Friday, September 30, 2011

Waldorf Schools, Statler and Waldorf, Waldorf Salad

Waldorf. Waldorf. Waldorf. I love Waldorf Salad. Each year, we go to our next door neighbor's house for a get together with the other neighbors on our weird little triangle. Most of the guests come in through the backyard and up the porch, and we get to visit with everyone whose houses are behind our own. It's fun not living in a typical subdivision. It's a potluck, with Chuck and Debbie cooking up tasty burgers to go with whatever everyone else brings. Chuck fries up the most yummy okra and serves it with a Siracha Mayo. Every year, I bring Waldorf Salad.

My grandmother Reta made the best Waldorf Salad. She had a way with apples. Her father was an apple-drier in Upstate New York, who made the rounds in a horse and wagon to the local apple farms, drying apples for the farmers at the turn of the 20th century. The advent of refrigeration killed his business. Apples for our family are a big part of our family lore. And now that it's apple season, it's one of my favorite times of the year.

Reta celebrating her 102nd birthday. That's not me, it's my cousin Suzanne. 

Reta lived to three weeks shy of her 105th birthday. She was a lover of food. When she cooked, she was insistent upon the best ingredients, simply prepared. She and Bapa, my grandfather, hosted the most fantastic Christmas dinner each year, inviting all of their Rochester, New York friends to their home in South Florida. It never felt like Christmas on the outside with pink lights on houses, but in that house, it really was. 

One of the things that Nana did so well was restrain herself when she was around lots of food. She never gobbled, rushed, or otherwise hurried with what she ate. If she wanted a cookie, she had a cookie. One. Cookie. Not a handful, not a faux-food cookie. One cookie. 

I have, in the interest of lightening up this recipe for the benefit of my husband, started making it with plain yogurt. It's not as creamy. Maybe a half-mayo, half-yogurt approach works best for you. 

Nana's Waldorf Salad

5 medium apples, cored and chopped (use an eating variety instead of a cooking variety)
2 stalks celery, destringed and chopped
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or mayo, or half and half mayo-yogurt)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 pinch of Kosher salt

Cut apples and celery and place in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice (keeps apples from browning) and stir. Add raisins, walnut pieces and yogurt. Put a pinch of Kosher salt (or half a pinch of regular salt) in and stir all together. Serve chilled. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Apple A Day

It's early apple season and I think it's going to be a good year for Georgia apples. I asked my mother to bring me some Jonathan apples after Labor Day, and she delivered. I originally thought perhaps I'd make plain applesauce, but remembered that I also had a bag of frozen cranberries, waiting to be used. So, I returned to this awesome recipe that my son's preschool teacher gave us last fall, after the Thanksgiving Feast held at school. The Pre-K class made the applesauce for the Feast, and it was a big hit.

Super Star Cranberry Applesauce

6 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup fresh, whole cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice (depending upon tartness of apples)

Put all ingredients in a large, heavy stockpot and bring to a boil. Cover, then simmer over lowest heat possible until soft. Cool in refrigerator and serve either warm or cold.

Lovely North Georgia Apples

Apples ready to boil

I will spare you the photo, but my husband actually used this applesauce as salad dressing the first night we had it. I don't have any idea why that appealed to him, but he gave it a big thumbs up.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gettin' Figgy With It

I do like that Will Smith song. But I like figs better. They're not in season for long. They happen to grow locally in abundance, and they're just great! I bought a pint of them at Whole Foods on Tuesday; your local farmer's market may too have them right now. One of my favorite things to do with them is very simple. Sugar, cinnamon, a little butter and sliced figs. Let me show you. My friend Gene in Morristown, NJ showed me how years ago and it's still my favorite.

Figs on parade

Grilled Figs

1 pint fresh figs, washed and halved
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. butter

Put cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl or plate and stir so they mix. Heat butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Dip the fig half, cut side down, in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place face down in the pan. (You may want to run your exhaust fan, because it may smoke a bit). Keep adding figs until you have the pan mostly full (but not so full they don't fit face down; do it in batches if using a small pan). Cook for 2 minutes or so and flip over so they're on the skin side down. Cook another minute. Remove from pan and serve.

Grilled Figs that my camera can't seem to focus on