So much to do and so very little motivation to do it today! Ever have one of those days? I’ve had “one” of those days for the past couple of weeks. Working on finding it, but… I have to make up a financial statement, balance sheet, figure out payroll taxes, finish the house up that I have been cleaning, hang quilts to dry, bathe the dogs, and cook. The cooking is quite a list. I need to make bread, lemon curd, chocolate syrup, coffee creamer, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, croutons, and of course dinner.
Saturday, I made a chicken salad and made my own ranch dressing! I was thrilled because it came out perfect. It is a little spicier than normal. The last time I made it was a disaster. Runny just like milk. I ended up adding Blue Cheese to it and making it a sauce for a steak the last time. I forgot to take pictures of it, but I will the next time as this is very definitely a keeper! And easy peasy!
Until Saturday I only made vinaigrette’s. I make so many different types of vinaigrette’s. I have red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar (of course), apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, and normal balsamic vinegar. Mustard is another thing I have on hand to make my vinaigrette dressing. Of course spices and herbs too. I love variety! Not my husband so much, but he deals. For a few pennies you can create some very awesome dressings for salads that just don’t bore you and that you will actually want to eat salads just to be able to make the dressings. The thing is Vinaigrette’s can be used for salad dressing and marinading meats and veggies. Plus the thrill when I pass the salad dressing isle is great! Have you seen the cost of those dressings?
When making a vinaigrette the hardest issue for me is the combo of vinegar and oil. While you can use any amount of both, you need to find that sweet spot of taste for you. I have a tendency to be a little heavy handed with the vinegar. I have the seen ratio of 1 tablespoon vinegar to 3 tablespoons of oil for most of my recipes that I have searched through. My husband’s grandma’s recipe was basically 2 tablespoons vinegar to 3 tablespoons of oil. My favorite ratio comes from one of my favorite bloggers. David Lebovitz. He is an American living in Paris. On his blog he gave a step by step directions of a French Vinaigrette. This is the link to the actual step by step directions. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/11/how-to-make-french-vinaigrette.
The reason I am adding this link to my blog? Learning more and more about the French way of cooking has freed me from fear of cooking and let loose my creativity in the kitchen. That and Alton Brown. French cooking and Alton Brown have opened my eyes to the sky is the limit for me in the kitchen. Even on $80 a week it can be done!
Back to David Lebovitz’s ratio of vinegar to oil is this: 1 teaspoon vinegar to 3 – 4 tablespoons oil. Yes, I know, but this is the best for our family. The problem is when you are in a hurry you don’t always do this right. At least I don’t. Some days the vinaigrette would be perfect others not so much. My answer was simple lets just make it up ahead of time. That is fine if you like to use the same ingredients every night for a week or so, but I just can’t do that. Plus if you want to use a mustard one night, but not the next you are kind of stuck, so I came up with a new idea.
You can use any good quality oil. I prefer a light tasting oi, such as canola oil as it lets the flavor of the salad come through.
The vinegar can be any kind you like. I love using rice wine vinegar most of all. But my moods change with the seasoning so to say.
I took a clean recycled wine bottle and filled with the ratio of vinegar with oil that I prefer. I used red wine vinegar this time. I usually use Canola oil as it is a very light tasting oil and is heart healthy. One thing I did the last time and wished I did this was I added about 4 – 6 whole garlic cloves to the bottle. They lightly infuse the vinaigrette with garlic flavor and they help the vinegar mix with the oil. This is the base of the dressing. You can pour this directly onto your salad or put in a bowl and add herbs and mustards. One of my favorite mustard’s is a pineapple mustard from Hickory Farms. This is an awesome way of changing up the dressing so that your family doesn’t get tired of the same old, same old. Another thing I use right now is Hoisen sauce mixed in with this. It gives it a sweet, slightly oriental flair.
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 small shallot
1/2 tsp dijon
3 – 4 TBSP Olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Herbs to taste
Mince shallot and place in a very small bowl with vinegar and a pinch of salt. (Sherry or red wine vinegar is best for this recipe) let stand 10 minutes.
Mix in Dijon then add 3 TBSP of Olive oil. Stir well. Taste. If to sharp add more oil and more salt if needed.
Now you can add fresh herbs, minced
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP Olive oil
ground black pepper
Grandma sprinkled spices onto salad then added vinegar and olive oil and tossed. Taste and add more spices if needed. This takes a while to find the correct amount and I have never measured it. I preferred to attempt this like she did.
*Thanks to Heather for watching Grandma do this and asking for the ingredients. Now she also added Italian seasoning to this sometimes.
My basic Vinaigrette
3 to 4 TBSP vinegar/oil mixture
1/2 tsp dried herbs of choice
1/2 tsp mustard of choice (optional)
Right now I am using the Tuscan seasoning from www.myspicesage.com. This stuff is awesome and gives a great flavor to the vinaigrette. Italian seasoning, herbs de provence, basil, oregano, thyme, etc can be used. If not using mustard, you can sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs onto the salad and then sprinkle vinegar/oil mix onto salad and toss. When using mustard, put 1/2 tsp of mustard into a small bowl. I use a tine bowl, add salt, pepper, then oil. Mix well with fork or whisk. Add herbs and taste. Add more if needed. Pour onto salad and toss.
The more of this stuff I do the better I feel about myself and my ability, plus I save lots of money, eat healthier, and am happier creative living than before. The pressure of keeping the grocery budget is so much lower than before. I used to hate going to the grocery store now I actually look forward to the task!