Monday, April 7, 2014

It Occurred To Me Recently That Ranch Dressing Has Taken Over Our Palates. I Ordered Pizza For Dinner Thinking I Was Making A Very Popular Move, But The Children Were Disappointed That I Didn't Order Ranch With The Pizza. I Was Unaware That Dipping Your Pizza In Ranch Dressing Was Now A Thing. Seriously. I Worry We'll Be Drizzling It Over Ice Cream Soon.

I remember when I was a kid and Ranch dressing made it's first appearance on the food scene.  It had probably existed somewhere else for years already, but to a girl in 1970's Denver, it seemed almost mythical.  It was a magical liquid from a special place called Hidden Valley, right?  Honestly, I spent years wondering if maybe there really was a place called Hidden Valley - was this recipe a part of their shared cultural history?  There were occasional moments for me when the whole Ranch dressing thing crossed a line from trendy condiment to anthropological query.  Of course, we never really ate this Hidden Valley treasure at our house.  My mom was a bit of a food stickler (I wonder where I got it?) and all of that herbed creaminess didn't meet certain dietary requirements she held.

Of course, you could find this dressing almost everywhere and I'll admit, when I saw that green topped bottle at the end of a buffet line, I coated every bit of iceberg lettuce on my plate with it (I think that was the only acceptable salad lettuce until the late 80's).  Thing is, I wanted to really love it, but I just didn't. It always tasted a bit too sweet for me.  And its glossy thickness gave me pause, at even a young age.  Turns out, there are all sorts of thickening agents to thank for that particular Ranch dressing's creaminess and the extreme sweet/tangy flavor can be attributed in part, at least, to sugar and the dreaded Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).  Bummer, because the concept is a good one and it does make a raw broccoli floret something special.

By the time I had kids of my own, Ranch dressing had become the default flavor in dips, dressing, chips, even Goldfish crackers.  It was impossible to escape.  But even the 'healthy' versions of Ranch didn't always hit the mark.  Finding a healthy Ranch dressing that tasted fresh and flavorful was like Prince Charming trying to find who's foot fit the glass slipper.  Until the Magic Spoon Cookbook came along.

My mother-in-law gave my daughter this cookbook when Eliza was in kindergarten (see Note).  It came with a clear mixing spoon filled with a glittery, purple liquid.  But more importantly, it came with a Ranch dressing recipe that I still use to this day.  It's a game-changer.  Give this a go - you'll forget there ever was a place called Hidden Valley.

Ranch Dressing from The Magic Spoon Cookbook

1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder or  one small clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. onion powder (I actually use organic dried, minced onion)
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt

Mix all ingredients together and pour over all sorts of things.  Enjoy.

*Note: My daughter, Eliza, grew up watching cooking shows on TV.  We played together in the kitchen a lot. And now, at 16, she has zero interest in cooking.  We are clearly outliers when it comes to the belief that involving your kids in food preparation and kitchen activities helps them make better food choices as they get older.  She thinks slushies are their own food group. 

I'm wearing this:

Layering some items better suited for warm weather is apparently how I'm going to spend this first part of April.  Can't decide yet on a scarf to today.  It may be a game-time decision.

For Meatless Monday we're having artichokes because my nice neighbor, Susi, showed me how to make them in the microwave.  I may supplement with a frozen Whole Foods goat cheese and pesto pizza because I would need to prepare 75 artichokes to fill up my children and who has that kind of time, really?

gratitude:  ease, new clothes, yoga, trash day

thanks and love.

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