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Monday, January 14, 2013

Dressing: complicated mystery NO MORE!

I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday and my mother-in-law also was doing her shopping.  We meandered over to the pre-packaged salad sections where they give you tasty creations in plastic take-along containers.  They also come with a dressing to suit the occasion.  She handed one over to me for inspection (I am sort of known as the litmus tester for all things food – well, that’s what I think of myself as, anyway.  I am pretty sure other people just think of me as the dark cloud of doom for all things food.  Yes, well.  Either way.) as she brings them along with her to work during the week.

Being the Dark Cloud of Doom that I am, I told her that the actual salad was fantastic but the dressing that they had to go with it was pure horrid.  The first one she handed me had some nice canola oil in it (if you are not yet aware, canola oil comes from something called a “rapeseed”.  Yes.  RAPEseed.  I wish I were making this up.  Oh, and besides the name, it’s one of the top four GMO’s of our world.  Canola isn’t even fit for human consumption but it’s purported as a health food.  Someone has it in for us, perhaps?  But don’t take it from me – do some research and reading on the subject and you’ll be equally horrified.).  She took it back, sighed, tossed it back onto the refrigerated shelf.

Out comes another for me to inspect.  Ugh.  Soybean oil.  Once again, top four for GMOs.  (They are: corn, soy, canola and cotton in case you’re keeping track – with sugar beets following closely behind.)  Now, not only are soybeans one of the top GMOers, they are also not processed well by humans unless they are fermented (as they are used in Asia) and then only as a condiment with other foods, not as a food itself.  The makeup of soy causes so many problems – the huge hit is taken by your endocrine system, should you choose to consume it.  And it, like the other GMOers, is hard to get away from because they are so prolific in our food supply.  I inform her of these things.  She sighs again and tosses the plastic bin back on the shelf.

The third comes out and this one also has some canola in it.  Poor lady.  I am nearly deflating her with troubling information.  Now, as I mentioned at the first, the actual salad doesn’t have anything wrong with it per se, it’s just the ingredients to the dressing.  I suggest to her that she simply make some dressing and use the rest of the ingredients.

(Now, to be fair, Trader Joe has told me that they do not use GMO sources.  I am glad for that but wouldn’t consume regular soy or canola anyway, so I’m back to where I started.)

“Make dressing?”  She says, somewhat incredulously.  “I don’t know how to do that!”

Herein lies the problem.  I am not sure where you are, but here in these United States, people picture dressing and up comes an image of Paul Newman’s or Brianna’s or (oh please NO) Hidden Valley Ranch (you know I just DIED writing that) on their local grocery shelf.  Nobody knows (okay, not NOBODY, but fairly close to nobody) that you can make dressing in about four seconds with things you already have in your cupboard.

Our easy-living world has made it so that people are even deceived about making a simple salad dressing – that it must be difficult, complicated and filled with ingredients they certainly don’t have in their home.  Now this is actually true if you were trying to use the ingredients of a commercial dressing – what, with all that TBHQ and BHT and partially hydrogenated poison oils and stuff.  You simply don’t have those lying around the kitchen.  Now if you worked in like a poison factory or something, you could def get your mitts on that, but really, only a handful of people work at poison factories that I know anyway, so it’s not that common.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure you’d like to do without those things.  Unless you like boiling cauldrons and butane and plastics and stuff for your salad (hello, scarypants.).

So, what to do, what to do.  I know.  How about some simple recipes for dressings that you can make up in a jiffy?  Excellent.

Here’s one I had on my snack (a baby greens salad) last night (and just so you know, I really don’t usually think of salad as a snack, but I was so influenced by Martha Stewart making like five different kinds of veggies on her show that I couldn’t resist going to the kitchen to get me’self a bowl full of greens.).  All I used was: olive oil, good quality balsamic vinegar, a drip of raw honey and a twist of salt and freshly ground peppercorns.  It was zero percent difficult and it was fabulous.

As far as exact measurements, I have not the slightest idea.  What shall ensue is my best guess.

Ms. Daisy’s Dressing (for two servings)
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
3 tsp. balsamic vinegar
A blob of honey (1 Tbsp.?)
A crunch of celtic sea salt
A crunch of black peppercorns

Combine and shake it, c’mon, c’mon, shake, shake it.

I have another dressing that I like to use, but I didn’t make it up myself.  I had it first about 8 years ago at a baby shower and it was heavenly.  You could pretty much eat it like soup.  But you would get so sick because who in their right mind would eat dressing like soup?  I digress.  The ingredients:

A Baby Shower Dressing, modified by Ms. Daisy
½ cup mayonnaise (you can use your homemade version or the grocery store standby)
¼ cup cream
¼ cup sugar or honey (you can mess with this proportion as you like it)
1 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. Poppy seeds
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Combine these lovely ingredients in a jar, shake it until your arm hurts and all is mixed.  If it is looking too thick, add a few drops of water until it is your desired consistency. 

Either one of these are fantastic for a mixed greens salad.  My grandmother-in-law hates eating salad but will eat bowlfuls of it if she can have this dressing. 

There are so many more dressing recipes out there and I think you should do yourself a favor.  Run out of what you’ve got and get stuck with making something from scratch.  You’ll be so pleased with yourself that you actually know how to do it, you’ll enjoy your salad all the more. 

Try it, you just might like it!

Peace, love and pass that salad bowl, please,
Ms. Daisy

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