Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Celebration, Re-envisioned

When I was a little girl, my family celebrated Memorial Day the same way every year: my grandmother would prepare the most delicious fried chicken, coleslaw, and homemade, hand-cranked ice cream. The whole family would assemble at her house for a sunny, afternoon feast. Before eating, we would toast my grandfather, who fought in WWII. Following the meal, we would all make a trip to the cemetery to pay respects to my uncle, who lost his life in the Korean War.

Although the United States continues to send soldiers overseas to fight, no one from the last two generations of my family has served in the Armed Forces. As a result, Memorial Day has faded somewhat from my family’s collective experience. So this year, I decided to revive and renovate my family’s traditional Memorial Day celebration.

Instead of visiting the graves of my grandfather and uncle, our family had a discussion over dinner about the significance of Memorial Day for all Americans, and what Memorial Day means to us, as individuals.

Below, you will also find recipes inspired by grandmother’s delicious creations, updated to address modern tastes and health concerns.

Regardless of our immediate, individual proximities to war, Memorial Day offers us yet another opportunity to spend meaningful time with family or friends, and to honor Americans who have devoted their lives to service for our country.

Memorial Day 2011 Menu
Fried-Baked Crispy Chicken
Red Cabbage Coleslaw
Strawberry Salad with Lime

Fried Chicken

6 drumsticks free-range chicken
4 thighs free-range chicken
1 cup of fresh homemade breadcrumbs (make in the food processor)
1 tsp. ground sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup of fresh milk
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup salted butter

1.  Remove chicken from the package and select a large shallow pan that will accommodate all the chicken pieces.
2.  Pour the milk in the pan.  Place the chicken in the pan and rotate so the milk coats both sides of the chicken.  Place in the refrigerator.
3.  Heat the oven to 325 degrees and toast the day old slices of white crusty bread until golden brown.
4.  Remove the bread from the oven when golden brown and crispy.  Cut the bread into large squares and place in a food processor.  Pulse until all bread has become fine breadcrumbs. 
5.  Remove the crumbs and place in a 10-inch baking dish.  Season with sea salt and ground pepper.
6.  Take a large iron skillet or stainless steel skillet that can hold all the chicken pieces.  Heat to medium high.
7.  Add the canola oil and the butter to the skillet.  Heat on medium high.
8.  Once pan is hot, add the chicken.  Brown, and continue turning chicken until all sides are browned evenly.  Chicken should look golden brown.
9.  Remove chicken from skillet and place in a large baking dish.  Salt generously with freshly ground sea salt.
10.  Place chicken in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, make a small cut in the chicken to check for doneness.  Meat should be white and juices should be clean.

Homemade Red Coleslaw

1 head red cabbage
1 bunch small green onions
3 small carrots
½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. freshly ground sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1.  Cut red cabbage into ½ inch slices.  Cut again to make shred of cabbage approximately 4 inches long.
2.  Place in a 12-inch low bowl for dressing and serving.
3.  Cut the white heads of the green onion off the stems, remove the roots.  Chop the small white part finely.  Add to the chopped cabbage.
4.  Cut the carrots into 4-inch pieces, by slicing in half and then cutting into fine julienne strips.  Add to the coleslaw.
5.  In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper vigorously with a fork until smooth. 
6.  Place tablespoons of the dressing scattered across the top of the coleslaw.  Toss with salad tongs until coated.
7.  Add salt or pepper (if necessary) to taste.

Serve healthy portions with Fried Chicken.

Strawberry Salad with Lime
Make this strawberry salad with fresh strawberries from the farmer’s market. You don’t need much else. Strawberries that are truly in season speak for themselves!

Fresh strawberries
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lime
2 tbs brown sugar

1.  Wash, de-stem, and cut strawberries in bite-size pieces.
2.  Zest whole lime. Set zest aside.
3.  Cut lime in half and juice. Set juice aside.
4.  Pour strawberries into a large bowl.
5.  Mix in zest, juice, and brown sugar with a large spoon.
6.  Cover bowl with saran wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour or more. The longer you let the berries sit, the juicier they’ll become!

Serve salad on its own, or topped with a dollop of whipped cream.



  1. Hi Rosanna

    I read about 20 of your most recent posts and find them well written and interesting. Informative with delightful photos. Are those food photos taken by you ?

    I am from Borneo island which is the third largest island in the world. If you like to see the local scenes, do visit my blogs ( I have three ) starting with my photo-blog :

    My email is hornbill2u@gmail.com

  2. I get much in your theme really winter wedding dresses thank your very much i will come every day

  3. Hornbill your photos of Borneo are beautiful! The blue skies, sandy beaches, and sunshine. Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. A very good post i had liked the blue color of the glasses and flags are amazing