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A few tweaks will make this year better

Today’s Special

On Sunday DW and I had lunch at home seated at the dining room table. I do that from time to time…set the table for the two of us there instead of in the kitchen, but we always have Sunday dinner, it’s as regular as going to church.

We had Bible study and worship services that morning at home, but with our Batesville church family via social media. Later in the kitchen I was thinking about how much I missed getting to invite both new and old friends over for Sunday lunch.

As I made a Waldorf Salad to go with our honey baked ham, melted sweet potatoes (from the new Christmas Southern Living magazine), and butter peas I thought about how often things require tweaking. Like Waldorf Salad.

Culinary history records that the great Chef Oscar Tschirky of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City created a simple three  ingredient fruit salad in the 1890s. Who’d a thought that chopped apples, diced celery and a little mayonnaise would become the height of dining sophistication.

Eventually chopped walnuts were added, then seeded grape halves, and even later marshmallows. That, though, was the start of something that just got better.

DW and I like this fruit salad for Sunday dinner for it’s easy to make and I usually have the basic ingredients on hand.  A Waldorf salad is always good with peas or beans of any nature and is a refreshing side to any meat dish. You know that apples always compliment pork, but it’s as good alongside a pot roast (which my boys always referred to “Sunday roast”) with potatoes, carrots and onion or served with a baked chicken and rice casserole.

That’s about all you need to make a glorious Sunday meal, and maybe a yeast roll to push with, as DW recommends.

I’ve tweaked our version to include raisins, drained pineapple chunks, mini-marshmallows, a sprinkling of chopped pecans or walnuts, a very scant tablespoon of finely diced celery, all with a chopped tart apple, like a Granny Smith.

During the holidays I might include both a red and a green apple, but for just the two of us one apple is plenty.  I chop the unpeeled apple then toss it with a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice for its tartness and to keep the apple from turning brown.

For the dressing I whisk together about a third cup of a good mayonnaise, a tablespoon of sour cream and a tablespoon of powdered sugar. Toss it all together and put in the refrigerator while dinner cooks.  DW often eats the leftover Waldorf salad for Sunday supper (it’s every man for himself on Sunday night at our house.)

Tweak it to make it your own: use your favorite apple variety, omit the pineapple, add halved grapes, use more celery or none, try craisins instead of raisins. For the dressing you can use vanilla flavored yogurt for the mayonnaise with more, less, or no sour cream.  Some recipes even call for whipping cream. It all depends on how you like it and the ingredients you have on hand…just always start with an apple.

So, 2020 has required some major tweaking for all of us, like distancing and not shaking hands with others because life couldn’t go on as normal and maybe tweaking is too small of a concept.  It’s probably more like overhauling … church, school, health care, work, travel, socializing, shopping, even family dynamics and priorities changed when COVID complicated things.  We had to be isolated, sanitized, quarantined and labeled as essential or not.

Then the presidential election and unjust social events pushed us even further apart in our isolation and we saw civility replaced with disrespect, bitterness, and hatred.  This was tough, we’re meant to be social beings that thrive on love, honor, and respect for others as we respect ourselves.

We need all our wits about us to stay well, think clearly, and survive this unsettling time as 2020 turns into 2021 with whatever “tweaks” are needed to be better and be nice.

Let’s ring out the old year (with good riddance!) and make 2021 a happy, healthy, and honorable New Year for all of us.

Happy New Year everybody!

Recipe of the Week

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

Make this tweaked version while fresh cranberries are still available!

2 cups rough chopped fresh cranberries

3 cups miniature marshmallows

½ – ¾ cup sugar

2 cups diced apples

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup rough chopped walnuts

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Combine cranberries with marshmallows and sugar. Cover; chill overnight.  Toss with apples, grapes, walnuts and salt. Fold in whipped cream, chill. Serves 8 – 10. Serve with peas and pork for a promising New Year’s dinner!