Sunday, May 27, 2012

Assumptions and Mockingbirds

“Which is your favorite season?” I am always undecided how to respond when someone asks me to choose just one season as a favorite since each offers a wealth of unique attributes to savor. Springtime is my favorite right now since I can grab a basket and head out to Papa’s garden to pick fresh dinner ingredients. In late May a variety of fresh lettuces, spinach, broccoli, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, squashes, scallions and asparagus are available. If I snip fresh herbs to integrate into a salad dressing, dinner plans are squared away entirely and for precious little money at that.

Just a few evenings ago as I cut vegetables for a salad, I stumbled down a figurative rabbit hole. As I hovered from one plant to the next, I pondered how we all savor life differently. After working his garden and watching it grow, Papa likes to tuck into a plate of thoroughly cooked vegetables for dinner while I enjoy them best either raw in a salad or lightly steamed . I was reminded of the scene from the movie made from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird where Scout angrily voices her bewilderment when Walter Cunningham pours syrup all over the meal prepared for them by Calpurnia. Scout was aghast that Walter would “spoil” his meal in such a fashion while assuming that everyone reserved syrup for breakfast meals. She mightily embarrassed Walter in the process of upbraiding him for what she perceived as an ignorant use of syrup. After all, Walter may not have had syrup available on his own dinner table. Or maybe Walter simply preferred syrup to gravy! I was immediately ashamed when admitting to myself that I have also made such judgmental assumptions over, of all things, the prolific use of buttermilk “ranch” dressing – I’ve literally witnessed gallons of the stuff consumed whether I found myself dining in local restaurants or in the homes of friends who graciously invited me to share a meal. I’ve often wondered why seemingly so many people default to ranch dressing as a condiment when there are dozens of options available, some certainly better suited to the salad served. But personal favorites are simply that – personal.

So it doesn’t matter a whit what I think of someone else’s preferences. Even if you don’t have your own garden from which to harvest vegetables on a whim, you’ll certainly find the fresh ingredients at more affordable prices in your local grocery now. Enjoy the season’s bounty – with syrup if you prefer!

 Buttermilk Salad Dressing 

1 cup crème fraiche*
1 chopped, trimmed scallion
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 minced, peeled garlic clove
4 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper (white pepper if you prefer no black flecks of ground black pepper in the dressing). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to four days before serving. Make approximately 1 cup of dressing.

*if you can’t find crème fraiche readily available in your local grocery, a quick substitute can be made by mixing one tablespoon of buttermilk into one cup of heavy whipping cream. Mix, seal in an air-tight container and let sit at room temperature for 12-20 hours or for 5-7 days in your refrigerator.

While you enjoy your salad, munch on a haiku and enjoy the season!

moonlight on aster
i take
the long way home

tiny wordsIssue 11.3/23 December 2011


  1. Thanks for this insightful and reflective post, Susan. I've never even heard of this Buttermilk Salad Dressing before, but it sounds delicious!

    1. Norman, just remember that your day-old milk will work in this recipe in fine fashion! That your scallion and herbs are fresh is important. And thanks, Nora!

  2. a good looking recipe, and wonderful thoughts about preferences.

  3. nice recipe i suppose yogurt can be used here also

    much love...