Recipe Roundup: June 2021
by Cally Peterson
|David Straley, front left, joins a group of Capital Electric Cooperative employees in a cleanup effort for a portion of Highway 83 in north Bismarck.|
|The Second Generation Wolf Family Reunion brings together multiple generations of the Wolf family in Carrington.|
|Rynetta (Straley) Renford prepares her family-reunion famous potato salad with grilled potatoes.|
“Lucky number 16.” That’s what David Straley was to the late James and Theresa (Wolf) Straley, the last and 16th child born to the Carrington farm family. In a sense, David was the exclamation point to the Straley family, which maintains a 22-year age gap between the eldest and youngest children.
“It was a busy farm life,” David says of his upbringing. “We all did a lot of work on the farm. I would say we had modest roots. Being the youngest, I had a lot of hand-me-downs. But we also had a lot of good family times. My best memories are playing ‘kick the can’ or kickball in the front yard and getting together with cousins. It was absolutely the best thing ever.”
Another fond memory for David was the annual Wolf family reunion. Started in 1986 by David’s mother and several of her 14 siblings, who referred to themselves as the second generation, it was a way to keep their large family connected. The early reunions were convened at Arrowood Lake, where family could swim and play games. The Wolf family now gathers at the city park in Carrington, where a rousing game of kickball or baseball ensues – with the third, fourth and fifth generations.
In a family of 16 kids – and over 100 first cousins – there’s bound to be a little competition now and then. This month, that energy will culminate at the Second Generation Wolf Family Reunion, where nearly 50 family members from near and as far as Seattle, Wash., will gather for the traditional potluck.
“We eat at noon, and that’s the only rule!” David says. “Uncle Bud used to always provide the meats, but now the third generation, the kids, bring the food. We all know who’s coming, and we all know what everyone is bringing.”
Family, through blood or marriage, will bring their best dishes to share, and like a broken record, the talk will eventually turn to the fan-favorite potato salad, made by Rynetta (Straley) Renford. The self-taught cook will nod in acknowledgment as the potato salad compliments roll in.
“For about the last 10 years or so, all of us joke about Rynetta’s potato salad and how she’s always trying to make the next best thing,” David says. “She’s a great cook.”
But this year is different, because a new side dish will rise to meet the competition. “Lucky number 16,” David, hopes to keep his “lucky” streak going with the introduction of a cauliflower-based version of the traditional potato salad.
“I’m not a potato guy,” David says. “Sure, I like French fries, because they are fried in oil. Otherwise, I have never really like potatoes. But about three months ago, I found a version of this recipe and started doctoring it up. My wife’s reaction was the first bellwether. Then, I had my brother try it when he was visiting, and he said, ‘Oh, this is actually better than Rynetta’s potato salad!’”
This newcomer, “OMG, Rynetta, have you tried David’s non-potato salad?!” Salad, is poised to be the top dish at this year’s family reunion.
If David can accomplish this feat, he will add the exclamation point to the family reunion – and send Rynetta’s “Runner-up” Potato Salad home.
Though he’s banking on a win, David is most excited to be around family again.
“When we couldn’t physically be together at times this past year, we were closer in other ways,” David says. The phone and video calls were more frequent and cherished. “Knowing we’re going to be getting together, and being able to laugh together in person, is really what’s making this so special to me.”
“OMG, Rynetta, have you tried David’s non-potato salad?!” Salad
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
RYNETTA’S “RUNNER-UP” POTATO SALAD
3 lbs. red potatoes
Cally Peterson is editor of North Dakota Living. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.