Saturday, February 27

Weekend Dose of Cute: It Was Sheep Shearing Saturday!

So excited they can hardly stand it—not.

More photos coming soon. Sheep shearing day is always a little exhausting, even if you aren't doing the actual shearing—or getting sheared. But thankfully it went really well. And now we're all busy recovering.

© 2010, the suddenly svelte looking (well, except for all the pregnant bellies) foodie farm blog where this is one of stock dog Lucky Buddy Bear's favorite days of the year—he loves it when the sheep are all neatly crammed into a tiny space, especially if he's in there with them.

Thursday, February 25

Thursday Dose of Cute: Happy Sheep

And happy stock dog

Lucky Buddy Bear is half English Shepherd and half Australian Shepherd. He lives to work, loves his sheep, and really loves little lambs:
3/5/06: You Can Add Babysitting to Bear's Job Description
6/18/06: What Happens After a Rainstorm
8/17/06: The Destructive Duo (aka Cary and The Nanny Bear)
10/1/06: He Looks More Like a Bodyguard than a Nanny Bear
12/6/06: On Duty in the Kitchen Garden

Gang Activity
A Lot of Love on the Farm
Dog Inspection (and how Bear and I tuck in the sheep at night)
9/30/07: It's a Stock Dog's Life

A Tender Scene—and the Whole Picture
4/18/08: Cary and The Nanny Bear in the Greenhouse
4/22/08: Bear the Babysitter (Among Other Things)
5/20/08: Bear Loves Babies!
5/21/08: Better Than Kisses
6/10/08: Another Bear Inspection
10/29/08: Lookin' for Love

1/13/09: Stand by Your Lamb
Lambing Season Has Begun! (and The Nanny Bear is ready to assist)
4/9/09: Oh, You Big Baby

© 2010, the well treated foodie farm blog where a stock dog's work is never done—and that's just the way he likes it.

Tuesday, February 23

Tuesday Dose of Cute: See Spot Sit

See Spot Wish She Had a Real Name

Okay, we don't actually call this sweet little girl (who you can see as a smiling one-day-old baby here and an accessorizing teenager here) Spot anymore, since her cute brown spot faded away a while ago, but I couldn't resist that title. We now call this guy Spot instead, because his spot is definitely not going anywhere.

This young ewe may be nearly grown up, but she hasn't lost all of her cute—and because it somehow slipped passed us on docking days, she also still has her long tail. Now if she only had an 'F' name as sweet as she is (all the 2009 babies born on the farm get names that begin with F, 2008 was 'E' names, etc.). Any suggestions? (Freida, Franny, and Friendly are already taken.)

We'll start lambing in April. Can't wait? Look back at last year:
4/2/09: Baa Baa Baby Baa Baa! Lambing Season 2009 Has Begun!
4/3/09: Black Babes for Black Beauty
4/4/09: Spotted Beast—or Cutie Beauty?
4/6/09: Whispering Sweet Nothings?
4/7/09: Think Pink
4/9/09: Oh, You Big Baby
4/11/09: This Baby Rests Easy
4/14/09: Too Cute for Words?
4/16/09: Smile for the Camera!
4/16/09: Amendment to Today's Earlier Lamb Count

4/20/09: Morning Traffic Report
4/21/09: Snack Time!
4/22/09: Oops
4/26/09: Lamb Whisperer
4/26/09: An Important Message from the BABS
4/30/09: Reading Lesson
5/1/09: May Day! May Day!
5/21/09: Rest Stop
5/28/09: And She Sleeps
5/30/09: Tiny Tussle

6/3/09: Steppin' Out
6/9/09: Stop, Look, and Listen
7/15/09: Getting Ahead. . .
8/26/09: Smile for the Camera
10/15/09: Seeing Spots
12/12/10: Soft as a Baby's Behind

© Copyright 2010, the super wooly but soon to be sheared (this Saturday if everything works out!) foodie farm blog where most of the time sitting sheep magically tuck their legs up underneath their bodies, but once in a while they'll stick their front legs straight out instead, and it always makes me smile (and wonder how they're going to stand back up from that position, but they always somehow do).

