Monday, September 21, 2009

Liz Adair's Salad Dressing Recipes

I got another request the other day for my salad dressing recipe, so I thought that might be a good subject for today's blog.

We're in the trailer, on our way to Nevada for Derrill's high school's 100th birthday (NOT his 100th year reunion, he hastens to tell everyone), and as I made the salad tonight, I took a picture of it and the dressing I brought along.

My salad dressing consists of vinegar, oil and salt. When I take salad to a pot luck I may make one or two variations on that recipe. I'll give them all here.

I will say that two of the most important ingredients to a good salad are cucumbers and onions. If you've got those two ingredients, you can add anything else to it and have a successful salad.

Liz Adair's Basic Vinegarette

For a salad that would generously feed four:

3 tablespoons oil (I use canola, but olive oil does well, too)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (If you use any other kind it won't taste as good)

Combine these in a plastic bottle with a stopper that can be undone quickly. Just before you're
ready to serve the salad, shake the bottle vigorously to combine the vinegar and oil, and then pour over the salad.
Shake salt liberally over the salad, toss, and shake salt liberally again. Taste. If the vinegar is too sharp, salt it some more. It takes quite a bit.

The salt and oil will cause the salad to wilt after while, so this salad can't be saved in the fridge as leftovers--unless you like wilted salad.

Variation I: Liz Adair's Creamy Italian

Put the all-purpse blade into your food processor (or, you can use a blender).
Break an egg into the bowl, turn it on, and as it is running, slowly pour 1 cup oil into the egg.

While it continues to mix, add 2 tablespoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon dried basil. If you have fresh basil, add a sprig of that, too.

Then, slowly add 3/4 cup red wine vinegar to the egg-oil mixture.
Let it beat for several seconds. Scrape down the sides and let it mix a few more seconds. Now it's ready for a salad.

Don't overdress the salad. Probably a tablespoon per serving is sufficient.

For those who are leary of having a raw egg in their salad dressing, here's an eggless variation:

Liz Adair's Avacado Vinegarette

This recipe is the same as the creamy Italian, except you delete the egg and basil and add 1/2 ripe avacado at the beginning.

Both of these salad dressings will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so. I store mine in glass jars, but plastic will do just as well. Be sure to shake them before you dress the salad, because sometimes the vinegar settles to the bottom.


Follow this blog! Become a follower by clicking on the 'follow' button just under the image of my "Using Family History in Fiction" booklet. Remember, one of these days I'm going to post my sopapilla recipe.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tips for Camping in Washington's Liquid Sunshine

The moss hanging in sheets from the trees is a dead giveaway that sunshine is a foreign element, but still, we blythely plan each Labor Day family campout to be held at Baker Lake in the Cascade Mountains about 45 minutes east of where we live.

Every three or four years, we get lucky and have warm, sunny weather. Usually we have at least one day of rain. But, even on the grayest of days, the vine maple trees carry their own inner light with their chartreuse-green leaves.

This last Labor Day, we had the mother of all downpours, but it was a great weekend, and we made some lasting memories. Here are things we've learned through the years about camping in the rain:

1. Bring plenty of changes of clothes for the little ones, and make sure they have rubber boots. Then turn them loose and let them play.

2. Don't trust that your rain fly will keep your tent dry. Add a tarp on top of it, but suspend the tarp from lines strung overhead, because if your tent isn't ventilated, it will get wet from condensation.

3. Ditch around your tent, and build dikes if you have to. Even the slightest of inclines can allow water to migrate to your tent from far away, and there's nothing worse than waking up at night in a wet sleeping bag.

4. Make sure you have a tarp under your tent so water can't wick up from the ground.

5. If you have a large group, have a couple of campfires so people can huddle around for warmth without blocking the heat for others.

6. String tarps over the fire--but of course, keep them high enough so they can't be melted by the flames. We had a 26 x 40 tent over the 'common' area, which included food prep, eating & campfire .

7. Invest in a catalytic heater. These little propane-fired, radiant, personal-size heaters are great to warm up someone who got chilled by being out in the rain. Two people can share by setting it between them and putting a blanket over their laps to captue the heat. Or, set it under a table while you're playing a board game.

8. Wear a knit hat and dry socks.

With a little preparation, you'll be humming that old Barry Manilow song, "I Made it Through the Rain" as you watch the campground empty out prematurely.
Follow this blog! Coming soon is Navajo Tacos and sopapillas. And maybe a posting on Dutch Oven Cooking. Stick around. I like having you check in every now and then.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Make-you-smile Autism Story

I've blogged about my autistic grandson before. He's five, and has been living at least a half continent away for a year and a half, so I have to keep up on how he's doing through reports from his parents.

Here's a story that my son, Wayne, posted on Facebook the other day about his son, Wayne Jr. (WayJay). It made me smile, and I thought there might be other people who would enjoy reading it, too.

Wayne writes:

I got home tonight and my wife, Shea, and I were sitting at the table, talking about the events of the day. I had quite a bit to talk about because of a bruha-ha that was going on at the shop. While we were talking, I noticed Wayne was walking around the room with a toy airplane. It was a USAF jet of one kind or another. (I have never cared enough about warbirds to learn the identifiers for each one.) Anyhow, Wayne was flying it around the room making airplane noises; more to the point, he was making jet noises.

I commented to Shea that it was cool that WayJay was playing in an appropriate manner (using the toy as an airplane and KNOWING that it was an airplane).

I watched him for a few minutes, and all of a sudden, I thought, "Why is my son playing with a jet? Everybody knows that jet pilots are knuckleheads. Real men fly single engine Cessnas." So I went out to the garage and got into one of my aviation boxes and pulled out a toy 172.

