Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The importance of saying "thank you" and vinaigrette

Ok, I'm not the most chilled out person in the world.  I have a higher than average tendency to complain when things aren't up to standard but we all need to remember that it's more often telling people and rewarding people when they do things right that is effective than beating people down when they do things wrong.

Anyway, being low on cash as is the life of a woman on maternity leave, I often shop at Asda and yesterday a lovely lady packed every piece of my shopping.  I had my son in a front carrier as he's got to big for the baby trolley seats but he's too small to go in a normal trolley (or certainly I think so) but after walking round the store I was pretty tired and fed up (although he loved looking at the shelves and the people and no doubt putting things in my trolley!)  So after I paid, I went to customer services and gave her name and asked them to thank her.  They wrote it down on a nomination form and genuinely thanked me saying "people normally only have time to complain."  It was good for me too because it made me feel good that I'd made someone else's day.

So a challenge I would like to set the world today is to say "thank you" or "good job" to someone because it makes you feel better and it certainly helps the person you say it to.  Maybe it's someone you meet when out and about, maybe it's someone close to you who does something nice for you every day.

Anyway, complete change of topic.  While shopping yesterday I was struggling to find the rice vinegar (I'm thinking of making a slow cooked Chinese pork Hugh FW dish today) and eventually I found the vinegars.  One shelf of vinegars and about 6 shelves of premade dressings.  I realised it must mean that many people don't know how to make their own.  Certainly a simple vinaigrette is very easy.

Vinaigrette (not for babies.)

I don't measure for this so bear with me.  I use a small swing top bottle I found in a kitchen shop years ago but a clean jar would work just as well.  Other people use more oil than I do but I find it makes the dressing too oily.  If you prefer a less tangy dressing, use more oil or a touch of water to tone down the vinegar.

1 tbsp vinegar (white wine, cider, red wine etc. all would be fine, just not malt!)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard (dijon or grain, not English)
1/4 tsp salt
Any other flavourings you like, e.g. pepper, thyme, parsley, tarragon, more mustard etc.  Just work with what you're using it for (see suggestions below)

Put all into a bottle or jar.  Shake.  Yes, that's really it.

What you flavour it with will depend on what you're using it for.  A chicken salad for example would be lovely with tarragon or even more mustard (especially if you're using strong leaves like rocket.)  A chorizo salad might be nice with a lot of pepper or maybe go for parsley as a more background flavour.  You could even mix in grated parmesan for a cheesy dressing.

So this is almost as easy as opening a prewashed bag of lettuce and much cheaper.  Also you can vary the flavour each time rather than being stuck with the same old dressing though if I'm honest I often stick with the basic one, perhaps occasionally with a touch more mustard.

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