My grandmother’s chicken salad was one of my favorite foods when I was growing up and one of the first things I learned to make when I moved out on my own.
About a year after I graduated from college, my parents were coming to visit me in Indiana. I proudly made the chicken salad and twice-baked potatoes. They were my two specialties at the time. On Friday night, I talked to them briefly by phone and made plans for the next day. I had spent the afternoon cooking because they were arriving the next morning. Later that night, I got a call that there had been an accident, and my father was in the hospital. I left immediately for Michigan. He died before I got there.
I was in Michigan for a week. Before I got back to Indiana, my boyfriend went to my apartment and emptied the refrigerator so that I wouldn’t come back to a mess. I don’t think I’ve ever made twice-baked potatoes again, and it was a long time before I made chicken salad.
I don’t want to give it up though because I love it, and it reminds me of my grandmom. I made it a few weeks ago, and it was delicious as ever. And yet, whenever I eat it, I think of my dad and that night, as well as my grandmom. I still miss him.
1 recipe Grandmom’s Mayonnaise (see below)
3-4 cups of chopped chicken (I cut up a rotisserie chicken, but you can boil 2 chicken breasts and cut that up.)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
Combine chicken, celery and mayonnaise in a bowl. It’s that easy.
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
9 tablespoons fat-free evaporated milk
4 tablespoons commercial mayonnaise (such as Hellman’s or Kraft)
Mix all the ingredients except the commercial mayonnaise and cook until thick. Stir in the commercial mayonnaise. Beat well. Let cool.