The kitchen has become my creative outlet. My domestic realm. My haven. My stress reliever. Where fun finds me. I have been mildly obsessed with cooking, creating lately. When I'm at work, all I can think about is what I could be cooking. When I'm at a restaurant, my mind is filled with thoughts like, "I could so totally cook this at home". When I'm at the grocery store, I wander. I let my mind escape to the land of cooking creations. To say I love cooking is an understatement.
My times in the kitchen start something like this:
Whether it's a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail, my anxiety for the cuisine I'm about to create disapates when I get a little sweet nectar in me.
Some of my favorite items to create or recreate in the kitchen are those things you can easily buy on the shelf - those convenient things which were made popular when our mother's generation starting going to work: bread, dressings, sauces. It's so easy to just grab a loaf of bread or a bottle of Hunt's spaghetti sauce off Aisle 5. But at this time in my life, a time with no husband, no children, I want, I have a need to recreate these things. Without the preservatives. Without the Xanthum Gum. I want to know exactly, exactly, what is in my food.
I realize not everyone has this privilege. I anticipate the time in my own life when I'll be so busy that I have to reach for the Nature's Own or Hidden Valley Ranch. But right now, making these things homemade is what I want for my life. And I do consider it a great privilege.
So after a second helping of my sweet nectar:
I go to work. Now, I must make the disclaimer that a lot of nights, I get home and eat noodles I've cooked in my electric kettle with a bit of pesto. But if it's a quiet night, if there's nothing on TV, if I have no other obligations, I'll tiptoe into the kitchen, pour me a glass of sweet nectar:
And go to town.
Last night, I felt like ranch dressing. (Disregard the word "healthy" on the side of this bottle because this dressing is anything but.)
You. Have. No. Idea. How good this tasted. I want to plan my meals around this dressing until I run out of it.
I took some dill and chives and chopped them up pretty fine. Then I took about 2 garlic cloves and tossed them into my garlic press and squeezed out a paste. I mixed all of these ingredients with about a cup of mayo and a cup of sour cream. Mix. Then I went out on a limb and squeezed in some lemon juice because I thought the mixture needed some "brightness". I don't know what this term means and how it relates to cooking, but it just sounded right. I told myself it needed brightness and the most logical thing was to add lemon juice. Am I crazy? Please don't answer that.
Then it needed some more chives. Chop chop chop. Chives in. Then it needed some "depth". Again, this is a word I probably heard on Top Chef or Iron Chef America and decided that it applied to my ranch dressing. I added fresh cracked pepper and a couple douses of hot sauce for "depth". Whisk. Pour in some whole milk to thin. Don't skimp here people. Ranch dressing is not supposed to be low-fat or fat-free or taste like cardboard. So just don't do that to it, okay? You promise? Whisk the whole milk in until smooth. Add whatever else it needs. A little salt maybe.
And then drench a salad in it. And I mean drench. Don't be shy.
And dream. Dream of ranch dressing rivers and crouton boats and cucumber floats. Just make sure your dream doesn't include you in a bikini. 'Cause that's not happening after you drink this dressing.
Oh! And P.S. - Since I have all this time on my hands, I went ahead and made some homemade croutons, taking some leftover olive foccacia bread I made last week and toasting the heck out of it. Mmmm mmmm good.