Thursday, September 22, 2011

End of Summer Salad

It's official!

It's autumn.

But before all the goodies of summer are out of the grocery store (or the fresh market), I wanted to share a summery salad that my grandmother loved to serve.

She was very elegant and refined. Whenever we went to her house, we enjoyed a three-course meal. Too much food, but always delicious. At her house, I learned how to set a table and which fork or spoon to use. The soup spoon was always laid sideways across the top of the table mat, which confused my sisters and me for a long time.

We learned that the bread (dry) was always on the left and the drink (wet) was always on the right. Except that darned soup, which was served and set in the center because it was an appetizer.

My grandmother was the one who introduced me to the ballet, the opera, the symphony, and the theater. She played the piano and encouraged me to do the same.

Last but not least, she taught me how to put my socks on. I kid you not. She showed me how to shove my thumbs into those socks and squish them all the way down to the toes so I didn't have to struggle. I slipped in my toes and the rest of the sock went on smoothly and easily. Ah, memories.

So, here's to grandmothers...and mothers...and fathers...and family. Do you have a favorite family memory?

Note: my grandmother's salad did not have feta cheese. I've added those and the mushrooms because, well, I adore both, and I thought they added a dimension to a "first course" salad that makes it an "entree." Enjoy!


Anyone who comments today, as a tribute to the end of summer, 
will be entered to win a free copy of LOST AND FONDUE. Winner will be announced at 11:59 EST. 
[This means that it will appear before tomorrow's post. Scroll up.]

And now...


(serves 2)

1 head endive lettuce
¼ pound bay shrimp
¼ pound crumbled Feta cheese
8-12 pieces asparagus, cooked tender
½ ripe avocado, sliced lengthwise
2-4 large mushrooms, sliced thinly
½ lemon, sliced for garnish

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ lemon (for juice)
½ teaspoon sugar
A pinch of salt
A grind of black pepper


Rinse and trim endive lettuce. Arrange 3 leaves on each plate. Mound shrimp and Feta cheese on top.  [Note: endive can be slightly bitter. If you don't like the lettuce, switch it out for something else.]

Arrange asparagus, avocado and mushrooms and lemon wedges to your liking.

Mix dressing of oil, lemon juice from fresh lemon, sugar, salt.  Drizzle over the salad. Grind pepper on top of the shrimp.

A Bouchercon Tidbit:

I just went to a fun writers' conference called Bouchercon, in St. Louis, and I met up with some of my Mystery Lovers Kitchen pals Mary Jane Maffini and Sheila Connolly and former MLK pal Julie Hyzy. It's always lovely to be around "like" know...the kinds who like to write about murder and mayhem and no one thinks you're crazy...or if they do, they don't tell you. LOL

Julie, Sheila, Avery, Mary Jane

Also at the conference was one of my Los Angeles pals, a debut author in November, ROCHELLE STAAB (in red blouse).

Her new book: WHO DO? VOODOO comes out November 4. Don't you love the cover?  RT Book Reviews gave her 4 stars, saying: “The first in the Mind for Murder mystery series set in Los Angeles grabs your attention from the start with creepy tarot cards, voodoo priestesses
and cursed spell books. A fresh and entertaining premise for a new series
that is cleverly plottted and executed.”  She'll be Cleo's guest on MLK in just a few weeks.

Reminder, anyone who comments today, as a tribute to the end of summer, will be entered to win a free copy of LOST AND FONDUE.

* * * * * * * *


  1. This salad sounds wonderful! Even though the calendar says the end of summer, it's still around 105 degrees here (Phoenix)!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    Denise in AZ

  2. Every dish needs feta.

    My grandmother allowed my sister and me to plant peach pits in her garden, never dreaming they would grow (and inconveniently shade a big patch).

    Please don't enter my name as I have Lost and Fondue.

  3. Great pictures of y'all! And I love the memories of your grandmother--she sounds like quite a lady. Gorgeous salad...and I love shrimp!

  4. Salad sounds yummy. I can't wait for the fall. I love when the trees turn colors and love the crisp weather.

  5. Denise, 105! Wow, does it ever get cool in Phoenix?

    Liz, too cute. Every dish needs feta? Hmm, I'll have to consider that. My go-to cheese is Parmesan or Cheddar. And then there's...ah, the list.

    Denise, you're entered. Liz, thanks for getting a copy. Sure you don't want to be on the list to have the opportunity to win one to give to a friend? :)


  6. Elizabeth, my grandmother (who was always called Grandmother and never Nana or Grandma or Granny get the picture) was very proper but quite the lady. I adore this salad.

    Elisa and Abby, the fall will be here quicker than you know. I remember living in Connecticut when the leaves would turn and the air crisp and then, snap, it was winter, and I would crave spring!!! Enjoy fall while it's here.

    Thanks to all for your comments.


