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Shel_B

Grandma's Cooking and Recipes

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The cold months are coming, although it's not yet too cold here. Still, winter vegetables are appearing in the markets, and my thoughts are turning to soups and stews. We're growing some Kohlrabi in our garden, and I'm going to make Grandma Bessie's Winter Vegetable Soup, which is heavy on root vegetables.

Looking up her recipe in my files, I wondered how many people are using "Grandma's" recipes in their cooking routines, and what those recipes might be. My grandparents are Eastern European and Russian, so grandma's recipes reflect that heritage. What about your grandma ... care to share any recipes, ideas, or stories?

I'll post Grandma Bessie's Winter Vegetable Soup in Recipe Gullet later today or tomorrow.

From Grandma Bessie I also learned about Kugel, how to make split pea soup with flanken, got my first introduction to home made chicken soup, and Grandpa Jack taught me how to make Matzoh Brei. What did you learn from your grandparents?

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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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On Grandma's farm, breakfast was scrambled eggs with a deep vermilion color. Lunch could be salt cod on toast with a white sauce. And dinner a roast mallard that Grandpa beheaded with the kids watching.

There was a fresh apple pie made daily with Northern Spy's.

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I lost my Grammy on April 1, 2013. It's been really hard. This topic made me smile with remembrance this morning, though.

My Grammy's cherry pie is legendary. Especially the crust. Light, flaky, buttery. I have tried and tried and have never been able to make crust like she does. I'd tell her all the time how wonderful it is and she'd brush it off and say "It's easy, no big deal, you can do it!"

I sure miss her.

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My maternal grandmother is the one I most identify with. She was an avid cook and cooked for her large family of 7 children and 26 grandchildren who were mostly local.

Born in Aleppo Syria she moved to NY as a young teen and then down to Macon Ga. She was widowed very early and raised her children alone.

Her cooking was a mix of Syrian, southern and Jewish traditions. We put together a family cookbook that was distributed to all her children and grand children. She measured by hand so measurements had to be approximate

She was an amazing woman and is thought of often. The family still gets together for holidays and thanksgiving which usually is well over a 100 people. Religious holidays can number between 40-60 People who are still local

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I did not really know my maternal grandmother until she came to live with us when I was 12 and she was 91. She had been living in Brazil. Since there were plenty of young adults and me in the house she did not need to do any cooking.

There are 2 of her recipes, however, that were passed to my mom and then on to me. Her baking powder biscuits are still a favorite both with my wife and with my grown daughters. What I grew up calling potato soup (I would call it bacon and corn chowder) still elicits happy comments from my daughters when I make it for them.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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These stories are wonderful to read. My grandparents were Canadian Polish Jews. My Bubbi died when I was only 7 and so although I ate her food, I have little memory of it all. I remember the extra oven which above the burners. That was so different to me. And I remember lighting the candles on Friday night.

My strongest grandparent food memory was my Poppa giving me a bowl of fresh pumpernickel chunks (when pumpernickel was really pumpernickel) in cottage cheese and sour cream (ditto for sour cream), salted and peppered. Pure ambrosia.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

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I'm a grandma and some of my recipes are from both grandmas and from my great grandmother - my maternal grandfather's mother.

My great grandmother did not actually do any cooking herself, being a "fine lady" - but she was an avid collector of "receipts" during her extensive travels in Europe and around the Mediterranean in the latter third of the 19th century and early years of the 20th. She was extremely adept in telling cooks what to prepare and how to do it. She collected "receipts" in many countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Egypt (flatbread and some bean dishes). The German sausage recipes were a staple in the kitchen when I was a child, especially those made with juniper berries - not at all common in southern cooking.

My maternal grandmother also did not do a lot of cooking herself because she too relied on a cook and "kitchen help" but there were some special recipes she liked to prepare herself.

My paternal grandmother was a great cook and had learned much from her mother-in-law and from the sister of her father-in-law who owned a hotel and was said to be one of the "best cooks in Kentucky" by newspaper columnists who visited the hotel. However I did not spend a lot of time in her kitchen so did not have the advantage of learning more than a few of her favorite recipes.

I have posted a few recipes on my blog (and some here on eG) that I have adapted and modernized (and often reduced in volume) over the decades.

My grandfather's cook is the one who actually taught me how to make biscuits - I was probably 7 or 8 because by that time I was tall enough to just need a low stool on which to stand at the kitchen work table, and was old enough to avoid burning my fingers in the hot fat in the biscuit pan as the biscuits were first dipped in the hot drippings or lard and then turned over and placed in the pan…

Later, when I was strong enough to lift the cast iron skillets, I learned how to make cornbread.

