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Fresh from the garden: Ruby cooks it all

One of the truly palatable luxuries of life is having an excellent meal cooked for you.

Now “Ruby’s Cooking!” puts that delicious luxury at your fingertips.

Local gourmands and those just too busy to cook will be glad to know the epicurean delights of Ruby Dixon will be as easy as pie to relish with her new ready-to-cook enterprise.

The tag line for Dixon’s guest chef endeavor sums it up succinctly: “Tell me what you like; I’ll cook it for you.”

Dixon’s services include everything from having her take care of everyday home-cooking needs to creating beautiful nutritious food for parties, holiday feasts and larger occasions.

She will create personalized menus that are prepared in your own kitchen with the finest and freshest ingredients and will create basically any dish you can dream up.

Educated as a nurse and a psychotherapist and having worked in the healthcare field for more than 20 years, Dixon’s love of cooking fits right in with her experience of always having a hand in the nurturing of people.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t cook,” Dixon said. She grew up in the kitchen watching her mother and her grandmother cook and said she probably learned by osmosis.

Dixon moved to Langley several years ago from Colorado.

“I came to Whidbey Island thinking I would cook. I wanted to do something different than healthcare and cooking is a creative outlet for me.”

Dixon cooked briefly at The Smilin’ Dog in Bayview and spent two seasons at Hedgebrook Farm cooking for the writers-in-residence, wowing them with her luxurious style dinners that boasted fresh ingredients from the well-tended gardens.

Dixon’s meals could be described as “comfort food,” taking a cue from the traditions of southern cooking while adding the twist of fresh regional ingredients to make them truly something to savor.

“I love to be able to go out and pick the herbs, greens or fruit and tell someone, ‘This came out of the garden today,’ when I serve it.”

But besides cooking things like the wonderful roasts, barbecue, savory greens, biscuits, fritatas and sweet potato tricks of that heritage, Dixon can also turn a simple vegetarian meal into a tastebud extravaganza.

Her personal favorites involve spicy dishes in which she can use the hot peppers that she grows personally, like habaneros. She even brought one prized habanero plant all the way from Colorado when she moved.

Continuing her tradition of nourishing those around her, there are a certain number of her “fire-breathing” friends for whom Dixon creates especially hot concoctions. She is now locally famous for a dish she calls “Fire and Ice.”

It is a peach and habanero pie served with the most decadent vanilla ice cream she can find. The peach harvest, she said, happens to coincide nicely with the ripe-ready habaneros and Dixon predicts it will become her “signature dish” one day.

She said Jamaica also has a big influence on her cooking style. Dixon has spent time there, and she revels in the Eden-like bounty of fish, chicken, coconuts, mangoes and fresh greens.

“I also like Whidbey Island’s farms and the fact that things grow in winter here. I just love that,” Dixon said.

Taking her lead from the guest-chef model, Dixon is an eclectic cook who sees herself continuing a life working to bring people together and nourishing them while the dream of owning a restaurant is ever evolving with the signature dishes that Dixon continues to create.

But, perhaps her biggest talent is revealed in her culinary confidence and the warm and gracious demeanor with which she fills a kitchen.

Dixon can do it all: from a simple set of drop-in weekly meals to party planning for a special feast or even cooking lessons.

“Ruby’s Cooking!” offers a no-cost, no-obligation consultation for services. Call “Ruby’s Cooking!” at 321-2471 or e-mail Dixon at rubyshill@whidbey.com for more information.

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