Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Ranch Dressing

I’ve taken to making salad dressings from scratch. Our favorites so far are honey mustard (me), blue cheese (Chris) and poppy seed (both).

I hadn’t, until recently, been able to find a ranch dressing recipe. I tasted a friend’s dressing last summer and liked it, but she used a pre-mixed spice mix from Penzey’s. Not what I was looking for, but I kept that open as an option since I was already aware of Hidden Valley’s mix and liked it. (Penzey’s is a great source for spices, by the way.)

Then in the June 9 feature section of News & Record, the newspaper I work for, I found a ranch recipe! And it is so easy! I can’t believe I couldn’t find a recipe before now.

Basically, you take whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and throw it in a bowl with buttermilk (or substitutes), mayo (or salad dressing/Miracle Whip), lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Since we’re participating in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program this year, we already have a bunch of herbs on hand. I added dill, loveage, parsley and oregano.

Here’s the recipe:

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. finely chopper mixed fresh herbs
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove
salt
pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and serve! That easy.

* Some buttermilk substitutes are yogurt or 1 tbsp. lemon juice with enough milk to make one cup. Let the milk mixture sit for a few minutes before using.

I used vanilla yogurt, which turned out to be too overpowering. The vanilla competes with the herbs so next time I’ll use plain yogurt or the milk/lemon juice trick.

I also never use mayonnaise since I don’t like it that much. I grew up on Miracle Whip (salad dressing) and prefer it. Plus, it’s lower in fat. 🙂

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Here are some products from Amazon:





Note: I am an Amazon Associate and select products that are related to blog posts or that I personally recommend. For this post, I do recommend Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix if you don’t want to make your own dressing from scratch. My grandma has used it for years and it’s delicious.

Though I haven’t tried the Williams-Sonoma cook book above, I do have the Williams-Sonoma Mexican cook book and it’s easy to use and has good recipes. So, it might be worth checking out the one above too.


Kale and potatoes

Here’s what I did with some of the kale, oregano and green onions from Groundswell Farm Friday night.

Kale and potatoes


Olive oil
sliced potatoes, about 3 medium
2 garlic cloves, minced, or comparable garlic powder
2-3 green onions, snipped
4 sprigs of oregano
1 tsp. of nutmeg
handful of kale
salt and pepper

1. Warm olive oil (maybe 2 tbsp.) a large skillet with a lid on medium-high heat. Add the sliced potatoes and cover with a lid.

2. Once the potatoes are soft, add garlic, nutmeg, oregano and green onions. Cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Add kale a little at a time until wilted. Then add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

I added the nutmeg because I’ve used it in a recipe for colcannon that used kale and it was a great complement. Use more or less if you wish.

Note: When I create dishes I rarely measure. I just go by looks and taste. Enjoy!


CSA Update — The Haul

Update 2: Sara is quick in response! I sent her an email and, in fact, what I have labeled as kale below is actually raab. The kale is in the second photo. I’ve corrected my mistakes with strikethroughs. 🙂


Update: I may have the kale and broccoli raab switched around. I’m not sure. Anyone know?

Sara already warned us that this week’s box would be small. But here’s what we got:

(Left to right) Kale Broccoli raab and oregano.
(Left to right) Green onions, lovage and broccoli raab kale.
I can’t wait to try these out. Sara, as promised, did give us some recipes to help us navigate new veggies — broccoli and broccoli rabe on bruschetta and carrot salad with parsley, lovage and mint. Two more recipes were included though we didn’t receive any of the ingredients — beets and their greens with marjoram and pine nuts and hot roasted cauliflower.
I’ll probably dry some of the oregano for future use since we already have fresh oregano of our own in our garden. It’s coming back beautifully.
If we don’t think we can eat all the kale I’ll freeze some of it.
I think we can eat all the onions, but I’m not sure what to do with the lovage. I may have to dry some of it too to make it last until I can figure out how and where to use it.


Garden bounty no more

Chris and I planted two types of tomatoes (12 plants in all), green pepper, cayenne pepper, cabbage, cantaloupe, basil and oregano in our garden this year.

Everything has been taking off and looking wonderful. There were several dozen little green tomatoes and I couldn’t wait until they ripened.

But, unfortunately, in one night deer ate every single on of the tomato plants, little tomatoes and green peppers. This was in despite of the fishing line strung with plastic bags that was supposed to scare the hoofed nuisances away from our 8′ by 8′ garden.

Man, I was looking forward to tomato sandwiches, homemade salsa and pasta sauce!

Luckily, we still have three green pepper plants we placed in pots inside. So we should still get some peppers.

For next year, Chris and I are planning fences that, hopefully, will be deer resistant. It’s gonna have to be tall enough so the deer can’t jump over it or reach over.


Although we’ve had some setbacks with the veggie garden, most of our other plants are doing fine, including this gladiola (left) and these purple cone flowers (right), shown here growing among Maximilian sunflowers.