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Let’s Cook: May Baskets brightest stars of month

Submitted Photo

We have one of the purest and long-lasting friendships ever. When this friend and I join efforts, we’re able to bring joy, smiles and wonderful feelings wherever we go. Our adventures involve a bit of knocking and scampering but that is half the fun of our joint adventure. In our home, May baskets are still one of the brightest stars of May. Their appearance reminds the receiver that someone is wishing them a charmed day.

Looking back at the history of May Day Baskets,we learn that as the month of April disappeared, people would begin gathering flowers, candies and other goodies to put into May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors and loved ones on May 1. Baskets could also be delivered as a sign of romance. Upon delivery, you would knock or maybe yell “May Basket” and then run! If you were caught, lookout because a kiss could be arriving.

The standard for May baskets in our home in Underwood included the following: a list of people that we would be delivering to, a metal 9×13 baking pan neatly lined with spring paper cups, and an assortment of candy that always included jelly beans. If we had time, we would attach colorful pipe cleaners to each cup as a handle.

The delivery was always my favorite part and includes memories of delivering a basket to our neighbor Don Oie. He was a carpenter and his entrance near the garage had a good smell of sawdust. Walter and Clara Kranz often met us at the door with their artistic version of a basket that always included quarters. Christine Johnson had impressive little windows in her front door that were memorable when we delivered there.

May Baskets continued though out high school and even into college. While at Minot State, our business fraternity, Phi Beta Lambda, sold May Baskets. We had great success on the bottom floor of Old Main as passersby were heading to class. With the encouragement of our advisor, Dr. Doris Slaaten, we delivered baskets to all of our business instructors as well.

History shows that two bold children hung May baskets on the White House front door on May Day 1925. The Indiana, PA., Gazette reported that First Lady Grace Coolidge found her admirers and gave them flowers she had picked. This was another place and time, but just think if this was still possible today. Maybe we should think about how our world has changed?

It is still not too late to deliver a May basket. With all that has happened in the past year, I would encourage you to do so. Get off the chair, go to the store and purchase your charms. When delivering, skip the knock and scamper and instead greet your neighbor, friend or loved ones. We all have sat in silence and this connection and conversation brings much needed support and love.

While living in Rugby, several times Terri Jacobson came through the Piece County Tribune door with colorful May baskets! Talk about a day brightening moment! She selected different basket styles each year which was certainly fun.

One may use milk cartons, green plastic strawberry baskets, and homemade paper baskets from construction paper. For a deluxe presentation, wallpaper shaped into cone style baskets are certainly fancy and fun. The possibilities for recycling plastic bottles into creative designs are simply endless. What will you use to transport your baskets?

Minot fans of May baskets include Lowell and Ann Latimer. We have enjoyed their merry flare upon our steps many times. Long time elementary teacher, Carol Rostad mentioned that her mother, Nettie, taught her that May baskets were delivered to everyone in the class or none at all. This is another example of how May baskets can make a positive impact in our lives.

Some people could perhaps think that I am simply a basket case for keeping the tradition of May Day Baskets alive…Well, I am here to say “I can handle it.”

Our homemade May baskets which feature a seed motif will include a touch of a homemade treat! These are easy treats and children can help make them.

Caramel Turtles

1 cup of pecan halves

36 light caramels

1/2 cup sweet chocolate, melted

Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Arrange pecans (flat side down) in clusters of 4. Place 1 caramel on each cluster of pecans. Heat in 325-degree oven until caramels soften (4-6 minutes). Remove from the oven; flatten caramels with buttered spatula. Cool slightly before placing a swirl of melted chocolate on top of each.

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