French Dressing and Other Lessons I Learned from My Father

Father’s day is almost here and what better time to pay tribute to our fathers. As I’ve gotten older I have really come to appreciate the legacy my father left. Today I’ll be sharing a few lessons I learned from him, along with a French dressing recipe.  Salad with Homemade French Dressing

Going out in my childhood usually meant a white draped table, relish tray, and a lazy Susan full of different dressings. I loved those days of dribbling first French then Blue Cheese dressing (or crumbled blue cheese) on my salad. When I think about my salad maxim today, “Sweet, Savory, Creamy, Crunchy,” a French dressing with blue cheese meets three of these—add a basic salad with croutons and you are so there! 

Who said things weren’t efficient back in the day!  French-Blue-Cheese-close-sq

And some more things I learned from my father? Here goes:

Ten Lessons I Learned from my Father, Part I

  1.  Relish Diversity. Today accepting diversity is “in,” but Dad showed me that not only is this the right thing to do, it’s the most interesting thing to do. I remember an evening when my parents decided they wanted an authentic Greek dinner. They packed us up and we drove from our “vanilla” suburb to the city’s ethnic grocers for unique food, colorful backdrops and fascinating people. Would I have remembered a pizza run?
  2.  The Unexamined Life is not Worth Living. Dad never actually quoted Socrates, but we were raised with an emphasis on critically examining everything. This was key to intellectual conversations, but also for examining motives and actions. I remember an argument about whether someone was engaged in something worthwhile. “It seems to be working,” I declared, to which my father replied, “Is he really happy or is he just grinning like the village idiot.”  Whenever I am tempted to be complacent, the “village idiot” image comes back to me.
  3. Know When to Relax. As kids, we always complained about vacationing “up north,” instead of going to Disneyland like our friends. Dad patiently explained that he worked hard all year and when vacation time came, he needed to rejuvenate. In order to survive as a working mom, knowing how to recharge is critical and I know I’ve led a saner life because of this.
  4. Know When Not to Relax On these same vacations, Dad would leave us sitting on the beach for a half hour or so every afternoon while he called in to work to consult on any issues that had come up. In the days before cell phones, he walked to a nearby pay phone allowing work and family life to co-exist perfectly.
  5. Expect a little bad with the good. When I got to high school, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do some traveling. After one trip I came home and announced that I loved flying to which Dad replied, “that’s because you haven’t done it enough.” A couple years later, a family vacation took us on an overnight ferry and series of trains from Dublin, Ireland to Manchester, England. Perched on a wooden bench during a long dark layover I looked at Dad and said “this isn’t a lot of fun right now.” “It’s gonna get worse” he replied. Then the two of us headed out to a late night pub to make the best of things. There are good and bad times in everything–jobs, family, etc.  Don’t be disappointed looking for perfection.

Stay tuned for five additional lessons on Wednesday (along with a recipe for Baked French Onion Soup).  French-Blue-Cheese-close

In the meantime, you might consider a nice salad with some homemade French dressing (and a little blue cheese?). Based on Martha Stewart, it is tasty and satisfying without the what’s-in-this aftertaste of (many) commercial dressings. 

Homemade French Dressing

Author: Inger
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 96 kcal


  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  • Combine ingredients in a small bowl or shaker and whisk (or shake) until combined.
  • Top salad and add crumbled blue cheese (if desired).


Serving size is approximately 2 Tablespoons


Calories: 96kcal
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “French Dressing and Other Lessons I Learned from My Father

  1. Pingback: Baked French Onion Soup and Lessons from Dad, Part II - Art of Natural Living

  2. David

    Your father sounds like a wise man, Inger! Our French dressings (my father’s mother was French) are different, but yours sounds great! Thanks for sharing it. ~ David

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks David. I would love to try your dressing some time. I am always (probably to a fault 😉 ) tweaking things based on new recipes.

      1. David

        Inger – my Nana’s dressing was more a vinaigrette style – olive oil (2/3 cup), red wine vinegar (1/3 cup) 1-3 teaspoons of sugar (to taste), 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, salt & pepper, basil (fresh, when possible), and 1-2 tablespoons sweet paprika. Of course, no one of her recipes included measurements so this is “sort of” the recipe!

        1. Inger Post author

          Thanks David–sounds delicious and perfect for basil season now. I believe most of my grandmothers’ recipes were “round” measurements too!

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