National Ranch Dressing Day

Yup. According to Foodimentary, March 10 is National Ranch Dressing Day - though "National" may be referring to the nation south of the 49th. Visit that site for trivia about this salad dressing invented in 1954. It is one of my favourite dressings and it seems I am not alone - it has been the most popular dressing since 1992. The big shock is that according to the Foodimentary guy (John-Bryan Hopkins) "While popular in the United States and Canada, Ranch Dressing is virtually unknown in most of the world"!! How can that be!? 

A sad fact about Ranch Dressing he does not mention is that store-bought can be super high in calories. I am calorie-aware. I know the calorie count of most everything I eat. That doesn't mean that I avoid things high in calories.  The strategy is to lean towards nutrient-loaded calories, and permit treats.  As much as I like salads, I figure why "waste" all my calories on the salad dressing. Typical store-bought Ranch Dressings are 120-140 calories per 2 TB. I'm sharing an easy dressing that can be made in minutes and it clocks in at only 34 calories for 2 TB!  So, if I am going to consume 140 calories I can make it store bought dressing - period - or my home-made dressing plus 1.5 Chocolate Walnut Cookies! (smiley face)

Central to authentic Ranch Dressing is Buttermilk.  "Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream" (Wikipedia) so there's no butter in buttermilk! Producers are concerned that it's popularity might be waning. It seems, then, that I am among the minority that like buttermilk and don't mind drinking it alone. There is often a carton in my fridge and it has a long shelf life. In truth it is in my fridge less for drinking and more for recipes. Buttermilk figures in many of my favourite recipes - Irish Soda Bread, Party Plum Cake and Red Velvet Cake. I don't often make the following, but there's buttermilk pancakes and biscuits; it's a terrific marinade for chicken - especially chicken destined to be fried.

Without buttermilk there'd be no "red velvet cake". (I will soon share my recipe for this.) The reaction between buttermilk and natural cocoa powder results in a reddish cake - and these days the colour is often enhanced with some food coloring. (Read more)

Buttermilk is often used together with baking soda, for example in Irish Soda Bread. It provides the acid that activates baking soda and the resulting carbon dioxide is what makes whatever's being baked, rise. There was a time when the only way to introduce air pockets to dough/batter was using yeast, and yeast action demands time - thus, slow breads. With the introduction of baking soda came the dawn of "quick breads". But what if there was no buttermilk (or another acid) to activate the baking soda? Along came baking powder which combined baking soda with two powdered acidic components. All this was happening in the 1800s and guess who popularized this in Europe? "August Oetker, a German pharmacist, made baking powder very popular when he began selling his mixture to housewives... Oetker started the mass production of baking powder in 1898 and patented his technique in 1903." And that's where the story began for Dr. Oetker - a family-owned company headed today by a fourth generation real Dr Oetker. How they ever got into making frozen pizza is another story...

Whew! Feels like an episode of "Connections". We went from Ranch dressing to buttermilk, to baking soda and baking powder to Dr. Oetker and to pizza - and it is with pizza that I have my salad with Ranch dressing! Time to make this Buttermilk Ranch Dressing - which, thanks to the buttermilk, is high in probiotics and low in calories. Here's the recipe - and if you tire of this as a dressing - it makes a great veggie dip. In honour of National Ranch Dressing Day, I suppose I must share that your local grocer might carry the "almost like homemade" Bolthouse Ranch Yogurt Dressing - also low calorie - 45 calories per 2 TB - that's one salad and one Chocolate Walnut Cookie!

So, happy salad days! If you enjoyed this read and/or this dressing please click on "Like". I invite you to Share and Comment!