Sunday, April 1, 2012

What’s cooking? Poppy Seed Dressing

Long-time readers of this blog know that, seven months ago, I had to take a break from writing because of a fall I took that literally destroyed my rotator cuff. That was the bad news, and for me perhaps the worst news of the past decade. (I live an otherwise charmed life.)

In the meantime, I’ve had more friends than you can imagine go through similar though maybe less drastic shoulder injuries. It’s sort of like when you’re pregnant and all you see are other pregnant women everywhere. One friend sent me this photo, in which she’s wearing EXACTLY the same giant shoulder sling, with the caption “Twins from another planet.”

The good news, that I wish to pass on to anyone with a shoulder injury, or maybe any other traumatic – but temporary – problem is that life moves slowly forward, taking you with it an inch at a time. One day, you find that you can brush your teeth with your right hand without bending into the sink to do so. A couple of weeks later, you slice three pounds of green tomatoes for marmalade, even though you know that if your husband came home and saw you laboring to make the slices extra thin, he would pronounce you completely bonkers. And a couple more days later, you absently reach out to pick up a glass like you always have, and it doesn’t hurt.

At the physical therapy clinic where I started in New Jersey, they told me it could be a year before I’d be able to fasten my bra behind my back. I’m not going to give you a picture of it, but I accomplished that goal this week – five months ahead of schedule! It’s not easy, and I still have a ways to go for full rotational motion, but like GE, progress is our most important product.


I forgot to plant arugula this year. I forgot how heartily it takes to the Texas weather. But in the aftermath of my shoulder surgery, I forgot a lot of things. This photo was my arugula last year – how could I forget that?

My friend and neighbor, Susan, did not forget, and she has a bumper crop this year. She gave me a bunch the other day, and we had the most delicious salad with it. I mixed it with slivers of red bell pepper and blood orange segments. The poppy seed dressing – which appropriately enough came from my salad days (!) as a single in Manhattan – is my husband’s favorite.

Classically, this is a dressing to serve over fruit salad. But it’s also excellent on a salad of arugula or fresh spinach with any combination of the following: crumbled bacon, slivered red bell pepper, fresh orange sections, canned mandarin orange slices, slivered almonds, thinly sliced mushrooms.

Poppy Seed Dressing

⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup vinegar
1 cup salad oil (vegetable or canola)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly grated onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a jar large enough to hold 2 cups of liquid (like a mayonnaise jar). Shake well before pouring.


  1. Salad dressing sounds yummy. I have a bumper crop, grown from seeds, of arugula right now. Have to eat it before it bolts! I wonder how long I can keep that salad dressing in the fridge? I see a very large salad on tonight's dinner menu...
    The picture of you is fabulous. Looking forward to seeing you in a month or so.

  2. I keep it for quite some time -- as long as it takes me to use it! But surely a couple of weeks.

  3. Susan Seligmann AxelrodApril 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Oh Lee, I know that feeling of triumph that you reflect in your picture! I wrote you after your surgery but don't see the post anywhere here. I had the same fashionable garb that you wore. Broke my shoulder in two places, tripped down the stairs to our marble entry. In fact, the last reunion I was barely recovered. It is a long journey but you are defying the odds! Congrats and good job! Can't keep a great lady down for long!

    1. Hi, Susan! I didn't get your first comment -- not sure why -- and this one curiously ended up on the Comments Moderation page. Very mysterious. Am so sorry to hear about YOUR fall -- it sounds much more spectacular than mine, as I at least had no broken bones. We'll have to get together at the next reunion and compare recoveries. See you then!