Letting Go with Counter-Top Salads for Dinner

Counter-Top Salad

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Please read my message after the story especially my gracious email subscribers.

She was three years old when she performed in her first dance recital. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Bunny Hop. Her little feet could be heard “tap, tap, tapping” away as she practiced for her big debut.

Considering that when she wasn’t dancing she was impersonating Mary Poppins, she seemed destined for life as a performer.



On the soccer field, she was the one with bows in her hair, picking daisies, twirling around and skipping as the ball rolled past her.

When the girls around her and the competitiveness of the game grew to such a level that skipping as the ball rolled past you wasn’t considered cute anymore, the Rooster and I decided to pull her from soccer. We encouraged her to forge her own path in dance.

And dance, she did…ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop, tap, lyrical. Six nights a week. She blossomed into an amazing dancer. And call me bias….but I love to watch her dance. She’s beautiful on-stage.


Day 44


And just when there seemed to be no end to her dancing days and at the height of sequins, sparkles, lycra, stage make-up and dark auditoriums, she said to me, “Mom, I’d really like to try lacrosse.”

Like a needle being ripped across a record, the room went silent.


“Yeah, my friends who play are always telling me how fun it is.”

“But, sweetie, you have to wear goggles…and a mouthguard,” I said to my fashion-concious daughter.

“I know.”

“And you have to get in there and mix-it up with sticks and a ball,” added the Rooster. “You don’t like competitive contact. Remember when you played soccer?”

“No, I don’t remember. Last time I played I was like in fourth grade.”

That was probably true. While her “out-in-the-field picking daisies” ways were still very present in our minds, for her it was four years ago. Practically a lifetime.

We continued to throw out reasons why lacrosse wouldn’t work for her and she continued to come back with reasons why it would.

On her own, she worked out a schedule that would accommodate lacrosse, dance and school. She contacted coaches about getting on the team. She figured out how to get to and from practices. When game time came around, she not only got in there and mixed-it up, she was aggressive. And fast.

When she asked to go to a tournament in Seattle at the end of the season, we had to say no. “You are committed to your dance classes that conflict with the lacrosse practices. Your recital is coming up. You can’t miss class. Other dancers are counting on you.”


Day 115


She contacted the coaches for the tournament and arranged to miss Monday night practices so she could be at dance. I told the Rooster that her determination should be rewarded so we agreed to let her go to the tournament.

Her team, the Bulldogs, played three games in the tournament. The Rooster and I watched every one from under umbrellas, down jackets and fleece blankets. We watched our daughter flying down the field in the rain, fighting for the ball amidst a swarm of sticks and on occasion, putting that little ball into the net to score.

Her team lost all three games. The final game had a score of 2-13 but her coach awarded her “Player of the Game” for her persistence and hard work and I felt myself tear up.

There is something so gratifying about watching your child succeed at something that she alone wanted. Something she was determined to do even if her parents were trying to talk her out of it.



So last week, instead of feeling bitter about driving her out to a lacrosse camp clear across town, leaving no time to cook but only time for counter-top meals, I was happy to do it.

And as she limped along into her dance recital over the weekend, I could tell by her demeanor that perhaps this phase of her life was coming to a close. She was still beautiful on-stage but there was something removed about her stance. And when I asked her if she thought she’d take dance next year, she said to me, “Well, I know you like me to do dance….”

That’s when I told myself, “Let go.”

I don’t know whether her future will hold mouthguards or ballet slippers but I do know that it is her future and I am loving watching her decide for herself just what that future will be.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: I know I have alluded to the fact that  I have been working with web designer, Kirsten Hope, to create a new look for La Pomme de Portland. She has helped me create a lovely new space. I know you will love it.

The time has come for us to do the site transfer. In order to do so, my website will be down for about a week starting July 3rd. I’m letting you know this for a couple of reasons.

