Salad Dressing Bases

The salad dressing aisle at a grocery store baffles me: so long, so heavily preserved, so expensive—and so easy to make at home. Every dressing starts with oil and an acid, like vinegar, or something to make it creamy. From there, spices and other flavorings are added to make the desired blend. Even the most dedicated bachelor likely has the basic ingredients in his kitchen.

Imagine this: You’re invited over for a first dinner date, and the guy pulls out a squeeze jug of store-brand ranch. Impressed? Perhaps he splurged for a bottle with a fancy label. It’s probably still not memorable. Now imagine he combines oil, vinegar, and a few spices in a bottle, shakes it, and sprinkles the result over greens. Suddenly, you’re paying attention. In less than 5 minutes, he has a lip-smacking salad dressing—and you might be considering a second date before you even taste the main dish. Learn to make Vinegary and Creamy Salad Dressing Bases

Cherry Tomatoes

In the shortest days of winter, I crave the freshest produce. Forget sweets or chips—I yearn for cherry tomatoes, raspberries, and other garden goodies. I suppose the desire for sun-kissed fruit and veg as the snow falls is the main reason this blog exists: Every summer, I play with new and better ways to preserve homegrown produce that we can eat year-round. This blog is all about sharing those ideas with you.

I use “cherry” to describe many tiny tomatoes: Sweet 100s, Sun Golds, Black Cherry, my favorite Yellow Pear. We go big, growing a mix of cultivars to eat like candy off the vine and turn into a pasta sauce easily recreated from frozen toms in the coldest months. These bite-sized bursts of flavor are so simple to save for winter, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done so. Learn to freeze cherry tomatoes and make Pasta That Pops

Herbs

Herbs are a great place to start when it comes to dehydrating—and gardening. Perennial herbs need little care once established and come back reliably in their beds year after year. Some annual and biennial herbs are self-seeding, making them seem perennial when they sprout unaided each spring. Those that need to be resown annually are often happy in pots or even on a sunny windowsill in even the smallest space tended by the newest gardener.

Most herbs get a production boost from regular cutting. Such plants quickly send out new shoots, becoming bushier and healthier the more that they are used. Hang some of those cuttings or throw them on a dehydrator tray, and you’ll never buy another jar of dried leaves. You can store them separately or combine them into a grab-and-go mix. Learn to dry herbs and make Italian Seasoning Blend