This salad is from my daughter-in-law Betsy Baum Block, an ex-Texan who now resides in California.

I grew up with a mother who didn’t love cooking, who cooked because she was supposed to, and left behind a legacy of stories of her kitchen failures and unusual and fabulous moments of her kitchen glories (like homemade bread). I’ve managed to thieve most of my mother’s cookbooks from my dad’s house since she passed away many years ago, but the carrot-raisin salad that was ubiquitous at family summer holiday gatherings was nowhere to be found. My dad searched her card catalogue of recipes; then I spoke to my first aunt, who claimed she actually hated carrots; and my other aunt, who reminisced over how she loved the salad and counted on my mother to always make it… but no one had the recipe. It couldn’t be that difficult—shredded carrots, mayo, and raisins. And it wouldn’t take that long, as my mom rarely made things that required more than five minutes of preparation.

Lucky for me, the Internet provided me with Luby’s Cafeteria version of the recipe (with crushed pineapple) as well as an updated version (with ginger and cinnamon) by one of my favorite bloggers, The Homesick Texan. I’ve tested these and offer up my version here. Experiment and enjoy: The only critical ingredients are the three I most remember, combined to your liking and sweetened a bit.

INGREDIENTS:

1 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots

1 cup raisins, soaked in warm water to plump. Drain well.

1/3 cup powdered sugar (optional, but I prefer the slight sweetness)

½ cup mayonnaise

VARIATION 1:

Add 1 8-ounce can crushed or diced pineapple, drained well.

VARIATION 2:

Add juice from one orange (or 2 tablespoons orange juice), ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve.

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