She also taught me how to "clean" a chicken and to avoid breaking the gall sac, and then how to "disjoint" the chickens for frying. (There were a lot of people living in the house, fried "chicken" meant 4 or 5 chickens, even when there were other meats.

She also taught me how to make butter and I still make my own.

My maternal grandmother did teach me how to make "flaky" pastry and pie dough HER way, which was somewhat different from the way the cook made it. The flaky pastry was similar to croissant dough or puff pastry but she just called it flaky pastry and it was used for vol a' vents, crab "puffs" and various sweet pastries.

The difference in preparing it was a wooden "press" with a lever that smashed the layers of dough and butter together, rather than repeatedly rolling it. (It was also used for pressing butter and cheeses)

I wonder why those fell out of fashion - probably because they take up too much room in smaller kitchens.

I should add that many of my ancestors have been in America since the 1600s and early 1700s and a few in Kentucky since the mid to late 1700s - before it was a state. The others mostly were in Virginia and the Carolinas before migrating to Kentucky as late as 1835. So there is a long tradition of southern cooking behind me and also some traditional English cooking from the later "immigrants" from England.


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Both grandmothers were excellent cooks.

My paternal grandmother was mostly German Palatine, so a good share of her cooking was very similar to that of the Pennsylvania "Dutch."

She lived and very simple and tough life of farming...lots of kraut, hog maw and the like, sausages, game, cheeses, breads......a heck of a lot of home canning and preserving.

She wasn't one to use "receipts" much although I do have a couple that are her's.

My maternal grandmother was mostly Scottish....she did lot of cooking from very diverse influences.....only some of it Scottish.

I have hundreds of her recipes.

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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My grandparents grew up in rural Ireland at a time when food was there to keep body and soul together. They never had much sense of quality or variety - certainly not of health or adventurous eating - and chose meals on the basis of cost and convenience. The most important thing I learned from them in terms of food culture is how lucky I am to have means and education to choose.

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My grandmothers raised their families in the midst of the Great Depression and were by no means "fancy" cooks. They simply didn't have the money then and later when they did, they were tight-fisted with it.

My German grandmother did cook three times a day her whole married life for my grandfather and usually for the extended family on the holidays. It was all very good, but I can't recall anything that really stood out to me. She taught me to bake bread when I was small, maybe eight or nine, and I was astonished to learn later in life that just about none of my friends knew how to bake.

My Okie grandmother had less money, but was a better cook. I miss her chicken and dumplings and her berry cobbler. Mine just isn't the same.

I'm glad I learned to be resourceful from both of them. I can make something out of anything today and my children were adventurous eaters as tots and are now that they are grown, as well. I made sure they learned to cook so they could feed themselves for the sake of economy as well as health.


Edited by annabelle (log)
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I should add that many of my ancestors have been in America since the 1600s and early 1700s and a few in Kentucky since the mid to late 1700s - before it was a state.

I think that almost anyone who has deep roots in the 13 can trace their ancestors back to the very beginning of the European invasion.

We have 2046 cumulative direct ancestors going back just 10 generations.

I've been thinking about my grandmothers (and grandfathers) even more than normal today.

It seems that everything tasted better at grandma's house.

Even a basic late summer tomato sandwich with mayo was magic.

My family has always been very close and I've been very blessed.....3 of my grandparents lived long lives...all sharp as a tack until the end....my maternal grandparents both lived to be 91, my paternal grandfather 88...my paternal grandma passed away when she was 77....

My roots run deep here...both my grandfathers were born within 10 miles of where I live....my great great grandfather's farm is a short distance away....

I cherish all the memories and what I learned from my grandparents...it seems so strange....they were always there...seemingly unchanged for so many years, then suddenly, they're all gone.....3 within just 5 years... :sad:


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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As a kid, my mom and I lived with her parents on Long Island, NY, where Pop had a truck farm, sold eggs, honey, fresh flowers and squab. Nana made the BEST stuffing for turkey, and Pop's fresh veg. were amazing, especially the corn from the back of the garden.

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"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Both grandmothers were excellent cooks.

My paternal grandmother was mostly German Palatine, so a good share of her cooking was very similar to that of the Pennsylvania "Dutch."

She lived and very simple and tough life of farming...lots of kraut, hog maw and the like, sausages, game, cheeses, breads......a heck of a lot of home canning and preserving.

She wasn't one to use "receipts" much although I do have a couple that are her's.

My maternal grandmother was mostly Scottish....she did lot of cooking from very diverse influences.....only some of it Scottish.

I have hundreds of her recipes.

