When it comes to childhood memories this salad probably takes position in the top ten. This salad was present at most family gathering. Why, because the cellar was full of apples from the Richardson orchards. When I was growing up I always thought we were rich because of the bounty that was present on the dining table. Of course, later in life I soon realized what it really meant to be ‘rich’. Because of the life my grandparents chose; we were rich in the foods that filled our pantry shelves. Their physical labors and those of my parents made it so that we never, and I mean never went hungry. It is a feeling I have never experienced and one I wish I could cure in this nation and beyond.
It was a generation that kept their woes private and displayed their love in ways that we would only come to understand as we matured. It appears I’m being a bit philosophical this evening as I pen my column. Sometimes as I dig into those great days I begin to weep, to cry for beautiful memories and all the blessings that came into my life, through the kitchen and the Richardson farm. My Grandma Richardson always seemed ‘serious’ to me when I was a child. But it wasn’t long before I figured out her ways. She showed her love through each meal placed before my grandfather, her children and grandchildren. Each chicken that she butchered or green bean that she canned.
As we come home from a hard day at work it is often difficult to find the energies to prepare a meal, for our families. But let me tell you each and every effort is appreciated. It doesn’t have to be flamboyant, it’s putting in the effort, even if it’s grilled cheese and tomato soup. Try to remember to sit at the dining table too young families. The television is a distraction and the meal time should be about each other and communicating.
So back at the farm I’m guessing the orchard was around 3-4 acres. At least that’s what it felt like to a little girl. Every fruit that would prosper in the state of Missouri was there. I have no idea what kind of apples we grew. To a small child they were ‘free’ food because they were hanging on grandma and grandpa’s trees. I was almost 30 before I realized people used different types of apples in their pies!
The candy gumdrops were so much fun in this salad. Grandma would adapt for the season when she made her dish. I always set in the same ‘general’ area at the family dining table and I can see that bowl coming around like it was yesterday. (Oh my, I sound like my dad!) And yes, it was always in a specific bowl too.
I’m smiling now, at the treasures I hold deep within my heart. Of dining tables, good food and family, it feels so good. Let’s join hands in sharing the bounty in this cold month of January. The dreary days of winter provide the perfect canvas for our mission work. Enjoy my grandmother’s salad. I think I see a ‘huge’ pot of soup about Wednesday, of this week. And…I know just where it’s needed. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Fresh Apple Salad
- cup finely diced celery
- 8-15 ounce can light tidbit pineapple, juice reserved
4 cups or 5-6 average apples, diced
(I leave skins on for color, can also be removed.)
1 cup grapes, cut into halves
1/2 cup chopped pecans or English walnuts
1 cup halved gumdrops in assorted colors
1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
8 ounces whipped cream
*Options: raisins and marshmallows
Serves 10-12 persons
After chopping the apples generously roll them in the reserved pineapple juice. This will help keep the apples from browning. Drain well and
Place in large bowl with celery, pineapple and grapes. With a whisk blend the dressing in a separate bowl. Stir dressing into ingredients. Lastly stir in the gumdrops and pecans.
As a young girl this was always on the table for Thanksgiving and Holiday dinners. My grandmother, Lucy Rightmire Richardson, would put black, yellow and orange gumdrops for the fall dinners. At Christmas she often used red, green and white.
Sometime only diced orange slices were implemented. It was always one of my favorites and I called it ‘The Candy Salad’.