Once Lost; Now Found–The Recipe Saga


After a frost. these flowers refuse to die.

After a frost. these flowers refuse to die.

Sometimes the most delightful little gifts fall into our laps.

Such a happenstance occurred for me last weekend.

My oldest son was visiting over the holiday and we planned to visit my only surviving aunt. She and her husband were my son’s godparents so he also feels a special connection to her. She’s also the one whose husband of 60+ years died this past summer. We both figured this first important and very much family-oriented holiday would have been difficult for her.

So on Saturday afternoon we went to see her.

The visit was great. As we often do we reminisced about those no longer with us. And we talked about Christmas which will be coming soon. My grandfather died two days before Christmas. I was pregnant with my oldest son and Grandpa was very much looking forward to being a great-grandfather. In all the ensuing years since Grandpa died, Christmas got easier for those of us who loved him but always we missed him. Knowing how much he loved the Christmas holiday and what its meaning was also helped keep up his traditions. We talked about that for a bit with my aunt.

Tanker close to shore day after Thanksgiving

Tanker close to shore day after Thanksgiving

But for my son and me, we also find Christmas difficult because many years later, my second son died three days before Christmas. None of my sons ever got to know my grandfather, but they knew the story of his death shoveling snow in a major snowstorm so he could get to his last day of work before he retired.

But another part of Christmas back then while my grandmother was still alive was her holiday salad. She always made it for Christmas. My oldest son remembers eating it. I not only remember eating it, but have vivid memories of Christmas preparations shared with my grandma and grandpa while making that salad.

Grandpa chopped the nuts.

I got to cut up marshmallows into tiny pieces. I lost this task when mini-marshmallows became available. However, when those minis became available in various colors, Gram would have me pick out the colors she didn’t choose to include in her salad. Those I could eat if I wanted.

Of course, I wanted. They were a treat.

After our visit Oreo and Steve

After our visit Oreo and Steve

Anyway, come Christmas Day when the family gathered, Grandma would have her salad on the table always in the same bowl, one which was an ivory stoneware with brown and rust leaves. She’d gotten it at the Jewel T grocery store. That bowl always sat on the table during family feasts.

So on that visit last Saturday, I mentioned my memories of the salad and the bowl. I said how I’d never seen a recipe for that salad and had never eaten it since my grandmother died (again in another December before Christmas.) I said something like I guessed that recipe died with Gram.

My aunt said no. Her daughter had that recipe and had written it down for her at Thanksgiving.

Serendipity. My little unexpected Christmas gift from above.

I now have the recipe.

I’m making it for Christmas to honor my grandparents.

Taken from Google images

Taken from Google images

To see if the salad is as great as I remember.

Now wouldn’t it be wonderful if that long lost bowl suddenly appeared?

So what special food have you been thinking of? Perhaps one that’s tied into family celebrations of the past? Any that you care to share?

Oh, and here’s the recipe. The only thing that would have made this perfect is if it were written in my grandmother’s hand.

Grandma D’s Holiday Salad

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 Cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 Cup flour

1/2 Cup lemon juice

Mix and cook above over medium heat until thickened.

Add 1/2 pint of cream slowly mixed into above mixture.

Then add:

3 cans Royal Ann Cherries, pitted.

2 cans large pineapple chunks, drained.

Nuts – type and amount as desired.

Miniature marshmallows – amount as desired.

Keep chilled until served.

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29 Comments on “Once Lost; Now Found–The Recipe Saga”


  1. Casey, I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit, and I think your Grandma wanted you to have that recipe. Hope you enjoy it this Christmas! (Now, if only I could find the one I lost last year. Nothing so special as yours, but oh, so good! In case anyone is reading and might know of one…it’s a Chicken Marsala (?I think??) recipe with crabmeat on the bottom of the pan, made with a wine sauce and mushrooms, and rice. Help anyone? Google let me down.)

  2. Teri Says:

    Sounds like an interesting and delicious recipe that needs to be attempted, Casey. I do have a set of those bowls, but with a different flower motif. I know the heft of them. I’m afraid mine do not have long ago memories attached.


