vegetable-garden-ideas2When the grasshoppers ate her mother’s vegetable garden, Amber was secretly happy about it–especially when they ate up all the spinach. Amber couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to eat that slimy green stuff. But when Amber tasted Betty Jenkin’s spinach salad made with fresh spinach, she totally changed her opinion. In fact, when Betty showed up to lend her green thumb in helping the Snyder’s plant a successful garden, Amber insisted that the garden include spinach.

Once the spinach was ready to harvest, Amber wanted to invite Betty to dinner as a way to say thank you. Here is how it went:

Amber was so excited about their special Memorial Day dinner, that she practically dragged her family to the car. “Don’t you want to stay and visit with your friends?” John asked. “It will be hours before Betty comes to dinner.”

“I have to make my special spinach salad,” Amber insisted. “Laura gave me a recipe that she said will be delicious. It’s called Strawberry Spinach Salad. I want to have plenty of time to get things ready.”

Betty Jenkins arrived at the Snyders’ promptly at four o’clock. She brought a jug of homemade lemonade and a cucumber from her garden. “I thought you might like to use this in your salad.” Betty handed the cucumber to Amber.

“That’s exactly what I need,” Amber said, somewhat surprised. “The recipe is supposed to have a cucumber, but I forgot to buy one.”

While her dad got the grill ready for hamburgers, Amber spread the recipe out on the kitchen counter. She took three strips of bacon from the refrigerator and chopped them. Then she cooked the bacon in a small skillet. While the cooked bacon was draining on paper towels, she prepared the dressing using rice vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. In a large salad bowl, Amber tossed the spinach leaves with slices of oranges and strawberries. Next she added Betty’s cucumber which she had thinly sliced along with some sliced red onion. Just before she was ready to serve the salad, she poured on the dressing, tossing to mix it in well. She divided the salad into individual salad bowls. Then she topped each salad with chopped walnuts and bacon.

As Amber carried her salad out to the patio, she saw her dad taking the hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob off the grill. “Dinner is ready,” he announced. Everyone took a seat around the picnic table in the back yard and John gave the blessing.

“Amber,” Betty said, “your salad is lovely. I’m sure it tastes delicious. Strawberries go so well with spinach.”

“I hope you like it,” Amber said. “I know you make really good spinach salad.”

Everyone was loading their hamburgers with big slices of tomato, onions and lettuce, and unwrapping the corn-on-the-cob. Kyle was the first to taste Amber’s spinach salad. “There’s something different about this salad,” he said. “It’s kind of crunchy.”

“That must be the bacon,” Mary suggested, “or maybe the walnuts.”

“Betty’s cucumber is so fresh,” Amber said. “Maybe that’s what’s crunchy.”

“I see what you mean,” John said to Kyle after taking a bite of salad. “It’s a different kind of crunchy, kind of gritty.”

Mary lifted some of the spinach leaves and examined her salad closely. “Amber, did you wash the spinach before you made the salad?”

“Wash the spinach?” Amber sounded confused. “It didn’t say anything about washing the spinach in the recipe Laura gave me.”

Kyle who had just taken a large bite of salad spit it back into the bowl.

“I should have told you that you have to wash spinach well, especially when it comes from the garden. I’m sorry I didn’t think of that,” Mary said, sympathetically.

“Oh,” Amber said, “I messed up again.”

Mary collected the bowls of salad and carried them into the kitchen.

“I should leave cooking to Laura,” Amber said with a sigh. “I’ll never be a good cook like you, Betty.”

“Well.” Betty laughed. “I wasn’t always a good cook. When Paul and I were first married, I was a horrible cook. I remember the first time I tried boiling eggs. I didn’t know how long to cook them, so I boiled them for half an hour. They were so rubbery you could bounce them off the wall.”

“What did Paul do?” Amber asked. “Did he get mad at you?”

“Not Paul.” Betty laughed again. “He was always a very kind, patient man. He sat right down at the table and ate those eggs—every one. It took him a long time to chew them. It must have been like eating a sponge. I’m sure his jaws hurt for weeks afterwards.”

“That’s a really funny story,” John said. “I think I could tell a few stories like that about when we were first married.”

“But I bet you know better than to tell those stories, don’t you?” Betty said with a wink.

“You have that right.” John laughed.

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number available on Amazon


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