From the Farm

FROM the FARM: Memorial Day a time for honoring family past and present

2013-05-22T00:00:00Z 2013-05-22T16:00:05Z FROM the FARM: Memorial Day a time for honoring family past and presentBy Philip Potempa 219.852.4327

Summer weather has arrived just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend.

And whether rain or shine, barbecue traditions with family and friends are always a go.

But sometimes many people forget Memorial Day is not only about picnics and the world's most famous sporting race in the Hoosier state.

Our family Memorial Day weekends at the farm always include remembering family past and present, with the great emphasis on those who are now gone.

Besides visiting our family cemetery near the farm to plant geraniums and share prayers, my parents always make the 45-minute journey to visit her parents and grandparents resting place in her family's cemetery in Rensselaer, Ind., the small city where my older sister Pam also graduated from St. Joseph's Catholic College. And along the way, they always stop to place flowers at her brother's and his wife's resting place in the tiny town of Wheatfield.

I'm age 42 and this has been the same tradition followed since my first recollections, with my mother always commenting about the large, blooming peony bushes that line the Iroquois River which snakes it's way through the center of Rensselaer.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate family and friends. That's why every day should be treated as Memorial Day, even if it's minus a barbecue.

Last July, my sister Pam and my oldest brother Tom took my parents on a quick vacation road trip to visit family in Winston-Salem, N.C.

My dad hadn't seen his first cousin Edwin, who is the same age of 83, for years, since before he moved with wife Judy and their five sons from Chicago to North Carolina in 1978. Edwin's late mother, Agnes Potempa, was my grandfather's sister.

During their visit, they enjoyed a wonderful family dinner together featuring grilled salmon on cedar planks courtesy of Edwin and Judy's son Rich. I wrote to Judy at Christmas asking for the recipe. In January, I received a letter in return with the recipe request, which I've been saving to share with readers for this weekend's gatherings.

"Rich says his recipe changes slightly every time he grills, but the basics remain the same," Judy wrote.

"He never uses exact measurements. But with this recipe, it's really about eye-balling it and a 'season to your taste' approach."

As my parents will attest, it's really quite simple and very delicious, so I hope readers give it a try.

A blessed and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Rich's Grilled Salmon on Cedar Planks

 1-2 pounds wild or Alaskan salmon filets with skin

Olive oil

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Dried thyme to taste

Cracked fennel seeds to taste

Real maple syrup

Cedar planks (available in the cooking or grilling section of most stores)

DIRECTIONS: Soak the cedar planks in water for about 30 to 45 minutes, before putting on the grill. Heat grill to 375 to 400 degrees. Rub a little olive oil on the salmon filets and sprinkle with the dry spices and seasonings. Place the soaked cedar plank on the grill for 5 to 10 minutes before adding salmon. Just before adding the salmon filet, brush a little olive oil on the now heated plank and add the salmon filets on top of the planks, skin side down. Cook with grill lid down for 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon filet. Once salmon flakes when a fork is inserted, it is ready. During the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time, brush lightly with maple syrup and serve. Makes 4 servings.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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