Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY CHERYL JOST
It?s been one of those weeks when there?s been too much to do, too many road trips that have taken me away from home, too many fast-food hamburgers eaten in as few bites as possible, and way too much reliance on that white powdery substance called caffeine.



(Note: I have no idea if caffeine in its basic form is white or powdery. I just thought I?d throw that in for fun.)



But I?m finally home and relatively free from any outside responsibilities. At least for a week or two. Perhaps I can now finish sorting through the rubbish and outgrown clothes in my son?s room.



I undertook this job at the beginning of February, but got sidelined by the flu and then had to jump into several other projects.



Poor kid. For the past month his bedroom floor has looked like a minefield with little stacks of errant Legos and piles of Matchbox cars waiting to be retrieved and placed in their right containers. There are stacks of old T-shirts and hand-me-down jeans that need to be returned to his older cousins.



My son has offered to put the stuff away, but I won?t let him. I won?t allow it because I know that if I assigned him the job, everything would once again be stuffed into the recesses of his closet or jammed under his bed to collect dust until the next time his mother went on a cleaning spree.



Maybe I can finally get his drawers off the floor and back into his dressers today. Or maybe it can wait until tomorrow.



For today is one of those unseasonably warm days that belies the fact that winter has not yet ended. Now, even as I write, the sunshine is beckoning me to come out of this cocoon of a house and stretch in its healing warmth.



Earlier, I had stood on our deck and watched the beagles run through the underbrush of the creek that meanders around our backyard.



Fetch, now fully recovered from his tussle with a bobcat, took the lead. Somewhere in the not-so-far distance, a gaggle of geese, probably Canadians, were waking with a cacophony of sound.



Beagle alert!



The birds were chirping and a couple of male cardinals, their red feathers dazzling in the morning sun, came sweeping through the air in front of me. Seeing them reminds me that I need to get some more birdseed for the feeders we keep in the yard.



What a brilliant morning. The air is clean, everything is fresh. A song, one of my favorites, comes to mind. ?Morning has broken, like the first morning….?



What a sense of peace. Contentment. Being home.



Today I?m home and I plan to make the most of it. I?ll try to play catch up with the laundry and the household chores that have been awaiting my return. I?ll do some bookwork, pay some bills, and run some errands that have deadlines that need to be met.



For supper, my family will enjoy a meal that didn?t come from a box taken from the freezer. Or a drive-up window.



But I noticed that my tulips are coming up. And the daffodils are at least four inches high. The grass has actually turned green in some areas and the sky is so blue. The weatherman says the high temperature today should be about 70 degrees. It will be a bit cooler tomorrow.



Maybe my son?s room will have to wait another day. (You know, now that I really think about it, his bedroom floor always looks like a minefield, anyway.)



The patio under the deck could use a good sweeping and there?s dried up brush in some of the flower beds that needs to be removed.



I really should get the cobwebs out of the corners of the front porch and there are always windows that could stand a good washing.



Or maybe I should just refill the bird feeders and check the lilac bushes to see if they have budded. And take a nap in the sunshine.



It?s good to be home.



* * *



Thinking about warmer days brings to mind the cooking class Kitchen Corner is holding in their Newton store on March 23. Kathleen Kelly will be demonstrating and sharing recipes for ?Spring Salads.? On March 13, Sara Meisinger, one of my son?s favorite teachers, will be demonstrating cake decorating at the Hillsboro Kitchen Corner. You can sign up for either class or get more information by contacting Kitchen Corner in Hillsboro.



* * *



I was given this recipe but have not tried it as yet. If it works, it would be far more inexpensive to make than buying the little packets or the bottled dressing. I like to sprinkle the dry mix on chicken breasts and then bake or grill them.



Ranch Dressing Mix



2 tbs. salt



2 tsp. parsley flakes



1 tsp. garlic salt



1 tsp. black pepper



1/2 tsp. onion powder



Stir together and store in airtight container. To make the dressing, add one cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip) and one cup buttermilk to 31/2 teaspoons of the dry mix.

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