Sunday, February 21

Sunday Dose of Cute: Two's Company

Close Company

Want to see more of the flock? You'll find links to lots of fine feathered friend photos here.

© 2010, the comfy cozy foodie farm blog where the green you see in the bottom of the photo? That's an empty nesting crate twice the size of the one they're in, which means these two hens (who are missing a few feathers from either molting—the natural annual losing of old feathers and growing new ones—or an overexcited rooster) are crammed in that crate laying eggs together by choice. Chickens: yet one more source of nonstop farm entertainment.

Saturday, February 20

Saturday Dose of Cute: Share and Share Alike

At Least for About Five Seconds

We've been compiling quite a collection of cute!
The First Daily Doses of Cute
Daily Doses of Cute Part 2
Daily Doses of Cute Part 3
Daily Doses of Cute Part 4
Daily Doses of Cute Part 5
Daily Doses of Cute Part 6
Daily Doses of Cute Part 7

Daily Doses of Cute Part 8
Daily Doses of Cute Part 9
Daily Doses of Cute Part 10
Daily Doses of Cute Part 11
Daily Doses of Cute Part 12
Daily Doses of Cute Part 13

© Copyright 2010, the mostly peaceful foodie farm blog where you wouldn't believe the weird noises—and kicking—that go on when a donkey doesn't think she's getting her fair share of the evening treats. And yep, that treat trough is indeed half of a very old (very small) and very indestructible hot water heater—they work great.

Friday, February 19

Friday Dose of Cute: There's Always One

Or Two

Want to see more sheep shots?
Sheep Photos 1
Sheep Photos 2
Sheep Photos 3
Sheep Photos 4
Sheep Photos 5
Sheep Photos 6
Sheep Photos 7
Sheep Photos 8

© Copyright 2010, the catering to your every hunger pang foodie farm blog where feeding out hay three times a day is a pretty good workout—even if you're not jumping up and down on the bales.

Thursday, February 18

Thursday Farm Photo: A Nice Day

With a pretty view

Temps in the 40s
A colorful new vintage quilt (for just $20)
Wooly sheep in the background
Golden afternoon light
Chipping away at the giant laundry mountain

A homemade chocolate cake

More vintage:
1/3/09: Feeding My Addictions (and Pasta w/ Olive Oil, Garlic, & Parsley)
4/22/09: Every Day Is Earth Day—and I'm Eco-Chic (Who Knew?)
6/22/09: Vintage Laundry Line (more quilts)
7/26/09: Going Vintage Green
8/2/09: A Beacon in the Light
8/17/09: A Peek Inside My Potting Cabinet

More laundry line:
12/1/05: Warm Wash, Cool Dry
1/2/06: Winter Color
4/17/06: Monday Washday (and a Lamb Report)
1/12/08: Winter Wash and Dry (and the R-rated Version)
5/6/09: The Lamb and the Laundry Line (a look back at Baby Cary)
6/22/09: Vintage Laundry Line
8/2/09: A Beacon in the Light

More pretty views:
Farm Landscape Photos Part 1
Farm Landscape Photos Part 2
Farm Landscape Photos Part 3
Farm Landscape Photos Part 4
Farm Landscape Photos Part 5
Farm Landscape Photos Part 6

©, the fresh and clean and comfortably worn foodie farm blog where a lot of people seem to dread the month of February, but every year I find so many things about it to love—and often wish it lasted longer.

Tuesday, February 16

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Perfectly Posed

Or Just Keeping One Paw Warm?

Care to see more cat candids?
Sarah Kit Kat Kate
Mr. Midnight
Patchy Cat
Molly Doodlebug (aka The Doodle Monster)

© Copyright 2010, the fascinated by something foodie farm blog where I don't think Sarah Kate is worried about cold paws, considering that before snapping this photo, I'd just watched her tearing back and forth in the snow like a mad cat—and that was after she stopped rolling around in it. Of course those pictures she wouldn't let me take.

