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Growing up with farmers means that there is a predilection toward cooking with tried and true vintage
recipes that included
ingredients having a significance related to what kinds of livestock and/or produce comes from your
farm.  Both sets of my
grandparents were farmers, and even though my parents chose another way of life and professions
that were not farm related, I still was close enough to the grandparents and their extended families to
be familiar with this way of life.  Even though Gram Irwin and her husband had long given up the full
sized farm they once owned, they still raised chickens and sold the eggs to a select group of
customers through once-a-week Saturday deliveries.  My Great Grandmother Wallace and her 3
unmarried siblings had a working dairy farm which not only produced milk for sale, but also produced
the majority of the food needed for the livestock plus the few food animals and kitchen-bound crops
they raised.  Ditto for Grandpa Irwin's little brother, Sammy, who Grandpa helped to run the herd on
his farm several times a week.

Needless to say, the trade among the three groups for needed food items was brisk.  Gram Irwin
would trade fresh eggs or hens too old to lay anymore to the Wallaces' for fresh pork, or to Uncle
Sammy for fresh beef from the food stock he raised.  There were also the jars of liquid milk sugar from
the dairy co-op or fresh, pasteurized milk to be made into fresh butter and buttermilk.  From this
beginning, I grew used to always having fresh ground beef, fresh butter, seasonal produce, and fresh
pork sausage for breakfast.  Add to this, the fact that due to Grandpa Irwin's Irish roots, we also ate a
lot of potatoes with the evening meal.
The Fourth of July and Other Disasters
(With Apologies to Jean Shepherd)

By Robin L. Wallace
AKA - PenVampyre@aol.com
Freelance website content writer.
A scout group of 28 men and Oneida Indian guides from the Sullivan Expedition was ambushed on
the site, and all but eight of the men who managed to escape were killed by the Tories and their
Seneca Indian allies lead by the Seneca warrior, Little Beard.  Lieutenant Boyd and Seargeant Parker
were the only two survivors out of ten soldiers who were left alive after the encounter not to
escape and were taken to the Torture Tree near Cuylerville.  There the two, according to legend,
were horribly tortured to death by members of the area's major Seneca  tribe, angry that American
soldiers had invaded their valley.  We always had a moment of silence and brought flowers for
those remembered there.  The lurid details of the massacre and torture were always retold
reverently, far better than any ghost stories we kids could manufacture to tell around the dying fire
in the brick grill while we toasted marshmallows for s'mores at the end of the day.  Recent research
has speculated that much of the story was exaggerated by the white settlers who resettled the
amazingly fertile valley following the destruction of the Seneca village located in Cuylerville.  It was
promoted as a justified retribution for the deaths of the 20 men after the Revolutionary War.  Not
necessarily historically accurate, especially in light of Seneca beliefs, the tales were always a delicious
way for young imaginations to pass the time while digesting the picnic fare in the late afternoons,
especially on windy days when the moaning of the tortured soldiers' soul could be heard coming
from the nearby trees of the park in the deepening gloom just around sunset.

Gram never missed any of  these reunions despite the fact that Grandpa couldn't be pried out of
the house no matter how hard we tried, even though it was HIS family who was holding the event.  
We could always count on Grandpa's youngest sister, Mary, and her husband to produce the
biggest watermelon they could find for dessert.  It routinely took the two or three of us kids who
were always foolish enough to offer to help them carry it,  grunting all the way, to precariously lug
the precious fruit safely to a picnic table for later dissection into huge juicy slices.  Grandpa's other
sister, Agnes,  a long-time egg customer, was the baker of the family.  She had inherited her
mother's vast talent for producing commercial-quality breads and pastries which she sold  from her
home, like Gram sold eggs, to a very select group of regular customers who came to her house to
pick up the homemade treats, and she could always be counted on to bring homemade hamburger
buns, scrumptious cookies or other quick breads to these get togethers.

For some reason that I was never able to fathom while growing up, Aunt Agnes was as dour and
humorless an American-Irishmen as Grandpa and her other sibs were witty and fun loving.  Rather
than being justifiably proud of the incredible baked goods she made, she was insanely jealous of
the quality of shared dishes that Gram or one of the others brought.  Year after year she would
resentfully watch as her own dishes of salads or baked beans were overlooked or passed up,
seemingly ignorant of the flurry of praises and accolades that her wonderful breads garnered her.  
The last straw seemed to come one year when her then 3-year-old grandson begged Gram for one
of our hamburgers in preference to eating one of her own.

