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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
We might be having Easter hotdogs this year after I saw the price of hams at the grocery store. I will complain more after I state I am grateful that we are in a warm safe environment and not experiencing the effects of war. We send prayers for those who are suffering.

Easter dinner has been quite a tradition in my immediate family as far back as I can remember. When we lived with my Grandparents we would have a family dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and deviled eggs because Granny raised chickens and ham was too expensive. Granny would bake a white cake and for Easter and as a special treat she would add peanut butter to the frosting. Mom and Daddy started our tradition of ham and sweet potatoes because this was what his family served for Easter and that menu stuck with us to this day. Mom would always make Grannies recipe of deviled eggs and she too made peanut butter cake for our Easter, along with decorated cutout cookies in bunny, chicken and egg shapes.

The Easter I was eight years old, after Church, I accompanied my Aunt Georgie and her friends to Decatur to “Groves” restaurant. This was my first experience with fine dining and I was quite overwhelmed when entering the building. The decor was not lost on me as a child; I immediately noticed the plush carpet and it seems to me like the restaurant was decorated in gold and red. The restaurant had two floors and we were escorted to our table by a man wearing a handsome black suit and shiny black shoes. He actually pulled my chair out for me and complimented my new patent leather shoes. He then handed everyone a large ornate menu and my Aunt told I could order anything I wanted to eat, but it was Easter and I just had to have ham and sweet potatoes which surprised our friends because they figured I would order a cheeseburger. When my meal arrived I was a bit surprised. it was the thickest ham slice I had ever seen, the size of the dinner plate, and the sweet potatoes were mashed and served on top of the ham. A thick delicious pineapple, cinnamon, clove and brown sugar gravy was ladled over the top and a fresh mint leaf graced the top of the sweet potatoes. This meal was the best restaurant ham I would ever eat.

We were offered three side dishes of which the sweet potatoes were one and I was not fond of any of the other choices so our waiter suggested I have two servings of their famous ambrosia salad. I had no clue what ambrosia salad was and he whispered to me that it was fancy fruit cocktail. My goodness what a delight and he was sort of right. It was like fruit cocktail with mandarin oranges, apples, coconut, marshmallows all mixed together with whipped cream. I was so glad our waiter suggested this salad; I ate both dishes (larger servings than one gets today) and announced that I would ask my Mom to start serving this ambrosia salad at home. I would be a teenager before my parents could afford the ingredients to this salad but I clearly remember the Easter dinner my Mom served it for the first time. Her salad was perfect too! This ambrosia salad was the first salad I made as a married woman but sadly Hubby did not care for it. No matter, I have made it for myself for 55 years, it stores well in the fridge and I can eat it all week long.

Ambrosia salad history: “Ambrosia salad (or the “food of the gods,” which was often eaten on Mount Olympus in Greek mythology) is a type of fruit salad that became popular in the United States as early as the later part of the nineteenth century when it was first mentioned in cookbooks. Though the exact origins of ambrosia are vague, it is often considered to be a Southern dish.

There are a number of different ambrosia recipes but all agree that coconut is needed for true ambrosia; some ambrosia salads are as simple as orange segments topped with shredded coconut. Many popular versions of ambrosia salad also include pineapple, banana, maraschino cherries, and/or miniature marshmallows.  Often times these ambrosia salad variations call for the ingredients to be mixed with whipped cream, sour cream, or cottage cheese and then refrigerated several hours before serving.  Less commonly, they can include flavored gelatin as well. (”.)

Hubby jokingly calls Easter Sunday pineapple Sunday. His family enjoys pineapple cream pie, my family likes pineapple gravy, ambrosia salad and pineapple cheese salad and one of his aunts would make broiled pineapple rounds with cream cheese on croissants for breakfast before Church. I did not think I would like broiled pineapple but it is delicious. One butters a baking sheet and places the pineapple slices on the sheet. Then mix brown sugar with the pineapple juice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg and brush it on the pineapple slices. Broil until golden brown. Slice a croissant roll in half and spread cream cheese on both sides of the roll; place a slice of broiled pineapple on one side and top with the other half of the roll. Place back in the broiler for a few seconds to toast the roll. This is a delicious sandwich any time of the year.

Happy pineapple Sunday!

Ambrosia Salad 

(my version)


* 1 cup shredded 

sweetened coconut

* 1 (15-ounce can) man

darin oranges, drained

* 1 (15-ounce can) pine

apple chunks, drained

* 1/2 cup maraschino 

cherries, halved, drained

* 3 cups mini 


* 1 apple, peeled and 


For the whipped cream dressing:

* 1 cup heavy whipping 


* 1/4 cup sour cream

* 2 tablespoons sugar

* Adapted from (

Pineapple Gravy

* 3 tbsp. brown sugar

* 1 tbsp. cornstarch

* 20 oz. can pineapple 

shredded and juice, drain 

and save

* 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

* 1/8 tsp clove


Mix first brown sugar, corn starch and pineapple juice in saucepan over medium heat. Stir and heat through. Add pineapple and boil until thickened and hot, 1 minute or two. Add cinnamon and clove, stir well to blend  and pour into gravy bowl to serve on  ham.

Adapted from Basic recipe (

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