While cooking, listen to this: Till There Was You - The Beatles

I never thought I’d consider getting a haircut to be an intimate experience. Intimacy is reserved for people you’ve dated, family members, a handful of good friends. Probably a doctor or two. Maybe, the woman who gives you bikini waxes. But never hair stylists. Or so I thought.

Ted has been cutting my hair since I was seven. I trust him implicitly - he’s seen me through power bangs, side bangs and break-up bangs. On top of that, he cuts the hair of everyone in my family, except my dad, who, well, has no hair on his head. So, everyone. I go back to Detroit enough for holidays and family gatherings that it’s usually a no-brainer for me to squeeze in some time to go see Ted and get my hair cut. But with a busy fall and a family getaway for Thanksgiving, I won’t be heading home until early next year, at least. And my split ends were starting to form personalities of their own.

It was time.

A good haircut in New York is hard to come by. The market is oversaturated with overpriced cut & blow-outs or sketchily priced “I’m only going to cut two inches, oops, now it’s a bob” stylists. I had to tread carefully, so I asked my friend Hannah, who is just about as picky as I am. Both her and her mom go to this hole-in-the-wall salon that sort of feels like the lobby of hotel in Eilat. So, I booked an appointment with Lana and hoped for the best, nearly backing out twice.

When Ted cuts my hair, it’s like seeing an old friend. After reassuring me that I’m not his only over 21 client who flies back to Detroit just to get her haircut, we chat about whatever - work, his daughters, Michigan Football. After decades of styling the hair of metro-Detroit’s chattiest, Ted is somewhat of a small-talk expert. So when Lana sat me in her swivel chair, combing out my hair and walking me through her plan, I felt myself tensed up. I was used to sitting back and chatting with Ted.

It was unnerving, having a stranger cut my hair. I sort of wished my friend Masha was with me to translate from Russian because her accent was hard to understand. I fiddled with my bracelet under the cape and realized at one point I was holding my breath. I’d never had anyone cut my hair besides Ted before. Never!

Lana ended up doing a great job. She took twice as long as Ted and we definitely didn’t talk about Michigan’s offensive line, but it was worth it and didn’t break the bank. On my walk home, I realized how out-of-my-element I felt getting my haircut by someone who wasn’t Ted. While I was sitting in the chair, I kept telling myself it was just hair. It’d grow out. It was almost like I just worked myself through a big life-changing moment. But…it was just a haircut.

There are lots of things that adulting requires you to do that seem so far-fetched it’s almost unnerving. 401Ks, health insurance, credit scores, student loans. Once you master those terms, you know you’ve officially entered your mid-twenties. But finding a dentist, going to the gynecologist, finding a shoe mender, finding a hair stylist you trust - those things are just as important to master! It’s a lot.

That being said, look for simplicity wherever you can, without cutting any corners. Tossing together an easy-to-make-and-customize salad is one less decision you have to make. That’s exactly what this salad is. With kale as a base, all that matters is that there are lots of colors. We opted for corn, black beans, radishes and tomatoes, but you could easily add whatever veggies are in-season. You could also 100% top with cheese or protein. The tomatillo dressing is what really takes the cake, though - spicy, tangy and definitely worth husking those weird green orbs. Make a big jar of it at the beginning of the week and throw it on everything from this salad to tacos to eggs. Easy-peasy.

In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, one less thing to worry about.

xo, Alyssa

PS - Happy Birthday, Mom! :-)



Yield: 4-6 servings

Active Time: 10m | Inactive Time: 10m

Category: Salad, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Summer

Source: adapted from The New York Times



¼ pound tomatillos, husked

1 small serrano or ½ jalapeno pepper

1 Tablespoon lime juice

1 Tablespoon chopped white onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, peeled

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste


10 ounces kale

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

Kernels from 2 ears of corn*

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into a small dice

4 radishes, cut into thin half moons

2 Tablespoons minced chives

Anything else your heart desires (cheese, grains etc.)

*We used raw corn here, but you can steam it or grill it as well.


Char the tomatillos: set your oven to “Broil” and line a small oven-safe dish with tinfoil. Add the tomatillos stem-side down and broil for 2-5 minutes, until charred on one side. Flip over with tongs or a wide-set spatula and broil for another 2-5 minutes, or until they’re charred on the other side. Add to a high-speed blender or food processor, including any juice that seeped out. Add the serrano/jalapeno, lime juice, onion, garlic and olive oil and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste and adjust any seasoning. Set aside.

Prep the kale: add the kale to the bowl or platter you’ll be using to serve the salad. Drizzle with 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage the kale. This breaks down the kale and makes it better to eat.

Assemble! to the massaged kale, add the corn, tomatoes, radishes, chives and anything else you want to add. Add the tomatillo dressing when you’re ready to serve.

To keep: the dressing can be kept in the fridge for a few days in a tightly sealed jar or container. Dressed salad will keep for a day or two since kale is a heartier green, but it’s best eaten immediately.