Thursday, October 4, 2012
In this day and age when you can find just about every kind of salad dressing you can imagine, in both regular and light versions, most people don't make salad dressing from scratch. And I usually don't either; I don't even mix up Good Seasons Italian Dressing anymore. But one of the oldest and most well-worn cards in my recipe box is for "Mom's Mayonnaise Salad Dressing." Although I don't make it often, when I do I'm instantly transported across time and space to my mom's kitchen. I'm not sure about this, but I think she got the recipe from her mom (who may have gotten it from her mom?). And it's nothing fancy--just mayo, a little milk, a little sugar, a little vinegar, and some salt and pepper all whisked together. My mom used to put it on a salad made of iceberg lettuce and sliced hard-boiled egg; she served it in her middle-size silver mixing bowl as a side dish to either Swiss steak or Beef-Carrots-Potatoes-and-Onions. As a kid, I didn't like the salad or either one of those main dishes. But over the years, I grew to love them all, and now when I need a little comfort food, these are the things I often turn to, especially the mayonnaise salad dressing. When I made it recently, I used light mayo, instead of regular, and organic baby romaine instead of iceberg lettuce. And I added some diced-up Cheddar cheese. Sometimes, if I have them, I also add some fresh broccoli and chopped red bell pepper. What I end up with isn't quite like the salad Mom used to make, but my version is only possible because of what I learned from her. I think this holds true for so many of the things I've done and made throughout my life. I'm hoping I've supplied my own children with what Mom gave me: basic recipes they can use to make a full and happy life. They will, undoubtedly, make many additions and substitutions to what I've tried to hand down. And as a result, their lives may well end up being quite different from the way I made mine, but what they create will be just right for them.