  3. Stacey,

    About the lost recipe–keep looking when you can. Say a quick “help me find this” plea to St. Jude and St. Anthony, patrons of lost and impossible things. It’ll show up. At least that’s what my Gram always said.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Teri,

    I can’t believe you have bowls like those! Did you inherit them from your mother or anyone? Or did you find them at a rummage sale? I don’t know what happened to my Gram’s bowl. And they were heavy. Her salad went into the largest one but she never let me carry it until I was at least nine or ten.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Sandy Says:

    Casey, it’s always sad when you lose someone so close to the holidays, but you have such great memories of them. It’s always good to talk of our loved ones. My mother passed away before she could meet her great-grandchildren. I believe two were sent to replace her. Smile!


  6. My mom (who passed in 2008) always made a frozen salad concoction of canned mixed fruit cocktail, cream cheese, whipped cream, and mayonnaise. You let it defrost for awhile before serving and everyone loved it! I think I still have the recipe, written in her hand.


  7. Patti,

    When we look at those old recipes, the ones we remember so fondly, isn’t it interesting how often what was used came from cans and not fresh which is the first choice today.

    Actually, I’m not sure I’ll even find those cherries in cans any more.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing that recipe memory.


  8. Sandy,

    A real compliment to your mom that you feel it took two to replace her.

    Have a great week!

  9. Edie Ramer Says:

    I’m glad you and your son had a nice visit with your aunt, and you found the recipe. It’s nice to have the good memories.

    I watched Dr. Oz a couple weeks ago, and his guest was a neurosurgeon who was struck by a sudden illness and during a coma, went to heaven. He explained part of his experience vividly, and he’s written a book, Proof of Heaven, that I ordered this morning from the library. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Heaven-Neurosurgeons-Journey-Afterlife/dp/1451695195/


  10. Edie,

    I saw that episode with my hubby who also had an out of body experience during his last heart surgery where he died on the table but the surgical team brought him back.

    Hubby knows heaven is waiting.

  11. Cyndie Says:

    Oh what I wouldn’t give to have a picture of that bowl! And that recipe written in Grandma’s handwriting to add to my handwritten recipes (for imprinting on material to make dish towels – I now have made several and they turned out beautifully!)! So if you ever unearth anything like that please share!

    And enjoy that yummy sounding holiday salad.

    I do remember my own fond memories of my mom’s sugar and molasses cookies – such a treat they were!


  12. Oh, I think I have that recipe as I made them every year because I loved hers so when she would give some to Mom. Have you emailed or contacted Terri? She might have some of Gram’s recipes. I guess I hoped someone in your family might have Gram’s bowl. I did track down the red apple ceramic pitcher that always held milk for meals. That was another favorite of mine that was always part of Gram’s kitchen. Aunt Mimi has it.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  13. Anne Parent Says:

    Oh, such lovely memories food make for us. The recipe looks delicious! I’m going to make my grandmother’s famous junk filled jello with the mini marshmellows. I miss her potato salad and this jello salad at this time of year.

    Hope your Thanksgiving was great!


  14. Anne,

    Junk jello–now that sounds intriguing and I never thought jello would intrigue me. Ever. Must be the word junk that does it. :-)
    And a great potato salad is to be remembered. It takes talent. Really. Hope those recipes are safe with you.


  15. Casey, so glad that you were able to find that recipe. I wish I had gotten my grandma’s cranberry jello recipe – it was my very favorite. I would also give almost anything for her beef soup recipe. She sure had some great ones. I am very grateful that she & I spent a day making her homemade donuts and biscuits many years ago and I took the time to right it down (even though just about every measurement was “add xxx until it looks right”.


  16. Jamie,

    Doesn’t every good recipe have directions like that? I know many of mine do which has driven my oldest son nuts. He always says, “Mom how much of that?” And I answer, “Depends on your pot or dish or taste” depending on the recipe. First couple of recipes I got the eyeroll. Then he understood, especially when I was with him in his kitchen with his pots and went through the recipes.

    Thanks for stopping by. Beef soup sounds wonderful. And cranberry jello? I love anything cranberry.

  17. Nancy Kaye Says:

    Wonderful story. How great you and Steve got to visit with your Aunt. I’ve eaten that salad as my Aunt Helen use to make it. As to the bowl, I think I saw one at the estate sale I went to Saturday. I wish I had known as I would have bought it for you. Great to read your blog again.


