One of my favorite memories of childhood is chopping apples in my grandma’s kitchen surrounded by my mom and all my aunts who were also working on various aspects of a family dinner. It was a big kitchen, but it was always crowded because there were LOTS of us. My dad was one of 11 siblings and it was not unusual for the majority of them and their families to be at Grandma’s for Sunday dinner. The women congregated in the kitchen to help with the meal and to visit. Being old enough to be allowed in there was a BIG deal. There were likely four or five different conversations going on at once and everyone was lovingly preparing something for a meal that would be shared with our very large, very hungry family. There would be sounds of laughter, spoons clanking against the sides of pans, knives chopping against the cutting boards and smells — oh, the wonderful smells.
The apples I chopped would be for apple salad. Apple salad didn’t have an exact recipe, because depending on what grandma had in the kitchen, other ingredients, like sliced bananas, raisins or coconut, might be added to this basic recipe. There were parts of it that never really changed, though, and that’s what I’m sharing with you, today — just the basics — simple, pure and full of joyful memories. Moments like those are very likely responsible for my love of cooking and big family dinners. For me, food isn’t just something to eat. It’s something that draws family’s close — in the kitchen and around the table. It’s a memory maker.
- 4 or 5 apples, washed, cored and diced
- 2 or 3 stalks of celery, washed and sliced thin
- 1 cup of red or green grapes, washed and halved
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup miniature marshmallows
- 1 (8oz) tub whipped topping, thawed
- ⅓ cup Miracle Whip (Not mayo, it just won’t be the same.)
- Stir the fruit, celery and nuts together in a large serving bowl.
- Stir in the marshmallows.
- In a smaller bowl, mix the whipped topping and Miracle Whip. I can’t stress enough that to achieve the correct texture and flavor, substitutions are simply not acceptable here. Something magical happens to the whipped topping, when the Miracle Whip is mixed in. The texture thickens and the perfect tang is added to complement the sweetness of the fruit.
- Pour the whipped topping dressing over the fruit and mix thoroughly.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.