Monday, February 15

Monday Farm Photo: Long Distance Love (a Day Late)

I Wonder Who It's From

Want to see more hearts I've found around the farm?
9/29/05: Heart of Vine
2/22/06: Snow Love
3/10/06: Fleeting Heart
9/14/06: Is Something Nibbling at Your Heart?
1/17/07: My Heart is Embedded in this Place
10/2/07: Love on the Rocks
2/14/08: Happy Valentine's Day (some of my heart rock collection)
2/23/08: Please Don't Step on My Heart
12/21/08: Very Cool
2/14/09: Heart Installation

© Copyright 2010
, the white (again!) and red foodie farm blog where this heart-shaped balloon—which had me trying to figure out what in the world it was from a hundred feet away—had to have floated through the air for many miles before deciding to plunk itself down in the corner of the barnyard fence sometime during the night. It's the third balloon I've found on the farm, and it's definitely sweeter than the one the goblins left swaying in a post-Halloween breeze.

Saturday, February 13

Recipe: Napa Cabbage Broccoli Slaw with Brussels Sprouts, Radishes, and Creamy Dijon Dressing

This crunchy winter salad is my new true love.

A bowl of raw cruciferous vegetables for Valentine's Day? Considering this is a holiday that traditionally revolves around champagne, candy, and sinfully rich chocolate desserts, I realize it may not sound all that romantic. But if you're planning on keeping your sweetheart around for the long haul, a healthy serving of this crunchy winter slaw might be just what the love doctor ordered. (I can't believe I just wrote love doctor—and didn't delete it.)

Besides being scrumptious and good for you, this slaw isn't super filling, which means you'll still have plenty of room for that chocolate dessert (some of my favorites are listed below). And it even goes well with champagne. Of course I think pretty much everything goes well with champagne, but I'm a hopeless romantic—who also happens to adore her vegetables.

Most of the time, I'm pretty low tech in the kitchen. I enjoy kneading bread dough by hand, I haven't used my two 5-quart commercial mixers in a decade, my Osterizer Deluxe chrome blender is from the 1940's, and it took me over a year before I worked up enough courage to take my big new food processor out of the box (and immediately fall in love with it).

It just seems like I can usually prep whatever I need by hand in a fraction of the time it takes to lug some machine out of the pantry, set it up, use it, wash it, and lug it back. My one exception, as many of you know, is my beloved KitchenAid hand blender, which I believe is one of the greatest inventions on the planet (and which cleans up in a flash and doesn't require any lugging).

I find that the act of chopping vegetables can often be rather meditative. And besides, who doesn't enjoy wielding a sharp knife? But while I was reading through the long paragraph of cutting and slicing instructions on the original recipe, I had an epiphany: I could just cram all this stuff through my new food processor! And so I did. And it was fun.

Say I love you with a big helping of antioxidants!

Napa Cabbage and Broccoli Winter Slaw
Makes about 7 cups - Adapted from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

**Click here to print this recipe**

I skipped the celery in the original version and added some zippy and colorful radishes (which are really
easy to grow) to the mix instead, so I got to use the slicing disk and the shredding disk. I then tried shredding some of the Napa cabbage just to see what happened. Don't try this. I also added some yogurt to the mayonnaise dressing for more tang and fewer calories.

After I took these photos, I mixed a handful of raisins and chopped roasted almonds into some of the slaw. Do try this. A couple of shredded carrots would be nice in here, too, and next time I might toss in some chopped scallions.

As always, I urge you to seek out
local and organic ingredients whenever you can; they really do make a difference. A digital kitchen scale for weighing ingredients is a worthwhile investment that will last for years; I love my Oxo 11-pound scale and often use it several times a day (it's great for weighing postage, too!).