I walked into the house, took the toy out of the plastic covering, and handed it to Wayne. He stood there for a minute with a plane in each hand, and then he showed that he is truly my son: he pitched the jet over into the toy box and started playing with the 172.

WayJay flew the Cessna around for a few minutes, then "landed" it on the ottoman. He then said "DADDY" and "took off", making a circuit around the room with his newfound airplane. Once again, he returned to the ottoman. This time he did something that was really cool.

To show you how cool it is, I have to explain that, for as long as WayJay has been alive, I have tried to make a go of it as a banner tow pilot. I was towing banners the day he was born, and WayJay grew up out at the airport. All the planes that I towed with had a 4 cylinder Lycoming engine, and anyone who had been around those engines knows that starting one is more art than science. They have a very distinct sound; they crank-crank-crank, pop-pop-pop, and then they roar to life.

So, back to Wayne: the plane is on the ottoman, and I hear WayJay go, rrrrr rrrr rrrrr, pop pop RMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM and the plane takes off. Shea looked at me and said, "Did you hear him imitate you starting the airplane?" We laughed about it and sat back to watch what he would do next.

WayJay then flew the plane around with his pacifier hooked to the back of the airplane by its lanyard. He was towing it with the plane. My little boy was pretending he was towing a banner! He then went over to the ottoman, made the plane dive down and pull steeply up as he dropped the pacifier onto the floor. He had just imitated me doing a banner drop.

There are two cool things about this story. First, it's been over a year since WayJay has seen me tow a banner. He's pulled this from memory. The second, and coolest, thing is that imaginative play like this is unusual in autistic children. For Wayne to switch from zooming around in the jet to pretending to be banner towing with the 172 shows not only that he understands the function of an airplane, but that he understands that different planes do different things. Most of all, he knows his daddy flys a Cessna 172, and he's a wicked good banner tow pilot.

Follow this blog! Click on the 'Follow' button on the left sidebar. Coming up in the near future, if I survive camping in the rain over Labor Day, is a posting on how to make sopapillas. Oh, and we're doing Navajo Tacos while camping, and I'm planning on blogging about that. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mary Trimble Reviews Lucy Shook's Letters From Afghanistan

I don't know if you remember me blogging about my July 4th experience this year, manning the booth for SWAN. My job was to talk with people about this humanitarian outreach organization that gives microloans to poor women in Bolivia and sell books. One hundred per cent of the proceeds from Lucy Shook's Letters from Afghanistan and a portion of each copy of Counting the Cost go to SWAN, so I was vigorously hawking them.

Next to my spot was a table of local authors selling their books. I got acquainted and was delighted when they dropped by my booth. One of them, Mary Trimble, bought Lucy Shook's Letters from Afghanistan. A former Peace Corps volunteer, her heart is definitely in outreach to developing countries.

Mary and I found we had another common interest: writing about high desert and ranching. Her books Rosemount and McClellan's Bluff are about a young woman who lives on a ranch in the Northwest.

Mary has a great blog. I got permission to post her review of Letters here, but I hope you'll visit her blog to see what else she has written about. Today she has a great article about emergency preparedness kits.

Here is Mary's Trimble's posting about the book she bought at my booth on July 4:

Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan
, edited by Shook’s daughter Liz Adair and granddaughters Ruth Lavine and Terry Gifford, is an amazing chronicle of an American woman’s view of Afghanistan from 1965 to 1970.

Serving with the United States’ Agency for International Development, Lucy’s husband, Jim, works in agricultural development while Lucy oversees their life in an Islamic country she describes as "2,000 years behind the times."

Shook soon finds that running a home staffed with servants isn’t fully utilizing her capabilities and she takes on the responsibility of a Staff House, a respite for visitors. Along the way, she becomes involved in the lives of those who work for her. She endears herself to these hard-working people of grinding poverty, people who are capable of such love and dedication that she is often moved to tears.

In the course of business or pleasure, the Shooks travel throughout Afghanistan, taking the reader along on camel rides, desert markets, and the oddities of doing business in a third-world country.

Shook successfully manages both her home and the Staff House and becomes known as an expert hostess. Indeed, she frequently manages two or three events in a day, often honoring dignitaries with 150 or 200 guests in attendance.

During their tenure in Afghanistan, Lucy suffered a severely broken leg and several environmental illnesses; Jim recovered from a heart attack and also had sundry illnesses. But they forged on, bolstered by their strong Mormon faith, relying on the love for family, and gathering strength from letters from home.

Shook’s letters to her children reveal great compassion for life and for doing her very best with materials at hand, all with honesty and openness to her own short-comings. Her witty and loving approach to her fellow man endears her not only to those she served, but to her readers as well.

On a personal note, as a former Peace Corps volunteer (1979-1981, The Gambia, West Africa), I appreciated her involvement with the Afghanistan volunteers. Living at the other end of the spectrum, Peace Corps volunteers don’t usually have much in the way of luxuries such as air conditioning, a balanced diet, even opportunities to carry on a conversation in English. Being invited to the Staff House must have seemed like heaven on earth to those volunteers.

Afghanistan has now become a household name, yet I doubt if the people have changed that much since the Shooks lived among them. I highly recommend this book for a look at a country few of us understand; at a people fierce, yet loyal to a degree we seldom see in America. Books can be ordered through Liz Adair’s website is

Thanks again to Mary Trimble for that review. Don't forgot to trip on over to Mary's blog and get acquainted wih her.

Follow this blog! Click on the 'follow' button on the left sidebar. Remember, I've promised to teach you how to make sopapillas, and I'm going to review Mary Trimble's book McClellan's Bluff soon. You won't want to miss that. Also, it's apple season, and over 30 years ago, an old canner taught me how to can apples for use in pies and apple crisps. It's a simple process, but one I've never read about in books. So...stay tuned!