Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Walnuts and Blueberries is a delicious summertime salad that is quick to prepare and great way to use up some of the zucchinis from your plant in your garden box that has grown so massive that it took over your 8 foot long garden box. Oh wait. That’s just my zucchini plant that grew that big this year. Still. A great way to use up fresh zucchini.
Since there are probably about a gazillion different versions of this zucchini ribbon salad online, I am not going to talk much about it today. I am going to talk about my great Aunt Lilly, who is an amazing woman. I made this salad for her when she was here visiting a month ago. She loved it.
Lilly was born in 1918 in Vienna, Austria. She was the oldest of three kids, my grandpa Eric (My mom’s dad) was her younger brother and they had another sister, Mimi, that all I know about was that she was “slow” due to a birth accident. They grew up wealthy with a governess and a cook taking care of them and they only saw their parents on Sundays. My aunt had a pretty normal childhood other than that, went to school, played at the playground across the street from their house. She said sweets were never served during the week, they were saved until sundays where they would have traditional Austrian desserts, cakes and pastries. All made by their cook.
I have many of these recipes that were handed down to my Aunt and Grandpa. My grandmother made many of the recipes when I was a kid as well. My aunt and grandpa came to the United States October of 1938. They escaped and from what we know they lost their parents and sister Mimi to Hitler. It’s not something my aunt or grandpa ever talked about too much.
Lilly studied dress making and my grandpa entered the military. Since they both spoke German my grandpa ended up as a spy for the United States Air Force. His history is amazing and maybe I will talk about that in another post one day.
Lilly worked for a high end dress shop and did alterations. She was an amazing dress maker. Lilly was married three times, husband number 2, Ralph, was the love of her life and their wedding date is what I chose as mine so we would have the same anniversary. Ralph passed away many years ago and Lilly never remarried after husband #3. She has had several “boyfriends” that she has met that also live in her apartment complex, but none are ever good enough. So she says. She has some funny superstitions, such as not buying green bananas after the age of 50. She never thought she would live this long so she figured she would die before the bananas ripened.
She is 96 now, and still doing amazing. ( as of 2019 she is 101 and doing amazing!!) She lives in an apartment, still drives ( scary ha ha) and plays golf almost daily. In fact, she wins golf tournaments at least once a week. She is a docent at a local museum in Denver, Co. and she likes to tell us how she makes up information about the displays because the people on the museum tours don’t know anything about the displays so why not make up things to tell them? She will also see young kids with their pants hanging down too low and walk over and yank their pants back up and tell them to dress properly. She is a riot.
Lilly is a world traveler, many of her travels are with a group called the Friendship Forces, and we believe she is a member of the 100 club, having been to 100 countries, but we think she has been to even more. She has traveled several times to Budapest, Hungary for a month long to the baths and spas which she called her “fountain of youth”. The clearly worked since at 96 she still has more energy than anyone I know. Even my 4 year old. She believes in taking good care of your body and mind, eat well and exercise daily.
She also loved going to the Budapest Baths for the buffet breakfasts. So she could take extra items to keep for lunch. She really believed in the healing properties of the spas and I would love to visit them one day. On Lilly’s 90th birthday she went on a 5 mile snowshoeing adventure with her daughter and granddaughter. She used to be an avid snow skier, but switched to snowshoeing later in life. She also went and played golf later that that day and got a hole in one. She is truly amazing.
She wins her golf tournaments all the time and she told me she won one yesterday and her prize money was $6.
Lilly is the shortest adult family member, standing at only 4’10” and I am the tallest woman in my family at 5’10”. Growing up she used always ask me for a few inches of my legs, that I would never know they were missing and then she would be a normal height. I always thought this was hysterical. I made her a promise when I was younger that if I ever had a daughter I would name her after her. My first daughter’s middle name is Lilly. I have so many funny stories about Lilly I could go on for days
. One is she loves to steal her neighbors flowers. I was at her daughters house one day with my cousin Zach ( Lilly’s grandson) when she drives up and hands him a bag which what looks to be filled with dirt and flowers and tells him to plant them at the house. We looked in the bag and realized that the flowers were attached to big clumps of dirt. “Lilly, did you steal your neighbors flowers again?” “Yes! They don’t appreciate them”. “Lilly you can’t steal your neighbors flowers!!”. She didn’t care. She did what she wanted. She was always stealing flowers like that from public places. Oy! Before cell phones and unlimited long distance she would call us up “I have something to tell you, call me right back” so the call would be on our dime not hers.
She drives us all crazy but in a good way. I was never close to either set of grandparents so I am forever grateful for my Great Aunt Lilly. I have learned so much about life from her, and she is the hero to many members of our family.
- 3 medium zucchini
- 1/2 red onion, halved and then thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 2/3 c walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- Zest and juice of one lemon ( 1 tsp zest, 2-3 tsp juice)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 c goat cheese, crumbled
I called Lilly the other day to ask her more questions about her childhood. She instead told me about this dessert they would eat on Sundays, and took about 10 min to tell me how to blanch peaches and that I need to make this dessert since its peach season. So I will make her peach dessert recipe for the blog soon, it sounds really good!