“You’re never fully dressed…”

Magical miso dressing atop some crisp Romaine and a few discs of Daikon radish.

I didn’t have a meal plan in college. Not sure who decided that students working on two BAs simultaneously wouldn’t have the need for a cafeteria, but there we were, 18-year-olds with a kitchen, a pot, a pan, a blender and a few cookbooks.

One of my go-to cookbooks had a terrific salad dressing recipe that I absolutely adored and made all the time. The garlicy miso dressing was made for a crunchy lettuce such as Romaine. After graduation, I moved to a cockroach-infested but very affordable one-bedroom in a soon-to-be-gentrified neighborhood in Harlem.  But I soon learned that cockroaches and cookbooks do not mix, and I had to toss out nearly my entire collection, including the one that had the amazing salad dressing recipe.

It was about a year ago that I discovered Freecycle, a grassroots and non-profit group of folks who give and get stuff for free. It’s really pretty simple: What you have, but don’t want, may be exactly what someone in your town is looking for. And what you want but don’t have, may be exactly what someone in your town is trying to give away. You can give and take all you want, but you can’t “want” (request a particular item) until you give. So far this year, I have given away an exercise bike with a busted monitor, a dozen antique doors a friend of mine had in his yard (don’t ask), and an out-dated ipod Nano car charger. And some of the gems I have found off of Freecycle include a panini press, some Laura Ashley cake plates, and about a dozen cookbooks, including a brand-new copy of that cookbook from college that had the magical salad dressing recipe! Isn’t karma amazing?!?

Just a warning about Freecycle: The e-mails are fast and furious nearly 24/7, so you might want a digest to come to your inbox once a day, especially if you sign up for a few Freecycles in your area. The downside of the digests is that you might miss out on some of the good stuff which gets claimed as soon as it’s posted.

Miso Dressing from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

Miso's one of those things that can hang out in your fridge for eons with no adverse effects.

3 tablespoons rice (white) miso or barley (red miso)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1. Blend the miso, garlic, vinegar and sesame oil in a blender or food processor until smooth.

2. With the machine still running, very slowly pour in the oil. When the mixture has emulsified, slowly pour in the water and blend 10 seconds or so. The finished dressing should have a smooth, mayonnaise-like consistency. The dressing can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Liquid gold. My bet is one of us will have a need for a fresh salad by lunch tomorrow.

Note: If by chance your dressing separates, try scraping the dressing into a bowl. Clean and dry  the processor or blender, put 1 tablespoon cold water in the container, and turn on the machine. With the cover off, pour in 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Once incorporated, add another 1 tablespoon of dressing. Once incorporated, add another 1 tablespoon dressing. Repeat until all the dressing has been added. It should rebind to a thick, creamy consistency.