The Red

I never really knew my grandparents. Both my grandfathers died when I was very young. My nanna lived in England and I rarely saw her. My grandmother lived in Utica, NY and I saw her on and off throughout my childhood. My only real clear memory of her was when I visited her in the nursing home when I was maybe nine. She had Alzheimers, and I remember giggling with my brother when she gave us a tour of the nursing home. She showed us the dining room and then across the hall to the lounge, and then across the hall to the dining room and then back to the lounge. My brother and I were hard pressed to not find it hilarious. Kids are mean, and I guess we were not the exception. Both my nanna and grandmother died before I had the chance to know them.

Jess' family still has a few ninety plus folks. My favorite is Aunty Irenie. She is feisty, opinionated, sharp as a tack, and speaks five languages. She still works as a translator. She's had an interesting life. She fled Germany when Hitler was taking over, and then lived in Chile for years before coming to Canada. At every family gathering she makes her red salad, affectionately known as The Red. It is not a crowd pleaser. Some of us love it and some of us don't, but it is always there. I can't imagine a Parker get together without it.

Here is Irenie's red salad. It is a little old school so if you don't like it I am also going to post my version of The Red. I call it The Modern Red but don't tell Irenie. I still want to be invited back to dine with her.

Irenie's Red Salad

2 cans sliced beets, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup Miracle Whip

Combine all ingredients and serve.

The Modern Red

1 large bunch of beets
1/2 cup crumbled feta
handful of fresh mint, torn in small pieces
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
handful chopped walnuts


Equal parts olive oil, and rice wine vinegar
Dollop of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of maple syrup or to taste

Peel and chop beets. Boil them until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Pour desired amount of dressing, toss and serve.
Don't throw out your beet greens. They are very good for you. I like to saute mine in olive oil, a little garlic and balsamic vinegar. They taste great on a salad or pizza.


  1. No offense to Auntie Irenie but I think your updated receipe is a vast improvement. Actually, it sounds like a better salad than the boring beet displays I've been seeing in restuarants of late. Good on ya girl!

  2. I just went to a memorial service for my friend's grandmother who was 101! The funeral director said that was his record. Oh...kinda weird, huh? I'm sorry you missed the memories of Gramma. I knew her before and after Grampa died....and the Gramma after was very different. We spent a lot of time together.