You know that my daughters often hijack my blog and I'm totally okay with that.
It gives me (and you) a break and adds a fresh perspective to this blog.
Today I want to introduce you to my friend The Class Factotum.
As much as I love Cuban food, the truth is that I like just about anything that's well prepared and tastes good. (Oh, yes, I'm that easy…)
Which brings me back to my friend and Monday Blog Hijackery (a name, by the way, that I just made up as I was posting this and thinking that hey! this could be a fun regular feature if other people feel compelled to hijack my blog and share their stories here and join in the fun, with my approval, of course…)
I stumbled onto her delightful blog a couple of years ago and quickly bookmarked it and made it a regular online destination. This woman is both funny and smart (my first two requirements for friendship, but that's not important right now) and even though she's not Cuban (she dated a Cuban guy once, that's close, isn't it?) she "gets" me and well, I just want to be her.
Today, my friend, C-F has hijacked my blog (with my encouragement and blessings) to bring you a fabulous Spinach Salad.
The class factotum speaks about spinach
So I was trying to figure out what to do with all the lettuce and collards and bok choy and chard and spinach in my garden. I can’t give it away because my neighbors don’t want it or they’re being that Wisconsin polite where I have to insist 40 times no, really! I have way too much lettuce! Take some! And really? I don’t have the time to insist 40 veces.
OK, I do, but I don’t feel like it. I’ll ask you two, maybe three times and if you keep saying no, then I move on.
Anyhow, I have an abundance of green stuff. Next year, I grow things that can be frozen, which might mean getting a deep freezer because right now, our freezer is full of Kopp’s frozen custard. For now, I have spinach and then it came to me in a vision: spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. That was one of my dad’s specialties, along with potato pancakes (not in the same meal) and how can you go wrong with something that has hot, salty fat in it?
I started with the Joy of Cooking recipe but then thought, that’s not how my dad made it. But he never wrote down his recipe. So I improvised.
First thing you do is go out to your garden and pick some spinach.
Yes, I know that’s not spinach. It’s chard. I don’t have a spinach photo and really, isn’t chard beautiful? I made a crustless quiche with a bunch of the chard last week and although chard is perfectly good on its own, it is significantly enhanced with the addition of cheese, cream and eggs.
Wash it over and over because it gets really dirty in the garden. Then you let it dry or not, as to your taste. If you have a salad spinner, use that to dry the leaves. If you happened to wrench the salad spinner from your husband’s hands last summer and throw it in the Goodwill basket because not once in the three years since you had met had you guys used said salad spinner, you will just toss the spinach in the colander. Your husband will use the untimely giveaway of the spinner as proof that nothing should ever be thrown away, including the phone bills from the house he owned with his ex wife ten years ago and the tuition receipts for his stepdaughter, who has been out of college since 1998.
Then chop some onion. Enough. For two people, I used about half a cup, but we are onion-loving people. It goes with our philosophy that there is no such thing as too much garlic. There is almost never too much onion, either.
Then I chopped some smoked back bacon from the Usinger’s bargain counter because I had it and I didn’t want to get any bacon out of the freezer. If you are going the back bacon route, sauté it in a little bit of bacon grease.
You do have bacon grease, right? You keep your bacon grease in a jar in the fridge rather than throwing it away, right? I cry to think of all the people using boring corn oil for frying when they could be using bacon grease. Think of all the starving children in China who would like a decent-flavored stir-fried bok choy.
Once you have sautéed the meat (or fried four or six slices of bacon), remove it, put it on a plate, hide the plate from your cats and your husband, and throw in the onion. Sauté the onion for a little bit in maybe _ cup of bacon grease. That sounds like a lot but it’s better to have too much dressing than not enough. Onion sizzling in bacon grease is a very close second to the very best smell in the world, which is garlic sizzling in olive oil.
Don’t do what I did next, which was think, “Didn’t dad put flour in his dressing, even though Joy of Cooking makes no mention of flour?” and you can’t find a spinach salad recipe in your grandmother’s church cookbook because who needs a recipe for something everyone knows how to make? and throw some flour in, which eventually makes you a nice dressing for German potato salad (fortunately, that is on the menu for Thursday, so it didn’t go to waste) but not a good dressing for spinach.
Instead, sauté your onion solita, throw in some salt and maybe some pepper using the fancy birthday pepper mill your husband got from his parents, who usually send an ugly shirt but it’s not their fault because they ask what he wants and he never tells them so if he’s not going to speak up, he has nobody but himself to blame.
Also put in a tiny bit of sugar – maybe two pinches. Once all that is dissolved, add about as much vinegar as you used bacon grease. I used plain old store brand cider vinegar. We never had fancy stuff when I was a kid.
Stir it, then pour a bunch of it over your bowl full of spinach leaves, then sprinkle the back bacon or some crumbled bacon from the bacon strips you fried over the top. Mix it all up and enjoy. Joy of Cooking suggests hard-boiled eggs as a garnish but I was too lazy to do that.
Spinach Salad Recipe (more or less)
A bunch of spinach
1/2 cup onion
1/4 cup bacon grease
Two pinches of sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
As much bacon as you want to put on the top
Thanks for the day off and the fabulous recipe, C-F!
If anyone else out there wants to hijack my blog on any random Monday just shoot me an email. Write Monday Blog Hijackery in the subject line so I don't accidentally delete you. This could be fun. =D