by Susan Reid

Apple. A word my children most frequently associate with that logo on the back of their favorite electronic devices. I also adore my iPhone, iPad and iTunes. If I’m being completely honest, maybe I enjoy them a little too much. 

As I prepare to celebrate this season of harvest and thanksgiving with my family, I realize how much I have begun to appreciate this holiday. Like so many others, I enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Following posts keeps me connected with so many by removing the barriers of distance and time. Technology even helped me coordinate who will bring what dishes to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. No phone calls necessary. Despite all the posts, texts, and emails, I find myself looking forward to connecting with family, friends and neighbors over a meal around the family table.

This got me pondering what is it that the holiday of Thanskgiving provides in my life? 

Is it the food that I am craving? I don’t believe so. I make pumpkin crunch cake all year long. Besides, food photography today is so advanced that it addresses many seasonal cravings. The hot steam swirling above a cup of mulling cider can not only be captured in an image, but enhanced to a point where I swear I smell the hovering wafts of cinnamon and cloves right across the Internet.

Do I long for the warm ambience of home and hospitality that is at the very heart of this season? I don’t think so. I am very blessed in this regard. Further with just a click or two on Pinterest I am invited into the homes of so many: it’s a virtual holiday housewalk with all the trimmings at my fingertips, ambience is pinned to hundreds of online boards.

Is it the sounds of conversation that I desire? No. Living in a home with three young boys conversation abounds. And today’s high quality video clips not only animate the faces of those I love but record their voices with amazing clarity. Clips of my cousin singing or my three nephews laughing collapse distance and bring me into their every day activities.

Technology will never replace my need to be in the very presence of those I love. All those other things I mentioned are substitutions, born out of that very need – the human need for companionship created in that garden so many years ago.

I believe it is this, and not our country’s love of turkey, pilgrims or pumpkin pie that drives so many Americans to crowd the nation’s highways and airports this time of year. And in the spirit of being present, the only “apples” that will be invited to dinner are those found in our traditional and seasonal salad.

I love this salad.  It is one I often choose when asked to bring a dish to a celebration.  It’s been to many Thanksgiving dinners,  pot-luck style baby showers and even a teacher appreciation luncheon or two.  Why?  It’s a breeze to toss together.  Even easier to transport. And there are never any leftovers to bring home. In my mind, always the truest sign of a crowd pleaser. The simple flavors of apples, cashews and Swiss cheese taste smashing together. The sweet poppy seed dressing clings nicely to the leafy lettuce and balances the tang of the apples. The crunch of the apples and cashews pairs so well with the silkiness of the cheese. Its flavors are subtle and delicious. Better yet, they  never overpower the other flavors of a larger meal.

So if you’re in a crunch as to what salad to serve, maybe this is the year to give something new a try.   Be sure to finely grate the onion for the dressing. I usually don’t like raw onion in salads and almost omitted it the first time I made it. Sure glad I followed Lisa’s instructions and kept it in.  As crazy as it sounds, I always use my microplane for this. The one I use for shaving nutmeg or zesting a lemon. It grates the onion so fine that it just melts into the dressing.   

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do.

Lisa's Rustic Salad with Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing


  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, finely shredded
  • 2 red apples, coarsely chopped                                                              Note: A combination of McIntosh, Honeycrisp & Granny Smith Green Apples is festive.   (Note: If salad is prepared ahead of time, be sure to coat apples in lemon juice so they do not brown).


  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon grated onion
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

Wash and dry lettuce. Tear into bit size pieces and put in large salad bowl. Next layer cashews and apples on top. Sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Next combine all ingredients for dressing in small mixing bowl. Mix well. Dress salad just before serving.

©, 2011-2012.

Wife. Mother. Scientist-at-heart.  Finding God in the details of everyday moments. For Susan Reid, gathering family around the table for a meal and enjoying the conversations that ensue is a passion. Life’s busy with three growing boys, but getting people to pause in the midst of their day to share a family recipe and story or two, is a source of joy. Preserving memories, traditions and passing LOVE along in short story form is her mission. When not enjoying life in her little blue house, Susan enjoys fly-fishing and cups of Earl Grey tea with lots of sugar. You can find more of her recipes and writing at

Cover photo by suebthefoodie. Recipe by Lisa and shared with Sue by Lynne.

This post first appeared here.