DIY and I just don’t get along and I’ll tell you why. Home improvement projects, on the whole, are NEVER as easy as they look, and sometimes, when you’re me, they can cause a cascade of unfortunate events that just might make you decide that the ugly wallpaper in the bathroom just might be fine for another year. It all started last Saturday morning. It was that glorious, early morning golden hour, before the cats were awake and meowing, before breakfast needed to be made. HGTV was on in the background, I was reading the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens on my iPad and then an article popped up on my Houzz app that gave me 11 (really awesome) reasons to paint my interior doors black! Do you know Houzz? Houzz is awesome. It’s a huge database of Things You Want to Do To Your House But Should Really Call a Contractor for. “This is a great idea!”, I thought. “This is going to be an easy, low budget update!” So, with visions swirling in my head of elegant, black doors, off I went to the home improvement store for black paint and supplies!
First I tackled the honey-oak finished handrail going up our stairwell. I had to sand it first to remove the existing finish and that’s where things began going downhill. I’d say about an hour into sanding, I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel and by then it was way too late to back out, so I forged ahead. It took me all day to paint that handrail black! All day for a relatively straight piece of wood that seemed to go on for miles! What I didn’t realize, however, was that while I was involved in this Sisyphean task I was unwittingly opening a huge can of whoop-ass on my poor cat, Simon.
Simon. My sweet, talkative, lovable kitty is allergic to absolutely everything. The irony is not lost on me that my hairless cat, whom I chose because I’m allergic to furry cats, has allergic reactions that send him to the vet about every six months. These are not just mild allergies–runny nose, sniffles, that kind of thing; but major, potentially life-altering ones. A couple of years ago, he went into anaphylaxis after normal vaccines! That episode left him with a huge scar on his butt and a free pass from the vet to never again get vaccinated! And I didn’t even think, until I heard a distant string of sneezes, that he would be allergic to either paint or wood dust, or both. First came the sneezing, then the congestion and then on Wednesday morning, he was covered in hives from head to tail with big, angry-looking splotches on his belly. I took one look at him and burst into tears! He wouldn’t eat or drink, which, is a scary situation in cats because it could lead to liver failure. The next three days were spent shuttling back and forth to the vet and to his allergist. Yes, you read that right, he has an allergist. Two steroid shots and an arsenal of prescription medications later, Simon is finally beginning to come back around. He just started eating voluntarily last night (we had to force-feed him with a syringe before that) and his hives are fading (much to his mama’s relief).
I realize that I started off talking about painting doors, and I did manage to paint a set of French doors in the dining room before the weight of Simon’s allergies came crashing down around me. I will tell you that painting doors (or anything for that matter) black is an exercise in frustration! I applied coat after coat of paint, and still it’s not quite perfect. To be honest, it may just stay “not quite perfect”. It does look nice, though. For the price of three days of vet bills, I could have hired a painter to come and do ALL the doors in my house AND paid to send Simon to a sitter for the day.
So how does this apply to Caprese salad? Well, it really doesn’t but after the week I had, I needed something that would be easy right off the bat! No hidden complications, no potentially devastating consequences. This dish fit that bill! It is gorgeous and unlike those black doors, it really is as easy as it looks! I’ve been binging on heirloom tomatoes lately–as we all should be since this is the season that they are at their juicy best! I look for any excuse to eat them and this salad is simply perfect. It starts with creamy, burrata cheese. Burrata cheese is a fresh cheese that is traditionally made from the leftovers of the mozzarella cheese-making process. It is essentially fresh mozzarella cheese, but it is filled with cream and bits of fresh mozzarella. When you slice it open, the creamy filling pours out and it is decadent and delicious! I found this cheese at Trader Joe’s and it is fantastic and affordable. With a simple recipe like this, the quality of the individual ingredients is so important. Surround that cheese with the ripest tomatoes you can find. Tuck some torn, fresh basil leaves into every nook and cranny. Drizzle it with your very best olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you really want to get fancy, top it with some good pesto–homemade or your favorite store-bought. It’s like summer on a plate and unlike DIY, it will neither break the bank, nor your cat!
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Cheese Caprese Salad
- 2 balls of Burrata Cheese at room temperature
- Assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes
- Fresh basil leaves, torn
- Maldon Sea Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Good olive oil
- Good Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic Reduction
- Pesto, if desired
- Place one ball of burrata cheese in a bowl or on a plate. Surround the cheese with the heirloom tomatoes and torn basil leaves.
- If using pesto, spoon over the top of the cheese.
- Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and fresh ground pepper.