The following year, Aunt Agnes appeared at the reunion with a serious bee in her bonnet.  She
watched through slitted eyes as the communal dishes were arrayed on one of the picnic tables to
await the inclusion of freshly grilled meats for the main meal.  Unnoticed by any of us at first, the
central  brick grill that we were planning on using had been invaded by a swarm of nesting hornets,
lured there by some old hotdogs that careless picnickers had left inside and never removed.  Uncle
Sammy and Uncle Herb, both aware of the problem, began to stack wood and kindling in the grill
that was farther away from the pavilion located a greater distance away out on the open field.  
Already irritated, Aunt Agnes began to berate both men for their cussed male shortsightedness
and heedless of Grams or anyone else's cries of warning, grabbed an armload of firewood, which
she then dumped unceremoniously into the infested grill right on top of the nest. In less than the
blink of an eye, she had received five stings on the arm she had dumped the firewood from as the
swarm poured forth from their resting place.

I can't honestly say that she had deliberately provoked the wasps, or that what she did next was
preplanned, but pouncing on the nearby stack of hamburgers that Gram had unwrapped in
preparation of separating them for the grill, Aunt Agnes pressed the raw meat onto the angry red
welts that were coming up where the wasps had exacted their revenge for having wood so rudely
rained in on their heads.  None of the rest of us were stung, luckily, having beaten a hasty retreat
from the area, and Uncle Sammy sent one of his kids back to the farm for emergency first aid
provisions and the wasp spray he used in the cow barn.  Aunt Agnes popped the stack of our
hamburgers apart and continued to apply the rapidly thawing meat to the stings while she waited
for my cousin to return with supplies.

This was one of the few times I had ever seen my grandmother truly aggravated.  Agnes, we can't
use those burgers, she said at last, voice gently chiding.  If you had just waited a second, I could
have gotten you ice from any one of the ice chests we have here around the tables.

No problem, Leonie, Aunt Agnes, replied briskly, handing my grandmother back a now limp, thawed
patty.  I'm sure once they're cooked you won't even notice any funny taste in them.

Defeated, the wasps beat a hasty retreat that year, never to return , and for once, defeated, we
dined on borrowed hot dogs.

What follow are Gram Irwin's picnic recipes for her potato salad, Waldorf salad, hamburger patties,
and grilled corn.  You can also find her recipe for her sweet cabbage salad on the salad page of this
site.  Here's hoping these vintage recipes make your picnics as enjoyable and memorable as ours
Leona Irwin's Potato Salad
8 large white potatoes (not  the baking
6 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced finely
5 scallions. diced finely
8 slices bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons salt plus salt to taste
pepper to taste
Gram Irwin's Killer Burgers
2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
2 stalks celery, diced finely
5 scallions, diced finely
2 - 3 large raw eggs, as needed
1 - 2 stacks saltine crackers, crushed into fine crumbs, as needed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 small can sliced olives, drained and chopped finely AND /OR 1/4 cup
olives, drained and chopped finely*
ground pepper to taste*
1 slice of desired flavor of cheese per burger (Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone,
favorite condiments

In a bowl, mix together meat and all ingredients except cracker crumbs
and eggs.
When other ingredients are incorporated, add in crumbs and eggs until
meat mixture is cohesive and well-mixed (it should be just moist, not
crumbly.  You might have to add a bit more crumbs if it is too wet - the
additional egg if too dry).  Divide into 8 portions and form into patties of
desired thickness.
Grill until interior of meat reaches 160°F or until desired level of
doneness is
reached (little disposable thermometers that can be stuck into the
burger when grilling can be purchased in the meat department of most
major grocery stores).  Just before serving, place a slice of the desired
flavor of cheese on the burger and allow it to melt slightly before placing
on the bun.  Top with desired condiments.

*NOTE: You can use one or both varieties of olives as you like.  I prefer
both, so I always add both kinds of them in.

Flavored bread crumbs can be substituted for the saltines.

The crackers, green olives and cheddar cheese are plenty salty, so you
should only need to add ground pepper to the mix if desired.

