DRESSING FOR SUCCESS

I’m always disappointed with salad dressing. It’s either too thin or too thick. Some are too vinegary, some are too oily. I must have 25 opened bottles in the fridge. And another 20 unopened in the pantry. In restaurants, I always ask for the dressing on the side, and I request two or three different kinds. Maybe if I combine the lite honey mustard with the raspberry vinaigrette?  How about half French and half Thousand Island? Yuck. Nothing works.
My sister, Linda, who lives in New York, is an awesome cook. Whenever we visit and she prepares a meal, the salad is tossed with the most delicious dressing imaginable. And maybe it’s my imagination, but for 35 years she has avoided telling me how she makes it.  I’ll say during dinner, “Linda, you really have to give me the recipe…”
“Sure, remind me before you leave,” Linda says.
Then, as we are leaving, she often conveniently brings up things like pressing health issues in the family, stuff I really don’t want to talk about. The whole thing is very suspicious. Maybe the recipe is a family secret.  Wait a second: it’s my family, too. 
Recently my wife asked me for the 1,000thtime, “Aren’t you going to eat your salad?” That was it.  I called my sister and told her I wanted to know what was in her special creation and I wanted to know NOW.
“Look, Dick. The reason I never gave you the recipe is that I really have no idea what the exact proportion of ingredients is.”

“How could that be, Linda?  It has tasted exactly the same every year since 1976 when I first tasted it at your wedding reception.”

“I know. It really keeps.  I probably made way too much.”
“Seriously, Linda, nothing lasts 35 years.”
“It actually lasted 25.”
“I’m not talking about your marriage. I’m talking about the salad dressing.”
I pressed her again for details. Finally, after further cajoling, I received this email:
LINDA’S SALAD DRESSING
2 T sugar (NOT artificial sweetener)
2 T ketchup (NOT chili sauce)
1 T Durkee Famous Sauce (Do NOT substitute)
3 T apple cider vinegar (NOT red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil (NOT olive oil)
Put in blender (Do NOT whisk)
Well, first of all, this was the most hostile recipe I had ever seen, and I think an entire cookbook like this would be very intimidating for people who wanted to just have some creative fun in the kitchen. I prepared the dressing exactly as Linda instructed, and I even called her to be sure I had the blender on the right speed. All Linda said was, “NOT puree.” By the way, growing up, she had a very positive attitude.
I am very proud of my finished product. I have drizzled it on my salad every night for the past week. I decided to ask Linda for the recipe for her fabulous Chicken Marsala. She told me she really didn’t have the specifics for that one, either, but she said that when Mary Ellen and I come to New York next month, she’ll serve it to us. I said “No thanks.” I seem to remember that’s also what we had at her wedding.

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BLIND TEST

BLIND TEST

As I mentioned in a previous column, my wife was away for a week recently and I knew I would have some problems in the kitchen. I had no clue how to operate the microwave or turn on our new dishwasher. One night, I kept answering my cell phone until I realized it was the fridge making a ringing noise because the door was left open.

I had occasion to drive my wife’s Toyota Prius while she was gone and I had no idea how to use all the high-tech controls on the dashboard. I wanted to listen to my favorite radio station, so I turned to what I thought was 90.1. The station did not come on, but it sure got hot in the car.

When Mary Ellen returned from her trip, she asked if I had kept to my diet. I admitted that I had gone to two all-you-can-eat buffets and I consumed too much because everything looked so good.  That was the wrong thing to say. Apparently Mary Ellen read an article on the plane that one way to lose weight is to eat your meals while blindfolded.  In several experiments, people who had their eyes covered ingested 22 percent fewer calories. That number was actually much higher, but researchers decided not to count all the food that fell on the floor or dribbled down people’s shirts.

The theory behind this is simple. When you can’t see what’s on your plate, scientists say you’re “more apt to listen to your stomach.”  I am someone who does listen to my stomach, and so does the entire congregation at the Heartland Church on Sunday mornings.

When subjects were taken to an actual restaurant (rather than dining in the lab) and then blindfolded, they finished about half of what was on their plate—unless they peeked and saw they were in Chipotle. Then they consumed 100% less.

I wanted to test the theory of not viewing the food I ate for lunch the next day while my wife was out shopping. When she arrived home, I told her that I had been doing a little experiment on to see if this calorie-reduction plan was legit. Mary Ellen looked at the ketchup all over my face and  shirt and said: “Okay, now tomorrow see what happens when you eat blindfolded.”

Researchers also claimed that cutting off any one of your senses enhances the taste of food, which leads to less consumption of unneeded calories.  I wondered what effect it would have to wear earplugs.

“This is crazy,” said my wife. “Covering your ears will not make you eat less.”

“It’s worth a try, Mary Ellen. What are we having tonight?”

“Well, I’m making your favorite: oven-fried coconut chicken, twice-baked potatoes and creamed spinach.”

“I wish you had waited until I put in my earplugs to tell me that.”

“Why?”

“Because that sounded really good.”

The bottom line is that I have tried covering my ears, my nose and my eyes and I have not really lost any weight. Next week, I’m going to try something I should have thought of before: I’m going to try covering my mouth.

 

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