Like a lingering, loving hug that’s long overdue, an out of the blue homemade meal can touch a person in a deep way. That may seem overly emotional to someone who has homemade meals cooked for them every day, but for people who are ALWAYS doing the cooking for others…au contraire!
Case in point: Several weeks ago I was pet sitting for my Aunt Patty. While perusing Patty’s cookbooks I decided to surprise her the day she arrived back home with an early dinner, by preparing one of the recipes from her “Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood” cookbook.
I called Patty several hours before her arrival time to make sure she did not have others plans scheduled for the day. She didn’t. When I told her I wanted to fix dinner for her I could hear in her voice that she was thrilled with the idea. And I could hear in her voice that side of her that is incredibly proud—that proud side that comes from being the ever-gracious matriarch who is always doing everything for everyone else.
“Oh, Jett, you really don’t have to fix me dinner.”
“I know, but I want to.”
“Are you sure? You have so many things to do.”
“Of course I’m sure. I found a recipe from your Trisha Yearwood cookbook that looks reeeaaallly gooooood. It reminds me of the Grilled Chicken Salad we get when we go to Houston’s, which we haven’t had in a long time.”
“Ooooooh. That is a great salad. And you’re sure it’s not too much trouble?”
“GUUURRRLLL! I’D LOVE TO HAVE YOU COOK FOR ME!” *insert a happy squeal here*
Proud Patty needs to be delicately approached when it comes to being pampered. Once she’s certain someone is not having to go out of their way to do something nice for her she’s all game and all excited.
By the time Patty made it home I was chopping vegetables. Patty rolled her suitcase in the kitchen, stopped, and said, pointing and waving her index finger, “I am going to put some comfy clothes on and then pour us some wine!!!”
While I finished putting the salad together, Patty sat at the kitchen island and watched and asked questions about the recipe and filled me in on family happenings. I could tell she was completely content, happy to have the company, and glad she didn’t have to think about dinner for herself that night. It was the perfect surprise for her after her long week of traveling, and I am so glad it worked out that I was able to fix dinner for her and we were able to share a meal. And it reminded me that I need to cook for others more often.
Since the recipe came from Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook I cued up a couple of her songs. One of them, “How Do I Live,” follows the recipe. Patty did not know that Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have a home in Oklahoma, not too far from where Patty and I were born and raised in Kansas. Patty said she loved her cookbook that much more from learning that little tidbit about Trisha and Garth. I love how associations affect how we feel about certain things.
Here’s the recipe—Ty’s Thai Salad—from the cookbook “Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood: Stories and Recipes to Share with Family and Friends.” Click on photos to enlarge.
From now on whenever I make this salad I’ll refer to it as Proud Patty’s Thai Chicken Salad. That woman’s a gem, and I love her so much.
Ty’s Thai Salad
1 head Napa cabbage, shredded
1 head red cabbage, shredded
1 large cucumber, julienned
4 green onions, finely diced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, chilled, and thinly sliced | Note: I bought 1 rotisserie chicken and then shredded the meat
1 (10-ounce) bag shelled edamame, cooked
2 carrots, peeled and grated
Sweet Lime Cilantro dressing | Note: I purchased an Asian Sesame Ginger dressing
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
Sweet Lime-Cilantro Dressing
2 cups olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
How to prepare:
In a large serving bowl or on a large platter, combine the napa cabbage, red cabbage, cucumber, green onions…
…and carrots. Top salad with some of the Sweet Lime Cilantro Dressing and then avocado slices. Just before eating, top with…
…crispy wontons. To make crispy wontons: cut some wonton wrappers into strips, and fry strips, in batches, in hot vegetable oil (375 degrees) until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
This Thai Chicken Salad brings together complementary flavors and offers great textures. The crispy wontons are a must!
Note: To make Sweet Lime-Cilantro Dressing: Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.