Memorial Day weekend — a time to get the grills fired up and enjoy good food with friends and family.

Memorial Day is more than the official kickoff of summer and a three-day weekend. Many American servicemen and women have died for our country. Today we honor those who bravely gave their lives for our country.

Here are a few facts most people don’t realize about Memorial Day:

• Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring Americans to pause at 3 p.m. Memorial Day to remember and honor the fallen.

• If you fly the flag, be sure to raise the flag in the morning, then slowly lower it at half-staff until noon and then lower it at sunset.

• In 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

• Some people will wear poppies on this day to remember those who died. The poppy was inspired by John McCrae’s World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields.”

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives during the war. Let us take time to honor them this weekend.

To honor Memorial Day weekend, I have a very special restaurant to share with you.

She’s a fireball. She’s extremely creative. She’s giving and compassionate. This is how I would describe Gold Star Café’s chef and owner Charlene Hall; there’s never a good time to catch her standing still. If she’s not in the kitchen creating, she’s waiting on customers.

I’m amazed just watching her work. She never stops. Charlene is a dynamo. Her bubbly personality and her love of cooking are worth the trip, not to mention some of the best food over the state line.

Gold Star Café and Catering is on a corner in Lowell, Ind. Above the front door is an American flag. The patio has many small café tables with umbrellas for outdoor dining.

The chef began her business to “fill a need for scratch baking and whole food cooking in a market that had mostly processed and frozen standardized foods.” No statement could be truer — she is one of the few bakers who use real lard in her biscuits and dumplings.

The café, she said, is decorated like her home — warm, friendly and, I must say, inviting. Many of her grandmother’s antiques line the cupboard shelves, and Charlene uses some of Grandma’s recipes, too. Guests can lounge in an antique love seat while sipping one of her homemade lattes.

Hall says the café is set up to serve at least 35 guests for private parties, including teas. One of the parties is an etiquette tea for young children, another, her princess tea. Its Mother’s Day brunch was booked well in advance.

There always are specials, but one of my favorite lunches is her homemade chicken salad croissant made with shredded chicken breasts, grapes and pecans served on a buttery, flaky croissant.

With summer here, she has a beautiful Cobb salad with cheddar cheese, chopped bacon, chopped boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes and served with a variety of dressings. My personal favorite was the poppy seed.

Breakfast items include a quiche, made with seasonal ingredients, or her biscuits and gravy. Make sure you grab some of her homemade cinnamon rolls to take home — absolutely fabulous.

Signature items featured at Gold Star are Hall’s fabulously creative cakes and cookies. For teacher appreciation week, she designed cookies shaped like an apple with a little gummy worm.

As well as making fabulous cakes and foods, Hall is extremely busy catering these days. She has boxed lunches and will cater a beautiful buffet-style dinner with an enormous selection of foods.

Gold Star Café’s breakfast buffet is available every Saturday and Sunday; price is $10 per person, $11 if you add a drink. Children’s buffet is $5.75.

Regular hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. They are closed Wednesday. I recommend you call before going. Sometimes they are closed for private parties.

Gold Star Café and Catering is at 1336 E. Commercial Ave., Lowell. Call 219-690-3487 to order food or request catering. Make sure you follow them on Facebook and visit goldstarcafeandcatering.com.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend and take time out to honor those who died for our country.

Tinker Parker can be reached at 815-802-5101, at bestbites@daily-journal.com, or follow her at Facebook.com/ TDJBestBites.

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