I’m so glad you’re back! I just saw your email show up in my inbox for the just one question project and it made me SO HAPPY! I promise I’ll respond to it just as soon as I have a moment of peace and quiet to give it the attention it deserves. 🙂

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Girl, MOVING. i loved to help, and there were definitely days that went really well and we all had energy, and there were definitely days where no one wanted to be in the same room with each other because everyone just had short fuses and were saying things in the wrong ways, you know? THOSE days, lol.

      this salad? makes me feel better about life in general, basically, which is why i thought i’d go ahead and post it upon my return. also, because i know you and a few other of my northern amigos are having total snow, and this salad doesn’t incorporate ANYTHING pinterest-y about spring…just good, solidly year-round flavors.

      i hope given my tardy comment-responding that spring has come to your neck of the woods. i know here we’re in the 80s and it’s definitely late-springish, no mistaking that here. We’re enjoying the flowers when my eyes aren’t pollen-filled.

      yay i’m back! i’m glad you’re glad! and i’ll be sending a reminder about the Just One Question project here tomorrow but if you want to be ahead of the curve….*send me the joq response* <--that's my subliminal message 🙂

  • Reply Monica April 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Wheat beer vinaigrette certainly got my attention. No doubt, this is a wonderful salad – the kind that remains us what a wonderful meal a salad can be. Glad to hear you helped your grandparents move. There must have been so many treasures to keep safe.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      i know, right? it’s a good one, and nice because truly you can use whatever beer floats your boat and goes with the other flavors in the dressing and you’re set. And then you’ve gone and opened your favorite beer so…someone has to drink the rest, right?

      So many treasures, and i’m really excited nothing got broken – it’s a miracle, but we did a really good job. Hard, but definitely a nice feeling to have helped them.

  • Reply Jennie @onesweetmess April 27, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Girl, you have been busy. Ahh, I’m so jealous of those 3 buffet tables. I went antiquing this weekend and found several that I fell in love with but could never fit in my house. I mean, these huggers were HUGE! Your people sound a lot like my people. The four of us (our little circle) continuously pass along our beloved crap to one another. We never throw it away; we always pass it. We love our crap and want it to stay in the family. So, I can relate. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when we move. Welcome back and thanks for the lovely salad.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      JENNIE: HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN GONE THAT YOU SWITCHED WEBSITE NAMES ON ME WTH!?!?!?! LOL. Making a note of that, thank you very much. 🙂

      Buffets. are. humongous. and you don’t really notice until you’re right up in a buffet’s business and then it’s like The Hulk. Our people do sound very much the same with cherished possessions…but then again, our people have other similarities as well. 🙂

  • Reply Brianne April 27, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Wow, what an awesome sounding vinaigrette! Everyone gets a break now and then, and this one was for good reason. Except for maybe all the sweat. The actual work of moving is the worst, but boxing and unboxing is pretty fun, especially when you’re dealing with such treasured possessions! As a still transient person, the idea of treasured possessions is not something I’m very familar with yet–my approach to moving has always been get rid of all the things because they mean nothing and take as little as possible to the next place 😛 I hope someday to be a real adult and have nice things!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      The sweat was actually okay: at least it wasn’t in mid-August, because then you would have had to scrape my melted body up off the hot, crushed-shell filled roadway with a shovel. For Florida, it was surprisingly temperate, and fun going through all the things, for sure.

      Being a full to semi-transient person has its perks: granted, you may not have a ton of stuff, but that’s definitely a bonus when you’re moving locations. I remember all my apartment moves from my single days and it was nothing…so easy! not so much anymore, that’s for sure.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats April 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    this salad is seriously in.sane. you’re like the mother-freakin salad whisperer, i swear. and did you really cut the cheese into matchsticks bc OMG GENIUS. I have to confess that i’ve started chopping my spinach and greens because otherwise i end up looking like a goat when i eat and the leafs are falling out of my mouth while i chew. it’s super hot.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      matchstick cheese = classy pants salads. even if you’re dressing has beer in it, you know?

      OMG DO YOU GOAT-EAT SALADS TOO! this is why i love chopped salads, mostly: way easier to NOT look like a farm animal when you’re eating it in public (but at home i totally don’t mind looking like a goat).

  • Reply elizabeth May 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I want to eat ALL OF THIS. I am saving this (seriously) for when it gets unbearably hot and I need a big, filling salad that requires no cooking to pull off, save for maybe adding some hard-boiled eggs.

    Going through stuff that belongs to your grandparents is so strange–I had to do that when my grandmom moved out of her home and into a nursing home two years ago and it was so surreal. I’m so glad that it sounds like your experience was so positive, though, which is awesome. 🙂

    • Reply shannon May 27, 2015 at 8:12 am

      I’m a huge fan of the hard-boiled egg addition to basically any salad, and in this one it would be spectacular. There’s a part of me that thinks maybe a little smoked chicken wouldn’t be so bad, either.

      VERY strange: almost uncomfortable, and i can completely see how if it were any other situation aside from the one i was in – which is two very healthy grandparents who just traded their current house for a little relaxation and convenience – would have made it much harder and much more uncomfortable. As it is, yes: you do feel slightly weird-ish about going through drawers and such, even though they 100% knew that’s what we were doing. definitely fun, but definitely odd. Ultimately positive in the way that we found some pretty amazing things and that i was able to help people i love, tho, so that left me with good feelings. 🙂

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