Thursday, February 5, 2009

Greetings From a Happy Snowbird!

It has been almost one year since I started my blog, and this is the longest I have gone without posting an entry ~ over three weeks. For many reasons which are unimportant, it has taken me longer than usual to get here and settle in to the Florida life which I will enjoy for the next several weeks. And, how exciting it is to see sunny skies, sunsets, green grass, and flowers! I love it, and I wish I could have packed up all my friends and family and brought them along to share it with me, especially with the blustery weather back home.

I've even gone on two picnics so far. One was at Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, a 350-acre park with scenic drives, wildlife observation areas, and airboat and tram tours to search for wildlife. The other was at The Rookery in Venice, a small island for the protection of the wading and nesting birds that I love to photograph, including both the snowy and great egret and the great blue heron.

Both times I made Wild Rice and Ham Salad, simply because of its ease and simplicity, and because everyone who tastes it loves it. The rest of the suggested menu items are tortilla chips and Salsa, pumpkin or zucchini bread and watermelon, but any bread or fruit will do. I also like cherry tomatoes with this salad.

This recipe is from my book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket, 2nd Edition, and I am happy to share it with folks who are lucky enough to be in a climate suitable for picnicking in February; for everyone else, keep this on hand for all your spring and summer picnics. Not that there aren't places for hearty folks to enjoy a February picnic in Connecticut, such as The White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, but in that case, I rather think my chili recipe would be a better choice!

2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 pound lean ham, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup pecan halves

1. In small shallow pan spread pecan halves in a single layer. Bake in 350-degree preheated oven until toasted, approximately 5 minutes. Watch closely. Cool. (I personally like smaller pieces so I cut them in half again.)
2. In large bowl, stir together rice, ham, raisins, and scallions. Add salt and pepper.
3. In small bowl, whisk oil and vinegar together until well blended. Slowly pour over rice and ham mixture until the salad contains the amount that suits you. (I almost never use the entire amount.) Toss.
4. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Just before serving, garnish with pecans. Serve on lettuce leaves.
Serves 4-6

Travel Tip: Refrigerate salad overnight, or at least two hours before packing in cooler.


No comments: