Friday, October 10, 2014

the salad dressing conundrum

I have issues with commercial salad dressings. My issues are probably a bit obsessive-compulsive, but here they are.

Commercial salad dressings have too many ingredients. Seriously, I don't want to eat any more preservatives, thickeners and manufactured vegetable oils.

Commercial salad dressing bottles are not designed to allow the last little bits to be used, unless you want to turn the bottles upside down and be very patient. So, there is a food waste issue and a bottle cleaning and recycling issue. By not purchasing these bottles over and over again, I'm reducing the packaging we consume.

Making salad dressing at home is pretty simple. My mother always did it. It's easy to find recipes and adapt them for small portions that are always fresh. I use small jars left over from other purchases (jelly, pesto, etc - yes, I know I could make these at home, too, and I have in the past, and may again in the future, but we are just talking about salad dressing today).

Here are a couple of favorites. I make a small batch and then we use it up before I make another batch of a different flavor. There is no row of bottles in the fridge with 1/2 inch of congealed dressing in them. In fact, most of these don't get refrigerated at all.

Yogurt dressing:
1 cup strained or Greek yogurt
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Ginger-Sesame dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced

Mustard dressing:
6 T olive oil
2 T vinegar
1 t. prepared mustard
1/2 t. salt
black pepper

Russian dressing:
2 T tomato paste
1/8 c mayonnaise
2 t white vinegar
1 t honey
1 t Worcester sauce
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t onion powder
1/8 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1/8 t mustard powder
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t cayenne powder
1/8 t celery seed
1/8 t paprika
1/4 t parsley flakes
1 small dill pickle, minced fine

the current batch of ginger-sesame, great on a big green salad with tuna!

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Next week we are attending what I call the Upper Chesapeake Annual Whitbys Brewer Sailboat Association Rendezvous. It's a long name for what is essentially a tribal council. 

When we were first contemplating leaving home for the nomadic life, a friend of ours said she could never leave her tribe. It was the first time I heard of a particular group of family and friends called a tribe. That word is a great one to describe the interdependencies that allow a single person to survive. And I mean survive in the complete sense of the word: to live, to grow, to thrive, to contribute. The word implies that survival is totally a group effort.

While I will always feel self-inflicted-bandage-ripping guilt and sadness about leaving our Schenectady tribe (and the Syracuse tribe before that), that break has enabled the formation of new ones. And while no tribe can substitute for one's original tribe, new tribes are amazing. We found a new tribe in Norfolk. We found a new tribe in Deltaville. We are finding a new tribe here in Richmond. These are location-centered tribes, building on the day to day interconnectedness of running into each other at the coffee shop, exploring places together and working on community projects.   

The tribe that will gather next week, though, is a location-independent tribe. It's a tribe built of passion for a boat and her people. It's no accident that boats built by the same designer are called sister ships. The kinship developed through sailing these boats and gathering to share our stories is a special one. (I'll pretend there are beach bonfires instead of electric lights to go along with the storytelling.) 

Here's to tribes! To the people who we bond with, who share our survival, and who enrich our common lives.

A sub-tribal gathering, in St. Augustine, Winter of 2013.