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Memorial Day always features memories and good food | WHIDBEY RECIPES
Monday is Memorial Day, the first big summertime celebration, although I still have a hard time dealing with a Memorial Day that doesn’t fall on May 30.
First and foremost, of course, it’s a day we set aside to remember and honor all of those who’ve given their lives in the cause of freedom and protecting their country and their families from whatever outside forces may threaten. With parades, prayers, picnics, flags, friends and flowers, we’ll do our best to show our appreciation, and to remember.
My family has three fallen heroes, two buried on faraway shores, one lying next to his parents in a cemetery not far away in Shelton. I only know the man buried in France, and the other buried in England, from photos I’ve seen, both of them looking proud and handsome in their uniforms. The other, buried at “home,” I’ve written about in the past, and it’s Buddy I think of most every Memorial Day.
Buddy was my cousin, just enough older that I was head over heels about him when I was a girl, and he knew it. He was ever so good-looking, with dark curly hair, bright blue eyes, and a smile that melted my heart. He loved to fish and hunt, play football and baseball, and he loved pretty girls and his old Ford convertible with the rumble seat (and if you don’t know what that is, Google it). And, after he joined the Air Force, he loved flying bombers, until one day his went down and ended it all for Buddy. I’ve wondered often, and still do, what Buddy would be like today if he was still with us, and every Memorial Day,
I wear the small gold wings he pinned on my blouse the last time I saw him.
But now, I wonder, too, about all the young men and women who’ve recently come home from fighting in impossible places to a country in turmoil, deep economic trouble, and engaging in political animosity unlike anything we’ve seen before. What must they be thinking about their future in a country that seems rudderless and riddled with incompetence. When I think of what they face as they return,
I feel ashamed for what little we’ve done to make them proud.
But, even though it’s not May 30, Monday is Memorial Day, which means it’s a three-day weekend and the kickoff to summertime, although the weather doesn’t always live up to expectations in this part of the country. We’ve spent many a Memorial Day huddled in tents or garages, or under makeshift tarp shelters, watching the rain pelt down. But, this year it will be different; we’ve already had more than a tempting taste of summer weather, and with luck, Monday will dawn bright and sunny.
Whatever your plans for the holiday weekend, I’d be willing to bet they’ll include food, family and friends.
I know ours will. I hope these picnic/buffet/potluck-style recipes will help.
I hope you still have your trusty old crock pot because holiday potluck/buffets are the ideal time to use it. A pot of spicy sweet and sour frankfurter “bites” will be a sure hit on your Memorial Day table.
SPICY SWEET & SOUR FRANKS
2-3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) small “cocktail” frankfurters
½ cup chili sauce
½ cup apricot jam, or use orange marmalade, or ginger preserves
1 t. hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker (crock pot), mixing well. Cover, cook on low 2 ½ hrs. Keep warm in crock pot on table; serve with additional hot pepper sauce, if desired. Makes 4 dozen spicy frankfurter bites.
After something that spicy, let’s go for something sweet, also done in your crock pot if you have it; if not, see instructions. You may need to make two; this disappears instantly when it’s put on the table. Added bonus: it’s so easy.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT PUDDING CAKE
1 box (18 oz.) golden
yellow cake mix
1 cup water
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup semisweet chocolate mini morsels
½ cup chopped hazelnuts (you may toast them a bit first, if you prefer)
Whipped cream or ice cream, for topping
Coat a 6-quart slow cooker (crock pot) with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil, mixing until smooth. Pour into the crock pot, cover and cook on high for 2 hrs., or until the batter is nearly set.
Sprinkle on chocolate morsels and hazelnuts. Cover; cook ½ hr. longer, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or cake begins to pull away from sides of the crock pot. Let stand until cool, then slice or spoon out while warm. Serve with whipped
cream or ice cream, if desired. Serves 10-12.
Note: If you don’t have a crock pot in which to cook this cake, pour the batter into a 4 quart (or more) casserole dish, sprayed with cooking spray, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 min. to an hour, possibly more, depending on your oven, and put chocolate morsels and nuts on the top about 20 min. before end of baking time.
Last summer, eating my way through a family gathering potluck table, I came across a platter of appetizers that brought me back for seconds and even thirds. It turned out to be a new recipe a Seattle cousin was trying out and, after some discussion, I not only got the basic recipe but a whole new idea for tasty appetizers.
POTATO BOAT BITES
12 small red potatoes (2-inch ones, not much bigger)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup diced kosher dill pickle
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dill sprigs, for garnish
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Slice a thin piece off both ends of each potato, then slice each potato in half. Use a melon baller to scoop out the center from each potato half; put the scooped balls in a bowl of cold water. Dry the potato halves with paper towels.
Arrange the potato halves on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes in a 450 degree oven until light brown, 20-25 min.
Boil the eggs and the reserved potato balls in a pot of water until the eggs are hard-cooked and the potatoes are fork tender, 10-12 min. Plunge the eggs and potato balls into a bowl of ice water. Peel eggs and drain potatoes. Dry eggs and potato balls with paper towels, transfer to a bowl and chop with a fork or pastry blender until chunky.
Combine pickles, mayonnaise, Dijon and dill. Stir this into the egg mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill the potato halves with the egg salad mixture (use a small scoop or melon baller to make it easy). Garnish each potato half with a bit of dill sprig and serve, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: After our discussion about these neat little potato boats, the cousin and I decided there were any number of fillings that would be delicious in these appetizers, such as a gorgonzola/chopped nut mixture, or goat cheese/roasted red pepper or tomato mixture, or …well, you get the idea; we just kept thinking of things to put in the potato halves, and I’m sure you will, too.