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Paradise Salad

As has been noted in previous food columns, Scots have settled and made their mark all over the world. One such Scot, John Muir, whose birthdate falls this week, is to be honoured on a new US 25-cent coin. Last week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California announced that the Dunbar-born Muir will appear on the new coin which will go into circulation in 2005. Designed by Gerrett Burke, a Los Angeles graphic artist, the John Muir image was chosen by Governor Schwarzenegger from twenty designs.
John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, on 21 April 1838 and his family emigrated to Wisconsin in the States in 1849. From an early age his love of nature was developed and he delighted in exploring the surrounding countryside. A talented youth,  despite being self-educated,  he earned a scholarship for the University of Wisconsin, After graduating he became a traveller and handyman until he suffered a blinding eye injury. A month later he regained his eyesight and decided to change his life and to immerse himself in the study of nature. In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley and into California's Sierra Nevada. He herded sheep through that first summer and made his home in Yosemite. His subsequent life work in conservation led to the establishment of the United States' National Park system and earned John Muir the title of 'Father of the National Park System'.
Although National Parks are now common all over the world thanks to John Muir's pioneering work, it was not until seventy years after his death in 1914 that his homeland followed his lead. Scotland now has two National Parks.The concept of conservation formulated by John Muir allows for a natural 'paradise'. This week's recipe also has a 'paradise' theme - a starter, Paradise Salad - once again is supplied by our friends in the SWRI Dumfriesshire Federation (Heathhall Institute).
Paradise Salad
Ingredients : 2 ripe avocado or dessert pears; 1/2 cucumber, peeled; 1 tablespoon vinegar; a little French mustard; 1/2 lb tomatoes; 2 tablespoons corn oil; pinch caster sugar
Skin tomatoes, cut into quarters and remove seeds. Cut cucumber into 1 inch strips and add to tomatoes. Mix together oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard. Half an hour before serving meal, cut peeled pears into cubes, mix with tomatoes and cucumbers and toss in dressing. Serve individual portions on lettuce leaves.

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