Today, I've got something for the cooks that find themselves in a Boring Side-Dish Rut. We feature a salad. I'm pretty lazy about salads. I open a bag of pre-cut greens, toss in some grape tomatoes and slice up some cucumber and expect the diners at my table to be happy with it, week after week after week. Nothing else goes into a salad unless a recipe specifically tells me to put it in there. So let's do:
Swiss Tossed Salad
I actually prefer various bottled dressings over the mayo/sour cream one. The only problem with this salad is that the heavy stuff (the Swiss cheese) sinks to the bottom. It's hard to fish all the ingredients out of the bowl equally. But I like these flavors together. Thanks, Quick Cooking Magazine.
As for the finished book pile, I thought of Lora Dawn every time I picked up Playing Doctor by Joseph Turow, a book about TV doctor shows.
First, my doctor show anecdote: I grew up without TV--alas! Well, we had a TV, but it didn't work. My mom said it needed a picture tube. She said picture tubes were expensive. How expensive? I figured they must cost just less than a space rocket, an impression Mother never bothered to correct.
All this changed on general conference weekends. Mom and Dad left town for Salt Lake City. Noel and Hertha came over to "babysit" Jana and I. And they always brought TVs! For watching Saturday morning cartoo -- er, excuse me -- talks by apostles.
Well, OK, we did fit in a little secular viewing. Like the night we watched Medical Center. A young engaged couple came in to see the handsome Dr. Joe Gannon. The fiancee wasn't feeling too well. Dr. Gannon ran a few tests. Then he took her aside privately and told her she had . . . Gonorrhea!
I couldn't figure out why her fiance reacted with such stunned shock. I couldn't figure out why the adults in my own living room all looked at each other with nervous laughs.
"What's gonorrhea?" I asked.
"Ask your mother," Hertha retorted, with an end-of-discussion finality in her voice.
Anyhoo, Turow's book covers the mania that broke out when Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare began on TV in the early '60s. Women swooning! Women writing the actors for advice about their medical (even their gynecological) problems! Then, in the '70s, along came Marcus Welby, M.D. and Medical Center. Robert Young, the actor who played Welby, identified thoroughly with the role. After years of depression and alcoholism, he needed a personality to adopt, so he adopted Welby's. When the woman who played his nurse felt a little under the weather, he reached out and took her pulse.
Playing Doctor gets rather bogged down in discussions about the AMA trying to exercise control over doctors' TV images, and the networks constantly trying to figure out the perfect doctor-show formula while keeping the genre fresh. True medical-drama fans may find the book a little thin on behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
But even some of the network machinations can be interesting. For instance, Emergency!, in the '70s, was thrown on to the schedule against the very popular All in the Family. Network execs thought that there must be people out there who either didn't understand Archie Bunker, or couldn't stand him. Give them something else to watch! However, each Emergency! episode was written with three or four vignettes per show. The biggest, most expensive emergency (say, something with explosions) always fell in the third segment, right at 8:30 when, over on the other channel, Archie Bunker was just finishing up. Capture Archie's audience!
The book finished up with M*A*S*H and St. Elsewhere. Too bad it was written clear back in 1988. Wouldn't we love to know what Turow had to say about E.R. and Scrubs?
Next up: What Are the Odds? by Mike Orkin. "Chance in Everyday Life." I'm a few pages in and that's enough for me. I don't want my books peppered with equations and math-professor jokes. But if you're dying to know what the chances are that a tossed coin will turn up heads 100% of the time, or if you're trying to refine your casino strategy, give it a whirl. All the jacket praise says Orkin makes the subject fascinating.
I kinda like reading the Yellow Pages better.