To lighten up the recipe, you can use about 1/2 cup of quick cooking,
not instant, oatmeal (use an equivalent amount to that produced by
crushing 1 - 2 long stacks of
saltine crackers) or the same amount of unflavored bread crumbs.

These can be made ahead and frozen for picnics or camping trips.  When
making the patties, place a square of waxed paper in between each patty
and stack into groups of 4 to 6 patties.  Double wrap in aluminum foil
and place in a locking freezer bag.  Bleed out any excess air and lock the
freezer bag (this will keep the patties from thawing out and getting
waterlogged, as well as keeping the raw meat from contaminating the ice
in the cooler).  After unwrapping the burgers, the waxed paper should
allow you to pop apart the patty stacks for easier grilling.  

Variations:  You can top the burgers with feta or blue cheese instead of

My favorite toppings for these were lettuce, Miracle Whip, sweet pickle
relish and A1 Sauce, but they go well with almost anything.

Meatloaf variation:  Make the meat mixture as per above, but substitute
blue cheese
for the cheddar.  Pat into a loaf pan and bake at 375°F for an hour, or
until juices run clear when a knife is inserted into the center.  Remove
from oven and let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

If desired, ketchup can be spread over the top of the meatloaf and slices
of American, cheddar or mozzarella can be layered over that 15 minutes
before removing the meatloaf from the oven.
Leona Irwin's Waldorf Salad
3 red delicious apples, sliced finely (Jonagolds work
very well, too)
2 Macintosh apples, sliced finely
2 stalks celery diced finely
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup pecan pieces, chopped
1/2 cup raisins, boiled and drained
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1/4 cup whipped cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Boil raisins for 6 to 8 minutes in enough water to
just cover them.  Cool. Drain raisins and set aside.
In a bowl mix apples, celery, and nuts.  Toss
thoroughly and add raisins.  Mix well.
In a small bowl mix Miracle Whip and spices.  Fold
in whipped cream.  Pour over apple mix and coat
mixture well.  Chill in refrigerator until served.
Gram Irwin's Grilled Sweet Corn
12 ears sweet corn, not shucked
1 bucket or pail of cold water for each 6 ears of corn

Open ears of corn just enough to insure that the ear
is free of bugs.  Remove corn silk and re-wrap husks
over corn.  Immerse ears in cold water and soak for at
least one hour prior to grilling.  Place soaked ears on
grill and grill for 20 minutes, turning once, until corn is
golden and slightly caramelized.  Serve with butter,
salt and pepper to taste.
I truly hope you enjoyed Pen's family reunion story.  Isn't she a marvelous writer?  I think so.

I will be adding other recipes for family reunion gatherings, so come back soon.  Look for these
and other vintage recipes taken from places where old recipe want to hide.

Thank you,
Family reunion by a lake.
In a frying pan, cook bacon until crispy and golden.  Drain on paper towels and set aside to
cool..  Peel potatoes, cut into quarters, and rinse with cold water.  Place potato quarters into a
pot and cover with cold water.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Boil potatoes over medium heat in a
good rolling boil until fork tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove potatoes from heat and drain.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut quarters into slices about 1/2 inch thick, or to
desired thickness if thinner slices are preferred. Add hard boiled eggs, celery and scallions.  
Crumble bacon over potatoes.  Toss ingredients until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine Miracle Whip and mustard.   Stir together until well blended.  Pour

dressing mixture over potato mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly until
potato mixture is well coated.

Cover and refrigerate potato salad until needed.  Give salad a quick stir before serving.

Immediately refrigerate any unused salad.