For the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I'm a Hellman's/Best Foods girl)
1/2 cup yogurt (I use lowfat—
homemade yogurt is wonderful stuff)
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar (I use seasoned)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the slaw:
1 pound Napa cabbage (about 1/2 smallish head)
1 pound broccoli (about 1 medium head or 2 smallish crowns)
1/2 pound brussels sprouts (about 12 small), outer leaves removed, ends trimmed
1/2 pound radishes (about 7 large), ends trimmed

Optional additions:
A couple of shredded carrots
Chopped scallions (green onions)
Chopped roasted and salted almonds
Raisins or dried cranberries (craisins)

Make the dressing:
Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and rice wine vinegar in a small dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the slaw:
Cut the Napa cabbage and broccoli into pieces that will fit through your food processor's chute and process using the slicing disk, along with the brussels sprouts. Switch to the shredding disk and process the radishes (and carrots, if using). Alternatively, use a knife to thinly slice the cabbage, brussels sprouts, and radishes, and cut the broccoli into bite size pieces.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the dressing, along with any of the desired optional additions. Salt and pepper to taste.

Hungry for more? Eat your veggies raw:

Radish, Scallion, Feta Cream Cheese Spread/Dip
All Purpose Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce/Whatever
Full Flavor, Low Fat Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip
(and factory tours)
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Fast Vegetarian Soft Tacos
Healthy Swiss Chard Tuna Salad with Scallions & Kalamata Olives
Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Garbanzos, Broccoli Stems & Cottage Cheese
Quick and Easy Gazpacho
(cold tomato vegetable soup)

And your veggies cooked:

Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions, Apples & a Hint of Orange
Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula or Spinach
Caramelized Beets with Garlic
(these are amazing)
Kohlrabi Purée (one of my favorite foods—seriously)
Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip
Swiss Chard Artichoke White Pizza
Carrot Herb Rolls
(and a beautiful bread book for beginners)
Homemade Tomato Vegetable Juice (like V-8 juice, but much better)

Bring on the chocolate!

Chocolate Biscotti for Beginners
Fast Emergency Chocolate Loaf Cake
Chocolate Babycakes with Mocha Buttercream Frosting
Baby Shortbread Bites with Mini Chips and Toffee Bits
(so easy!)
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (and how to hug a sheep)
Yip Yap Chocolate Chip Organic Banana Snaps
Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Banana Mexican Monkey Cake

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the loving foodie farm blog where sometimes life would be a whole lot easier if we could just move straight from the salad course to dessert—and it's plain to see that there aren't nearly enough chocolate recipes on this blog.

Saturday Dose of Cute:
The Great Backyard Bird Count is Going on Now!

Chickens Not Included in the Count (our newest chicks, hatched September 2009)

Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which started yesterday and continues through Monday, February 15, 2010.

A joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and (new this year) Bird Studies Canada (BSC), this free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at The data helps researchers understand bird population trends across the continent, information that is critical for effective conservation.

Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

You'll find lots more info about this neat event on the Great Backyard Bird Count website, and you can learn more about birds in general at All About Birds. In addition, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have just created, a space for bird enthusiasts to meet each other, interact, and share stories in the Community Blog and the Bird Sightings sections.

Feel like counting some chickens first? You'll find links to lots of chick pics here.

© 2010, the flying foodie farm blog where, if you look closely, you can see the mama hen just to the left of that nesting box (aka a plastic milk crate), peering in at her new babies and trying to figure out how the heck she went from sitting on top of them to sitting next to them. Don't worry—I only moved her for a few seconds so I could check the chicks and snap some pictures, then I plunked her back in place. None of the other eggs hatched, but these four now nearly grown up chickens are all doing fine—except for the fact that at least two of them are definitely roosters.

Friday, February 12

Friday Dose of Cute: Snow Happy

Okay, Maybe Not (but at least it wasn't up to her belly)

Want to see more of Robin (aka Scarface)? She usually has a big old grin on her little beagle face.

© Copyright 2010, the memory lapsed foodie farm blog where last month I posted a dose of cute called Cold Backs, Warm Hearts. It was two photos, but there were actually supposed to be three. Better late than never, the forgotten third one is now up—just in case some of you can't get enough of dogs in snow. And for those of you wondering about Scarface up there—she's had that scar on her snout since she was a pup, and we're pretty sure it came from a tangle with a poisonous copperhead snake. Our bad ass beagle is small, but she's tough. And although she's mostly retired these days, she still desperately despises donkeys on a very busy, full-time basis.

