Decoration Day. It’s a familiar tradition, an annual observance at many privately-owned Southern cemeteries, during which families gather to clean up the graveyard, reconnect with family and honor the memories of their ancestors.
As a child born and raised in Franklin County, specifically the Phil Campbell area, Amy McCollum has been attending Decoration Sunday all her life. “My Grandma, Dorothy Pierce Dolan, lived in the East Franklin/Oak Grove Community until her death in January 2009,” McCollum noted. Led by the matriarch, Dolan’s descendants have carried on the Decoration Sunday tradition. “Our family spends every second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day – fellowshipping and sharing a meal together. We rent the Union Community Center for everyone to have plenty of room.”
For McCollum, Decoration Sunday provided some of her best childhood memories, “seeing all my cousins and family from out of town,” she explained. “We missed this tradition last year because of COVID, but I look forward to the delicious food again this year.”
No Southern gathering would be complete without a meal, and the following recipes, from the Pierce Family Cookbook, are a must for McCollum’s Decoration Sunday – especially Grandma Dorothy’s grape salad and chocolate pie. “As a tribute to my Grandma Dorothy and her legacy, I will do my best to make sure the Pierce Family Sunday Dinner will continue for years to come.”
6 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tub Ritz crackers
1 stick margarine, melted
1. Layer chicken in casserole dish.
2. Mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream and poppy seeds together; pour over chicken.
3. Top with crushed crackers.
4. Pour melted margarine over crackers.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
5-6 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick melted butter
1 Tb. sage
2 eggs (raw)
1 cup crumbled biscuits
2 1/2 cups cornbread
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1. Boil chicken and shred. Save 1 cup of broth from cooked chicken.
2. Mix broth with 1 can cream of chicken soup.
3. Add other ingredients to soup and broth, except chicken and second can of soup.
4. Divide second can of cream of chicken soup in half. Pour half into Crockpot.
5. Alternate layers of chicken and broth mixture in the Crockpot until all is layered.
6. Top with remaining half can of soup.
7. Cook three hours on low.
NOTE: Heat the Crockpot 40 minutes on high before adding ingredients.
Cooking and crumbling bacon – rather than using store-bought bits – is key in this recipe, and McCollum prefers to omit the raisins.
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1 small red onion, chopped
12 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Dressing: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup white sugar, 3 Tb. red wine vinegar
1. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl.
2. To make the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise, sugar and red wine vinegar together until smooth.
3. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and stir to coat
2 packages frozen chopped broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 Tb. grated onion
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups grated cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1. Cook broccoli until tender and drain.
2. Combine other ingredients with broccoli in a casserole dish.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
1 can cream-style corn
1 can whole kernel corn (do not drain)
1 small sour cream
1 stick butter
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Bake at 450 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
2 cups self-rising cornmeal
2 Tb. sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium chopped sweet onion
1/4 to 1/3 chopped jalapeños (to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Coat the bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet with oil and sprinkle with a little cornmeal. Place in stove to get hot.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, sugar, egg, milk, sour cream, oil, onions and jalapeños and mix until smooth.
4. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Check the center with a sharp knife to see if it is done.
Strawberry-Pineapple Punch Bowl Cake
1 box cake mix
1 can crushed pineapple
1 box vanilla instant pudding
1 can strawberry pie filling
1 large container of Cool Whip
1. Prepare cake mix and bake as directed.
2. Prepare pudding as directed.
3. Put one layer cake in punch bowl.
4. Top with half of pudding.
5. Add layer of Cool Whip.
6. Add layer of pineapple.
7. Add layer of strawberry pie filling.
8. Repeat layers.
4 cups white seedless grapes
4 cups red seedless grapes
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tb. vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1. Wash grapes and let dry.
2. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla.
3. Fold grapes into cream mixture.
4. Top with brown sugar and pecans.
Dorothy’s Chocolate Pie
Baked pie shell
For the filling:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tb. cocoa
3 eggs yolks
1/2 stick margarine
Dash of salt
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa and dash of salt.
2. Slowly add milk.
3. Cook in double boiler until thick.
4. Add egg yolks, butter and vanilla. Cook 2-3 minutes longer.
5. Pour into baked pie shell.
6. Make the meringue: Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar while beating egg whites until glossy and stiff.
7. Cover the pie with meringue and brown in oven at 350 degrees.
Aunt Doris’ Coconut Cake
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 large container Cool Whip
2 (6 oz.) packages frozen coconut
1. Bake cake according to directions, in two 8-inch pans.
2. Mix together sour cream and sugar. Spread on split layers.
3. Place one layer on plate, spread with Cool Whip and top with coconut.
4. Pour any leftover sour cream mixture into remaining Cool Whip and mix well.
5. Put second cake layer on top of first.
6. Frost with Cool Whip.
7. Sprinkle coconut on top and sides.
8. Store in refrigerator.