When a Life is Like a Honeydew

OK – this blog is going to sound a little self-helpy. But everyone can use a dash of it now and again – and I promise it pertains to food, too. So bear with me.

The basic premise is this – sometimes we let perceptions dictate our lives. And as a result we can lose out on things.

I’ve ended more than one relationship when I realize – often a little later than would be good for me – that I was allowing myself to be molded by significant others into an idealized perception. Typically, this shows up when I mention something that crosses my partner’s comfort threshold. It could be musing about a day hike of the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting, or trying a new restaurant that’s a 45 minute drive.

Friends who get me will answer, “What makes you want to do that?”

It’s over when I hear: “You wouldn’t like/do that.”

What’s the difference? One is curious response about what makes me tick. The other has put me in a box with a label.

And I do not like labels, unless they include words like kind, adventurous …

As a woman who has been on a self-reflective journey for the past dozen years – more than half of them sober – I know to pause and wonder why someone is starting a statement that starts with “You.”  For one, it puts people on the defensive, immediately.

There’s a whole psychology behind You Statements vs I Statements. The crux is don’t push your own feelings off on someone else. Own them. It’s one thing to say, “I” wouldn’t like to spend a day hiking – OK, I can empathize with that. But please don’t tell me I don’t want to. Because I do. And I spent 20 years in a relationship where someone kept telling me what I did and didn’t like – to the point where I believed it. And that didn’t work out so well for me.

My parents, who have witnessed me hauling my sorry butt up from the depths of various misadventures, might have the authority to invoke a You Statement now and again. But they’ve also witnessed me hauling that same sorry tail through recovery and up a few mountains, across a few oceans, and wading through single parenting (one of the biggest adventures in life). So they like to start with, “I would like it if you would consider …” before I go ziplining off the Eiffel Tower (which I did not do because this would not be a good example for my 14-year-old).

My parents have also been along for quite a few of my culinary calamities, including the all-garlic dinner that left us reeking for days. Literally, we were emitting garlic from our every pore for three days.

They’ve also watched my journey into to my 50s, and how it has been about managing perceptions and taking control of what I can. My parents want happy, healthy children (4) and grandchildren (8).  All of us have different criteria for happy and healthy. Mine comes with a big dog, long walks, travel, gardening, and experimenting in the kitchen. It may not come with a husband, a job with benefits and regular hours, or a size 4 wardrobe.

So what does this have to do with food? Letting perceptions limit your experiences has a lot to do with just about everything in life, including melons.

The honeydew has been among my least favorite melons. It’s green. It’s often just a filler in fruit salad – frequently the least flavorful of the ingredients.  When I was growing up, it was diet food, filled with cottage cheese. In short, it was not on my Wegmans list.

Then I discovered a recipe for a cucumber and honeydew salad on Pinterest. Cubed honeydew is tossed with peeled, seeded, cubed cucumber and sliced red onion, mint, basil, and dill. It is dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and (optional) honey and/or mustard. Suddenly this melon has moved from breakfast filler to salad star. It’s great with just about any summer dish, but pairs well with any grilled meat. It holds up well in the fridge, making it super for a refreshing summer snack or quick lunch.

I’m in love with honeydew now. All because my perception changed.

The honeydew went from second-rate breakfast dish to a summer staple for salads. All because I could look at it differently – and be flexible. Sometimes it is super sweet – in that case I just squeeze some lemon juice on top and mix in some mint and basil. Sometimes I put in a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. If it is more on the bland side, then it gets the onion and dill. Then dressing goes into a bowl – lemon, mustard, honey, salt, pepper – and whisked. Then it is tossed with the melon and cucumber, and finally finished with some extra-virgin olive oil.

The secret to picking the right melon?  That’s a tough one. It’s not unlike dating – you can’t always tell from the outside. Labels don’t help either. I’ve had organic duds too. Thumping is useless. You just have to hold one, look for any soft spots, and take a whiff at the end where the stem was attached. If it smells sweet, then you have a winner.

If this worked for dating, I’d be giving seminars by now. Although an occasional thunk to see if a head is soft might not be a bad idea …

Melons are good for any just about any diet out there – paleo, Whole 30, WW, etc. Can’t say the same about boyfriends.

Enjoy

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Herbed Honeydew Cucumber Salad
Course lunch, Salad, side dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course lunch, Salad, side dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients until blended. If honeydew is sweet, don't use mustard.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Cut melon in half; remove seeds. Then cut into quarters. Slide a knife between the sweet fruit and the rind. Remove rind. Cut fruit into chunks, Add to bowl. Cut peeled and seeded cucumber into chunks and add to bowl. If you are preparing this ahead of time, add mint and cover and chill.
  4. Before serving, add onion, remaining herbs, and dressing. Toss to mix and serve.
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Make it Erie is now Meadballs.com, celebrating with Zoodles

I’ve moved again. My mother used to hate it when I would call her and tell her I was moving again. She would have to write a new address card in her Rolodex and make sure to throw out the old one. I used to do it about every 18 months after college. That’s a lot of Rolodex cards. She couldn’t hate moving as much as I did, what with all the change of address cards, movers, utilities, etc., but sometimes a girl just has to move on.

For those of you who follow this blog, it started as an e-newsletter via GoErie.com. When the company that owned the Erie Times-News, and GoErie, was sold, I continued it for awhile after I left my job there. But when they didn’t want to pay for it anymore, I decided to continue on my own. So I kept the name and set up shop as Make It Erie on WordPress.com. Some of you followed and signed up for my e-mail and some of you just followed me on Facebook or Twitter.

But the time had come to move to a different hosting service, and that meant rethinking the name of the column. I chose Meadballs.com because it reflects that this is a family, food and travel blog. Make It Erie, while useful, seemed to limit the posting to just about Erie. While Erie will be front and center, it won’t be a defining parameter.

I don’t like to be fenced in. Just ask Mom (and my ex).

Things are both simpler and more difficult moving around in the digital age. There’s still baggage to move from one place to another. Instead of moving vans, it is file export and import, URL transfer, a plug ins to add. Long way of saying, I think I’ve moved all the boxes from the WordPress.com site to Meadballs.com (a WordPress.org site, sort of like moving across town instead of across states). Ideally, the e-mail list will have migrated as well.

It’s not perfect yet. Think of the site like a new home with a lot of boxes to unpack. I will be unpacking for awhile, so it may look different from one visit to the next (at least I hope it does).

What’s in it for you? Ideally a cleaner site. A better recipe format. Eventually, I’ll be able to add video.

But first, let’s just try this post and a recipe for Zoodles with Pesto, Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Print Recipe
Zoodles with Chicken, Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Zoodles, zucchini noodles, are a great way to use up those summer zucchini and squash. They aren't going to fool anyone, but with the addition of some zesty summer ingredients such as pesto and grilled chicken, they will disappear off plates. This recipe was inspired by Living, Loving Paleo
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5-7 minutes
Passive Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5-7 minutes
Passive Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Using either a manual or electric spiralizer, transform your squash into noodles. Cut into several sections, otherwise they are too long to eat.
  2. Lay the noodles onto a plate or baking dish lined with paper towels or, better yet, a linen dish cloth. Sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes to draw the moisture out. Then roll up in the paper towels or linen towel and press out extra moisture.
  3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and additional salt, if desired. Saute for a minute or two until no longer raw. Add pesto, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Saute for about 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat.
  4. Arrange on plates. Top with toasted pine nuts and basil leaves to serve.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is inspired by Living Loving Paleo

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