Ronnie Paul: Close encounters |

Ronnie Paul: Close encounters

Roasted veggie bliss salad is a perfect winter treat.
Photo by Jeff Kane

After almost a year of practice, my social distancing skills are fairly polished. I eyeball six feet so easily now that I don’t need a tape measure while building a new garden fence. A few of my distancing skills, however, need refining.

One for instance, is the uncorrectably short distance between me and the refrigerator. The chocolate chip-mint ice cream is never less than three feet away, and tortilla chips seem to have a permanent home in my hand. I note, however, that the table etiquette that my mother taught me and my current manners remain far apart and probably grow more distant each day. Elbows on the table, frequent slurps and burps: I’ll need to enroll in table manners boot camp when our normal lives resume.

The next area I need to perfect is expanding the distance between me and Netflix. I’ve watched so many British detective series that I often refer to Jeff as DCI Kane. Knowing the personal lives of so many characters, I feel like I should send them birthday cards.

My last confession is that there’s scarcely any distance anymore between me and my pajama bottoms. I wish I could say that I only put them on when I hit the couch to watch Netflix, but they’re occasionally my bottom half for Zoom meetings and dinner hour.

Of course I never social distance from cooking. I hope you’ll cozy up to the table and enjoy these recipes.

Roasted Veggie Bliss Salad

Serves 4

Eating this winter salad makes my taste buds ecstatic.

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 pressed garlic cloves

1 pound red potatoes, cut in bite-size cubes

8 ounces cauliflower florets

8 ounces broccoli florets


Whisk together:

¼ cup Vegenaise or mayonnaise

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 pressed garlic clove

2 teaspoons dried dill

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon capers

Mix the garlic and olive oil. Toss each veggie variety in its own 1 tablespoon oil/1 garlic clove coating. Because the veggies may be done at different times, keep each variety separate on a baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing once during roasting, at 350 degrees until each veggie is tender. Let them cool.

Toss the veggies with the dressing. Add the capers and let sit at room temperature for at least one hour, until the dressing is absorbed.

Coconut-Lime Rice

Serves 3-4

If you’re wondering how to further enhance your blissful state, try this.

1 cup raw white Basmati rice

1 cup water

¾ cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup toasted cashews

½ cup chopped pineapple


1 lime, cut in wedges

Bring the rice, water, coconut milk and turmeric to a boil, then cover, turn the flame down low, and simmer for 15 minutes. (My doneness gauge for any rice is seeing that it sticks to the bottom of the pot.) To soften the raisins, toss them in with the rice for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

When the rice is done, stir in the cashews, pineapple, and salt.

Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the rice. Prepare for a bit more bliss.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.


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