Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homemade Salad Dressing and Strawberry Pretzel Salad

It's Tuesday and I'm ready to give you a couple of family recipes from my friends and/or family. These are the type of great recipes that we all use and rely on; sometimes it's something that we've made so often that we don't need the written instructions anymore. Even if it's a recipe that I know "by heart" I find real pleasure in the simple aesthetics of holding a yellowed index card or envelope with one of my grandmothers' or aunts' handwriting and personal notes on it. It makes me feel closer to friends from other states and my mom and sister to make something that they are known to make for special occasions. Recipes, for me, are as sentimental an item as photos. For today, I have a couple of salad-related recipes to share. Hope you enjoy them. Have a wonderful summertime Tuesday!

My Great Aunt Mary Lancaster was a half-sister to Mammam and Aunt Lena (the twins) and she lived in the same state, but several towns away, so I didn't grow up around her, but remember her. My memories of her are vague as those of a small child would be. I remember visiting her house with Mammam and Aunt Lena.

When meeting my Aunt Mary,I had the same reaction that I had upon meeting other relatives that lived away; they looked and felt comfortable to me upon first glance because they looked and sounded so much like their brothers and sisters who lived near. For instance, my Great Aunt Gladys looked and sounded similar to Grandma (Yoho) Winland; Grandpa Winland's brothers looked and sounded familiar at reunions, too (all blue-eyed and fair) and of course, Aunt Mary bore similarities to her sisters.

I remember that she had fancy little tea-cups in a china cupboard in her house that I "surveyed" but didn't touch; this was probably why my younger brother, Greg, was not along for this excursion...he was a typical little boy who would have done more than survey and admire the cupboard and its contents! I think the observation of little boys' actions is the origin of the phrase, "bull in a China Shop."(There will someday be a post about the Christmas that I got a tiny piano and Greg got a tool kit from Santa!)

I remember over-hearing (probably on the trip home in the car) from my Mammam and Aunt Lena that, "Mary was always a good cook!" and that's quite an admission, coming from sisters. I feel honored to have one of her recipes that was handed down from Aunt Sis' collection.

Aunt Mary Lancaster's Salad Dressing

1 clove garlic, grated fine
1 small onion, minced
1/2 C sugar
2/3 C catsup
1 C salad oil
1/3 C tarragon vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in deep bowl of electric mixer and beat until well-blended and fairly thick. Store in quart jar in refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.

I've spoken many times about my Aunt Sis (Ruth Ann) Martin. I was very close to her and we shared an interest in cooking and trying new recipes. Aunt Sis, who was very accomplished in the field of education and teaching, helped start a business school and designed its curriculum, taught business classes and held high standards for her students. She integrated her love of cooking with her love of teaching business classes; one of her typing students' assignments was to bring in their favorite recipes from home and type them up...how clever was that?!

Aunt Sis was also a seamstress, and made my one-of-a-kind wedding gown, doing the fittings on trips in from Indiana to West Virginia! She and Uncle Dave then lovingly toted the gown from state to state, without a wrinkle, for the "big day"! She was a remarkable woman, and when I remember the joy she got from making things for others, I think of Dorcas from the Bible.

When we had our first baby, Aunt Sis and Uncle Dave came in to visit, bringing food and decorations to give me, not just a baby gift, but a "mini-shower". This is the salad/dessert that she made for Justin's "shower"... from the Hoosier-branch of our family.

Aunt Sis' Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 1/2 C coarsely-crushed pretzels
3/4 C melted margarine
3 TBSP sugar

1 (6 oz.) strawberry Jello
2 C boiling water
20 oz. frozen sliced strawberries

8 oz. cream cheese
1 C sugar
2 C Cool Whip

Combine first three ingredients and press into ungreased 11x13 dish. Bake 10 min. at 375 degrees. Cool.

While Jello is setting, mix softened cream cheese and sugar; fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzel crust. When Jello is almost set, pour over cream cheese layer. Chill. Dissolve Jello in water. Add frozen strawberries and stir until melted. Chill.

I will be joining BlessedwithGrace and BalncingBeautyandBedlam for recipe swaps today.


  1. Love this post. I appreciate you sharing your heritage and the recipes. Both recipes remind me of family, as well. My Grandmother made a salad dressing like this and my mom used to make this strawberry pretzel salad. Love it. Thanks for the memories, today, and for linking to TMTT.

  2. That salad dressing recipe looks interesting, it looks good. I might give it a try.

  3. Some of those old recipes turn out to be the best. I have one for a boiled dressing that you put on coleslaw that belonged to a family member. I'll put it in the blog some Tuesday; be watching for it!