Lunch with the Seniors

I have been working with the Centre Region Senior Center, in State College, demonstrating cooking techniques and making lunch for them once a month. The seniors like to watch my preparations, ask me questions and tell me their stories.  I love listening to their stories and serving them fresh, local (when possible) food.

This week, making a salad for lunch seemed the right thing to do, since the weather has been so hot and humid. Chef Salad is a hearty, filling meal and I had lots of helpers in the kitchen that made the work of cutting and chopping go quickly.

Some were skeptical that homemade Ranch Dressing would be tasty. I proved to them that homemade is best and tasted much fresher than the bottled stuff. So easy to make and healthier to eat!

Some of the seniors last month requested something sweet to eat. Since blueberries and peaches are in season, I made them a simple crisp, which they ALL loved!


Chef Salad

baby spinach, iceberg lettuce, raw zucchini, grape tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese, deli ham and turkey, croutons, with ranch dressing.

Homemade Croutons

1 loaf Batard Bread, cut ends off, cut into slices, then cut into cubes. Place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss with your hands to get olive oil on all the cubes.  Bake in an oven at 375 degrees until you see the bread starting to turn light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

(adapted from

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk (which I make using 1 teaspoon white vinegar and then filling up the 1/2  cup with milk-stir and you have buttermilk)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper (or just grind it in, don’t measure)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried dill (I only had dill seeds–I smashed them with a mortar and pestle)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

juice from 1/2 lemon

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well together with a whisk. If you chill the dressing, it will thicken.

Blueberry- Peach Crisp

(adapted from

3 cups blueberries, washed and stemmed

2 cups sliced peaches

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the blueberries and peaches with all the dry ingredients, and squeeze the lemon juice over everything. Toss to coat. Place in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan.

1/4 cup butter, sliced and diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup regular oats

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine these ingredients and toss to mix well.  Cover the blueberry mixture with the oat mixture.

Bake 35 – 40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is getting golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.







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