When was the last time you played croquet?

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I probably hadn’t played croquet since I was in my early teens, and back then I’m pretty sure I didn’t play it right.

But I got a lesson in the classic yard game of croquet (not to be confused with a croquette — a small roll of vegetables or meat, fried in breadcrumbs, since this blog does most often focus on food) on the Fourth of July at a holiday gathering of friends. For the most part, it was a friendly competition, with no mean-spirited “sending” of an opposing player, although that doesn’t mean we weren’t all playing to win. Beginner’s luck was on my


side, as the rest of the competitors had already played one round, and I managed to come in second on my first go-round. I’m sure that luck won’t carry through next time.

But I did enjoy the endeavor and will be eager to pick up a mallet again. It’s a fun game that can be enjoyed by all ages. Besides, I just like saying the word “wicket,” which for those not familiar with croquet is the arched wire through which you must hit the croquet ball. Most particularly, I like the idiom “sticky wicket,” used to describe a difficult situation, although I hope I don’t find reason to utilize it any time soon.

Now on to a recipe, but not for croquettes because at the moment it’s too hot to consider deep-frying anything. But it is perfect weather for a salad, and this one is a favorite from my recipe file. I’m sure it was originally printed in DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing” column in the Daily Globe, although it isn’t in her cookbook.

The title on my recipe card is for “Mean Salad,” and since it’s not a particularly spiteful dish, I tend to think that the title comes from somebody saying “I make a mean salad.” That’s my explanation, and I’m sticking to it. This version utilizes cauliflower, although I’ve also made it with broccoli, both of which should be forthcoming from area gardens. It’s a great accompaniment to a grilled chicken breast.

Mean Salad

1  Romaine lettuce heart , torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into florets

8 slices bacon, fried (or cooked on the grill or in the microwave!) and crumbled

1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

For dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 small onion, chopped

Mix dressing ingredients. In a large bowl, combine romaine and cauliflower. Add the dressing and stir to coat. Sprinkle in bacon and Parmesan and toss.






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