Bless Your Spoon — A little paint and salad — the blues and greens in life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 7, 2022

By Stephanie Williams Dean

My favorite thing to paint is food, go figure. But it was creation, colorful renditions of N.C’s state parks, that whet my appetite to paint landscapes. Specifically, artist Katie Podracky’s use of vivid color featured in the April 2022 issue of Our State Magazine. Hosted by Kathy with The O’Brien Gallery in Greensboro, the “follow the leader” workshops were held at The Yacht Club on Figure Eight Island.

Katy’s morning class was a study in blues followed by a lunch of leafy greens and variety of delicious seafood and meaty spreads. Fresh bounty included salad fixin’s — vegetables, berries and other fresh fruits, assorted cheeses, walnut halves, and crumbled bacon — all to be drizzled in homemade, creamy dressings. Generous slices of freshly baked sweet breads accompanied the buffet, a rich, buttery Banana Nut and decadent Chocolate Zucchini Bread. The sweet treat for our eyes was an unspoiled seascape dotted by impressive seagoing vessels.

In class, Katy encouraged artists to follow the leader and not “go rogue” on her. Great advice when in class. You’re there to learn new ways. The same tests true in your kitchen. When learning baking basics, follow a recipe and modify or make substitutions later when more skilled. Begin by starting with a basic recipe — substitute one ingredient for another. For instance, instead of Swiss, substitute goat cheese or add both. And when having guests for dinner, it’s probably not a good time to go rogue.

In life, we don’t need a talented artist like Katy to show us how to paint our canvas. But we can benefit from her words. The Bible contains all the information we need to live our lives fully and with holiness. We read the written words of God, allowing God to lead us and we follow.

But then again, what if a little of Katy’s painterly advice could improve our lives? What if you could add a little color to your life canvas by adding more light and elements of surprise? Katy suggested throwing in some unique features now and then. What are the things that bring you joy? Your choices — whether twinkle lights, bubbles, or ice cream sprinkles — are surprise elements. “Make nothing predictable,” advised Katy.

It’s OK to go rogue. Visualize your life as a sand beach — the dark, the light, and all the values in between. If you look carefully, you will see that most things change color with light, and an artist picks up on that and exacerbates it. Begin to add sweeping bursts of color to those in-between areas of your life. Adding spiritual light will illuminate deeper shades of color. Look for those places in life where more light’s needed, resulting in more color and joy. The best instruction I derived from Katy’s class were valued lessons for living. Simply put, live you — uniquely.

Regarding talent, every person has one but maybe it’s undeveloped. Find it and develop it. God gave each one of us a unique skill. With a bit of work, your talent can blossom. Use your ability in ways that help folks — cooking for them or painting beautiful renditions of God’s creations. Our talents are for the sole purpose of glorifying God.

Revel in His creation.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).

Seafarer’S Green Salad

• 8 cups torn hearts of romaine

• 1 lb. chunked cooked shrimp, lobster and crab


• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• ¼ cup whole milk

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

• 1 tsp. cocktail sauce

• 1 tsp. curry powder

• 2 Tbsp. golden raisins

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, vinegar, cocktail sauce, curry powder and raisins. Mix well. Refrigerate 3 hours. Cut seafood into bite-size pieces. When ready to serve, toss dressing and seafood with the lettuce.

Cauliflower Salad

• 1 medium or 4 cups cauliflowerets

• 2/3 cup premium mayonnaise

• 3 Tbsp. sour cream

• 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 1 Tbsp. cream

• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

• Salt to taste

• Chopped parsley, pimento, red pepper

In a pot, boil cauliflower for 6 minutes in salted water. Drain and slightly cool. In a boil. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, cream, lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well. Toss with cauliflower and chill. Garnish with chopped parsley, pimento and strips of red pepper.

Zucchini Sweet ‘n’ Sour Salad

• 2 slices cooked, drained bacon

• 1 Tbsp. bacon fat

• 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 2/3 cup water

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 lb. or 4½ cups shredded raw zucchini

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, drain and crumble. In a saucepan, add bacon fat with flour. Cook slightly. Add vinegar, water and seasonings. Cook and stir until thickened. Stir in cooked bacon pieces. Cool completely. Before serving, toss dressing with shredded zucchini. Serve over salad greens.

Chickpea Salad

• 2 cans rinsed, drained garbanzo beans

• 3 minced garlic cloves

• 1 bunch sliced scallions

• 1 peeled, diced carrot

• 1 seeded, diced green pepper

• 4 Tbsp. wine vinegar

• 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and blend. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and marinate overnight. Stir occasionally.

