Dorcas Annette Walker
As a young college student, my mother worked a couple of summers at Martha’s Vineyard helping prepare food in the kitchen. It was there that she learned how to make fancy celery. During the summer or on holidays a dish of Curled Celery would lend a classy touch to our small meal. My mother always served her Curled Celery in an oval fancy glass dish. We thought it was the only way to prepare celery and it wasn’t until we were married and entertaining ourselves that we discovered other people had never seen Curled Celery before. I always think of my mother every time I prepare Curled Celery or see an antique oval cut glass dish.
Celery was first recorded in France in 1623, was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for flavoring, and is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The ancient Chinese used celery for medicine. Celery was first introduced to the United States in 1856 by a Scotsman in Michigan. One ounce of celery seeds produces an acre of celery. Today California is the top celery producer with Michigan ranking fourth and Florida producing 20%. Two billion pounds of celery are grown each year here in the United States with a consumption of nine to ten pounds per person annually. Plain celery is great for losing weight as more calories are consumed eating and digesting celery than the 10 calories intake per stalk. Celery is also a good source of fiber.
Curled Celery is worth the extra minutes it takes to prepare, is great for family reunions or holidays throughout the year, and is a feast for the eyes. The crunchy texture of the celery with a nutritious filling is a perfect addition to any meal. For extra color dice cranberries into small pieces, add chopped raisins, or grapes to the cheese filling. You could also include minced carrots or broccoli. One regular stalk of celery will make a dozen pieces and preparation time is around fifteen minutes not counting chilling or filling.
Wash and cut the celery stalks into four to six inches. Then make shallow cuts down the celery stalk about a ¼ inch on both sides. Chill in a container of water in the refrigerator overnight.
Fill the celery stalks by first patting the stalks dry with a paper towel and then spread regular, crunchy peanut butter, or a cream cheese filling on the celery.
Cream cheese and nut filling:
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese softened
¼ c chopped pecans
Mix together and spread on a celery stalk. Place celery in a decorative glass dish and serve!
Weekly tip: Instead of throwing away celery leaves dry them by cutting off the leaves and place on a paper plate in a thin layer. Air-dry for two to three days until the leaves are completely dried. Crumble the leaves and store in an empty spice container with your other spices. Dried celery leaves adds flavor to soups!