The children ran towards the house as soon as we arrived. Uncle Vernon’s house was never boring. With twins in their twenties, our little boys never cease to be amazed by all their fishing and hunting gear and all the big boys can do. On top of that, they’ve been running a fish farm since I was little.
They greeted us with their usual warm welcome. Miriam busied herself in the kitchen again and told me I had nothing to do. Their screened porch at the back of the house beckoned us.
Vernon turned on the fryer in the yard next to the back porch.
The boys took their small bows and arrows and went out into the garden to practice target shooting with the twins. Happy squeals greeted my ears as we sat on the porch steps watching Vernon expertly fry puppies, chips and fish. Julia, Hosanna, Joshua and I figured it all out while Vernon was frying puppies and fries and telling stories in the meantime. Vernon has always been an avid storyteller, and it never takes little kids long to figure that out. Flipping a colander full of fries in the pan, a few spilled on their side.
“Oh, it must be appetizers!” I commented as I grabbed one.
“Of course, of course…”
I chilled a few for the little ones and bit one myself. “Why these are the best I’ve ever had.” I declared. “Crispy on the outside and perfectly tender in the middle. What temperature do you have your oil for fries? »
“The fries, I make 350.”
As soon as the fish was in the fryer, the boys were told to come wash up and sit down to eat so that the fish could be eaten immediately after they were done.
Soon everyone was ready. I smiled as I watched the six children seated around their deck table. These are good years… the children are still growing up, and God still gives joy, despite the reality we miss dad so much, on a night like this.
The fish was a hit with everyone. Miriam’s potato salad complimented her fried foods perfectly and tasted just like Grandma’s. Fruit smoothies and energy balls completed the meal.
As the last plates emptied, the children jumped in excitement. They planned to help feed the fish and see if they could catch a catfish with Vernon’s fake duck.
Soon the dishes were done and we headed out to the pond beyond their backyard. The kids were in awe as they climbed onto the dock, helped toss some catfish food, and watched the hungry catfish gobble it up. Precious memories of feeding fish with dad came back. They all played vital roles in Dad’s life, even helping him feed the fish.
Now came the hilarious part. Vernon pulled out the duck decoy with an 18 inch string attached to the bottom of it. At the end of the string was a hook which he was baiting. Kicking the duck, it landed on the water, floating gracefully on top.
Another longer string had also been tied to the duck, with the other end tied to the dock of the boat to prevent the duck from floating. “Now we’re going to sit quietly and see if a cat catches the bait,” Vernon explained.
“I think it’s moving!” Austin joked.
“Once a catfish grabs it, you’ll know – that’s it!”
There were laughs and squeals of delight as the duck swayed up and down, circled, then dove into the water as the catfish tried to free itself. Vernon and the twins carefully dragged him to the dock, then scooped him up with a net and placed him in a large fish cage.
You know how children are. “Could we start again?
The whole scenario was repeated several times, bringing more cheers. Even the adults made a fuss when the last one was arrested, weighing almost 11 pounds.
It was almost 7:30 a.m. and it was time to go home, the children going to school the next day. Nonetheless, we were all left with warm memories.
Okay, now Miriam is a cook at heart; you will never have to wonder if his food will be tasty or not. This week, I’m sharing with you her potato salad recipe. This is the recipe my grandmother used for years before she died. No doubt she made hundreds of gallons of it, whether it was for use at Amish funerals, for her guests, or for Uncle Paul’s country store.
Miriam’s Amish Potato Salad
6 medium potatoes, cooked
6 eggs hard boiled and chilled
3/4 cup celery, chopped (optional)
1/4 medium onion, chopped (opt)
1 1/2 cups salad dressing
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup milk
Cut the potatoes into quarters and put in a saucepan, add several cups of water.
When potatoes come to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender.
Dice the potatoes, add the diced eggs, onion and celery.
Mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette then mix with the first mixture.
It is best when prepared the day before you plan to serve it. As it sets, it thickens a bit. If it was too thick, Grandma would just add a dash of milk.
Makes 2 pints and serves 16.