1. I am crossing all fingers and toes that nothing will happen but there is a chance that in the transfer I may loose a few of my email subscribers’ subscriptions. I apologize in advance for this. Should you not receive your regular emails from me after July 10th, you may need to go back onto my site and re-subscribe. My site address will remain the same: www.lapommedeportland.com

2. In case you want any recipes for Fourth of July, I encourage you to print them off soon. 🙂 Once the site transfer happens, all recipes, new and old, will be available again.

Counter-Top Salad x2


Counter-Top Salads

Sometimes there just isn’t time to cook. Sometimes I don’t want to cook. During the summer, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen especially considering that we’ve just come off of the coldest, wettest spring on record in 117 years…I want to be outside where it is finally sunny. One of my favorite meals when I’m feeling like this is the ole counter-top salad. Basically, pull out any leftover bits and pieces from your refrigerator and slap them on the counter with some lettuce as a base and a vinaigrette as a topping and voila….dinner. I’m always amazed at the things my children will put on their salads…that I didn’t think they would like…when I let them choose their own toppings.

Of course, these ingredients could be anything you have leftover but here are my favorites….

a head or two of romaine lettuce, washed and coarsely chopped
cherry tomatoes
blanched green beans
cooked red potatoes, cut into quarters
hard boiled eggs
leftover roasted chicken
crumbled gorgonzola
and usually, I put a little crumbled bacon on top or avocado but I didn’t have any leftover this time

homemade vinaigrette, recipe here.

I’m assuming that most of this is leftover from other meals but should you be making it from scratch, here are a few quick tips.

To blanch green beans, trim the ends then put in boiling water for two minutes. Drain the water and immediately run cold water over them to stop them from cooking.

To cook your potatoes, wash them, quarter them and put them in a pot of salted boiling water for about 12-15 minutes or until just softened. Drain water and set aside.

For the hard boiled eggs, everyone has a different method for the timing but I put mine in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very, very low and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and run cold water over them.

For your chicken, get a roasted one from the grocery store.

Put all of your ingredients out on your counter…plates at one end, vinaigrette at the other and let the troops have at it. Quick and easy….enjoy.

Organizing Project
The only thing I have been organizing is my summer….travel dates, camp registrations, down time, up time…so that I can simply enjoy and not have to worry about the details.

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011


  1. It's not as easy as it looks…this mother stuff is it? My oldest is heading into high school next year and I feel like someone is standing on my chest..it's so hard. And yes it is so hard to get a decent meal on the table this summer for me too…lotsa sports 8>)
    Cant wait to see your new site!

  2. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) says:

    What a lovely post. They grow up SO fast. Thanks for sharing your story and recipe. Both are delightful. (And good luck with the site redesign. Can't wait to see it.)

  3. Courtney Cook Hopp says:

    Too big, too fast, but a true beauty! And even your "Counter Top" salad looks delicious! Can't wait to see the new site.

  4. @Sheila – Looks like we're on the same timeline. I can't believe high school will be back in my life next year. So fast…..

    @Rivki – Thank you for stopping by!

    @Court – Thanks, sister!

  5. I’m so glad you’re letting go and letting her bloom on her own. I know too many people who were forced to partake in certain activities well beyond their point of enjoyment that they’re bitter about it now instead of remembering the good times. They wanted to do other things and never got the chance, etc, and ended up with some not-so-pleasant feelings aimed at their parents choices. To see you willing to let go so she can grow into herself even more, especially after she’s put in so much effort, is just amazing. <3

    • Jessi, Sometimes it’s hard to know when you’ve crossed that fine line between when your child needs a little extra push and when you’re pushing too hard….but I do think that as they get older they should be more and more responsible for those decisions. Thank you so much for stopping by La Pomme!

  6. Hi Carrie, I love this post (as I do all of your posts – your writing is such an inspiring combination of wit, warmth and wisdom). The letting go part is so hard! But rewarding too, when they take flight. -You have a very talented and beautiful daughter.

    • Helen, Thank you so much my dear for your kind comments. Must catch up with you and find out where you are in your writing adventure…..