A Bale of Straw and Some Sausage Salad - june 14, 2010
I finally figured out, after making a wrong turn on my way home from Berkeley last week, how to find Golden Gate Fields. This is where my friend Geoff, from the Edible School Yard, sent me to remedy my compost problems. My compost has been neglected for weeks now, growing slimy, stinky, and buggy, after running out of its only source of "browns" - a season's worth of dropped leaves from our ancient apple tree.
"Can I just put newspaper in there?" I asked my friend. "What about cardboard? Paper towels?".
But he just shook his head. "What you need is some straw".
I feigned recognition when he told me how to find Golden Gate Fields, the only remaining horse racing track in the Bay Area now that Bay Meadows has been torn down to make way for condos, and figured I'd look it up on the Internet later. But magically, in just a few days, I stumbled on the track while driving further out of town when I really wanted to be driving further in to town. So I headed over for a visit.
The woman at the front parking booth seemed relieved that all I wanted was straw and directed me to follow the road along the bay until I came to another parking booth. A man at that parking booth directed me to follow the grey pickup truck ahead as it continued to follow the road along the bay. "That's where he's going," the man told me. So I did. I followed it for nearly a mile, then right up to the water's edge, where the driver parked his truck, rolled down the window, lit up a smoke and peered quizzically over at me.
"I'm looking for some straw," I told him, feeling very much like one of the three little pigs.
"Go back over there," he drawled, politely removing the cigarette from his mouth. "You'll see it after you go through that gate". He turned, gestured across a vast parking lot, then returned to contemplate the water. And I saw them - my fields of gold - shorn, baled and stacked on a flatbed, gleaming in the sun with the promise of a new day.
Sausage Salad: (adapted from Yvonne Milham)
This is a recipe given to me by my friend Yvonne a couple years back, when we were both in the throes of living with two children under the age of two. Or something close to that. I pulled it from memory tonight after realizing we had some thawed sausage, new potatoes and lots of salad needing to be eaten. Sausage is one of those things that saves well in the freezer, if it is the packaged kind. I like Aidell's.
This recipe feeds two adults, you can double the sausage and potatoes to feed two additional children, and adjust the lettuce according to how much you think they will actually eat. I have one child who eats the greens and one who throws them on the floor, so I increase the lettuce by half. You can get away with not doubling the dressing, just add more olive oil if you use it all and the salad still seems dry.
For the salad:
two precooked sausages
two large fingerling potatoes or medium waxy potatoes
eight loosely packed cups salad greens (I would call that about six handfuls)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dressing:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds, cut them in half if they seem to large. Put the potatoes, olive oil and salt in a large bowl and, using tongs, toss to coat them with the oil and salt. Then lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Use two cookie sheets if there isn't enough room. Put them in the oven and set a timer for ten minutes.
While the potatoes are roasting, slice the sausages into 1/4 inch rounds. When the timer rings, check the potatoes and if they are golden on top, remove the cookie sheet from the oven, flip the potatoes to their other side, add the sausage in a single layer, then put it all back in the oven and set a timer for five minutes. If the potatoes are not golden, set the timer for another five and check again.
Also while the potatoes are roasting, wash and dry the salad (spin it, then spread it in a single layer on a clean towel and roll it up. It can go into the fridge like this for an hour or so, but if it needs longer then transfer it into a lidded refrigerator dish with a single paper towel). Next combine the dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake it up until they are blended.
When the potatoes are golden on the other side, remove the cookie sheet from the oven to cool for a few minutes. Put the salad greens in a large bowl, add the potatoes and sausage and toss with the dressing. Serve right away.