Garden Crisp Salad and the Secret Formula to Create Your Own Homemade Salad Recipes

Salads are universal. Asia, Europe, America… just about anywhere you go, salads are part of the menu. Perhaps because they’re simple to prepare. Toss in some greens into a bowl, add your favorite fruits, and voila! Your homemade salad is ready to serve.

However, salad preparation isn’t just about throwing in all sorts of vegetables and fruits into a dish. Ever noticed buffet diners dumping just about every ingredient at the salad bar unto their plate? It’s not a very pretty picture. You wouldn’t want to be serving a heap of whatnot to your guests, would you?

Fret not. Creating your own homemade salad recipe is actually effortless and fun. Here is a secret formula to salad-making dubbed as The Three T’s. And what better way to talk about it than to prepare a straightforward salad recipe.

Garden Crisp Salad

Main ingredients:

1 cucumber (sliced thinly)

1 carrot (sliced into thin strips)

Optional ingredients:

1/4 lettuce

1/4 grapefruit (chopped)

1/2 turnip (sliced into thin strips)

1 hardboiled egg (sliced thinly)

Thai pat sauce or your choice of dressing

Recipe 1: Mix main ingredients into a bowl. Top with your favorite dressing.

Recipe 2: Mix all the ingredients, excluding lettuce and sauce/dressing. Set aside. Arrange leaves of lettuce on a salad dish. Place the mixed ingredients on top of the lettuce. Top with sauce or dressing.

The Three T’s

Tint. Cuisine is a creative endeavor. Enticing your guests to try out your personal recipe highly depends on the aesthetic appeal of the final product. Salads don’t really carry an aroma, so you will have to do with visuals to whet their appetite. Imagine yourself as a painter and your ingredients as your palette of colors or art materials.

Garden Crisp Salad Recipe 1 is a simple, yet ideal example, of using tint when selecting ingredients. In contrast, Garden Crisp Salad Recipe 2 is a feast of pastel colors. Nevertheless, the varying shades are well-balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Texture. Apart from color, texture adds to the palatable experience. It tells a lot about the freshness of ingredients-something you cannot disguise. Although texture appeals mostly to the sense of touch, it also makes your dish visually interesting.

Both recipes balance out the crisp and tenderness of each ingredient. Balancing isn’t a must. In fact, you can serve a bowl of mangoes and peaches, which are tender, and it would still be great. Feel free to experiment until you find just the right touch for your homemade recipe.

Taste. So you’ve enticed your guests with their sense of sight. It’s time to hit the spot right where it matters. Behind all the fancy aesthetics, food is really about flavor. No matter how attractive a dish is, you have to get the taste right. It is the make it or break it point.

Both recipes are pretty safe when it comes to taste. It gets tricky with the sauce and dressing. Some overwhelm their salads with thick, rich dressings. Others just want a hint of spice and tang.

For the sample recipes above, the Garden Crisp Salad is meant to be easy to the senses. Ideally, a small amount of sauce will do the trick.

With The Three T’s formula, you can have fun exploring the many homemade salad recipes you can create. It will be a great way to surprise your family, neighbors, or coworkers on the next celebration!

Matcha, Green Tea From Japan

After traveling to a green tea plantation and seeing how ‘matcha’, powdered green tea was grown and processed, I was inspired to write haiku! Perhaps it was from the fresh smell of tea in the air and also the sense of lift and well-being after enjoying a nice hot cup of matcha. I found the matcha helped overcome jet lag and travel fatigue. That’s why I’m an advocate for matcha green tea. It helps restore energy when traveling, provides mental clarity and a natural lift with the right combination of l-theanine and light caffeine. The powdered whole leaf matcha has ten times the antioxidants and catechins, known for building health and preventing diseases, than just a regular cup of infused tea from a tea bag. Although all green tea is good, matcha is the super food version of a cup of tea. And when traveling it keeps your immune system strong to ward off colds and flu.

It all began in Japan when Monks brought back tea seeds from China in the 9th century. But it was Eisai, a Japanese monk who is credited with the beginning of the tea tradition in Japan who wrote a book in 1214 called, “How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea.” The monks would press the tea into cakes and take it with them wherever they would go, often stopping on the side of the road to boil water and break off a piece of the cake to make tea. The Japanese have incorporated green matcha in their foods as well and have reaped the amazing health benefits of this smooth, delicious tea.

Matcha comes in a variety of grades such as bulk, culinary and higher grade ceremonial matcha. I prefer to drink organic ceremonial, the first flush of tea harvested every May in Japan. It tastes slightly vegetal, is very smooth and has a light sweetness. Because matcha production in Japan is highly supervised and follows strict HAACEP regulations for growing and processing, you can be assured you are receiving a clean, safe, high quality product. Tea leaves are lightly steamed, dried and kept in cold storage. When it’s time to process, the tea is fed through a funnel into a granite stone grinder. Although now electronically driven, the stone grinders move slowly taking over an hour to grind one ounce of finely powdered matcha. This is the same as the hand grinding of the stones used during the last 800 years of tea tradition in Japan. The matcha powder is captured in a shiny clean stainless steel bin, then moved directly to packaging in a sanitary environment and shipped upon order. Other countries may not have strict regulations in place and some capture their matcha in a cardboard box. One can only shudder to think about the low standard of the processing, so sticking with the best insures delivery of a high quality product. Once you’ve had this high quality standard, it’s hard to drink or settle for anything less.

Cricket under straw

Sunlight green leaves shimmer bright

Smooth tea in my throat

haiku-Katherine Bowers

The Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony

Tea is a very integral part of Chinese culture and the ceremony surrounding its preparation and serving is an interesting event to witness. The wedding Tea Ceremony is the most auspicious tea ceremony of all as no Chinese wedding can be complete without it. This ceremony serves as an introduction of the bride to the groom’s family and is an intricate ritual filled with symbolism.

Preparation of the tea

There are many tea varieties in China. Usually the tea is prepared with red tea and infused with lotus tea and red dates placed directly in the tea pot. These additions are symbolic of fertility and the sweetness of the blushing bride and are believed to promote happiness between the two.

The arrangement

A small table is set up with the tea service including the tray with a tea pot and two tea cups. Sometimes a lotus flower and two cowrie shells are also placed on the table dignifying unity and prosperity for the couple.

The tea service

The ceremony usually takes place early in the morning as traditionally, the bride is received in her groom’s home before dawn. Women and men sit to the left and right respectively and the bride and groom kneel in front of them. With the assistance of the maid of honor, the couple serve tea in a delicate ceremony to the groom’s family. The order of service is parents, grandparents, great uncles and aunts, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and finally married cousins. The bride and groom take their tea last, served by younger siblings or any unmarried cousins.

The relatives when served tea present gift tokens on a platter in the form of red envelopes or jewellery. A token is also given to the best maid for her assistance. The tea set also forms part of the couple’s wedding gifts. Modern variations include a second tea ceremony held for the bride’s family when they visit their in-laws home or at the bride’s home. Also, for hygiene purposes, the tea cups may be rinsed after serving each guest.

This elaborate ceremony is an ancient tradition passed down through generations and is a good way of preserving culture in a rapidly evolving society. It helps reinforce family values and the hierarchy and role of each member of the family. It also serves as a good forum to welcome a new bride into the family, the elders’ blessings and approval a good foundation for the marriage.