Friday, April 13, 2012

Back to Basics

One of my goals is to prepare most of our food at home from scratch, using the freshest ingredients, and avoiding processed foods as much as possible.  These should include a majority of foods grown right here on the ranch.  Walking through most grocery stores these days is like walking through a food mine field, surrounded by highly processed, artificially flavored and preserved, and genetically modified foods.  The more I learn about the modern factory foods, the more I want to avoid them.

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted ranch dressing.  Real ranch dressing.  Not the stuff in the unused bottles that linger in my fridge (I hate to throw away food, but this isn't really food, so I think I need to!).  My thinking reverted to ingrained patterns - "Aw man, I don't have the Hidden Valley Ranch packet!"  I rarely buy it anyway, so it's not like a staple in the house.

Then I thought, "Wait a minute.  That packet had to come from somewhere, right?"  I began the search for a from-scratch recipe for ranch dressing to see what was in that packet, and came across a great cooking blog at  Her ranch dressing recipe, here, turned out to be marvelous and easy!  The best part of it all was that I could go outside to gather the chives and parsley from the garden, and know that when our garlic is harvested, mayonnaise made (from our own eggs), and sour cream made, that I could make virtually all of this home-grown.  (Now to get that olive tree and learn to press ... hold on there, Laura, one thing at a time...)

The dressing was marvelous, and even my 14-year-old finicky daughter was pleased!

This morning, I noticed that we are getting low on that dressing, and also on the sour cream that I made last week.  It was such a good feeling to whip up the dressing without even needing to look at the recipe, and then to start another batch of sour cream, again without having to look at the recipe.

The coolest thing about the sour cream is that I need NOTHING outside of the ranch to keep it going.  I skim cream off the top of the goat milk in the fridge (we get a scant 1/4 to 1/2 inch at the top of each 2-quart jar) and add a tablespoon of the previous batch of sour cream to continue the culture.  Let it sit for a day, and voila!  We have more sour cream.

I was quite pleased with that cooking adventure this morning.  Now to make mayonnaise, and hope the chicks start laying on the early side of the 4- to 6-month estimate for them, so we can have more eggs than the mostly-one-a-day that Roxie the Rhode Island Red hen gives us.

1 comment:

  1. Laura, I think this is a great idea of going back to basics for health and self-reliance. I am in a similiar situation and looking for good choicees for wellness and healthier lifestyles I think your ideas are very inspirational and I will be checking back on a regular basis. Chris Griffin