We must be from the same family :-). My Pa German grandmother was a fabulous cook and baker, I learned from watching her but have never quite replicated her yeasted coffee cake, although I've figured out the icing. Apparently my Scottish great grandmother made 7 pies every Saturday and danced on the table--that explains a lot...

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My mother's mother was apparently quite a character, but I never met her. She seems to have been one of those "stay out of my kitchen" sorts, when she was cooking; they had household help that did some of the cooking also, but the children were never permitted to help. My mother arrived at marriage without having learned *anything* about cooking, and some of her early mishaps were hilarious. I offer this illustration of my mother's parents:

The scene: at the dinner table, just having said grace.

He, picking up his fork: "This is delicious"

She: "You haven't even tasted it yet!"
He: "looking"

My father's mother was a great home cook, although looking back on it I think her most-used seasonings were salt, pepper and boundless love. The one thing I may have learned from Nana is her green beans. Today's chefs would dismiss them out of hand: they were soft and olive drab; all we cared about was their melt-in-the-mouth deep flavor. We tried (how we tried!) to learn how she made them. Cousin Sally took careful notes on at least one occasion. Nobody got it right. Eventually, I inherited Nana's green bean pots, along with Dad's story of how she got that set when he was 10 and she threw a Wearever party, like a Tupperware party, to earn them and some money for his birthday. That makes the pots of about 1929 vintage, and I use them today...and with a bit of bacon, a very little water, a lot of time and memories, I believe I have Nana's green beans about right.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I know I've mentioned this before - but what I consider my 'granny' was actually two women - granny herself and Minnie, the native woman who worked for granny and her husband when they owned a marina and then shared a house together after my grandfather's death.

A quick browse through my recipe programs shows recipes for dinner rolls and lemonade (similar to lemon squash) from granny, smoked salmon from Minnie and one of my favourite cookie recipes (sour cream cookies) from Mrs Keith - a neighbour who lived in a cottage on the property in Cowichan Bay.

I recall visits in my childhood when granny and I would make fudge and pull taffy until our shoulders and hands were sore.

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My maternal grandmother was the only grandparent I ever knew. She was from Poland, and died when I was 11, but the one food I most associate with her is her borscht. One of my first memories is of standing on a chair near her stove, and her spoon-feeding me the warm borscht as it was still cooking. She made it once a week, and gave jars of it to my family. We always had it before dinner, cold from the refrigerator, and we drank it in a glass. We then ate the beets from the bottom of the glass with a fork. We never used any sort of dairy with it, no sour cream, no yogurt. I never even heard of that until I was in my twenties. It does turn the borscht a beautiful magenta, but in truth I prefer borscht the way my grandmother made it.

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When I was growing up in a two-family semi-detached home in Forest Hills, NY, we lived upstairs from my paternal grandparents.

I learned that Marlboro reds go really well with coffee - it was how my grandmother started every day - she took Carnation evaporated milk in her percolated Maxwell House (as opposed to her sisters, who took heavy cream). My paternal grandfather, however, liked to start with a Dutch Masters cigar; he was a car salesman, and I think he went through 6 or 7 cigars a day. Cigar boxes were a great toy for little kids. There were no meals at this house without every single adult smoking at one point or another.

She was a pretty bad cook, iirc, but they had no problem taking the kids out for Chinese food, great hot dogs or pizza or whatever. She had 5 brothers and sisters, and they were all close for their whole lives. They all liked to drink - and rye whiskey was a favorite. Many of them lived to a ripe, old age - and they all lived life to the fullest extent they could.

My maternal grandparents lived in the Bronx. It was about an hour and a half subway ride, but we did it often. This was like another world - as Woody said in Annie Hall, "my grandmother was too busy being raped by Cossacks." This was the miserable side of my family, and where I came to the realization that if you were ruled by a woman like my maternal grandmother, oy gevalt. She scared most everyone.

Interestingly enough, she could cook...although she tended to put chicken through a deflavorizer. But I always loved her chicken fricassee (she used the feet, neck, giblets and ends of the wings), her potato latkes, her kreplach, her kugels, her gefilte fish, etc. There was a dumbwaiter in the apartment, and I have no idea how she cooked for 20 people in that tiny kitchen.

I'm sure I have some cookbooks somewhere that came from one or both of them. I'll see what I can find over the weekend.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Tasty Travails - My Blog

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weinoo's post brought back some strong memories. I grew up in the same general area as weinoo, and my maternal grandparents lived in The Bronx. We lived with them for a while, after the war - I guess I should say WWII - until we bought a house in Queens.

