I am not sure exactly how it happens. It may come in the form of a manual, a hardcover book – or in modern times – the password to a secret website. However, I am fairly certain that when one becomes a grandma, somehow you receive underground information on the art of sandwich making. In my personal experience the grandmas of the world seem to know exactly how to satisfy even the pickiest grandchild’s appetite.
Trust me, I will never forget the day when my step-children Avalon and Lukas both took a sip of their “pink milk” (Strawberry flavored milk) and declared that it tasted just like Granny Barb’s. Talk about feeling jubilant!
I still remember my mom’s frustration when she could not get my brother Jamie’s sandwich quite right.
There was a bit of tension in her voice as she picked up the phone to call my paternal grandmother Edna Armstrong, “Okay, now what brand of bread do you use? And the peanut butter? Do you spread it on both pieces? ”
“What brand of margarine?” (Don’t judge – it was the 70s).
“Do you put it on before or after the peanut butter? How thick? So there is no jelly or jam on the sandwich? Cut at a slant or lengthwise?”
While my mom may not have “mastered” the perfect peanut butter sandwich at this point in her life, she knew that cutting the sandwich wrong could be detrimental to the entire process.
After she put the phone down on the receiver we both turned to Jamie and studied him intently. He was all of six years old, complete with big blue eyes, rosy cheeks, freckles, and a fringe of sandy brown bangs. He took one bite. Put the sandwich down and shook his head.
“No. It still doesn’t taste like Grandma’s!”
My maternal grandma Hilda Puskala, after rearing seven children, had a large brood of grandchildren. One of my sandwich memories of Grandma’s kitchen was her and my mom making Pickle and Bologna. She would haul out the metal grinder and clamp it to the kitchen table. I can still hear the squeak of the handle as they processed the ring bologna and dill pickles. For the perfect sandwich spread she would mix in mayonnaise (or was it Miracle Whip?).
While Grandma and Mom would mix up pounds of Pickle and Bologna in a large McCoy mixing bowl with pink and blue stripes, my Aunt Christina and I would fight them for space at the table with her Fuzzy Pumper Play-Doh Barber Shop. Anyone who grew up in the 70s knew that the meat grinder and the Play-Doh barber shop were soul mates.
I wasn’t sure if Pickle and Bologna was an Upper Peninsula thing, but my husband John (who hails from Muskegon) said he remembers his grandmother making it too. After a quick Internet search, I found recipes for this sandwich spread (most from the Midwest) that are probably inspired from someone’s frugal grandma.
To be honest, I cannot imagine eating Pickle and Bologna today, but I remember eating it as a child. While I probably enjoyed my mom’s, I guarantee it was not as good as when she made it with Grandma.
So in the spirit of Grandmas everywhere, I am introducing a new sandwich spread to the mix. After all, one day – way into the future I may add — I may be a step-grandma. Therefore, I need to work on my sandwich game (just in case no one delivers me that precious manual).
This is “healthed up” version of a traditional egg salad. I do put in a lot of crunchy additions, so you can make edits based on your personal preference. To cut down on fat and add an extra boost of protein, I substitute cottage cheese for salad dressing or mayonnaise.
I will also add that while I do tend to take an old-fashioned approach to cooking and do not invest in a lot of fancy gadgets, purchasing a pressure cooker (such as the popular Instapot) has been a game changer for hardboiled eggs. Since our eggs are so fresh, I didn’t even bother hardboiling them before because they were impossible to peel. Now I put them in my pressure cooker and use the 6/6/6 method. I cook at high pressure for six minutes, let sit in the pot for six minutes, and immerse in an ice bath for six minutes and the shells pop right off like magic. However, I have found that the number of minutes that I cook them for depends on how many eggs I am cooking, so you may want to experiment. Since I have an 8 quart cooker, I can hard-boil 3 dozen or so eggs at a time.
NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S EGG SALAD
- 6 large whole hard-boiled eggs (since our eggs are farm fresh from our happy hens, I often have to vary the amount due to differing size)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/8 cup chopped onion
- 1/8 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
- 1+ Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I add several Tbsp for tanginess)
- 1+ tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp dried dill weed or fresh to taste (fresh is even better)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- *Optional – sugar (if you are used to a sweeter tasting salad dressing)
I think it’s crucial to the taste of the egg salad to let it sit overnight to marry the flavors. It may get a bit runny, but you just have to stir and it will be perfect.
This egg salad may not be as creamy as you are used to, so you can add a touch of mayo or even a small amount of plain Greek yogurt.
Another great addition for healthy fat and flavor is a mashed avocado.
While the egg salad that I remember from childhood was always on white bread, I like to further break tradition and serve as a dip for crackers or celery, and make an open faced sandwich on rye or dark bread with lettuce and tomato. You can also make a tortilla wrap — or if you are watching your starchy carbs — serve on a bed of lettuce or use it to stuff a tomato.
While my egg salad may not be the version that my grandmother’s made, that is okay. Because as corny as it is, we all know that the secret ingredient that made their food delicious was love. ❤
As I create recipes, I try to enhance flavors with ingredients that reflect this unconditional love. We must nourish our bodies with food that is kind to us and that helps us reach our health goals and our potential.
It is an understatement to say that it has been a long winter. I wish you beautiful days full of the luxury of sunshine, songbirds, and green. In the coming weeks, take advantage of milder weather and plan a picnic. While you are at it, whip up some egg salad sandwiches. What a perfect way to celebrate spring and the Grandma Edna and Hildas in our lives!