Back in the late 40s and mid-50s, those of us who had nothing of great importance to accomplish on any perfect summer day could be found wearing swimsuits and spreading out over soft red-patterned beach blankets at Tenney Park, chatting incessantly while sipping on NEHI orange pop purchased at the snack bar for a dime.
We could barely accept the approaching annual mid-August “dog days” that would soon prevent us from swimming in our favorite section off the shoreline. In just three weeks, we’d be in school sporting our newly purchased long sleeve wool sweaters and skirts worn with saddle shoes and fuzzy white nylon socks. This in spite of the temperature and weather report but because it was “that time of the year.”
Not sure any of us ever questioned the meaning of “dog days” as it was just something we accepted to end our annual summertime adventure. But every day spent at Tenney Park back then became a day to remember for a lifetime. Or so it seemed.
Although decades later no longer finds me spending warm sunny days down at my beloved Tenney Park, hearing from readers continues to be exciting on a daily basis, and the first immediate response regarding the pea salad recipe featured here July 31 arrived from George Smick who describes himself as a “really old guy” who used fresh uncooked peas more than once in the past, no longer does, and wondered if those “frozen green peas, thawed”... added uncooked to the salad are OK to eat. Suggesting that I contact someone “skilled” for an answer, checked with longtime contributor Mike Repas for an answer and... “you might consider putting frozen peas in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes to blanch them. Then test for desired doneness by squeezing a pea between your fingers. It should be a bit firm, yet soft enough to yield easily to the squeeze. If it’s all about texture and flavor, peas for the ‘pea salad’ should be recognizable and flavorful.”
Moving on, recipes for potato salad dressing continue to arrive, the most recent one from Reggina Wisdom, Attica, with a favorite recipe she received from a relative in California in the 1970s. She describes it as being easy and the right base for potato salad and deviled eggs and what she adds to make it even more special.
Potato salad dressing
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
1 rounded teaspoon wet mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
Mix and cook until thick. Makes 1 pint. May be mixed with mayonnaise.
Note: Wisdom uses Hellman’s mayo, plus chopped celery, onion, cooked eggs, celery seed and Penzey’s Parisian spice.
Another reader sent a recipe clipped from the State Journal in 2007 that belonged to the late and unforgettable chef Carson Gulley. Although a portion of the recipe was missing, BJ Massoth responded immediately with the entire recipe that included mention of one of my friends, the late Famous Footwear chef John Fiorello. Attached was his father-in-law’s name, Nino Germano, who owned The Manor in Beloit from 1966 to 1994.
The Manor’s Carson Gulley Swiss steak
2 pounds round steak, cut into 5-6 ounce pieces
1 cup butter, divided
1 large onion
1 cup milk
3 cups flour seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika
¼ cup Worcestershire
2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet
1 quart boiling water
4 teaspoons beef base paste
1 cup chopped carrots
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 tomato chopped
16 ounces tomato sauce
Fresh oregano and rosemary
Crushed cayenne pepper
1 bunch celery, chopped
Pound meat with mallet. Make egg wash of milk and egg; set aside.
In large frying pan, melt ½ cup butter; saute onion for 3-4 minutes. Remove onions; set aside.
Dip steak in egg wash, and coat with seasoned flour, saving leftover flour to make roux. Place steaks in same pan; brown steaks on both sides, adding more butter if necessary. Remove steaks and place in single layer in greased baking pan.
Put any leftover ingredients from fry pan into larger pot. Mix Worcestershire, Kitchen Bouquet, water and beef base; set aside. Melt ½ cup butter; whisk in remaining flour mixture. Slowly add Worcestershire mixture, whisking together. Stir in veggies, sauce and seasonings; cook on Low for 10-15 minutes. If, after 10 minutes of cooking, it seems too thin, add more roux to thicken a bit more. Allow to cool before pouring everything over steak. Pour!
Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 1 ½ hours
Fiorello claimed it was “delicious with mashed potatoes, corn and biscuits.”
Another clipping arrived with chef Julia Martin’s name. Martin is the owner of Julia’s Cafe in Dodgeville and the recipe is described as a “perfectly portable recipe for a picnic.” If you don’t keep cans of cannellini beans on hand, then start now. They are one of my favorite canned beans.
Cannellini bean and fresh spinach salad
3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1 red onion, diced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
8-ounce package fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and diced
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried, oregano
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, salt, oil, garlic, oregano, and pepper. Pour over beans and vegetables. Let sit for 2 hours. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.
Here is one of my cannellini bean favorites.
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ pints grape or cherry tomatoes
1 chopped green pepper
1 8-ounce can sliced or whole black olives, drained
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon liquid honey
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ cup chopped fresh dill or herb of choice
Mix together drained and rinsed beans and place in large bowl with tomatoes and other vegetables. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper and herbs and drizzle over vegetables. Fold to blend and refrigerate. Serves 6-8.
A “faithful reader” from Middleton, shared a recipe clipped many years ago that has become a favorite of the grandchildren.
Tasty little meatballs
1 ½ pounds ground chuck
¾ cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup milk
1 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water (can make extra sauce if you like)
Mix together and form into small balls. Place close together in a 9x13-inch pan. Pour sauce over top. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1 hour. Baste with extra sauce after ½ hour. Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.