Thursday, September 10, 2009

Going With What You've Got (Gingered Carrot & Pineapple Salad)

I couldn't help myself.

Yes, the temperature has shifted – I now shuttle to the morning bus stop in cropped pants, not shorts.  Yes, Labor Day came and went earlier this week.  And yes, I know the rule about not wearing white after Labor Day.

Too bad.  I’m not quite ready to stow my cute white denim clamdiggers with my bathing suits and cover-ups and other wait-‘til-next-summer clothes.  As ready as I am to embrace fall, I can’t quite let go of summer.

These clamdiggers are some kind of white, too.  Not “off-white.”  Not “winter white.”  And certainly not “cream.”  Nope, these are bleached-bright, bone-in-the-desert white.  The kind of dazzling white you can only get in a dentist’s chair.  The kind you wish you'd worn when you were 15, and your best friend's bedroom had a black light.  Or better still, when you were shopping in the back room at Spencer’s in the mall.

Sometimes you just gotta go with what you've got.

Earlier this week, I got to watch Darling Daughter’s (DD’s) first cross-country meet.  Actually, this particular race was a relay, which is a fun and relaxing way for a first-time runner to compete, because running only one mile in a three-mile race can take the pressure off.

Right.  When I get there, I learn that another runner had gotten sick, so DD had been “called up.”   She'd be running the second leg on team with much more experienced runners – a team which previously had been expected to win the race.

The team had to go with what they’d got.  And they got DD.

So much for a fun and relaxing event.  I was now in full-on Prilosec-Popping-Mom mode.  The other two girls have had a lot more training.  One, in particular, is a truly gifted runner.  How did my little girl end up in this mix?

I positioned myself on the course so I could watch a good portion of the second leg.  My eyes flicked frantically between the course and my watch, trying to predict when DD would emerge from the woods.  And then she appeared, smack in the middle of the leaders.  I took in her run, watching her stride lengthen, her cheeks puff and her arms pump as she concentrated on the runner just ahead of her – not on me as I mindlessly shrieked encouragement.  (“Mom.  You’ve got to stop.  It’s embarrassing.  She can’t even hear you,” her brother later advised.)

Across the lake, I could see her teammate waiting for the hand-off.  DD’s brother, an experienced runner, had positioned himself farther down the trail, so he could let her know when it was time to dig deep and sprint. As DD ran past me, I stopped breathing, unsure whether she could keep up with the forerunners, whether she had the energy and ability to last those last few minutes.

OK.  Did I really doubt her?  Call me Thomas.  Still, all of the sudden, my girl was right there at the front, making the tag.  I took another look – to make sure she was done – and re-inflated my lungs.  After DD made her (leisurely) way over to where her teammate would soon finish, her brother noted admiringly, “She didn’t even break a sweat.”

As predicted, DD’s new teammate finished first.  Her team had gone with what they had -– DD – and that was enough.

Later, DD shared with me that she’s a bit nervous about next week’s meet – where she’ll run as an individual, not as a member of a relay team.  “I think people will be expecting something of me,” she said.

“Maybe not expecting something of you,” I offered cautiously, “but maybe interested to see what you can do.”

In my mind, though, I want to do whatever I can to help her live up to those expectations – which admittedly, isn’t much.  Just like those white clamdiggers, I’ve got to go with what I’ve got – and that’s cooking.

I can't force her to sleep more or practice harder, but I can offer gracious plenty nutrition – starting with this tasty and healthy carrot salad.

Gingered Carrot & Pineapple Salad
Excellent with grilled fish.
3 carrots, grated
2 cups fresh chopped pineapple
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 juicy lime, juiced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
fresh ground pepper
kosher salt (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  Chill until serving.  Keeps well for 3-4 days.
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