When I close my eyes and picture my grandpa, I see his mischievous smile—one that went clear up to his eyes—and I can hear his laugh. I see his large hands, calloused from years of hard work, which were always willing to help anyone who needed him. And I’ll never see a pair of suspenders, stretched over a plaid shirt, without thinking of him, too.
We lost my grandfather, Bill Franklin, this past week. He was the epitome of a Kansas farmer, constantly working and fixing, even long after he “retired” from planting grain and milking cows.
He was an imposing figure at over 6 feet tall with a wide frame, and he was strong beyond his 83 years. No one would ever mistake Grandpa for a frail old man.
But he was also gentle and kind. He could create some of the most delicate woodworking I’ve ever seen and was always quick to scoop up a great grand-baby.
And although he probably would have argued with me, he was a life-long learner, too, mastering new technology and doing tons of research on his family tree.
What I admired him for most of all, though, was the love he showed my grandma. They knew each other for practically their entire lives, and they never got tired of each other. He loved to tease her, and she loved to pretend she was shocked by whatever it was he said. They walked hand-in-hand wherever they went, and the look he gave her in their wedding photos was the same one he gave her over 60 years later.
He also liked to eat, and while he had a lot of favorites, the one dish that pops into my head is a salad my mom and I took turns bringing to family meals just because we knew he loved it, so in honor of him, I’m sharing that recipe with you. I don’t have an original source for it. It’s one of those recipes that gets passed around families and loses its origin.
- 16 ounces shredded cabbage I buy the bagged coleslaw mix with carrots
- 1 bunch green onion chopped
- 1 package ramen noodles I use beef flavored
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup oil I use canola
- Flavor packet from the ramen
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons vinegar I use apple cider
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- In a large salad bowl, combine the cabbage and onions.
- Place the uncooked noodles into a small plastic zippered bag. Zip the bag and crush the noodles (I normally use the handle of a kitchen knife, but a rolling pin or the smooth side of a meat mallet would also work well.). Break them up into about 1/2-inch pieces. Dump the sunflower seeds into the bag and set it aside.
- In another small bowl, combine the oil, flavor packet, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Just before serving the salad, pour the noodles, sunflower seeds and oil mixture over top of the cabbage and mix well.
- Refrigerate any leftovers.
As we gathered this week to share stories of Grandpa in the days leading to his funeral, this salad graced the table with tons of other food from the wonderful people in our family’s life. Grandma’s fridge won’t be empty for quite awhile.
And while the love we all have for each other will keep us going, there will continue to be a piece missing from our get-togethers.
The hole a man like my grandpa leaves is large and a tough one to fill.
This piece first appeared in print on March 28, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.