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Memorial Day: Make it a Memorable Event


Last updated 5/24/2007 at Noon

Politics aside, all Americans are called to honor those who have answered the call to serve our country now and in the past. As it has been said, freedom is not free.

Those who are not serving on the front lines, can serve in our own way by creating and perpetuating memories of family gatherings for this memorable holiday.

My memories will always return to picnics and buffets served by the women of my family now deceased. So, its my turn to gather the recipes, shop and cook for the younger ones and thus preserve this time-honored holiday.

So, this Memorial Day there will be all the grilled dogs and burgers, a glorious baked ham and our family’s favorite salads plus a dessert or two. My choice is cheesecake. However, I am going to make Margaret’s Orange(or Lemon) Cake, too, as it seems to be a favorite of the sandbox set.

Enjoy your day of freedom knowing the “God Bless America” is more than a phrase in a song. It is a reality we are given every day if we chose to believe that blessings are bestowed.

A bright red plate of tomatoes with a zippy dressing adds a note of color to any red, white and blue table décor. Remember that tomatoes should be at room temperature as much as possible, as their flavor is fullest when warm not cold.

Tomatoes with Provencale Dressings

Fresh ripe sliced tomatoes, quartered plum tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes

Bed of crisp lettuce

1 ½ tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

1 tsp. salt

3 shakes Four spices mixture, optional

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley or chervil

1 tsp. herbs provence (thyme, marjoram and bay leaf)

Blend all but oil and fresh minced herbs. Beat in oil with a fork. Spread parsley on board and chop well with herbs province. Blend into oil mixture.

Place lettuce on a platter. Cover with tomatoes. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing. Or, pour dressing into small pitcher and serve alongside tomatoes.

Here’s my all-time favorite cheesecake with a hint of orange that marries well with the delicious and colorful Memorial Day garnishments.

Pat’s Cheesecake with Strawberries and Blueberries


1 cup flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. fresh grated orange rind

½ cup butter

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

¼ tsp. almond

Combine flour, sugar, and orange rind. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives to resemble coarse meal. Add beaten egg yolk and almond flavoring. Blend well. Pat 1/3 of mixture on bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake in a 400-degree oven about 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on rack. When cool, press remaining crust mixture around sides of pan which have been snapped into place. Prepare filling. Fill crust-lined pan and bake as directed.

For filling:

5 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese

1 ¾ cups sugar

¼ cup flour

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 tsp. orange extract

¼ tsp. salt

5 eggs

2 egg yolks

½ cup whipping cream

Memorial Day Garnish: Whipped cream, whole fresh hulled strawberries and fresh blueberries

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Combine sugar, flour, orange rind, salt and orange extract. Gradually beat into cheese. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whip cream an fold into mixture.

Turn into crust-lined spring form pan. Bake in a 450-degree oven just until the top edge of the crust is golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and -continue to bake until the cake is well-puffed and set (at least an 1 ½ hours…te longer the cheesecake bakes, the drier it will be so it can be baked at 225 degrees for up to 2 ½ hours). Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When no longer warm to the touch, refrigerate. The full flavors of a cheesecake are best if allowed to season overnight in the refrigerator. Take from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving. Garnish and serve.

For Memorial Day Garnish: Give cake a light “frosting” of whipped cream .Ring edge of cake with whole berries and fill interior with whole blueberries.

Margaret’s Orange (or Lemon) Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

4 eggs

¾ cup oil

¾ cup water

1 large pkg. Orange (or lemon) Jello


2 cups confectioners’ sugar

6 tbsp. orange or lemon juice

3 tsp. grated orange or lemon rind

Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

Mix cake mix will eggs, oil, and water. Beat well. Beat in orange (or lemon) flavored Jello.

Turn into prepared pan and bake in a 350-degree oven about 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool on rack 30 minutes.

Combine confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and rind.

Poke several holes in the top of the cake. Drizzle confectioners sugar mixture over cake.

Every family probably has their favorite potato salad. Here is the one that has been served in our family for many years…with one exception: I now use red pepper instead of green pepper. Red pepper has a sweeter flavor and less “bite.”

Family’s Favorite Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes (5 cups cubed)

½ cup oil and vinegar dressing*

2 tbssp. finely chopped onion (yellow or red)

2 tbsp. chopped sweet pickle or sweet pickle relish

1 cup finely diced celery

1/3 cup red pepper slivers

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard

¾ to 1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

Chopped parsley, optional garnish

Cook potatoes in jackets until just tender. Drain and cool slightly. Peel and cube into cubes or sliced. Add oil and vinegar dressing. Fold carefully to blend. Cover and chill well.

When potatoes are cold, add onion, sweet pickle or relish, celery, red pepper, hard cooked eggs and salt.

Combine mustard, mayonnaise and sour cream. Fold into potato mixture. Chill well and keep cold.

*Oil and vinegar dressing: blend together 3 tbsp. vinegar, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. dry mustard and 5 tbsp. oil.

While it is easy to buy a four -bean salad in the deli or even in a can, making your own may give you the chance to add just what you want.

Four Bean Salad

1 can cut green beans

1 can cut wax beans

1 can lima beans

1 can kidney beans

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/3 cup each salad oil, vinegar and sugar

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup finely sliced onion

¼ cup red pepper slivers, optional

Drain beans and combine with celery. Combine oil, vinegar and sugar. Blend to blend. Pour over bean mixture and chill well, at least 4 hours. Just before serving, add onion and red pepper. Transfer from mixing bowl to serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserved dressing can be used for other vegetable salads.


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