Don’t Forget the Paprika

Cooking isn’t my favorite thing. Even having been in 4-H and Home Economics, I didn’t learn much about cooking.

Mom hadn’t either because she grew up during the Depression and they mostly ate what came from their garden and what her dad and brothers brought home for meat, mainly squirrel and rabbit.

After WWII, Mom became a farmwife. Dad’s hired man was a bachelor who lived with his elderly mother, so had noon dinner with us. He asked Dad if it would be okay if he stayed for supper too. So Mom read cookbooks. It’s a good thing, because when they bought their farm south of Dexter, haying and harvesting was done with neighboring farmers.

That meant having “men for dinner.” My sister and I learned to scrub up the sink area in the utility room, where the men would wash up, and to set the table, stir the gravy, dish up food, and make sure Uncle Bill and the other men had seconds and even thirds of Mom’s good cooking.

Mom even had specialties, like her gooey pecan dinner rolls. Her potato salad was so popular that after our son’s graduation party, neighbors asked for the recipe. (The secret is Miracle Whip instead of mayo, and sweet-dill pickles.)

Everyone also loved her deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs and I don’t get along. Mine taste okay, but they look beaten up. Mom’s were all smooth uniform ovals. I admired Mom’s deviled egg plate, so got one–in case I’d ever went to the trouble of assembling the delightful morsels.

deviledegg (2)

Well, Mom spent the last six weeks and two days of her very long life at the Stuart Care Center. She’d lived with my sister Gloria on the farm for over a dozen years before that. Gloria still lived closer, so did most of the care-taking even when Mom was in the nursing home.

I’d go out and stay with Gloria on the farm so I could visit Mom in Stuart two days in a row. What might she appreciate having that they wouldn’t serve for meals there?

I decided to make deviled eggs, just for her.

Mom’s eyes lit up when she saw them. She looked in my eyes and smiled. Those last days she didn’t talk very much, but you could tell she was glad to have us visit. She pointed to the eggs.

“No paprika?”

Paprika! How could I have forgotten the paprika! That and springs of parsley always dressed up her deviled eggs.

It’s just a poignant droll little memory, but never again will I forget the paprika. If I ever go to the trouble to make deviled eggs.

Mom's Deviled Eggs
9-10 eggs, hard-cooked
1/4 cup minced onion (red)
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet-dill pickles
dash of pepper and celery seed
minced parsley
1/c cup Miracle Whip
Garnishes: parsley springs or sliced stuffed olives

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, put yolks into a small mixing bowl. Mash with a fork. Add onion, celery, sweet dills, pepper, celery seed, minced parsley, and Miracle Whip. Mix. Add a little pickle juice or Miracle Whip is too stiff. Fill egg whites with rubber scraper until nicely mounded. Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with parsley sprigs or sliced olives.

Sweet-dill pickles, which Mom said are the secret to her recipe, are sometimes hard to find. I’ve used dill pickled which I’ve placed in juice from sweet pickles for a week or so.



  1. My daughter makes the deviled eggs in the family. and she forgot the Paprika once. The pecan roll recipe made me hungry for them. Of course I’d probably go into diabetic shock if I ate one.

    But what a way to go!

    • I scheduled this one about a month ago, then this morning it dug up three more poignant “lasts” which I wrote up and have scheduled for Nov. 4–the day before Mom died four years ago. Lump in throat and needing a nap anyway

  2. I like to top my deviled eggs with a piece of green olive, piece of anchovies or even half a nut. Then there’s herbs that go nicely too. During the holidays I alternate the toppings so that they are decorated red (the paprika) and green and almost look like a wreath.

  3. I can totally understand you cherish this memory. I cannot make deviled eggs myself and am not even totally 100% sure I understand what they are from your post (I’d never heard the term before). If they are what I think they are, I’d definitely use paprika in them.

  4. yummm, I was raised loving my mom’s deviled eggs but everytime I’e tried to make them, they come out looking and tasting fine, but I eat them almost as fast as I can make them, and feel just terrible for everyone who wanted one. I think we have one of those dishes somewhere, but it suffers too from the eggs tasting so good. We use non-sweetened dill relish or hand diced deli dills.
    = so good !

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