My son Timothy lives with his cousin, Davey, and the two work at a computer firm (smarty-pants, the both of them) in the city. They work long hours and you’d suspect that, being bachelors with no mothers around to cluck their tongues at their food choices, and no grandmothers around to drop off casseroles, they’d subsist on cold cereal, ramen noodles, and cans of Spaghettios.
The occasional bag of baby carrots.
But they don’t. They are a new breed of young foodies. They pore over cookbooks and shop for fresh ingredients and spend time on the weekends (when there is a bit of free time), experimenting with new recipes. They take fresh hot rolls to church lunches, and they invite people over for dinner. They bring dinner out, twice a month, to share with their grandparents and (happily) they invite us to join them. It started out that way, actually, and now we take turns bringing the main dish.
That’s where these marvelous kabobs (served with my mom’s homemade bread and salad and, if I remember correctly, strawberry shortcake for dessert) that my Dad made on the grill, came in:
(Last week we had roasted chicken, roasted asparagus and squash, and–if I remember correctly, Mom’s cloud rolls with butter and honey. You can be jealous, it’s okay.) 😉
Next time we meet, it’s our turn to cook, and Amalia and I are full, just full of plans. I do think that cherry pie squares are on the menu, since I found a couple of quarts of frozen sour cherries, tucked away last summer, in the freezer. Happy day! 🙂
So, all that background to explain why I felt an ache when–at our last “Wednesday Night Supper Club”–as Davey plowed into the fresh lettuce salad that I had harvested just an hour earlier from my hoop house, tossed lightly with a simple homemade vinaigrette, he made the observation that my salad dressing was so much better than Ranch. Which is what they had in their refrigerator.
It didn’t quite sync with me, that these young fellas who are so particular about what they cook and eat, didn’t have a jar of homemade vinaigrette in their ‘fridge, but an oversized (probably) bottle of Ranch dressing.
And before you start lobbing sticky bottles of oversized Ranch dressing at me, I will admit that we have one in our ‘fridge, too. We have a couple of devotees of Ranch dressing (mainly as a pizza crust dip, though) in our domicile, but I think you’ll agree with me that these kind of delicate, sweet, tender lettuces are made for something light and tangy, not thick and . . . well, Ranchy.
Sometimes I can’t believe it that we do actually purchase bottled salad dressing, when homemade dressing is so much fun to make, and takes (literally, Davey, and used in the proper way) minutes to whip up. So here’s a basic vinaigrette recipe for you, all you young foodies and old foodies and lettuce growers, alike. Because you really can’t put Ranch dressing on these spring lettuces that you grow or purchase at the farmer’s market. Really. Please don’t.
I think there is a law against it, in fact, in the Foodies Code.
I’m not making that part up, the part about the Code. 😉 Ask me. I’ll show it to you. It’s not a laughing matter.
- ¼ cup good vinegar: I used balsamic, but you can also use apple cider, red wine, white wine, or your favorite vinegar, plus more to taste.
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 2 tsp minced shallots (green onions are a good substitution, or chives)
- Mix the vinegar, salt, and mustard with a blender or with a wire whisk in a big bowl.
- Slowly add the oil in a stream until an emulsion forms; or just whisk everything together briefly. Or, if you're in a big toot, and running late for supper club, just put the ingredients into your pint jar, tightly screw on a lid, and shake like mad.
- Taste to adjust salt and seasonings. Add the minced shallots.
- Best made fresh, but it'll stay good in the 'fridge for a week or two.
- Next time, you can use a different type of vinegar, or add smashed and diced garlic, or other fresh herbs.
By the way, I love, love, love these plastic screw-on lids that are made for canning jars. You really ought to get yourself a few (affiliate link):
I use them all the time.
You can use this vinaigrette, by the way, for lots of things besides salad, too. It makes a dandy marinade for beef, for example. It’s great dribbled on a big fat sub sandwich, too.
- Farm Tour 2: flooding, budding, digging, spring
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