"The Cafe is crowded this morning, isn't it?" Jan slid into the chair next to Ruthy.
"It sure is." Kav stirred her tea with the broken end of her biscotti. "I thought the weather would keep everyone at home."
"Weather schmeather." Ruthy downed her coffee in one swallow. "It's only winter." She poured herself another cup.
Jan pulled her new smart phone from her purse. "Well, we had great weather in South Dakota this weekend. We even went on a hike in the Badlands. I have the pictures on my phone." She started scrolling through the menu with her thumb.
Missy swallowed the last bite of her muffin. "The Badlands??? In January???"
Susanna leaned forward so she could see Jan's phone. "You mean people actually go outside in the winter where you live?"
Jan found the first picture and passed her phone around the table.
"That's beautiful." Virginia took another cookie and dunked it in her coffee. "My children would be off exploring if I didn't keep an eye on them."
"Funny you would mention that," Jan said, flipping to the next picture. "My son does the same thing."
Mindy took a few celery sticks and passed the veggie plate to Jan. "I loved visiting the Badlands when we lived in South Dakota. Did you see any animals?"
"We sure did."
"Look how brown everything is." Julie sipped her tea. "How do the animals even survive in that barren landscape?"
"Barren? I guess you could call it that." Jan flipped to another picture. "My husband says that the Badlands challenge our concept of beauty."
"Wow," Missy said. She stared at the picture for a long time before passing the phone around the table. "I guess we'll have to plan a trip there sometime."
Ruthy passed the muffins to Jan. "So what are you fixing for us today? Rabbit stew?"
"Oh, no!" Kav and Susanna exchanged looks. "Not that nice rabbit!"
"No worries. I'm not fixing rabbit stew." Jan waited until she had everyone's attention. "I'm sharing my friend Ginger's salad recipe." She stood up and went behind the counter. "Actually, I'm not sure you can call this a recipe.
Ginger loves children, horses and dogs...not necessarily in that order. And she loves God and her husband more than any of those. But Ginger says she doesn't cook. So when we got together for dinner one night last week, Ginger brought salad.
There were eight of us at dinner that night, and Ginger's salad amazed all of us. I forget who asked where Ginger had gotten her recipe - either Janet or Vonda - but Ginger only said, 'Oh, I went to the store and picked up some things that looked good.'
Well, Janet, Vonda and I gave each other knowing looks. If any of us had done what Ginger described, our salads would have looked bland and boring, with no guarantee of how they would taste.
But I decided to try Ginger's method. I went to the store yesterday and picked up a bunch of stuff I thought might taste good.
I thought about mushrooms, too, but for some reason I thought I had some at home in the fridge. I'll add those in next time."
Jan cleaned the veggies, chopped them into bite sized pieces (you can't see this, but the carrots are already cut in little sticks - easy peasy), and layered the different items in a big bowl.
"I think the marinated artichokes will be fabulous, and the cilantro should give the salad a huge zing."
Virginia shuddered. "Stinky feet," she muttered to Mindy.
"I even bought some new salad dressing. It's Greek Feta Vinaigrette."
Jan tossed the salad, added the dressing, and let everyone serve themselves.
"Oh, oh, this is fabulous!" Ruthy took another bite.
"I'm making this for supper tonight. I could add tofu for some protein, right?" Kav speared a piece of marinated artichoke on her fork.
"You could, I guess." Jan wrinkled her nose. "I'd add chicken or tuna." She filled her fork with her next bite. "Oh, I almost forgot. Ginger and her husband are also the owners of one of the secondary characters in my next book. It's the Deadwood story that's coming out in September from Love Inspired Historical."
Julie frowned. "Your friend owns one of the characters in your book?"
Jan flipped to another picture and passed her phone around again. "Meet Loretta!"