I am happy to be writing this post for the blog event Apples and Thyme hosted by Jen of passionatepalate and Inge of vanieljekitchen. What a great idea to write about memories in the kitchen! I have many with my mother.
She took a forty year old alligator purse with her to the hospital for evaluation and transition to an Alzheimer's unit as her disease had been hastened by emergency surgery which the doctors had given her a 5-10% success due to her age and the seriousness of the condition . My mother came through the surgery very well, but grew worse mentally. Somehow, while in the hospital for evaluation, she managed throw away not only the empty alligator purse, but her wedding rings, robe and slippers. I remember the day she bought the purse and regret that it and the fun-loving mother I knew were gone forever. However, she has adjusted well as can be expected in her new home. My sister and I visit her regularly and were joyous when just recently she asked for writing materials and books to read saying she was bored. Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease with no good prognosis, but we are taking one day at a time.
I grew up on a farm where we always had a garden teeming with fresh corn, tomatoes, green beans, okra, watermelon and cantaloupe. It was here that I learned that produce picked fresh from the garden was so much healthier, not to mention tastes better. My mother made use of all this bounty by canning and freezing so we could have good food for the winter. I remember a soup mixture full of tomatoes, corn, butter beans and okra that was a mainstay for Saturday lunch. A large chunk of hot, crispy cornbread cooked in a cast iron pan made our soup lunch complete.When harvest season for soybeans or cotton was in full swing, my mother would work all morning cooking a lunch of fried chicken ,fresh vegetables and frosty ice tea served in Mason jars for the field hands. It was a feast! We lived the original slow food way.
My Family, Circa 1953
On summer days, she would pile us all in the car to go wild plum picking and afterwards, we would have a hot dog and marshmallow roast nearby, careful to extinguish the fires afterwards . I don't think I have ever had plum jelly as good as my mother's was and I don't see the wild plum bushes anymore besides country roads.
Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday and I cook the same foods my mother cooked, but I have fine-tuned them to my family's tastes. One dessert that I haven't had since I was a child is my mother's 24 Hour Salad. I guess I thought it old-fashioned and I wasn't even sure that the recipe was still around. After talking with my sister, Martha of crossing stitches, who remembered exactly what ingredients made up the dessert, I came up with a recipe. Memories flooded my mind when I tasted this heavenly concoction! It's decadence is enhanced by serving it as a topping for pound cake. An easy dessert to make ahead for the busy holidays.
24 Hour Salad
20 ounce can pineapple tidbits
15 ounce can mandarin oranges
15 ounce can dark sweet cherries
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Toasted coconut for serving
Drain juices from the pineapple tidbits and the mandarin oranges and set fruit aside. Add water to the juices, if necessary, to make 1 1/2 cups. Drain cherries separately, blot on paper towel. Reserve and refrigerate.
Combine eggs, flour, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups juice in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until thick and boiling. Remove saucepan from heat, stir in lemon juice, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold.
When custard is cold, fold in drained fruits, except dark cherries, and miniature marshmallows. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into serving bowl and cover. Chill 24 hours. Just before serving, fold in dark cherries. Top with toasted coconut. Serves 8-10.