Among my most treasured of recipe files is a brief, typewritten (now slightly yellowing) card on which were typed the few but important ingredients for this salad and then at the bottom noted those valuable words, "Mama's recipe”. This helped me remember that my Nanny in the long-ago was the standard-bearer for this dish.
As I prepared it last evening and stirred the simple, smooth, boiled dressing on the stove before I poured it over some fresh, chopped apples, I envisioned Nanny as the epitome of the Southern cook and homemaker that she was. Her own mother, the legendary Grandma Harris around whom my cookbooks, Way Back in the Country and Way Back in the Country Garden, are anchored, had migrated over to East Texas from Mississippi after the Civil War. Like many who were among the early Texas pioneer families, her people were said to have fled plantation life after war desecrated their way of living. As they founded new communities on the promising Texas soil, they brought their plenteous skills with them.
Grandma Harris, who went on to mother 14 children, taught her girls that inimitable style of country gourmet cooking that I mentioned in an earlier blog about the foods of FBC Longview, TX. Growing up in Delta County in northeast Texas, my Nanny learned from her mother how to take the most elementary of recipes and turn them into a creation fit for royalty. Apple Salad is one of those dishes.
Besides the fresh, crunchy apples I chopped up for the salad, I also threw in a rib of chopped celery, since Hubby is (as I mentioned yesterday) intent on adding celery, for its hypertension-ameliorating properties, into every dish on the planet. Since the dressing is warm as it emerges off the stovetop, best to let the apple and dressing mixture chill in the fridge for an hour or so before you serve.
The sweet, creamy dressing folded around ingredients that most anyone would have on hand epitomized the gentle, simple life of a loving grandmother who made the most of what she had. When I'm gone from this earth 37 years, as she has been, may I still be remembered half so fondly.
3 tablespoons vinegar
water (see below)
1 heaping teaspoon flour
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
Into a one-cup measure pour three tablespoons of vinegar. Add water to make a full cup. Pour liquid into a medium saucepan. To the saucepan add flour, sugar, beaten egg, and salt. Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil. Cook until thick. Pour over chopped apple and celery. Pour into airtight container and chill in fridge. If desired serve over greens. Makes 4 servings.