Memorial Day is a time to remember and give thanks for the many men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.  Because it is observed on the last Monday in May, it has also come to mark the start of the summer vacation season, and many families use the three-day weekend to spend time together, often culminating in a backyard barbecue.

As I wrote last year, after WWI, poppies became a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died in war.  Wearing a poppy on Memorial Day has been a tradition in the U.S. since 1924.  With that in mind, I made Poppy Seed Dressing to serve with our Memorial Day dinner.  I’ll save the red, white, and blue food for the 4th of July. This recipe for Poppy Seed Dressing comes from the late, great Helen Corbitt’s Cook Book.  Helen had an illustrious career as a chef, cookbook author, cooking school instructor and lecturer, and hostess, but she is perhaps most often remembered for her days as manager of the Houston Country Club and the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus in Dallas.  Helen died in 1978, but her memory and recipes linger on.

Although Helen was often credited with creating the dressing, she was quick to deny it, but readily admitted to having popularized it.  According to her, it’s delicious on any fruit salad, and goes especially well with grapefruit.   I think it goes nicely with melon.  One of Helen’s most popular salads on her country club buffet was finely shredded red cabbage, sliced avocado, and halved grapes with poppy seed dressing.  A recurring theme in Helen’s cookbooks is her concern that “the men” like the food that was served at parties and gatherings, and according to her, men like this dressing — because I know you were worried about that.  Reportedly, “a few even put it on their potatoes.”  🙂  Why not remember someone with a jar of homemade Poppy Seed Dressing this year?

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons onion juice*
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  1. Mix together sugar, mustard, salt, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add onion juice and stir until combined. Add oil slowly, beating constantly with an electric beater, and continuing to beat until thick. (Helen advises: "When you think the mixture is thick enough, beat 5 minutes longer.) Stir in poppy seeds. Store in refrigerator.
*To make onion juice, place a medium onion in a mini chopper or blender and puree. Strain puree through a fine-mesh colander set over a small bowl to catch the onion juice.


All decked out for Memorial Day.


Come and get it, men!


  1. Well it just so happens that my man likes this too and you know that I am very concerned about that. Thank goodness he likes everything. I am with you, I like to save the red, white and blue for the 4th of July.

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