Saturday, May 2, 2009

Looks As If I Need To Make My Own Luck

I am, without a doubt, a see-a-penny-pick-it-up, jinx-you-owe-me-a-Coke, lift-your-feet-over-the-railroad-tracks kind of girl.  (I still raise my feet at the railroad crossing by South Windermere in Charleston -- even though those tracks were extricated years ago.)

I have limits, of course.  Despite having a baseball player in the house, I've never indulged in the lucky-unwashed-socks, inside-out-dorky-looking-rally-cap, jockstrap-over-the-head approach to altering life's courses.  Given my age and gender, that's better for all of us.

Still, for much of my life I've felt "luck" was on my side.  I'm somewhat embarrassed to consider how many times I've said, verbatim, I am the luckiest person I know.

I have been lucky -- particularly when it comes to lovable, quick-minded, fun-to-be-with, thought-provoking kids  Before them, I had a career where people paid me -- really good money -- to do what I loved.  Even my recent divorce wasn't as dreadful as it could have been.  We never showed our faces in court.  And I was never arrested for slashing his tires with a machete.  (Just a fantasy.  No reason.)

Still, I can't say I've felt terribly lucky as of late.  Maybe part of luck has to do with perspective.  So here's the question:  Do we make our own luck?

I used to think I was lucky.  And I was.  Then, I didn't think I was lucky, and well, tah-dah -- that's what the inside of the crapper looks like.

Then again, maybe I am.  That Rembrandts' song I adored, but no one else ever listened to 15 years ago (Just The Way It Is, Baby)?  It was playing in a neighborhood shop recently.  Carole King's You've Got A Friend popped up on the radio a few days later.  A vacationing friend asked me to keep an eye on her pool this weekend, and sure enough, it's 78 and sunny.  And get this -- the dill I planted a month ago, with zero expectation of it surviving?  It's thriving.  (See my post, "Hope Springs".)

In the novel I'm currently reading, American Wife (ironic, I know), the main character, apropos of nothing, makes lentil salad.  Although I've never tasted such a thing, I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I determined to make it today.  How hard could it be?  Lentils, some seasoning, fresh veggies and a piquant vinaigrette.

I can't get enough of lentils.  I wasn't looking forward to cooking them, though.  It's already hot and sticky outside, and I didn't want to make the house hotter and stickier still.  Nevertheless, preparing lentils is pretty basic.  Simmer gently in a simple broth including a rib of celery, a carrot and a bay leaf.  Don't season until they're done.  I could handle that.

I headed to my beloved Trader Joe's for ingredients.  Cuke and tomatoes?  Check.  Feta cheese (in brine)?  Natch.  But look at this -- right there on the bottom shelf, where no one would ever think to look -- pre-cooked beluga black lentils. Are you kidding?  Serendipity!

The tiny, tender lentils look like little black pearls.  And there are only two bags.  Sold.  Looks as if I will, indeed, be having lentil salad tonight.  The salad would be great, too, with a slab of grilled salmon.  But I won't press my luck.  I'm doing just fine as it is.

Lentil Salad

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon (maybe more, depending on the saltiness of the feta) kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
fresh ground pepper

3 cups gently cooked lentils (preferably black beluga or French green)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 of an English cucumber, peeled and diced
20 grape tomatoes, halved

In a large bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients -- oil, lemon juice, salt, dill and pepper.

Gently stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve at room temperature.  Omigosh.

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