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Pull Out Those Old Recipes, Folks

Younkers Recently, I posted on Facebook that my wife was making chicken salad for supper.  Not just any chicken salad, mind you.  This was the famous recipe from Younkers' Tea Room.  I realize I have a lot of readers outside the Des Moines area.  For those of you over the age of 40, you probably had a similar place in a nearby metropolis.  Back in the day, Younkers Tea Room was the swankiest place in town.  My high school prom was held there... ok, so back loooong before I was in high school, it was really upscale.  This was the place where the social elite would be seen dining.  It was also the source of many great recipes, among which was the chicken salad.

The memory of Younkers Tea Room evokes nostalgic images of a bygone era, of dressing up for dinner, of old-fashioned high-end department stores, of live entertainment.  But no matter how far removed we get from it, there's a recipe that holds a special place in our hearts (and our stomachs).  And every once in a while, we have to pull it out and make it (no matter what it might do to our cholesterol levels).  It's that old tried and true that always seems to work, that never fails to make us feel better.

We have those in work and in life, too.  It might be a book, a poem, a friend, or a painting.  It may be a building, a park bench, a road less traveled.  It's OK to pull them out, dust them off, and revisit them for a while.  Life isn't all about change.  Sometimes life is about remembering.  And through remembering, it may give you inspiration for the future.  So pull out those old recipes.  Call that old friend.  Read that poem.  It's OK... really.

And for those of you who are curious, I will share with you the absolute best chicken salad recipe on the planet (with the discoveries my wife has made along the way):

  • 3 cups diced, cooked chicken thighs (it's OK to buy the roasted chicken at the supermarket and use the whole chicken, if you'd prefer, over the thighs)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup ranch dressing (we've found the T. Marzetti's light ranch gives the right taste and texture)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

In a large bowl combine chicken, celery, onion, and sunflower seeds.  In a smaller bowl, stir together salad dressing, celery salt, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Pour dressing over chicken mixture; toss to mix well.  Cover and chill for one hour.  Makes six servings.  (My opinion:  best served with crisp Romaine lettuce on a croissant.)


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Todd Razor

I've been looking for a good chicken salad recipe. Looks like this may do the trick. Thanks Tim!

Crysta Wille

Here's my "recipe", Tim.

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too
Went for a ride in a flying shoe.
"What fun!"
"It's time we flew!"
Said Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle was captain, and Pickle was crew
And Tickle served coffee and mulligan stew
As higher
And higher
And higher they flew,
Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too,
Over the sun and beyond the blue.
"Hold on!"
"Stay in!"
"I hope we do!"
Cried Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle too
Never returned to the world they knew,
And nobody
Knows what's
Happened to
Dear Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Timothy Johnson

Todd - glad to be of assistance

Crysta - that was fun... made me giggle (on a day I really needed to giggle). If you've never seen it before, check out the poem "Ticklish Tom" by Shel Silverstein.

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I seem to remember some apples and grapes in that chicken salad. Am I thinking of something else? Of course no entree was complete without the sticky rolls.

Timothy Johnson

RG - thanks for the kind words

Ann - no apples or grapes in this recipe (which came directly out of the Younkers Tea Room cookbook). The book also had the sticky roll recipe, though.

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I love my mom's southern style fried chicken recipe... She says its been in her family for generations. She thinks her great grandparents brought it from Africa.

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Yes, I remember Younkers' Tea Room. It was my absolute favorite place to eat when I was a young girl. Do you remember the chocolate covered stick candy from there as well? I bought a box tonight to share with my children even though we live 1400 miles away now. Thank you for the recipe, I'll have to give it a try.


I'm so thrilled that you have shared this delicious, and decidedly the very best, chicken salad recipe! I've made this recipe several times already, exactly as you've shared (with your wife's discoveries), and it's perfect! I grew up in Des Moines and I have very fond memories of eating Rarebit Burgers, Chicken Salad and Sticky Rolls in the Tea Room.

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