Monday, September 29, 2008

Homemade Ranch Dressing.

Now, I like Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing as much as the next person. Perhaps more. But gosh, have you ever looked at the ingredient list? Maltodextrin. (Maltodextrin is a sweet polysaccharide used as a food additive. A polysaccharide is a complex carbohydrate.) Buttermilk. Salt. Monosodium glutamate. (MSG is a sodium salt used as a food additive and marketed as a flavor enhancer.) Dried garlic. Dried onion. Lactic acid. (I read the Wikipedia article on lactic acid and still don't know what it is. Only that it's found primarily in sour milk products, like yogurts and cottage cheeses.) Calcium lactate. (Calcium lactate is a white crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate. Hmmm, OK.) Citric acid. (Citric acid is a weak organic acid and natural preservative used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and soft drinks.) Spices. (Damn. Those unidentifiable spices.) Artificial flavor. (Crap. Has there been anything real yet?) Xanthum gum. (Xanthum gum is a dry ingredient, stable at high temperatures and easily dissolved in liquids. And here's a lovely description of xanthum gum: Xanthan Gum is basically a slime secreted by bacteria that is then used in commercial food preparation. You will see it described slightly more appealingly as "a natural carbohydrate derived from corn syrup". A bacteria called "Xanthonomonas campestris" is added to corn syrup, where it is allowed to ferment. The colonies of bacteria secrete a "polysaccharide" slime. The mixture of bacteria, secretion and corn syrup is then washed in alcohol to put it into solution, then dried and ground. The resultant powder is called Xanthum Gum. Though the bacteria are yellowish, the gum comes out with no colour. Can I just say, YUMMMMM? Calcium stearate. (Calcium stearate is a non-toxic stabilizer and lubricant.) Carboxymethylcellulose. (CMC is used in food science as a viscosity modifier or thickener and to stabilize emulsions, for example, in ice creams.) Guar gum. (Guar gum is a natural food thickener, the ground endosperm of guar beans.) Guar gum is a water-soluble fiber that acts as a bulk forming laxative, and as such, it is claimed to be effective in promoting regular bowel movements and relieve constipation and chronic related functional bowel ailments; such as diverticulosis, Crohn's disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, among others. The increased mass in the intestines stimulates the movement of waste and toxins from the system, which is particularly helpful for good colon health, because it speeds the removal of waste and bacteria from the bowel and colon. In addition, because it is soluble, it is also able to absorb toxic substances (bacteria) that cause infective diarrhea. Again, a big YUMMMMMM to that. That was the last ingredient on the list. The last notation was this: NO PRESERVATIVES. All I can say is, "WHEW!" Rosie wipes brow. So, as much as I love Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, I decided to ... well, you know ... MAKE MY OWN RANCH DRESSING.
Imonna wing it here. I have parsley, chives, and dill from the garden. About 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup buttermilk, a garlic clove, and a bit of salt.
Again, when picking from the garden, be careful of certain unwanted proteins.
I minced the herbs - parsley, chives, and dill.
Mixed all together.
I tasted and decided it needed a bit more. OK, a lot more. White vinegar, Dijon mustard, Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce, paprika, cayenne, oregano, pepper, celery leaves, and onion.
Chopped celery leaves and onion go in.
A bit of vinegar.
Grey Poupon Dijon.
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.
Cayenne, paprika, oregano, and pepper.
Mix all together. You all know what Hidden Valley Ranch dressing tastes like. (Heh ... You just didn't know what was in it.) Like I said, I like HV Ranch. Better living through chemicals and all. But golly, my ranch dressing was fresh tasting. Vibrant. Herby. With a definite "come and eat me" flirtation and a defineably prohibitive "don't eat those crappy chemicals in that package of powder" admonition. Just plain good eats. I can't wait for a salad tomorrow to pour this on.

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