2nd Prize, Indiana State Fair, 2013


Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance



Indiana State Fair

August 9, 2013


pedestal serving dish bowl cranberry

(Image by Peter Engler)



Second Prize:

Great-Grandma Cora’s Cranberry Salad




My Great-Grandmother Cora McManus Gremelspacher (1880-1962) was known throughout Cass County (Indiana) as a generous woman, great cook and hostess, and as a strong woman who stood true to her faith during trying times in her farming community of Walton.


As was tradition when her husband died in 1934, his body was laid out in the front room of the family farmhouse for the viewing. The Ku Klux Klan burned a cross for the 24 hours during the wake to protest the family’s belief in Catholicism. Cora continued to receive visitors and make them feel welcome despite the display of fear and hatred that could be seen from the window.


During the Great Depression traveling workers (hobos) marked her house with a cat symbol, indicating that a “kind lady lives here.” She would invite the men to sit on her porch and serve them a sandwich and lemonade.


My grandparents moved to the “Home Farm” in 1934, when Cora moved to town (Logansport, IN) after her husband died. My Grandma Leona Donohue Gremelspacher (1905 – 1984) learned to make the salad from Cora, her mother-in-law. Leona continued the tradition preparing the recipe for her family of six children, including my mother, Mary Ellen Gremelspacher Spitznogle (b. 1940).


Mom made the cranberry salad for all of our holiday meals for our family, and it was my favorite dish. I would make sure that the bowl ended up close to my seat at the table.


Although Cora died when I was just six months old; I watched Grandma Leona make the salad many times in the same kitchen that Cora prepared it for her family. I clearly remember sitting at the table in the kitchen that my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother all cooked in, copying the recipe in my big loopy 1970s handwriting for my collection.


Cora’s Cranberry Salad recipe has become a four-generation holiday tradition now that I have taken over the preparing the salad for my contribution to our family meals. I love looking my faded recipe card as I cook on my 1960s era stove and think of the strong and generous women that came before me. I hope that I can live up to their reputation and cooking skills.


To symbolize the four generations dishes are from Cora’s set of Haviland china, the silver fork belonged to Leona, the serving spoon is from the set that my mother gave me for my 40th birthday, and I bought the antique compote dish several years ago when I learned that Cora always served the Cranberry Salad in one.



Second Prize:

Great-Grandma Cora’s Cranberry Salad