As a variation, you can substitute sweet potatoes for the regular white potatoes.
Large family reunion, circa 1940's, 1950's something
Eating the myriad dishes made of
potatoes suited him just fine.  You
see, from lots of potatoes came
lots of potato peels, and that was
an important part of his chickens'
diet.  There was a raggedy old pot
that was a near-permanent
resident of the back burner on the
left side of their stove into which
went the peels from all of their
potatoes, leftover stale bread, and
whatever leftover apple peel or fruit
meats and vegetables that were
remnants from their daily meals.
When the pot was full, Gram covered anything dropped in the chicken pot with water and boil the
living daylights out of the whole mess until all of the contents softened to mush.  The mush was
taken out and combined in an equally raggedy old pail with the corn mash that we got from the
local feed mill.  This mix was then taken out to be fed to the laying hens, no matter what the
weather.  I can't keep count of all the times I would accompany Grandpa Irwin out into the
garage which had been built right over the back porch of the house where he stored the feed and
supplies.  There he could mix the mash before proceeding out to the chicken coop.  This was a
special treat to be enjoyed only if my sister and I had been good. We were allowed to watch as
he sang Irish songs or sometimes told us stories while he mixed the chicken feed using an old
long board with a rounded tip that he kept expressly for that purpose.   We were then allowed
to  accompany him up to the hen house to look on as the hens and the occasional duck he kept
around for its eggs were fed.

As stay-at-home as Grandpa Irwin was, Grandma Irwin was active in the community through all
of the service organizations like the Grange, Eastern Star and church-based activities like her
Deborah Circle's sponsored outings all during the time I was growing up.   Along with the Irwin
family reunion, which occurred right around the Fourth of July, she was an experienced veteran of
the summer picnic season that ran from Memorial to Labor Day in our part of the country.  Often
for these affairs, she had a set of favorite dishes which she had perfected over the years that
she brought to pass, along with her homemade hamburger patties intended for just us.  To
share, she always provided homemade baked beans, potato salad, Waldorf salad, corn for
grilling, her cabbage salad, and a large sheet or layer cake of some variety.  Most of these items
were especially requested by the groups she belonged to, and ever generous to a fault, Gram
would always make over-sized containers full to the rim,  just to make sure there was a surplus
of goodies in case someone else couldn't afford to bring anything or forgot to bring their dish to
pass.  Somehow she always even managed to show up with extra dishes, plates and silverware
and a surplus of homemade lemonade or orange lemonade and burgers so that no one went
away hungry or underfed.  We rarely came home with leftovers after these events.

The Irwin family reunion was regularly held at a little place called the Groveland Ambuscade.  It
was a tiny park on the western ridge of Conesus Lake near Uncle Sammy's dairy farm and
contained a burial memorial dedicated to
18 men who died there, a covered picnic pavilion, a fire
pit/grill, a port-o-let and a field that was available to use for a baseball game or for the kids to
play in.  In the event that the port-o-let was unusable, it was just a quick car hop to Uncle
Sammy's for the little kids in the families to use the potty.
Vintage family reunion recipes.
For those curious about the
history of the park, the
Ambuscade was originally erected
as a memorial to commemorate the
ambush of Lieutenant Thomas
Boyd and Sergeant Michael Parker
in Groveland, New York on
September 13, 1779, during the
American Revolutionary War.
Picnic in the park, circa1940's or 50's
Sugar Candy Treats     History of Candy     Candy History Part Deux.
Celebrities Favorite's    Rice Crispies Treats    Weird Candy Trivia     Growing Candy. Updated
Read, "The Story of the Missing
Cookie Jar
" by PenVampyre.  A
delightful little Christmas story with
mouthwatering  recipes for the
most wonderful time of the year!

Read "
Santa and the Magic Key",
plus recipes for your holidays.  A
story by Robin Wallace.

Read "
Easter and Where NOT to
Hide Eggs
"  Memories of Easters
past and a few vintage recipes.

Logan's Halloween Story -The
original story won first place in
sixth-eighth grade division of
Southeastern Middle School, 2005
by Logan Lyon

Food and Genealogy.  A story By
Robin L. Wallace.  Our lives, our
families, our very history's are
defined by the foods we eat.

short story by Suellen Fry.  
Memories of my father and his
version of Kickapoojoyjuice.

Memorial Day Recipes - "For me,
Memorial Day was the day when we
went out where relatives were
buried in the tiny, local cemeteries
and thoroughly cleaned up each
gravesite, carrying away branches
that may have fallen in the

Grandma Irwin's Story of Courage
and Swit Tater Biskits Recipe.

Home Remedies Medicines Recipes
From Olden Times.

Thanksgiving Day recipes and story
from the past.

College Foods and Other Mistakes I
Have Eaten.
Uncle Jack
Family reunions
Vintage black and white photo, circa 1940's
Baby picture circa 1930's or 40's
Anna Stone and Davy ?