Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Pink Vegetable

So many families and individuals have been affected by the recent storms.  Please keep them in your prayers.

One of my favorite southern food traditions is the taking of a sugary, fruity, dessert-like food stuff and calling it “Salad.”  Not one bit of resemblance exists between these sweets and the green leafy dishes that are usually awarded the name. You would think that in applying the “S” word, it all became somehow healthy.  While this is definitely not the case, it is still a tradition that I adore.

Life is full of traditions.  Some, we know and can articulate.  Some live in our bones and we act them out in each moment, though we would probably be surprised if someone told us what we were doing.  My mind is on traditions right now, because I am in my hometown of Florence, Alabama.   My dad has recently been diagnosed with a type of skin cancer.  It is in two spots on his head.  Today he removed one of them and they told us happily that they were able to remove all the cancer from that source.  Next week, they will tackle the second spot.

I’m here to help.  To be honest, I’m not sure how much I’m actually doing it.  I gladly drive folks around, though the places we have gone so far have nearly all been restaurants where they have paid or the store where my mother bought my children’s entire summer wardrobe.  Of course, I drove dad to his medical procedure.  He wasn’t anesthetized, though, so he easily could have done it himself.

But this is another tradition – probably not limited to this area of the country – that when people are hurting, sick or in distress, you come.

It might, however, be a Southern tradition that you bring food.  So while I’m here, I tried to make a few meals.  I needled my Dad for a while, trying to learn what he would like; I asked in different ways what his favorite foods were, what he felt like eating, etc.  He stubbornly refused to tell me anything more than “I like just about everything.”  So I settled for Atlanta Pork Chops.  I’ve written about that recipe here.  

I also put together a recipe for tea cakes.  Those results were something akin to both a rock and a sponge.  But the salad . . . Oh, the salad!  It was good.  It came from a recipe my mother submitted to the Bass Family and Friends Cookbook.  She had tried it along with my cousin Karen.  Karen had then read Mom the recipe over the telephone.  (I think this is how the story goes.)  Mom hadn’t actually made it since then, but submitted it to the cookbook.  I am the first to actually put it on our table.

The Cherry Salad is pink and sweet and fluffy.  Not a typical side dish, and probably not terribly healthy.  So I christened it the “Pink Vegetable” and called it a day.  The meal was a good one, not just for the food, but for the people gathered in long-standing tradition of familial support and encouragement.  And it was just good to be together again.

This recipe is one of the easiest I’ve ever made.  I hope you enjoy it in good fellowship.

Blessed eating!

Karen’s Cafeteria’s Cherry Salad
(Found in a Fort Walton newspaper)
1 16 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 14 oz. can condensed milk
1 14 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 16 oz container whipped topping
Fold all ingredients together, chill before serving – Marilyn Johnson