Just as I was putting on my coat and preparing to leave my dear friend’s annual cookie party, her father says to me, “So, Carrie, would you like a case of grapefruit before you leave? I still have 15 cases in the garage. You know, we’ve been selling them all these years. They even gave us a plaque at our 25th year.” How could I refuse him? His twinkly big eyes and sweet smile. Plus, the guilt. In some twisted way I felt a tiny bit responsible for his grapefruit selling endeavors all this time. I winced a smidge and said, “I would love a case.”
Perhaps it was a Friday night. Maybe Saturday. I can’t be sure. But I do know I was babysitting. My regular babysitting job. Which was how I spent most of my weekends in high school. (And let me tell you, that’s not exactly a bad thing. Kept me out of trouble. For the most part.) One of my dear friends, whom my father to this day continues to call “my little Ice Cube”, was with me. I’m not sure if she just stopped by or if I had invited her earlier in the day but there we were. At the Belli’s. I had my portable typewriter and white-out in front of me and I was diligently working on my application for an AFS student exchange program. I had been unsuccessful at convincing my mother to let me go for my entire junior year and had finally succumbed to the realization that a summer exchange would be better than nothing.
I don’t know if it is because my father was in the Navy, traveling the world and then coming home to share his tales or if it’s a genetic tic I was born with, but I have always had the travel bug. And I can’t help infecting other people with it especially when I’m in a particularly
hyper energetic state in regards to travel. And so it was that in that one seemingly benign evening, I convinced my dear friend to fill out an exchange student application as well. Until she walked in the front door of my babysitting job, she had no intention of leaving home the following summer. And her parents didn’t realize that they’d spend the next 25 plus years selling grapefruit.
Isn’t it fascinating to look back in your life and pick out those times when your life changed in an instant? Or when you changed somebody else’s?
We sent out our applications that fall and spent the next few months being interviewed, hosting other exchange students for a week or two, anxiously awaiting our placements and selling grapefruit at Christmas…the annual AFS fundraiser. Ok, ok, I should probably say that my parents actually sold the grapefruit. For a few years.
The following summer, my dear friend saw me off at the airport as I boarded a plane for Portugal. A few weeks later she would board one for Iceland.
We often talk about how that summer away changed our lives. About how that one evening changed hers. And until a month ago, I hadn’t realized how my insistence that she fill out an application had changed her parents lives as well. Keeping up the grapefruit beat and all.
A Refreshing Grapefruit and Greens Salad
Yes, I am certifiably soup crazy. My family has soup at least 4 nights a week. I can’t help it. It’s easy. There is only one pot to clean. And it keeps me warm on cold winter evenings. (Nevermind that it’s been 10 degrees warmer than usual for this time of year for the past month.) Sometimes though, I don’t want soup. I want something lighter. More refreshing. And with the lack of fresh produce at this time of year, that request can be challenging. But lucky me, I have an entire case of grapefruit I’m still trying to get through, and so I’ve been turning to this salad to fulfill my request. And let me just say that each forkful is like a bite of summer here in the depths of winter. And right about now when my Vitamin D levels are at their annual low point, I can use all the summer I can get.
If you’ve never sectioned a grapefruit before, get ready for some fun. I’m attaching a couple “How To” videos for your viewing pleasure. Click here for the Granny demo or here for the young dude demo.
a handful or two of salad greens – arugula, red lettuce, baby spinach, etc.
thinly sliced red onion
5 or 6 sections of Ruby Red grapefruit
optional: crumbled goat cheese
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Combine your vinegar, shallot, thyme leaves and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. This will allow the vinegar to “pickle” the shallot a bit before you stir in the olive oil.
Meanwhile, section your grapefruit. Then, put a handful of greens on a plate. Top with your grapefruit sections, the red onion and your goat cheese.
Go back to your vinaigrette bowl. Slowly pour your olive oil into the vinegar mixture while continually whisking the mixture together. This will allow the oil and vinegar to emulsify or to blend together. How much olive oil you add depends on how “vinegary” you like your dressings. I prefer 4 tablespoons.
Spoon the desired amount of vinaigrette on your salad. Then pick up a fork and enjoy the unexpected sweetness of the grapefruit as contrasted against the tartness of the vinaigrette and all held together by the greens. Ahh…le pamplemousse!
Jan 17-23: Cleaned out dreaded toy/game/puzzle shelves.
Jan 24-30: Pull everything out of dreaded under-stairs closet including the Bat Cave at the far end. (Do you see how I’m giving myself baby steps? I’m not saying organize the whole darned thing. Let’s just start by pulling everything out. I’m frightened.)
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010