Susan Keezer: Wicked Italians and slimy strawberries

The rockstar of all culinary things at our church announced the annual Attitude of Gratitude pre-Thanksgiving Dinner. There is no particular organization but somehow the right amount of each course shows up, and no one goes home hungry.

I decided to make a broccoli/cauliflower/strawberry salad with walnuts and bacon bits. It is simple enough for even me to manage. And it would have been if Meijer had had fresh strawberries. However, it seemed the store did not. I did have a bag of sliced frozen strawberries on hand and foolishly thought, “Problem solved!”

I prepared the vegetables, nuts, bacon, shook them up in a Ziplock bag, put them with a bowl, salad tongs, the dressing and bag of strawberries into a tote and betook myself off to church. It was such a fine day that I decided to wear my new shoes, made in Italy.

Susan Keezer
Susan Keezer

I parked my van and tossed the keys into my purse. Rather than pull the bag with the salad et al across the seat, grab my purse, cane and water bottle, I decided I would go around and take it all out from the rider’s side.

So I got out of the van, locked the door as I always do. ...

Yes. I locked the van with the keys in my purse. With the salad in the van. With my cane in the van. One of the men came out to help me.

Do you know how much I hated having to admit I had locked myself out of my van?

I had arrived early so I could go to the kitchen and make my salad before the service started. That plan was now over. When I walked in, the man with me mentioned my plight.

Someone asked if I had a spare set in the van.

I didn’t reply to that but headed for the office to call Daughter the Younger. Fortunately, she and Daughter the Elder had not left for Ann Arbor to go shopping.

“Um … I seem to have locked my keys in the van. Could you bring the spare set and unlock it for me?”

Daughter the Younger appeared about 12 minutes later. She offered no rolling of eyes or verbal mutterings, just unlocked the van and made sure I had the keys from my purse welded to my hand before she drove off. She is a kind woman.

By this time, it was too late for me to toss my salad. I took it to the kitchen and went to the sanctuary for the start of the service.

At the end of the sermon, I bolted downstairs to make my salad. I tipped the broccoli and cauliflower pieces into the bowl along with the walnut pieces and bacon. I carefully mixed them together.

Then, as I was talking with one of my friends, I opened that bag of sliced strawberries.

Still chatting, I used the tongs and started taking the berries out and putting them into the salad. Strawberries do not appreciate being frozen. In retaliation, they look at each other, go limp and develop a slimy exterior. They defy you to want to eat them.

It was too late to take them out of the bowl. I looked around and quickly stirred them into the rest of the salad. Then I poured the poppyseed dressing over the whole thing and gave it a major stir, hoping the strawberries would not surface.

As soon as possible, I distanced myself from the salad table. It was a great dinner. Afterward, I packed up my things and headed home. My feet were getting very tired and, I admit it, pretty sore. How could this be? They were leather shoes after all. They were pretty.

I got home, took my things into house. I glanced out the window and noticed my trunk lid was up. I went back out to drive to Dollar General to buy a newspaper. As I walked in, I heard a man yelling, “Missus, missus.” I turned around to see a fellow about my age waving his arms at me. “Is that your van?” “Yes,” I said. He then told me he had been following me to tell me the lid was up.

I was tempted to ask, “Did you see if a dead body wrapped in a rug tied up with rope fell out while I was driving?” Instead, I shut the lid, thanked him, got my paper and started to leave.

By this time I was limping and in pain. When I got home, I found those shoes had rubbed all the skin off the top of my toes.

Wicked Italians. Slimy strawberries.

Susan Keezer lives in Adrian. Send your good news to her at

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Susan Keezer: Wicked Italians and slimy strawberries