Unprocessed Kitchen Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,691 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,460 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Unprocessed Kitchen Expert Level Merit Badge, my plan was simple: My girlfriends and I were going to get our significant others (not to mention small ankle biters … ahem, I mean, children) to eat more salad.

You know. Bunny food.

Amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the menfolk, we concocted a plan: Come up with some super-yummy, homemade, DIY, organic salad dressings that would make our muscle men, our Hercules, our testosterone-laden overgrown boys swoon for vegetables.

We spent weeks preparing. The men piped down and slowly stopped peering suspiciously in the fridge (probably due to their lack of energy from eating too much red meat and not enough lettuce). Our logic was simple: Swamp ‘em with flavor. Drown ‘em in deliciousness. Spoon them swirls of ranch-flavored goodness, and they’d never even notice the absence of animal flesh.

And the rugrats? What kind of child could resist a poppy seed and strawberry salad? Or a blueberry honey dressing? Or a barbeque chicken chopped salad? They would be powerless to resist the lure of our potluck.

Each farmgirl brought their A game, so to speak. We brought only the best concoctions to our get-together. And the menfolk? Fat Slim and happy.

Photo by jeffreyw via Wikimedia Commons

But that could be partially due to my homemade bacon bits, I don’t know.

Homemade Bacon Bits

Thinly slice bacon (I like to use kitchen shears), Cook until crisp and drain on paper towels. Flash freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes. Place in jar or a ziplock bag and keep in freezer. They’ll defrost quickly, and you can pull them out whenever you need a shake on your salad or baked potato. Or whenever you’re jonesin’ for bacon.

Asian Dressing
(perfect for regular salad, but even better on pasta salad, with plenty of colorful veggies mixed in)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a handful of poppy seeds and a handful of sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 small shallots, finely minced (can substitute red onion)
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 t minced fresh ginger
  • a splash of rice vinegar or apple-cider vinegar (more if you like it tangy, or if you’re omitting the lime)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Photo by Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Summer Rolls (they’re like salad, to go!)

  • rice-paper sheets (If your grocery store doesn’t stock them, try an Asian market. They’re less than $2 for a large package.)
  • thinly sliced vegetables of your choice (Good options are: purple and green cabbage, green onions, carrots, edamame, chiffonade-style spinach or kale (roll up, then slice the rolls), any and all types of lettuce, sugar-snap peas, fresh asparagus, julienned cucumbers, or zucchini.)
  • fresh mint and/or cilantro
  • shrimp or chicken (optional)
  • homemade Asian dressing (see above)
  • cooked Asian noodles or crunchy ones (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

Soak rice paper in hot water, one at a time, until pliable (around 30 seconds). Lay flat on a kitchen towel (it will stick to your counter, so a towel works well). Lay your ingredients in the middle, drizzle with dressing, and roll as you would a burrito (sides in first). Roll tightly! This takes some practice. If your rice paper tears, just toss it and try again. The fillings for these are practically endless: try a Buffalo Chicken one with blue cheese and celery, or a Mexican-flavored roll with a taco salad filling. Perfect for lunches and great for little hands, too. Not to mention, they look amazing and you just might get the cover of your favorite foodie magazine …

Bloody Mary Chopped Salad

  • very ripe tomatoes (halved cherry tomatoes are the prettiest)
  • celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • your best dill pickles (homemade if you’ve got ‘em), chopped (could also use capers)
  • 1 T celery seed
  • shrimp (optional)
  • 1/3 cup clam juice, vegetable juice, or tomato juice
  • splash of Tabasco (adjust to taste)
  • 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 T horseradish (adjust to taste)
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • black pepper and salt, to taste
  • wedge of lime for each serving

Toss together and let marinate for an hour or so. All ingredients are “eye-balled,” depending on how spicy and flavorful you like it. And of course, if the kiddies aren’t partaking, you could always soak your tomatoes in vodka before chopping …

Photo by anders pearson via Wikimedia Commons

Pink Strawberry and Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • a drizzle of honey (depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)

Combine in blender. Store in fridge. If using coconut oil, you’ll want to bring to room temperature before pouring. This makes a beautiful pink dressing, perfect for the pretty princesses in your life.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Nothing better than real food that is fresh and healthy! I think the current Farm to Table movement is gaining real strength and people are demanding better food in restaurants and especially fast food chains. It is a wonderful sight to behold!

  2. Cindi says:

    Whoa! Those recipes made me want to run straight to the kitchen! Why didn’t I ever think to do that wonderful bacon bits trick? This is why farmgirl sisters are indispensable!

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