  7. Wonderful memories of your Grandmother, Avery, and that salad looks like the perfect lunch to me. (In fact, it's lunchtime in NYC, and I wish I had it in front of me now.) Your Bouchercon photos are great, too. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    ~ Cleo

  8. Cleo, thanks. Enjoy your NYC lunch. I imagine it will include coffee, which is what I'm having right now as I work on the outline for book 5 in the series. I'm having so much fun imagining scenes for the middle of the book...not. Why are they always the hardest? LOL


  9. Wonderful post, Avery! Thanks for including the pics from Bouchercon. It was so great to have some personal time with so many of my good friends from Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I miss all of you so much!
    You've given me a huge taste for this salad. I don't have everything in the house, but I plan to give it my best shot!

    Major congrats to Krista on her New York Times Bestseller achievement. Woo-hoo!!

    (I stop by here every day, btw. I may not comment, but I do keep up. You guys are family!)

  10. The salad sounds wonderful, Avery. How lovely that you shared your memories of your grandmother.

    I'm so glad that you also shared pictures from Bouchercon and got a shot of MLKers! Best of luck to Rochelle! That's a book I have to read.

    ~ Krista

  11. Thanks for sharing the wonderful memories of your Grandmother! I enjoyed reading them.

    I always enjoyed getting tomatoes from my Grandma and Grandad's house during the summer,..and the zucchini! my Grandma made the BEST zucchini bread and cake! =)
    She passed away last year, I miss her so much...
    she made me two quilts that I cherish, and made many afghans and quilts for all the members of our family.

    thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Julie, so good to see you here. I thought you kept up with us. How could you pass up all the good recipes?

    So great to see you at B'con.

    Krista, you do have to read Rochelle's book. She's a hoot and I know it reflects in her writing.


  13. Melissa, what a lovely tribute to your grandmother. Can I have the zucchini bread and cake recipe? I adore zucchini. I'm thrilled that you have quilts to enjoy, made by her hand. Very special.


  14. The weather changed so quickly that we kind of got a head start on Autumn :)
    This is a fun season so I'm happy to see it.

  15. Thank you for sharing the recipe - it sounds delicious and easy to prepare!

  16. Leni, you might be in the only region in the US where you're getting a headstart. In LA it's still warm. Lovely, no complaints, but warm.

    Mary, I'm glad you like the recipe. It is simple. It's basically a grocery store run.


  17. I am happily waving goodbye to Summer, it has been very hot here and today it is 75 with very high humidity, I am looking forward to Fall.

  18. Like you, Avery, my Grandmother taught me alot of things, too. My favorite one being a love of flowers. Food was a given and like your Grandmother she really knew how to set a table. Always remember the linen napkins and the silver, and of course, a flower arrangement of some sort, always on the table.

  19. I loved this post, Avery! You were lucky to have such an elegant grandmother (and she was lucky too!) It brings back memories of summers past and my own mother. My grandmothers never cooked, although one was a great storyteller.

    The salad looks terrific too. Thanks for including the photos. Bouchercon was lots of fun.

    From Canada where it's hot and steamy.


  20. Yardsailor: that humidity is a killer, isn't it? I lived in Charlotte, NC for 9 years and Orlando, FL for a year, and the humidity was the thing that did me in. I never walked out of the house without stuffing my hair under a hat. LOL

    Terry - the flowers. Of course, always the flowers!

    Mary Jane - how wonderful to have a storyteller in the family. That must be where you get your talent!

    Hugs to all,


  21. I got hungry just reading your post today---and wistful thinking of my grandmother who taught me all I know about cooking. The last week of summer was very cold here---didn't get out of the 50's today---but the warmup starts tomorrow and we're all hoping for a wonderful Indian summer.

  22. Avery, Im so sorry, ...but at this time I dont have the recipe for my grandma's zucchini bread or
    If I can get a copy of it - I will email it to you! =)

  23. I didn't get to know my grandmother till I was grown simply because of the distance and inability to afford travel costs. One of my favorite memories is of learning to garden from my mom much as she had learned to do from her mother. Vine ripe tomatoes are so wonderful compared to the insipid flavors of ones we found in grocery stores. When we had a glut of them we would stir fry thin slices of beef marinated in a mix of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, black pepper and cornstarch. The meat was then set aside and we would fry a couple of slices of ginger and several cut up scallions, pour in a load of rough chopped tomatoes (skins left on), and cooked them down to a chunky sauce. The meat would be added back in at the last couple of moments to heat through and it would be ladled over white rice. It is now a favorite of my children's, too.


  24. Sue, sorry to hear it's so cold. May you have a lovely fall.

    Melissa, no worries. I have a great zucchini bread recipe, but I always love when someone brags about a recipe. I MUST have it. :)

    Anonymous LLL: Oh, wow, what a terrific recipe to share. I'm going to try this. Yes, vine ripe tomatoes are sooooooo different in taste! Thanks for sharing.