Grandpa Jack was a produce man. He worked in produce literally since the day he stepped of the boat from Ellis Island. Eventually he had a few small stores, the kind with the produce lined up outside the store in boxes and bins. He had a great reputation as an excellent produce man and a good worker. He'd get up at 2:00am and head for the produce market where he'd buy his fruits and vegetables for the day. Farmers would save Jack the good stuff, but it always helped to get to the market early.

Now, with all this great produce in her life, you'd think my mother would be serving fresh produce at every meal, but that wasn't the case. Most of our vegetables came from a can, and when I was big enough, I'd open the cans with the Swing-Away can opener attached to the wall of the pantry cabinet.

I loved going to Grandpa's store, walking around amongst those colorful produce items, and getting a grapefruit-sized Florida orange as a treat.

The grandparents didn't have a car, so Jack got around by subway, and that made his coming to visit difficult and time consuming. But, whenever Jack would visit, he'd have two big paper bags filled with produce, including my favorite grapefruit oranges. We'd enjoy lots of fresh produce for a week or so, until we'd have to go back to cans.

It turns out that Jack knew a grower in Florida - they were friends somehow - who would provide Jack with these super oranges. It turns out that a lot of Jack's customers liked and wanted them, too. I never saw such oranges anywhere else but at Grandpa Jack's store, or in those big paper bags stuffed with fresh, seasonal produce that he'd bring on his infrequent visits.


Edited by Shel_B (log)
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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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I know I've mentioned this before - but what I consider my 'granny' was actually two women - granny herself and Minnie, the native woman who worked for granny and her husband when they owned a marina and then shared a house together after my grandfather's death.

A quick browse through my recipe programs shows recipes for dinner rolls and lemonade (similar to lemon squash) from granny, smoked salmon from Minnie and one of my favourite cookie recipes (sour cream cookies) from Mrs Keith - a neighbour who lived in a cottage on the property in Cowichan Bay.

I recall visits in my childhood when granny and I would make fudge and pull taffy until our shoulders and hands were sore.

I love these stories. This is a great topic.

Kerry, was there anything in particular about Minnie's way of doing smoked salmon that made it special? (If so, care to share?) And what do you mean by lemonade similar to lemon squash? And, er, since I'm asking...what about those sour cream cookies? Those sound dangerous...

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I know I've mentioned this before - but what I consider my 'granny' was actually two women - granny herself and Minnie, the native woman who worked for granny and her husband when they owned a marina and then shared a house together after my grandfather's death.

A quick browse through my recipe programs shows recipes for dinner rolls and lemonade (similar to lemon squash) from granny, smoked salmon from Minnie and one of my favourite cookie recipes (sour cream cookies) from Mrs Keith - a neighbour who lived in a cottage on the property in Cowichan Bay.

I recall visits in my childhood when granny and I would make fudge and pull taffy until our shoulders and hands were sore.

I love these stories. This is a great topic.

Kerry, was there anything in particular about Minnie's way of doing smoked salmon that made it special? (If so, care to share?) And what do you mean by lemonade similar to lemon squash? And, er, since I'm asking...what about those sour cream cookies? Those sound dangerous...

Minnie's Indian Candy was a pretty straightforward molasses and pickling salt brine.

Lemon squash - and grannies lemonade - are concentrates - you add about 4 or 5 parts water to the syrup.

Check here for the recipe for the Sour Cream cookies - I often use yogurt and I do a hermit variation too.

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I remember my German grandma making some fruit filled cookies that were like tiny pies filled with raisins and nuts or mincemeat or dried fruit. They were really good and nothing my mother would ever make because they were time-consuming and she worked full time.

I never found her recipe but I tried making some a few years ago. But I out smarted myself by cutting them with an old fashioned ravioli press and then trying to bake them off. They spread out and became behemoth cookie with blobs of fruit scattered over it. I decided the ratio on the fat in the cookie dough was off and I'd need to try something else. But I still haven't tried it again.


Edited by annabelle (log)
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Check here for the recipe for the Sour Cream cookies - I often use yogurt and I do a hermit variation too.

Kerry, do you cream the butter and sugar? I'm thinking of trying this but using Craisins since we have some that need using up.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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My maternal grandma also made a lot of filled cookies....I loved the mincemeat ones.

She did a lot of baking....Boston brown bread was surely one of her favorites based on how often she made it. :smile:

Here's a picture of grandma.....

wFidPSj.jpg?1

Not the best picture, but the easiest to find.

We often called her Grandma Grunt because of all the fruit grunts she made....that was okay with her...she had a great sense of humor. :smile:

Grandma's house....rural north-central Pennsylvania...our house, where I grew up, was just across the dirt road.

aINOyna.jpg?1

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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