Friday, April 9, 2010

Muster up your best big black woman voice please..."WE IN A RECESSION!"

So...I spent too much money today. I know it, Erica knows it, and the DSW at Union Square certainly knows it. Well as I was walking home this evening I was totally beating myself up over buying a pair of shoes (that I needed) and a couple of cheap things that I didn't, but that also in the long run won't break the bank.  I know money is tight for pretty much everyone right now, and for those of you reading this who are in the wealthy minority...FECK you. I'm sorry, I'm sure you're in that position because you didn't spend frivolously throughout your early twenties, and instead invested and saved your hard earned dollars...yeah right...I'm sure that's the case.

For the remaining readers who I have not yet alienated...I sympathize with your starving wallets. I'm always looking to decrease how much I spend on things that I need, so I can later increase the amount I spend on crap I actually want (you know like anniversary edition Yahtzee with the gold plated dice)  I've realized that a big way to cut out of the middle man is to do exactly that. Why buy stuff like marinara sauce and salad dressing for three or four bucks a bottle, when you can make twice that much for half the price?  To quote my friend Leah -- "foolish".


So this blog post is dedicated to taking back some of life's simpler pleasures.  I know I won't make a convert out of everyone, but the ones I do are clearly the smarter of the bunch, and probably more attractive as well, just sayin'.

I think I'll tackle something small first.  Salad dressing.  For the sake of this example, let's keep it to just vinaigrettes.  There are easier and cheaper at home solutions for creamy dressings like Ranch or Blue Cheese as well, but those are for another day. 

Vinaigrettes are one of the simplest things you can make. The foundation is always an acid, a fat and some sort of binder to pull them together and make nice.  Suitable acids include things like lemon juice (or any citrus for that matter) or vinegar of any kind.  Wine can also be integrated but generally needs another acid to bolster it up and make it feel like a man. Suitable fats are anything in a liquid form really. Olive oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, nut oils, rendered bacon fat, rendered chicken fat...any fat really. Yay fat!  As for binders, the most common and traditional are either mustard or egg yolk. There are other options, but these two are the most often used, and easiest to deal with.

Now that you have a foundation, there is only one more ingredient...seasoning.  You can do WHATEVER you want here. Beyond the ever present salt and pepper, you can also add things like bacon, herbs, spices, fruits, flavored oils or vinegars (which work as double duty), alcohols, curry paste, hot sauce, soy sauce, sugar, honey, miso, ginger, peanut butter, that leftover plum stuff that comes with moo shoo pork, garlic, onions, shallots, chives...etc.  Any of these things are game, but a good plan of action...limit yourself to two or three main seasonings excluding S&P, so you don't overwhelm your salad with the entire contents of the condiment aisle.

Now you know what's in it...that's half the battle...now how to put the ingredients together so you look like a champ and not foolish like Tiger Woods.

So it's just a ratio, and it's up to your preference really. The traditional is 1 part acid to 3 parts fat. I think that's dumb, and also will make you a fatty fatty no friends.  I much prefer 1 part acid to 2 parts fat, but you might try it and think that I'm just a silly Asian living in a world full of white people. That's totally ok. I am silly AND Asian.  You should just try the recipe, and taste it and guess what...you can change it if you want to.

So here is my simple bare bones, no frills, prude as can be vinaigrette recipe.

I Am Silly And Asian I Mak-uh Veen-glet Vinaigrette (yes I know this is offensive. I'm ok with that)

Stuff you need:

3 T Lemon juice
1 T Vinegar (I like red wine, balsamic or champagne...fancy)
1 tsp mustard (I like Dijon...again fancy)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Take all the ingredients and put them in a rubbermaid container or a jar. Seal the lid tightly and shake vigorously to the point of exhaustion and humility.  (This is not the "classic" method, but I like it more, and this is my blog, and I am an adult who can do whatever I please)
Taste it. Adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Don't worry if it seems strong. You're not eating it with a spoon, you're flavoring bland vegetables with it, so it needs to have some punch, and the more flavorful it is, the less you have to use which helps you pinch pennies...yahtzee here I come. 

This is basically the cheese pizza of vinaigrettes, You can add extra seasonings to it galore. I like garlic, honey and a little chili paste in mine.

Fact: This will save you money, and keep you from accidentally ingesting something icky like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, or monosodium glutamate.

Fiction: I enjoy cilantro and a good cry.

In closing...
Homemade dressing rocks
High Fructose Corn Syrup is totally bad for you...screw those stupid commercials
My grammar is questionable at best
I am Asian
The previous two statements have nothing to do with one another...I think.
Spread the blog around like Gonorrhea...or wildfire...yeah wildfire's better.





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