  18. Nancy,

    How wonderful you also remember such a salad. And the coincidence with seeing a bowl like my Gram’s at a recent estate sale is again, one of those miraculous happenstances. I know how often you go to estate sales so if you ever see one again, buy it and I’ll pay you for it.

  19. Deb Maher Says:

    Amazing how foods link us with our loved ones. Back in the mid ’80s my sibs and I made a cookbook for my mom, although it was really for all of us. Gathered up all the recipes we’d grown up with. I hand typed them (pre-computer days) around drawings from our children (mom’s grandkids). We included pages of our childhood memories, then had 30 or so copies made and bound of the 100+ pages. We all still go back to it for so many old family favorites.

    I’m so glad you have your Christmas salad recipe (and shared it!). The miniature marshmallows reminded me of the ones I’ve seen – red & green, Christmas tree shaped, from Kraft. Wouldn’t they look good in the salad?

  20. leighmorgan1 Says:

    Some of the most special moments I have are of creating wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful culinary treats with my family. You Christmas salad will be added to my list of “New Traditions”. Lovely post Mary Jo. Happy Yule, Lovely Lady :)


  21. Leigh,

    I’m hoping to make the next lunch meeting in Milwaukee. I’ve missed you since the last one. That would be such a great way to end 2012. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy my Grandma’s salad. :-)


  22. Deb,

    Yes, those really fancy marshmallows would look fantastic in this salad and I must find some. If you lived closer I’d share this salad with you since it will make a great amount. And I love the cookbook and drawings project your family did for your mom–and for you.

    Have a great week. I’m under major deadline for newspaper column Wednesday and next book to formatter a week from today.

  23. Haggis Baron Says:

    What a wonderful feeling to get something back that you thought was lost forever. Prior to her passing, my wife’s grandmother gave us a set of gold flatware that unfortunately went missing when we moved in the early 90’s. We assumed it was lost during the move and didn’t discover it until almost a decade later when we pulled out a box of LP’s, to show our daughter what they were, and lo and behold, the flatware was safely hidden in the bottom of the box. We broke out a bottle of champagne and listened to the best music that night. I wish that I could replicate my grandmother’s recipes, but she never included any weights or measures so unfortunately they are not of use to anyone. So happy that you have yours.


  24. Casey, along with the sad there is joy and with bitter there is sweet. This is too sweet and I will copy and make for my HOliday guests. What is the best of our Christmas memories is also entwined with a sad memory or two … it makes the song Blue Christmas so much more lovely. Enjoy this time :)


  25. Hi,Ramblings,

    I know you’re on your holiday break so I especially am glad you chose to check in here. I’m sure Gram would love the idea of others making her salad for Christmas. If you do, please let me know how you and others like it.

    Sad with the sweet. Yes, that is what December is to me. Sometimes more sad than sweet. But that’s life. Oh, and along with Blue Christmas, I’ll be humming I’ll Be Home For Christmas because that was my Dad’s favorite.


  26. Haggis,

    Now that is really an impressive find. And so lucky. Thanks for sharing it. I’m sure that wherever your grandmother was watching from she was very delighted you found that flatware among the LPs. Those surely would be Golden Oldies, right?


  27. Very nice: both the tradition and the serendipity. All the foods from my past that harken memories are off limits to me. I’ve tried to make healthier versions, but it’s just no the same. I guess I have to start new traditions…


  28. Lorna,

    I suspect your dedication to your health will find several new dishes to make those new traditions. Memories in your case are luckily meant to be treasured in your heart not in your tummy.

    Have a good week.

  29. Sadie Bauer Says:

    You’ve seen him on telly, hurling courgettes through the air and shoving whole onions into a Magimix. Now take Jamie Oliver’s whiz-bang approach to cooking into your own kitchen. In Jamie’s 15-minute meals, Oliver promises you’ll be able to whip up feasts worth scoffing in about the time it takes to drag the kids away from the telly to the dinner table. And beef kofte curry, Asian miso noodles, chorizo and squid Greek salad, Cajun steak and smoky baked beans, and crab bolognese are on tonight’s menu.


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