Thursday, February 11

Thursday Dose of Cute: Girl Power

On Guard

Want to get to know our big dogs better? You'll find lots more Daisy photos here and Marta photos here. A pileup of 2010 snow photos is here.

© 2010, the well patrolled foodie farm blog where there's nothing better than a big white livestock guard dog, except two big white livestock guard dogs—or one big white one and one sorta white one. Her full name is Marta Beast, her latest nickname is Marta the Mess, and as soon as the weather warms up she's getting sheared. Unfortunately our sheep shearer says he doesn't do dogs. In the meantime, my hunky farmguy Joe likes to point out the bright side: "If you were a coyote, wouldn't you be terrified of her?" Definitely.

Tuesday, February 9

Tuesday Farm Photos: Winter Water

On the Move

I love when our wet weather creek is running:
Meandering By The House
The Bigger The Water Dish, The Happier The Dog
View from the Middle of the Creek after Six Inches of Rain
Morning Mist Rising off the Creek
Cat Fishing?
Sheep Crossing

Running Water, Rubber Boots, & Mud
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life Is But A Stream

A Rare Winter Sight—And Geese!
Flood Watch
Who's A-fraid of the Big Bad Creek? The Big Bad Creek?
A Fresh New Day Full of Morning Mist (and lots more hazy photos)
Surf's Up!
Splish Splash!

Crossing Over to Bigger and Better Things!
Creek's Up!
10/28/09: Where Did that Creek Come From?

© Copyright 2010, the gently flowing foodie farm blog where you have to cross the creek to get from The Shack to the sheep barn. After a while this starts to be somewhat of a pain, especially if you're heading out for a walk on the ridge above the farm, because then you have to wade across in rubber boots, change into hiking shoes on the other side, and then change back for the return trip. If the creek ran year round (something I often dream about), we would simply build a little footbridge—and do a lot of refreshing hot summer skinnydipping.

Monday, February 8

Monday Farm Photos (and a Little Cute): Weathered Wood

We Have All Kinds

Want to see more?
Found Art and Farm Junk photos
Cat Cabin photos
Sylvester the Cat photos
Firewood photos

© Copyright 2010, the rusty but lucky foodie farm blog where Sylvester has fluffed up so much this winter we've completely lost sight of his neck—and despite temperatures dipping back down into the low teens, that firewood is keeping things nice and toasty warm.

Sunday, February 7

Sunday Dose of Cute: Hay Girls


We're deep in the heart of hay feeding season! Want to see more munching? You'll find links to lots of hay feeding photos here.

That's Esmeralda on the left:
7/9/08: It's a Birthday Girl!
8/13/08: Meet the Dog Day
8/26/08: Nap Time for Esmeralda
8/27/08: You Just Roll With It, Baby
9/22/08: Bonding with Her Baby
9/26/08: Are Those Donkey Treats in that Bucket?
10/4/08: Cleanup Crew
10/10/08: Getting to Know You
11/29/08: Thirsty Girls

1/10/09: Let's Get Together, Yeah Yeah Yeah
2/2/09: Icy Looks
2/7/09: Being Watched
2/11/09: Are You Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count?
3/5/09: Last Snow Photo of the Season
4/23/09: Creek's Up!
7/7/09: Happy First Birthday Esmeralda!

And Daphne on the right (seen below with various other donkeys):
12/2/07: A Little Donkey Secret
12/10/07: Flying Donkeys
1/1/08: A Donkey with a Sense of Humor
1/6/08: Stock Dog Inspection
2/9/08: Donkey Update
2/20/08: Our Resident Weather Girls
3/2/08: How Do Donkeys Order Lunch?

3/26/08: Donkey Dietary Habits
5/3/08: Grooming Session
7/10/08: It's Another Birthday Girl!
7/11/08: Up and Running
7/13/08: All Dried Off & Raring to Go
9/13/08: Here a Nibble, There a Nibble
10/17/08: Baby Love—or Just Pestering Mom?

