Our family loves to cook and especially eat! Over the years I have collected a treasure trove of family recipes from all branches of our family tree. In fact, a few of us have created cookbooks for charity containing some of our favorites. I pulled out several of these cookbooks for a spring brunch I am planning for my girlfriend/neighbors who grow and raise much of their own food. The intention with planning a spring garden menu is to showcase local food and family recipes, along with all the stories that go with them. In this way we preserve our heritage and support local farmers/puveyors while having a great time. You can add desserts, meat/fish, potatoes, micro greens and brunch cocktails
to round off the menu. I have also included a marinated olive dish served with bread, tortas, cheese and olive oil. While the olives, olive oil and tortas are not from Michigan, I did source them locally, and I usually buy good local cheese. Ann Arbor is full of specialty food stores that carry a wide array of local foods and artisan options from all over the world.
The “Grapefruit Celery Salad” recipe I found in my uncle Bill’s “Navy Cookbook” from when he was a cook in the Navy during WWII. It is full of recipes for very large groups of hungry sailors. After flipping through the age-darkened pages, I had begun to understand the old saying “cooking for an army.”
The more than 400-page black book consists of menu suggestions, nutritional values, food preparation, recipes, general information, baking, formulas and much more. I was amazed to find very formal recipes that changed my opinion on what I considered “mess hall food.” The only sailor dish I remember eating as a child was the chipped creamed-beef on toast. Our family had their own name for it, but I will leave that to your imagination. Needless to say, I never made this dish as an adult.
I did, however, find the grapefruit celery salad recipe interesting. I think it will go well with eggs florentine and a marinated olive-cheese board for my spring brunch.
I always use fresh organic eggs from our generous hens
(pictured opposite, our Americana hens), and baby spinach out of the garden. Your local farmers market will have a fabulous assortment of eggs and greens from which to choose if you do not have them in your back yard. You can replace spinach with any greens or seasonal vegetables. My husband prefers chard, which also goes well with egg dishes. The “Mock Hollandaise Sauce” is my sister Martha’s traditional Christmas recipe. Use whatever type of bread you fancy, biscuit or muffin. For this brunch I made biscuits as a nest for the eggs, spinach and sauce.
As always, enjoy this meal and pass along time-honored recipes for future generations. You may adapt the menu to any region and culture. In fact, you may want to fry or scramble the eggs and use asparagus instead of greens. I sometimes use salsa or marinara when tomatoes are in season as opposed to hollandaise. Be creative!