Summertime Blues / Too-Darn-Hot Asian Fusion Salad + Osaka Miso Dressing
It's been freakishly hot in Seattle lately. I mean sweat-dripping, delirium-inducing, climate-change-is-cooking-us-alive hot. This summer has broken records for consecutive days without rain, and while some are happy about that, I'm not one of them. This isn't what I signed up for. It feels like I'm back in Austin, only half the places around here don't have fully functional air conditioning.
Almost none of the apartments around here have central air. My tiny Costco-purchased unit does a decent job, but if I turn the oven on, my studio quickly becomes intolerable. So I've been experimenting with a lot of salads and things that don't require more than a brief saute. I also got this incredible Osaka Seasoned Salt from World Spice Merchant in Pike Place Market and used it to make their Osaka Miso Dressing, which is a perfect accompaniment for Asian-inspired salads, such as the one I will share here.
I have to say, I've been having a little harder time lately with the fact that I don't have a significant other to share my meals (or anything else) with. The loneliness has been creeping in in palpable ways. I know it's all pretty normal, but I hate that feeling. The one-year mark of my whole life changing is coming up, and I just feel like I should be further along in a lot of ways.
I have so much in my life now that I would hardly even have time for a partner anyway. I have so many people to spend time with, I have my Meetup groups, I have yoga and energy healing, I have fitness classes, I have brunches and dinners. I'm constantly out with friends, running around, doing things, going places, working hard and playing hard. I get up early and stay up late. All too often, I find myself burning the candle at both ends because it's better than sitting in the emptiness. I do enjoy my alone time, and always make sure I have some of it each week... but too much, and the dread sets in. Sometimes I think I'm making progress, and usually, each week gets a little better. I'm a little healthier. I clear some more negative shit from my energy field. But each week also feels like it brings some kind of setback. Two steps forward, one-and-a-half steps back.
I'm doing the good work, I think. I'm taking the right steps, I think. I'm getting better little by little, I think. It'll all be OK, one day... I think.
I also think a big part of it is this heat. It needs to go away. I am so beyond ready for fall. I feel like the cold weather re-centers me; gets me back in touch with my truest self. I don't really feel like me unless I can cozy up in a big sweater, snuggle under a blanket, bake something with cinnamon and spice, watch the rain hitting my window, and just slow down. The sun makes me feel frantic at times, like I'm missing something. I think it's my Northwest upbringing; even though it's been so much warmer and drier than usual, when I see the sun something is programmed within me to GET OUTSIDE.
I need to stop moving for a while. I need to go inwards instead of always getting out.
I need more time in the kitchen.
But for now, the heat is on. And so I make salads. And I wake up every morning and try to do just a little bit better than the day before. I take the steps I need to in order to keep life moving forward. I do the best I can, and some days that looks better than others.
And that's OK.
Too Darn Hot Asian-Fusion Salad
½ head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded carrots
1 small mango, sliced
1 avocado, cubed
2 cups mixed greens
½ brick extra-firm tofu, cubed
½ cup peanuts
½ cup toasted large-flake coconut
Small handful shiitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)
½ lb thin rice noodles, cooked to package directions, drained and cooled
1 batch Osaka Miso Dressing, or to taste
2 scallions, chopped
Pickled sliced sushi ginger
This one’s easy. First, preheat the oven to 400º. Press your tofu and measure out the peanuts and coconut. Roast the tofu on a sheet pan for 20 minutes or until golden brown, flipping halfway through. When you have 7-10 minutes left, add the peanuts and coconut to the pan (and the mushrooms, if using), but keep an eye on the coconut; it can go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.
While everything is roasting, boil the water and cook and drain the rice noodles. Then prep all your veggies and the dressing, and toss everything except the avocado and the dressing in a large bowl. Let the noodles and the roasted things cool a little, then when you’re ready to serve, add them to the bowl with the dressing. Mix everything up well, dish into bowls, and top each bowl with half the avocado. Sprinkle a little Osaka Seasoned Salt on top and serve.