I will always be amazed by the power of food. The power to nourish. The power to produce joy and sometimes tears. The power to prompt someone to start a blog, to write recipes, and to learn how to use a camera. The power to make you hangry. The power to make you hungry. The power to make you thrive. The power to divide. The power to bring together. The power to build a raised bed. The power to tell a thousand different stories.
This post was created in partnership with Sub-Zero and the #FreshFoodMatters campaign. Sub-Zero will donate $5 for every post using the #FreshFoodMatters, up to $25,000, and that equals 25 gardens for Katie’s Krops. It’s a little thing with big impact.
If you know me, you know I’m awful at email. Like, the worst. But when I got an email about the #FreshFoodMatters campaign, I immediately wrote back with a resounding absolutely.
I’ve just spent the last hour watching the short food documentaries they put together, not because I have to, but because I’m incredibly moved by each story. By Richard who changed his whole life after eating a plate of real food. It made him feel good, so he did it again the next day. He lost 150 lbs., started cooking, and eventually moved to a hobby farm to grow his own food and raise his own chickens. That’s power. By Chef Anne Cooper who left her celebrity chef post to become “the renegade lunch lady”. They called her a renegade for bringing real, fresh food to school lunches. That’s power. By Katie from South Carolina who once grew a 40 lb. cabbage in the third grade. It made her realize how many people she could feed, people who weren’t getting real, whole food. She then started Katie’s Krops, youth-run farms that supply produce to soup kitchens. That’s power. And every time I type “that’s power”, I fight off tears.
Food is one of the most basic needs. Sometimes it’s handled well. And sometimes it’s not. And there are thousands of different food issues we can agree to disagree on. But one thread woven through each of these stories—we can all do a little bit better. For me, that means giving dinner a little more forethought. It means dragging myself to the store, which is literally two blocks away, to pick up tomatoes or cabbage or something just pulled from the dirt. It’s being a little more patient during dinner prep, digging out a plastic butter knife, and teaching Hallie to chop those tomatoes.
I like to think that we’re all in the midst of our stories, of our short documentaries awaiting their resolutions. I say documentaries because they capture the everyday. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner things. The tying your shoes and washing your hair things. I’m a dreamer and I dream of doing big things. But I think it’s the little things that guide us to the big things.
“Mel, what’s for dinner tonight?” Kev asks. “Oh, I don’t know. Something Mexican.” “You said that last night and the night before.” I say it every night, because every night I want Tex-Mex. It’s a quick and easy vehicle for delivering a pile of vegetables and a scoop of avocado (duh). We’re adding this Tex-Mex salad to our line-up. A big vibrant plate of vegetables topped with a homemade Tex-Mex Ranch that’ll make you lick your plate clean—this might be one of the big things.
This salad is all about the dressing—a homemade chili-garlic ranch with a little zing. It’s plate-licking good.
3 tbsp. organic mayonnaise
3 tbsp. plain whole milk yogurt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
handful of cilantro, stemmed
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
squirt of honey
red cabbage, shredded
white cheddar, shredded
can of black beans, drained
frozen or fresh organic corn, lightly sautéed
sweet potato chips
Prepare dressing. In a food processor or high-powered blender, pulse all ingredients together until evenly incorporated. Store covered in fridge for up to a month.
Prepare salad ingredients. Assemble as desired. Shake dressing just before serving. If hardened, run container under warm water.
If spicy makes your tongue sweat, cut the cayenne pepper in half.
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In the name of dressing, head over to A Couple Cooks to listen to their new podcast on olive oil. I made a special appearance by phone and talked about my deep, borderline crazy, love for homemade dressing. Also, here’s my favorite mason jar dressing dispenser.