There was a time when the best deli-style macaroni salad was from The Colonel’s KFC, but over the years that recipe changed. This is my own favorite version from the one they used in the 60’s.
Dressing mixture [base]:
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Miracle Whip
1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dry, chopped onion
2/3 cup celery, chopped
2/3 cup sweet midget pickles, chopped (don’t substitute with relish – it’s too juicy)
2 tablespoons pimiento, chopped (or half of a small tomato, seeded & chopped)
8 cups (cooked, drained and chilled) elbow noodles (3 cups, uncooked) – or cubed potatoes
Combine dressing mixture [base – the first 7 ingredients] in an accommodating bowl, as listed (above), and set aside. In a larger bowl. Combine the [chopped vegetables]. Add the dressing mixture to this. Mix well and use to coat… elbow noodles… or cubed potatoes. Cover tightly and refrigerate for an hour before serving. Serves 8 adequately (or 14 weight-watchers)!
When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere – for the day or the weekend. It didn’t matter if it was a planned trip or a “new scenic route” (when Dad got lost), because they were together, exploring, and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.
Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.
Sometimes, however, “work” would manage to creep back in, because whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, Mom always managed to find someone’s [restaurant] “house special” that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got home.
Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, just like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the in-land lakes, small towns, rivers, forests, farmlands, and parks.
Additionally, Sunday is celebrating National Beef Burger Day and National Hamburger Day, all of which adds up to more great reasons for a road trip and picnic (or a backyard barbecue) this weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer!
What are your favorite go-to picnic or backyard barbecue foods? Among classic picnic treats, the finger foods that travel well and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps, fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember – if anything has mayo in it, keep it chilled!
Aside from the “main dish”, popular picnic foods include appetizers like deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and stuffed mushrooms; sides like mac-n-cheese or baked beans; coleslaw and salads like pasta, potato, veggie, and fruit; desserts like pies, brownies, bars, and cookies; plus, snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and trail mix.
Just as in any celebration, throughout the year, a very important part of picnic activities, besides socializing, getting fresh air, and making memories, is eating the food! Therefore, I’m including, here, a list (based on a Google search consensus) for 10 popular food choices to take on a picnic.
10 Popular Picnic Food Picks:
Things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing music, singing/dancing, walking, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, sun bathing; plus, if you’re at a beach, you can add in searching for skipping stones or sea shells, swimming, fishing, and building sand castles.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Samfriends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
You don’t need to go on an expensive, fancy vacation or plan an extravagant party to reconnect with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend. A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic…
Have you ever heard of a mystery picnic? I recently discovered this fun twist on our iconic, seasonal tradition at CuriousCampers.com, out of Australia. I can’t wait to create and host my own scavenger hunt style picnic for a special summer gathering with friends and family!
According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.
The difference between a treasure hunt and scavenger hunt is slight. A treasure hunt has only one thing for which to hunt (aka: the treasure) – the first one to find it wins. Once “the treasure” is found the hunt is done for everyone. A scavenger hunt offers each guest a list or variety of things to find/collect.
Both hunts use riddles and clues to send participants from one place to another. Usually, participants can work in pairs or in teams or individually. A scavenger hunt is typically played in an extensive outdoor area but it can also be scaled down to play at home, like a treasure hunt.
The host typically creates a “trail”, so that the answer to one clue reveals the next one. You can either write them on pieces of paper hidden at the chosen locations or put them in an “online” forum (like an “event” or “group” page on Facebook) that gives clues to the answers, as well.
The first riddle should be included in the initial invitation. Guests have to figure it out before they start, so they know where to go first and collect something for the picnic, along with a clue to the next destination. Repeat as often as necessary, before getting to the final destination – the “mystery picnic” spot.
A checklist comes in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the trunk of our car, along with a food bag and cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous, all-day Road Trip.
It may seem like a lot of stuff but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a Mom of three, I learned from my own mom, over the years, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. I found organization is key. As the old adage says: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”
I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s ‘Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.
The year is almost half-way through and the dawn of summer (aka: Memorial Day, which is considered the un-official start of summer) is only a week away! Memorial Day was originally established as a day of remembrance, set aside to honor our veterans who died, serving in the U.S. military.
Our hearts go out to their surviving families, as those veterans gave their lives, protecting our country and our freedoms. Therefore, while we enjoy celebrating our freedoms this coming weekend, keep in mind at what cost we have them, in the first place! Likewise, let us also commemorate those veterans for the ultimate sacrifice they all made for us.
Traditionally, many towns honor their local veterans with floral wreaths and small American flags on their graves, as well as with community parades and special memorial services. Afterward, many of us will celebrate the extended weekend with pot-lucks or family picnics or backyard barbecues [as it is National Barbecue Month, too]!
For some reason, Americans always like to find ways to “celebrate”, even the most somber of days, with optimism, happiness, and hope – and, of course, food! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is one of those holidays that didn’t make Wikipedia’s top 10 celebrated Public Holidays in the United States. But it’s still noteworthy as being celebrated with a lot of food!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…
WE ALL EXPECT life to be good to us – most of the time. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it? But when things don’t work out the way we had planned or [as we had] hoped… the tendency is there to feel [that] life gave us lemons. The best experiences often come out of the biggest disappointments. So, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – turning a ‘let-down’ into a ‘set-up’…
Norman Vincent Peale once said that God never closes a door that he hasn’t opened a window. But the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity or weary from overwork… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.
To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would turn out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.
Additionally, this coming Friday will also be National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day! It’s one of those times, with the extended weekend, when hundreds of thousands of people (me and my husband included) will hit the road for a long weekend getaway – or maybe just a one day journey with a picnic somewhere.
After my parents became empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or the “other scenic route” (that’s what Dad called it when he got lost). They were together and away from “it all”, just enjoying each other and the beautiful Michigan scenery!
Sometimes, however, work would always manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, as Mom usually managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home. My husband and I can relate to the road trip getaway. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful place to explore and unwind from a hectic work week.
Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Samfriends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)
GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE
One thing among many that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.
Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.
Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated. (p. 1)
The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever! (p. 4)
‘MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable, and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.’ – Gloria Pitzer, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)
Here are four basic tips for planning road trips that I shared last year…
Always bring a real roadmap, as there are places that actually don’t have any cell service for miles.
Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
I hope you enjoy your extended weekend and 2022’s dawn of summer!
In honor of May, also being National Salad Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Seven Layer Salad – from her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 37), a revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).
This was always a popular dish that Mom to took to many summer pot lucks. I also shared this recipe with Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” audience, on WHBY (in Appleton, WI), around this time last year.