This is a story of how I like to beat myself up.  Even when I’m doing something good.  It’s the story of how I blame other people when I get frustrated.  It’s the story of how I like to think of myself as a risk-taker, but really I’m just scared shitless most of the time.  It’s the story of how I made kale salad for lunch.

I rushed in the door at 10:00 a.m., arms laden-down from Whole Foods.  I’d picked up the bag marked “kale salad” with some vague notion that I needed to eat more healthily at lunch time.  I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, but lucky for me, the back of the bag had a recipe creatively named “Kale Salad.”

It required marination, and with 10 short minutes before I had to get my butt to Bootcamp, I hadn’t a second to lose.  I found the scissors and cut open the bag.  I shook half of it into a bowl and started taking out ingredients—olive oil, salt, sugar, rice vinegar.  Hmm…  No rice vinegar.

What you should know is that I’m awful about following recipes.  When I say that, I don’t mean that I’m awful at following them.  I mean I’m awful because I always use a recipe and when I do, I want to follow it exactly.  (Like, last week I was putting something in the slow cooker and started hyperventilating because it called for bay leaves, and I forgot that we threw ours out before we moved.  I almost chucked the whole thing in the garbage before it had a chance to cook.)

Ugh.  As I slammed cabinet doors open and closed and dug into the back of my pantry, I threw a mini-fit.  Why don’t we have rice vinegar??  I was sure it was here.  I thought E said we had some in here, and that’s why I didn’t buy it!  (Okay, I’m sure he never said anything of the sort.)  Plus, he’s always complaining that I buy too many vinegars!  (Also not really true, although I think he was amused at the collection we’d amassed in our tiny New York apartment.)

My choices were Mirin (Did you know mirin is NOT vinegar?  I didn’t until I read every word of the label considering it as a possible substitution for rice vinegar.), red wine vinegar (too Italian!), sherry vinegar (no idea!), and apple cider vinegar.

I grimaced and sighed and figuratively wrung my hands.  What should I do?  I don’t want to make it WRONG!!  I vaguely remembered rice vinegar as being sweet, so I dumped in the apple cider vinegar and said a prayer.

If you have any experience cooking at all, I’m sure you can guess how this story ends.  I pull out the salad at lunchtime and it’s delicious.  I chew and wonder how it might have been different with the rice vinegar.  And I think, “Okay, maybe I can start to be a little more flexible with ingredients…”

(But if you know me at all, you’re probably also not surprised to learn that my next trip to the grocery store included not only rice vinegar but also one of each of every other vinegars in the aisle.  God forbid I never have the right vinegar again…)