Think Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4 — these holidays all come with memorable meals for my family. Many are at our house. We have room for everybody. The kids, grandkids and I coordinate the “groaning board” and have more food than sane people would ever need. I have fun planning the food, table settings and everything else that goes into a meal — and a celebration — that won’t soon be forgotten.
As with lots of other things that are a “big deal” in life, the anticipation plays a major part in the overall enjoyment.
Over the years, our daughters who live in central Ohio have taken on some of the special meals. Jenny and Chris usually have Easter dinner at their house and invite both families. Heather and Rodney throw an end of summer party and invite friends and family from near and far.
Before we know it, it’s time for that annual end-of-summer celebration (love the party — hate the end of summer). Usually the Lauer summer party is at their house in London. This year, they planned far ahead and rented space at a state park. There are trails, fields and playgrounds if the weather’s good (say a prayer) and a roomy lodge if we need to duck inside. There’s a big grill for meat to feed the masses, and ample parking for all. It should be lots of fun for all ages.
Part of what makes this particular party so special is that everybody brings something edible to share. People always seem to make their best, tastiest recipes for potlucks, no matter when or where. The summer party is no exception.
Heather and Rodney grill spareribs and chicken and sausage shish-ke-bobs for everyone. Heather makes at least one killer cheesecake from scratch. There’s always a huge pasta salad from the Lauer kitchen and coolers of odd and unusual soft drinks. The guests bring whatever they’re in the mood to prepare. There’s always something different and everything’s always yummy.
If life can’t be a perpetual summer, we’ll send it off in style as we do every year and welcome in fall with an edible celebration. I usually take a couple of dishes because it’s hard to choose. One is the old standby, deviled eggs. They won’t let me in the door without them.
This simple recipe was my mother’s, and her mother’s before her. (I’ve found that those who come from south of the Mason-Dixon line don’t put anything sweet in their deviled eggs. Many of those north of said line do.) To our family, this is the way deviled eggs should always taste.
1 dozen large eggs
Fresh parsley, dill, chives, caviar, and paprika for garnish
Hard boil eggs in a large saucepan, cover eggs with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring eggs to a boil over medium heat. Turn down heat, cover and simmer eggs for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand 10 more minutes. Pour off water and replace with cold water and a dozen or so ice cubes. When eggs are cooled, peel and slice in half “the long way.”
Remove yolks to a medium bowl. Mash with a meat fork or potato ricer until lumps are nearly gone. Add mayo and mustard to taste. Here’s the tricky part. Start with 4 tablespoons mayo and 2 tablespoons mustard. (I don’t measure I just plop some of each into the yolks, beat to mix well, and taste.) When the yolk mixture is creamy and stands up in a peak, spoon some into each egg white half.
Place deviled egg halves in a platter. (If you don’t have one with the grooves to fit the eggs, line an ordinary platter with a layer of lettuce leaves so the eggs won’t slide.) Garnish as you like. Somebody will always prefer one or the other of the toppings, and they will all magically get eaten.
Serves six to 10. (We eat a lot of deviled eggs.)
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.