I’ve decided to introduce a new feature on The Domestic Front. I happen to know a whole slew of amazing women (and men), who have a lot of wisdom to share. I’ve begged, pleaded and cajoled them into writing guest posts for the blog. The first post is from my friend Christine (inventor of those prosciutto pinwheels I posted last December). Christine and I met through book club, and now that she has (sadly) moved away from LA, I miss her fabulous cooking and her thoughtful comments. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do!
When I was four years old, my family spent several months living with my grandparents. It must have been difficult for the adults, but it was magical to me. Grandma had a tight hug at the ready when I was in trouble with my parents, a bottomless candy dish, a well stocked dress-up box, and unending patience for four year old games. She helped me build Lincoln Log masterpieces and spent hours playing Go Fish and Old Maid. My grandparents are big fans of games, and these early card games were a precursor to decades of evenings spent around a table laughing and playing dominoes, cribbage, rummy or golf.
Grandma had a good sized garden and was wonderful in the kitchen. Many of my early food memories are from the time spent living at her house. My mother taught me to eat an artichoke at her table. When we were small she made us homemade macaroni and cheese and carrot salad. When I was older, she started to make a zucchini casserole for me that I still anxiously look at family gatherings. I learned the pleasures of homemade pie, with chocolate as my clear favorite. I was in awe when I watched her make lemon meringue pie, though it was too tart for my young taste buds. Her kitchen turns into an assembly line in December as she makes batch after batch of divinity, peanut brittle and rocky road. I’m a big fan of her rocky road.
My husband and I currently live 1700 miles from my family, and I sometimes get homesick, especially on holidays. So when I saw gorgeous, fat bunches of carrots at the farmers market this weekend, my mind immediately went to Grandma’s carrot salad to serve alongside grilled burgers and dogs. I half-heartedly tried to convince myself to make something more sophisticated, but this creamy and slightly sweet salad hit exactly the right note this weekend. It’s easy to pull together and variable to your particular tastes. Grandma sometimes added pineapple for my sister or doubled the raisins for me. You can make it more or less sweet by varying the quantities of fruit and sugar, or make it tangier by upping the proportion of sour cream. I can’t imagine that Grandma used cardamom, but I like the addition.
My first bite sent me back in time to Grandma’s dining table.
- 1 pound carrots
- ½ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 T. sugar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cardamom
- Grate the carrots using the grating blade of a food processor or a box grater.
- Soak the raisins in hot water for five minutes, then drain. I do this while I’m pulling the dressing together.
- Whisk the remaining ingredients together.
- Pour the dressing over the carrots, add the raisins, and toss.