2/27/09: A Baby Donkey Look Back
5/4/09: What Donkey Girls Do During Lambing Season
7/12/09: Happy First Birthday to Daphne's Daughter, Evie!
7/27/09: Mama Love
8/9/09: Broccoli Treats? Blech!
10/3/09: Daphne and Her Baby Boy
11/3/09: Baby Donkey on the Way?
12/22/09: Happy, Healthy, and Plenty to Eat—the Best Gift of All

1/14/10: Soaking up Sun in the Snow
1/29/10: A Kiss for Aunt Dolores

© 2010, the about to probably be snowed in again (woohoo!) foodie farm blog where there's nothing like a little between-the-storms February sunshine to make you think it's a great idea to hang some laundry out on the clothesline rather than risk shrinking it in the one speed (that would be 'flame') dryer—and donkeys rarely pose for photos alone.

Saturday, February 6

Last Minute Super Bowl Party Recipe Ideas

Swiss Chard Artichoke 'White' Pizza (recipe here)

Just in case you're still deciding what to make for the Big Game tomorrow, I thought I'd toss out some easy favorite recipes that are always crowd pleasers. Go eat! Oops, I mean Go team!

Dips and Spreads:
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dip
Sour Cream and Onion Dip (and Foodie Travel)
Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip
Quick Refried Black Bean Dip
Ridiculously Easy White Bean Pesto Spread
White Bean Artichoke Dip with Rosemary and Kalamata Olives
Radish Cream Cheese Dip with Parsley, Scallions, and Feta

Savory Cheese and Scallion Scones with Cream Cheese & Feta (recipe here)

Easy Breads:
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (a hot crusty loaf in under an hour)
Savory Cheese and Scallion Scones (these make great little sandwiches)
Fast Rosemary Focaccia (perfect for burgers)
Homemade Pizza Dough
Swiss Chard Artichoke 'White' Pizza

Fast Black Bean Chili (recipe here)

Hot and Hearty Soups:
Fast Black Bean Chili
Hearty Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage (a cooking class hit)
Italian White Bean Soup (so thick it's like a stew)
Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup (fat free, vegan, and delicious!)
Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Artichoke Soup (all pantry ingredients!)

On the Side:
Garbanzo Bean Salad with Red Onion, Cilantro, & Feta
Lowfat Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad (a fresh twist on coleslaw, above)

Even Big Guys Will Like these Little Shortbread Cookies (recipe here)

And Dessert!
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies (and how to hug a sheep)
Yip Yap Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Snaps
Baby Shortbread Cookies with Mini Chips and Toffee Bits
Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps

Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars (pictured above)
Spicy Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins (guys love these)
Moist Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake
Autumn Pear and Apple Crisp
Chocolate, Cinnamon & Banana Mexican Monkey Cake
Quick Emergency Chocolate Cake

© Copyright 2010, the TV-less foodie farm blog where I've never been much of a football fan (except for going to Bears games back when I was at UC Berkeley), but I'll use any excuse to feast on some good party food.

Recipe: Quick and Easy Homemade Low Fat Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and Dip

Are you one of those people who swoons over phrases like buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk biscuits but never actually buys buttermilk because there's nothing to do with the other 3½ cups in the carton after you've used the half cup you needed? Behold the solution.

Pour it on! This simple, healthy salad dressing is flavored with onion, garlic, and dill. To make a thicker dip for veggies or chips, simply add less buttermilk.

I love salad. I eat it nearly every day, sometimes even for breakfast. I also love salad dressing. A two tablespoon 'serving' is something I simply cannot fathom, probably due to the size of my salads.

For years, I always tossed my greens with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a little granulated onion and garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. If I was feeling especially energetic, I would blend the dressing together first in a small Pyrex measuring cup with a fork, adding a dollop of dijon mustard or maybe some chopped fresh herbs.

When I moved to the country and started growing my own lettuce from seed (it's
easier than you think!) and eating salads out of a giant green vintage Pyrex mixing bowl, I realized that I was probably consuming as many extra-virgin olive oil calories as were in a large piece of pie.

Rather than give up dessert—or my waistline—I started making a lowfat yogurt-based concoction I dubbed Farm Dressing, since I lived on a farm and not a ranch. In summer it was full of chopped fresh basil, in winter lots of parsley. Variations abounded, and I lived on the stuff for years. The thought of buying bottled salad dressing never crossed my mind.

