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Grete’s Apple Salad

September 20, 2011

When we started this blog, I asked mom if she minded that I pass along some of her recipes. Always a giver, she said it was ok as long as I gave her credit. I should have realized then just how much of her repertoire is in mine and suggested we call the blog “Giving Away Grete’s Secrets to the Internet, One Recipe at a Time.” She was an avid backyard farmer before it was a thing, and the epitome of preparing mostly what was in season before it was buzzworthy. Apple season is no exception. My favorite apple dish of all time is one of mom’s creations. As it turns out, it’s a spin on a dish she created way back when in Denmark. See, before she met an American G.I. (aka dad), had a whirlwind romance and skipped the Danish shores for parts unknown (aka Wisconsin), mom was the personal cook for a member of Denmark’s Folketing (parliament), Lis Groes. A pioneer for family and consumer policies and the mother of nine, Mrs. Groes was certainly a  force to be reckoned with. And my mom? She’s no shrinking violet. Mom retells with fondness a great many stories of their clashes over the years on one important topic: recipes. Mrs. Groes believed in the sanctity of following a recipe in a cookbook (presumably to get a consistent result time and again), and mom…. Well, mom’s always been a recipe rebel. She either creates with whatever she has on hand, or goes by feel using her knowledge of how things work & someone else’s recipe as a loose guide. She tweaks and changes, adds and subtracts ingredients and generally mucks with it until she gets a result she likes. And then she is eerily consistent. (Mrs. Groes found this maddening.)  This apple dish, for example, as been a lifetime staple of our fall and winter dinners (nearly*) exactly as it’s presented here. It wasn’t until we vacationed with mom in Michigan earlier this month that I found out it started out as one of Mrs. Groes’s recipes. It also started out as a Russian apple salad with herring. Knowing that she had lost the war on cookbook vs Grete’s intuition, Mrs. Groes asked mom to alter the salad so the children would like it better (out with the herring, in with the raisins, flip the ratio of beets to apple, and then some).  The retooled apple salad was a hit, and remains in mom’s rotation to this day.

*Of course she hasn’t completely left the recipe alone over the years. I know the recipe with some sort of seed (pumpkin, sunflower or whatever is on hand). Apparently that was a 1970s addition, and is now prone to being swapped out for walnuts.

Recipe after the jump…

Grete’s Apple Salad

  • 2 crisp apples (peeled & diced)
  • 3/4 – 1C diced pickled beets
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C mayo
  • 2 tsp beet juice

mom haz mad apple peeling skillz:

Mix together beet juice and mayo (go heavier on the mayo if you want a thicker sauce), then add to a bowl with diced apples, beets seeds and raisins.

Mom’s recommendation: pair it with any pork dish.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 7:34 pm

    Duh, we never considered beet juice and mayo when trying to replicate my grandmother’s recipe! We settled on yogurt and diced dried cranberries (also yummy). She liked to experiment, not always replicating a recipe, didn’t feel the need to write everything, and was taken from us much too suddenly. Thank you, need to run to the market!

  2. Barb A permalink
    September 28, 2011 1:06 pm

    Love this post. Great writing and the pics are wonderful! Sure am enjoying your Blog 🙂

    Barb A

  3. October 27, 2011 2:38 pm

    A very different combination to me. Apples and beets! I really did enjoy reading your blog. What a history your mother has. She must have some wonderful stories to tell. Thanks for sharing.

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