My grandmother, Beulah, is amazing. At 93, she is spry, giggly and sweet, and is still one of the best cooks I know. As a child, I used to stand on a stepstool and watch as she made spaghetti, pies, casseroles and soups.

And everything was made from scratch. The problem was she rarely followed a recipe. I have a number of recipe cards in her careful feminine handwriting that use terms like “a little of this,” “a bunch of” and “about a handful.” To say the least, I’ve had to tweak some of the recipes over the years so I know what these terms mean.

One of my favorite recipes is her fresh and crunchy broccoli salad. It has such a unique twist of flavors and is perfect as a side dish for a barbeque or summer meal. I will often add other fresh veggies to it, but keep the basic combination of broccoli, raisins, and a sweet and tangy dressing. I like to make a large batch because it is even better after it has marinated in the fridge for a day. Use it as a side salad for dinner and alone as a light lunch the next day.

Grandma Beulah’s cooking fit her personality. She has always been a free spirit. Me, however, I can’t go to bed at night without double checking the locks and making sure the stove is off. I will stick to measuring and enjoy the fact that I inherited her giggle.


3 cups chopped fresh broccoli

½ cup chopped green onions

½ cup real bacon bits

2/3 cup raisins

½ cup salted sunflower seeds

Chopped apples, cucumbers, bell peppers or other crunchy fruits or vegetables can also be added if desired.

Stir all ingredients in a large bowl.


1 cup mayonnaise

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2 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix dressing well and pour over salad. Stir well to coat everything.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of two. She is a cookbook author and novelist. Her website is at