Then one day I crossed over. I accepted a taste of Trader Joe's Lowfat Parmesan Ranch Dressing from that dangerous sample counter in the back of the store, and immediately became addicted. So tasty! So easy! So few calories! So expensive, since it didn't take me long to go through a $3.49 bottle—and I bought a lot of bottles.

The good news is that last summer I crossed back over. I quit my Lowfat Parmesan Ranch Dressing addiction cold turkey. I'm also eating more fresh veggie snacks than ever before.

The bad news is that I'm now addicted to homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I eat it on a whole lot more than just salad and can easily suck down a cup of the stuff in a day or two. My only saving grace? It doesn't taste good on pie.

Do you have any ranch dressing memories, stories, or recipes to share?

It's so easy to eat your veggies (garden goodness from last summer)

Lowfat Buttermilk Ranch Dressing / Dip
Makes 3 to 4 cups

**Click here to print this recipe**

The beauty of ranch dressing is that there are about a zillion different ways to make it. My version was inspired by Cookiecrumb (she of the amazingly simple Pear Butter Recipe) by way of this moving post on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

I'm calling it lowfat because compared to some versions—like the one I saw that was half mayonnaise—it is lowfat, and I didn't want anybody to shy away from the recipe thinking they'd have to give up dessert in order to enjoy it.

You can dress up this basic version in all sorts of ways, but what's nice is that you don't have to. I actually like it best plain. It comes together so quickly you'll even have enough energy left to mix some up when you get home at one in the morning after a 400-mile day of driving and enjoy it with your I survived the big city! bag of potato chips and bottle of chilled champagne.

Or when a salad craving hits and the steaks are already on the grill—just drizzle some over a few handfuls of fresh spinach or arugula (so
easy to grow) and you're good to go.

That said, the flavors of this dressing definitely improve after sitting in the fridge for a day or two. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the last dregs of the previous batch didn't always taste better than the new one because I'd done something differently, but simply because they'd been allowed to mellow.

I even eat it on freshly laid eggs.

Homemade buttermilk ranch dressing just might be the most versatile Superbowl party food: drizzle it over nachos or quesadillas; dunk your Buffalo wings, fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, or fried zucchini and mushrooms in it; use it in coleslaw; slap some on a burger; or even put in on pizza (something I learned from Lisa the Homesick Texan, who makes her dressing with cilantro, serranos, and lime juice).

And of course it's a great all around dip for vegetables and chips.

This recipe makes 3 to 4 cups of dressing, which might seem like a lot. It's not.

3/4 cup sour cream (I use lowfat)

3/4 cup yogurt (I use lowfat—homemade yogurt is wonderful)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I'm a Hellman's/Best Foods girl)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
1 slightly heaping teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt (my organic mineral salt is pink)
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I like white)
1 to 2 cups cultured buttermilk (I use lowfat)

Optional additions:
Fresh dill rather than dried
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped chives
Chopped scallions
Minced shallots
Minced garlic
Fresh basil
Fresh or dried oregano
Other fresh herbs
Fresh lemon juice
A little lemon zest
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A smidge of dijon mustard
A pinch of cayenne or paprika
Finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, granulated garlic, granulated onion, dill weed, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Mix well.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and then 1 cup of the buttermilk. Add up to 1 cup more of buttermilk, depending on whether you want a thicker dip or a thinner dressing.

Adjust the seasonings to taste, adding another tablespoon of balsamic vinegar if desired, along with any of the optional additions. Keep in mind that the flavors will become bolder over time.

You might enjoy my other dressings and dips:
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
High Kickin' Creamy Tomato Dressing

All Purpose Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce
Chives and Herbed Yogurt Cheese Dip
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip
Quick Refried Black Bean Dip
Radish Cream Cheese Dip with Parsley, Scallions, and Feta
Ridiculously Easy White Bean and Basil Pesto Spread

Sour Cream and Onion Dip (and foodie travel)
White Bean Artichoke Dip with Rosemary and Kalamata Olives

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the drenched in dressing foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, photos, and addictions from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.