Pickled Mushrooms

• 1 lb. cleaned mushrooms

• 2 cups water

• ¼ cup white wine vinegar

• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. crushed oregano

• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

• 2 minced cloves garlic

In a saucepan, bring water and salt to boil. Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well. In a mixer bowl, stir remaining ingredients together. Add mushrooms. Refrigerate overnight.

Seafood Salad Supreme

• 1 cup diced cooked crabmeat

• 1 cup cooked diced lobster

• 1 cup cooked diced white fish

• ½ lb. small cooked shrimp

• 2 diced fresh tomatoes

• 6 halved ripe black olives

Hot Spice Dressing

• ¾ cup tarragon vinegar

• 1¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

• ¼ cup grated onion

• 3 crumbled bay leaves

• 1 tsp. chili powder

• ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

• 1 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate.

Parmesan Potato Salad

• 4 cups cooked, diced potatoes

• Four chopped hard-boiled eggs

• ½ cup chopped celery

• ¼ cup chopped onion

• ¼ cup chopped green pepper

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Eight slices of fried, crumbled bacon

• ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

• Premium mayonnaise

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Add only enough mayonnaise to thoroughly mix, as desired.

Shrimp Boat Salad

• 3 cups peeled, deveined small shrimp

• 1 cup finely chopped celery

• 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs

• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• 2 tsp. curry powder

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1½ ripe, cold, large cantaloupe

• Salad greens

In a bowl, combine shrimp, celery, and eggs. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise and curry powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss mayonnaise mixture with shrimp mixture. Cut cantaloupe in quarters and remove seeds. Fill melon section with shrimp salad. Serve over greens.

Apple Waldorf Salad

• 3 cups unpeeled, diced red apples

• 1 cup diced celery

• ½ cup chopped walnut pieces

• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• Ground cinnamon

In a mixer bowl, combine apples, celery and walnut pieces. Mix well. Fold in mayonnaise and mix well. Serve on salad greens. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

• 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken breast

• 1 cup shredded raw carrots

• 1 cup diced celery

• ¼ cup minced onion

• ½ cup mayonnaise-based dressing

• 1 Tbsp. pickle relish

• 1 can shoestring potatoes

In a mixer bowl, combine vegetables with dressing. Thin with a little cream if necessary. Add relish and mix well. Add chicken and potatoes right before serving. Substitute tuna, if desired.

Macaroni And Shrimp Salad

• 2 stalks diced celery

• 2 chopped green onion

• 5 chopped hard-boiled eggs, plus

• 2 oz. cubed Colby cheese

• 3 oz. diced pitted black olives

• ½ tsp. onion salt

• 1 box cooked, drained macaroni

• 1 cup cooked small shrimp

• Garlic salt, seasoned salt or celery salt

• Freshly ground black pepper, parsley flakes

• Paprika

• 1 sliced hard-boiled egg

In a mixer bowl, combine celery, green onion, 5 boiled eggs, cheese, black olives, onion salt, macaroni and shrimp. Gently mix. Season to taste with salts, pepper, and parsley flakes. Chill 3 hours. Before serving, gently fold in mayonnaise. Garnish with paprika and slices of 1 egg. Chill.

Homemade Special Dressing

• 2 cups safflower oil

• 1 cup fresh lemon juice

• 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

• Dash of Texas Pete

• ¼ cup minced onion

• 1 finely chopped hard-boiled egg

• ½ tsp. dry mustard

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. a seasoned pepper

• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Texas Pete, onion, egg, mustard, salt and peppers. Add more seasoning if desired. Put all ingredients in a food processor. Blend to process. Refrigeration 24 hours so flavors can mingle. Serve over salad greens.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

• 3 beaten eggs

• 2½ cups packed brown sugar

• 2 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate

• 1½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 3 cups all-purpose flour

• 1½ tsp. baking powder

• 1½ tsp. cinnamon

• 1 tsp. salt

• 3-4 cups grated zucchini or yellow squash

• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Beat in sugar and mix well. Slowly beat in melted chocolate and oil while alternating with flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Fold in squash and chocolate chips until well blended. Bake in well-greased and floured loaf pan/s in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until tests done. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and turn out. You can bake in a 9×13 pan and bake 40 minutes or a tube pan and bake 1 hour or until done.