Lessons Learned at the Olympics & Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & Feta

Olympics_2016_02Every four years we find ourselves indoors and glued to the television. It doesn’t matter that it is a brilliant summer evening. The Olympics are on and we can’t help ourselves. The next day’s highlights are not enough. We have to watch the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat live, as it happens.

On the track, on the mats, on the beach, on and even in the water, these star athletes seem to fly without wings. So how do they do it?

Preparation matters. As innately talented and gifted as these world class athletes are, they couldn’t do it without years of training. Not just any training, their entire lives revolve around the practice of their sport. Preparing for the Olympics is not just hard physical work. It takes brains as well as brawn to reach the top.

Since the Olympics come only once every four years, strategy and timing are critical. Peak too early and the medal you’ve dreamed of may go to someone else. Even worse, an injury can thwart a lifetime of preparation and sacrifice. Whether you are training for a Labor Day fun run or looking for your next promotion, preparation matters for us mere mortals too.

Perseverance matters. Unlike many weekend warriors, Olympic athletes are committed. They don’t take the winter off because it’s too cold to train outdoors. They don’t skip a day or two when a heat wave turns the gym into a sauna. They don’t bail in the middle of race because they have no chance of winning.

Perseverance is about both the big and little things an athlete does every day. Same goes for us and the goals we pursue. Whether you’re fighting for the little league trophy or a science fair medal, a last ditch, Herculean effort is rarely enough. If you’re smart and fast, you might be able to wing it once, even twice. However, day-in and day-out discipline is more likely to take you to and keep you at the top.

Patience matters. The road to Rio was long and winding. These premiere athletes had a dream of what could be. They are stars because they have the courage to make it happen. These exceptional competitors have the confidence to believe in themselves and developed the strength and the stamina to make their goals a reality. You can too.

No matter what path we choose, few of us will have it straight and smooth from start to end. Patience, a willingness to rethink and try again and again, can make all the difference. Olympic athletes fight through pain, make choices and countless sacrifices. It’s unlikely that our picture will end up on a cereal box but we too make choices. To win, you must define your goals and determine the sacrifices you are willing to make.

Sportsmanship matters. Olympic athletes are committed to excellence in their sport. As spectators, we want even more from them. We want to see that decency and kindness has helped shape and define that commitment and excellence. Perhaps this summer, more than ever, for ourselves and for our children, we want our sports heroes to be shining examples of character and grace under pressure. Then, it is our turn to do the same.

Enjoy the games! Bon appétit!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & FetaTomatoes_Grilled_Corn_Cuke_Feta_07
This recipe borrows a little of this and that from a traditional Greek Salad and then takes it south of the border. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 ears corn, husks removed
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
2-3 small pickling cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 scallions thinly sliced
Spicy Vinaigrette (recipes follows)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
About 4 ounces feta cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high. Lightly coat the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the corn on the grill and cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and, when the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob.

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter or individual plates, top with the corn kernels, cucumbers and scallion and drizzle with Spicy Vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, garnish with feta and serve.

Spicy Vinaigrette
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon or to taste minced jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Tiny pinch smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, garlic and jalapeno in a bowl, season with cumin, paprika , salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk until smooth. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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One Year Ago – Bluebree Grunt
Two Years Ago – Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache
Three Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Four Years Ago – Filet de Sole Meunière
Five Years Ago – Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp
Six Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Seven Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Eight Years Ago – Summer Rolls

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What lessons have you learned from this summer’s Olympics games? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

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