Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Waldorf Salad: An Ode to My College Years

Considering the number of posts I have written that have in some way related to my college years, I'm beginning to think I need to change the name of my blog from "Diana Takes a Bite" to "This One Time When I was in College..." Of course, not everything I did in college involved food. Sometimes it involved beer. And margaritas. And (shudder) books with words I couldn't (and still can't) pronounce.

While I hate to be redundant, one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes was introduced to me when I was in college, and I would be remiss to not share the story behind it. Because I chose a school located 2,000 miles away from my Newport Beach home, I didn't always have the luxury of joining my family for the turkeylicious holiday. My freshman and sophomore years, my dear friend Kyna was gracious enough to invite me and another friend into her home to celebrate with her family, and while it wasn't the same as being with my own crazy parents and brothers, it was nice to have a surrogate family in Illinois. It was also nice that her parents were amazing cooks and prepared a feast that made me almost forget about my dad's barbecued bird, and my mom's sweet potato praline casserole.

One of my favorite dishes from Kyna's family's Thanksgiving was her mom's mayo-less Waldorf Salad - a crisp and refreshing side that eased the heavy burden the heartier dishes heaped on our poor overwhelmed bellies. Kyna's mom insisted that I copy down the recipe to take with me, and I eagerly complied -- carefully writing down the recipe she'd found in an old newspaper article onto a tiny piece of paper that read "The Cow Jumps Over the Moon" at the top. While many recipes I use end up being relegated to the bottom of a stack of indecipherable notes, receipts and old junk mail, that piece of paper has never been far from my reach. I've made the salad for my family's Christmas party, for a Halloween dinner party with some friends, for a grilled cheese party/potluck, and for the past five Thanksgiving dinners at my parents' house. My older brother has made the salad for several of his dinner parties as well, and I continue to get requests for the recipe whenever I make it.

While the salad itself makes for a nice addition to my family's Thanksgiving table, part of why I love making it is because of the memories it evokes. As I chop the apples, celery and walnuts, I am reminded of my dear college friends and of the Thanksgivings I spent away from home -- of chopping the same Granny Smith apples in Kyna's parents' kitchen in Illinois. It feels good to bring part of those experiences into my post-collegiate Thanksgivings -- into the new memories that I create every year with my family. And it feels good to share the recipe that has brought me such joy, with my fellow foodie friends and bloggers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Waldorf Salad
Courtesy of Kyna's Family

2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
1/2 cup each: diced celery, coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons each: honey, canola oil (I typically use olive oil and don't notice any difference)
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Put apples, celery and cranberries in a bowl.
Combine honey, oil and vinegar in small dish - whisk and toss with apple mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally to integrate dressing.
Let stand 30 minutes to lose chill.
Toss in walnuts.


Alessandra said...

Awwww.... memories! You forgot to add in the part about us being the ONLY people on the Northwestern campus after we returned from Glen Ellyn! Remember how we couldn't find any place to eat??

Esi said...

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!!! I love this salad as much as you do...although without the cheerful memories of people I don't know. Thanks for sending it to me!

Kyna said...

You always know how to make us remember the good ol days, Di! XOXOXO

Marc said...

Nicely said, you talented and delightful X-NUWXC 'Cat!

Now if only you'd been able to chop Grannie Smiths as well as you ran...! All American !!

yutjangsah said...

This recipe sounds fab. I love hearing you 'speak' about your band camp memories!