anniversary special

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As the summer speeds by, we are celebrating many happy occasions. Birthdays, graduations and two happy anniversaries.

My mom and dad got married now 21 years ago. It was a first marriage for neither of them. My (step)mom had a long and lovely marriage to her first husband Gary and sadly outlived him. Happily for us, though, she met my dad and despite many reasons not to, they tied the knot. I still remember my dad asking me if he could marry Mary~it would be his third~and I replied "It's either going to be 3 strikes and you're out or third time is a charm". Happily for all of us, it was the latter.

Forward to 20 years later and I am set to marry my sweetheart. I had heard of, and eaten many times, the Anniversary Green Bean salad which my dad faithfully makes for mom each and every year. We had a very small wedding and wanted to have a nice dinner for the few folks who helped create this very special day for us. The Anniversary Green Bean salad had a place on the menu and though I'm a little bit late this year in making it for our own first anniversary, I am happy to do so and be in line for another 19 (hopefully more!) years of happiness in marriage.

Norm & Mary's Anniversary Green Bean salad: adapted from Savor the Flavor of Oregon

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 cup red onion
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Blanch green beans for 4-5 minutes; chill. Chop mint leaves and add to green beans. Set aside.

For dressing: Combine oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Add walnuts, red onion and feta cheese to beans. Pour dressing over bean mixture and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

In traditional Schafer fashion, you can substitute the hell out of this and still end up with a great salad. Parmesan for feta, walnuts/hazelnuts/cashews for the nuts, basil/rosemary for the mint. As with any marriage, time to chill before serving it up and a gentle dose of love are the basics. Enjoy!

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