Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 3, 2014

Foodie with Family: Mix it up with DIY dressing

My do-it-yourself attitude in the kitchen that started as a way to help stretch money further has progressed over the years to a fiery desire to figure out how things are made and make them just because I can.

Case in point: classic ranch dressing made from dry mix. My husband and kids love it. When I say they love it, I mean they put it on every food they can and they’d likely bathe in it if allowed to do so. I caught one of the boys sipping from the jar of ranch with a straw one time. When I told him — in no uncertain terms — to remove the straw, put the lid on the jar, return it to the refrigerator, and not repeat the performance, the response was, “But mom, it’s so good.”

Kids are weird.

The grocery store packets are a little expensive, though, and while our family is blessedly free of food sensitivities, we have some dear relatives and friends who are not. Ranch dressing mix presents some problems for them so I started playing around with homemade ranch.

I’ve been travelling down the DIY ranch dressing road for a while. A couple of years ago, I proudly presented them with a fabulous sophisticated ranch made with fresh herbs, buttermilk and mayonnaise. My husband gave it two thumbs up, but his minions preferred their distinctive, from-the-mix, life-long salad companion. Back to the drawing board I went, rotating the “grown up ranch,” as they called it, with the “best ranch” according to season.

Then last year I stumbled upon powdered buttermilk and the proverbial lightbulb went “boing” over my head. This was it. Ranch dressing powder was within my grasp. I analyzed the dry mix for recognizable herbs and flavors, tinkered, and perfected a jar of the mix that I was sure would win my ranch panel over with rave reviews. I made up a batch of each, marked the jar lid with a secret code, and called the taste testers in to critique the results. They couldn’t tell the difference.

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