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Shel_B

Grandma's Cooking and Recipes

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Shel_B's produce-store grandpa brings back shades of my truck farm Pop, and my Nana, who thought canned spinach, of all the horrible things, was just the cat's a$$. Truely, is there anything supposedly edible that is nastier? Maybe canned asparagus, but with a good vinaigrette, I can do it! Nothing will ever redeem canned spinach in my book!

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"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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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.

Yup I do. They are a strange cookie - a little muffin like. Tasty for sure.

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My paternal grandmother was a Sephardic Jew whose family had been in Jamaica for generations and who came to New York as a very young woman and married a cousin, also from Jamaica. I have several of her recipes that she taught my mother (who was a farm girl from a staunchly Methodist family from central New York - how they met is another story). The family favorites were a baked banana dessert and a very simple sponge cake that I still make. I also have a recipe labeled "Nene's Bun" (Nene being my great aunt Rose -this family all had nick names) - a spiced baking powder quick bread. And of course there were black eyed peas and rice.

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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most of the the northern Italian dishes I cook are passed down from my Nonna. my favourite being this. spezzatino and grilled polenta. this spezzatino was a bit looser than I generally serve it, but still very good sopped up with the grilled polenta.

spezzatinogrilledpolenta1.jpg

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"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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I recently lost my last pair of grandparents (Grampa Mac in February and Gramma Ruth in March - they loved each other so much that she wasn't more than 2 weeks behind him), so like Shelby this thread is making me tear up a little...

On my father's side, I had extremely Scottish grandparents. From my Gran Kat (after whom I am named), who would only let her granddaughters in the kitchen while she was cooking (lucky me - I was the only one she had!) I have Scones, Oatcakes, Honey Cakes, Black Fruitcakes, and my favourite method for macaroni and cheese casserole. Although I paid very close attention I will never be able to roast meats the way she did: she was an absolute master and even 20 years on I'm still trying to get my lamb to turn out the way hers did. Gran was kind of heck on veggies, though - she put everything except perhaps neeps a mashie - through the blander, because apparently it wasn't veg until it was an unidentifiable greenish moosh. I used to have bets with my (all male) cousins at holiday dinners about what that green goop was when it started - brussel sprouts? broccoli? beans? and since they never caught on that I was allowed in the kitchen, I always won the best prizes out of the Christmas crackers my uncle made. I also have, when I want to use it, Gran's broad Glaswegian accent.

From Gramp Rollie, I have a taste for finer Scotches and the conviction that a shot a day will keep the doctor away (it does, and it did for him - he was well on into his 80s when he passed, and peacefully). I've also got his methods for yeasted cakes, which was about the only thing he was permitted to do in the kitchen besides heavy lifting.

On my mother's side, I had third-generation Scottish grandparents. From Gramma Ruth (after whom I am thankfully not named), I have recipes for waffles, pancakes, and all manner of quick breads. Gramma Ruth was not a salt chef at all, and I remember in particular spam fritters that even the dog wouldn't eat. Grampa Mac was the better cook. From my great aunts and Gramma's cookbooks from her own mother and grandmother, I have everything I ever needed to know about yeast breads. The honey whole wheat loaves that I bake are from my recently departed Great Aunt Rosalind, Ruth's sister.

From my Grampa Mac, who apparently started feeding me butter tarts before I had teeth to chew the raisins, I have a raging sweet tooth, the conviction that even stale bread is edible if I have a full bowl of maple syrup to dip it into. I have and frequently exercise his recipes for butter tarts (what else!?!), taffy, fudge, caramels, and other assorted sweets. I also have the tried and true methods for grilling elk, moose, and bear, and my favourite methods for cast-iron cooking. Grampa also gave me a spirit of adventurousness in the kitchen - he'd often open up the icebox and pull out random stuff and then we'd have a day of turning it into dinner. He taught me that anything is possible as long as you have salt, pepper, and parsley in the pantry.

From all four of these, I got the Calvinist work ethic. In the kitchen, it means I'm stubbornly hardworking past the point of most folks' endurance because I'd prefer to fall into bed honestly exhausted than simply tired from a day's work.

On my stepdad's side, I had a Polish Gypsy oma, who was his great-aunt. From Oma Salome, I learned about pickling, preserves, black breads, overnight breads, and that no breakfast is complete without kielbasa (something I now sorely miss in Ecuador). She also taught me that kohlrabi is best raw with a little dish of salt, and that if you can find sweet red onions, they're just as good for eating out of hand as apples are. I'm convinced that Oma Salome only passed away because the doctors told her she had to stop doing this.

EDIT - And because my family's definition of "family" has always been very broad, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Grandma Wendy in Northern Alberta, who adopted me into her northern Cree band and taught me that bannock is best when fried in about 2 feet of pig drippings, and that wild strawberries or blueberries are always, always worth the effort, before booting me out of the kitchen to go play with the boys; here in Ecuador Grandma Fidelina, who has taught me so much about Ecuadorian cooking and customs and who still smacks my hand with a wooden spoon if I reach for the quimbolitos before they're fully cooked; Grandma Dorila, who taught me that anything I catch in the river can handily be cooked in heliconia leaves as long as I can find garlic or garlic vines; and Grandma Blanca, who showed me that fresh-milled corn is so much better, even if my arms feel like they're going to fall off when it comes time to make the humitas.


Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I also had an honorary Jewish "Bubbeh" - Grandma Letzie - from the year mid-59 to mid-60, I lived with an Orthodox Jewish family - who were friends of my employer and needed a Shabbos Goy while I needed a place to live close to work.

Her granddaughters were not much interested in cooking so I got the benefit of her expertise in several traditional recipes and learned the importance of maintaining order in TWO kitchens (separated by a butler's pantry) as they were strictly kosher.

Unlike many of her generation, Bubbeh Letzie had a wonderful way with vegetables which were not cooked to death, as in some traditions.

She had a deft hand with pastry and the strudels, especially the poppy seed and the prune, would bring tears to those who really appreciated them.

She taught me to make potato dumplings that were light and fluffy, so unlike the heavy ones so often found.

I just wish I had written everything down. I have a good memory but after 50-some years, a few things have been sifted out.

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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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I'm starting to feel ripped off for having no Jewish grannies in my family.

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Annabelle - you can always try adopting one! Many Jewish grannies lament having nobody to share their lore with and will happily let you help out in the kitchen to make sure their traditions and recipes survive, even if it is with a goy… (I neglected to mention Bubbeh Rachel, who taught me everything I know about Kosher cooking; her knishes are legendary.)

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I'm old enough to be your mom (I think) so that would work!

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My family is mostly gone and what remains is dysfunctional, the only thing my Grandmother made that I cared about was her browned potatoes after making a pork roast in the pan. I cant ever get the potatoes to get that rich brown coating on them. Maybe the pork has changed so much that you cant do it anymore.

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Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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I only had a maternal Oma (grandmother) and Alte-Oma (great grandmother).

Oma did not let the kids do more than set the table, clear the dishes and wash up. She did let us go out to the minuscule patch of vegetable garden and harvest the Gruenzeug (green stuff in dialect). It was like a combo of flat leaf parsley and parsnip. The roots were always part of chicken soup and the leaves were the only herb we knew. We all enjoyed her green soup which was a simple roux based soup with a ton of finely minced parsley leaves. The seeds were brought over to the US by the lucky few who were able to afford to travel back to the Old Country. Seed trading and harvesting was a big deal. When I spied flat leaf parsley in a market in the early 80's I could not resist pinching a leaf and was transported back to childhood. Those were the days where curly parsley was all you saw. She also started the salad trend in our family which consisted of red leaf lettuce dressed with a simple mix of vinegar (industrial strength white) and a bit of salt and sugar. I was startled to see the same dressing in The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis I did not encounter iceberg lettuce until I was maybe 10(no restaurant meals in our clan). She worked full time as a cleaning lady at night in the big highrise offices downtown so her time was limited - always in a hurry. My cousin and I tried to surprise her by making bacon one morning - it burned a bit and I rushed the skillet over to the open window above which floated those lovely nylon or other synthetic curtains....meltdown....runaway grandkids. Maybe that is why she did not want us "helping" in the kitchen! She did cook delicious food but I was not privy to the process. The raise chicks for food experiment was a fail with the grandkids and even the adults now used to food less close to reality. We created quite the drama when she served them.

Alte Oma on the other hand would at least let me watch. She was held in high regard for her noodle making skills; the thin noodles for the clear broth soups we had for Sunday dinner. She must have been good at the broth making as well since I recall crystal clarity. That taste memory is my standard. She emphasized that the noodles must be cooked separately in water so as not to cloud the broth. Noodles were made every couple weeks and then dried and stored in the aluminum tin (attached image). She used a big Nudelbrett (noodle board) that her son made and did the classic mound of flour with a well for the eggs. I learned at a very early age about the need to rest the dough before rolling it out to get the maximum thinness. Her rolling pin did not have any mechanics in it to allow it to spin - just a rounded surface with handles. When ready to cut she wielded the super sharp boning knife (my dad the butcher brought home sample knives from knife vendors and kept them surgical grade sharp). To this day my 91 year old dad fondly remembers her noodles which he has not had in 45 years or more and I am pretty good with doughs.

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Edited by heidih Add image (log)
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Shel_B's produce-store grandpa brings back shades of my truck farm Pop, and my Nana, who thought canned spinach, of all the horrible things, was just the cat's a$$. Truely, is there anything supposedly edible that is nastier? Maybe canned asparagus, but with a good vinaigrette, I can do it! Nothing will ever redeem canned spinach in my book!

As mentioned above, we ate a lot of canned vegetables, although not a great variety. I never had canned spinach, but I tried canned asparagus (Yecch!) and, strangely, canned carrot (OMG! Save me from this horror!) juice. I do believe it was the worst thing I've ever put to my lips. If spinach is any worse than that most awful rust-colored-liquid-they-called-carrot-juice, then you have my deepest sympathies.


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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My mother once bought canned okra. The horror is still with me.

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Speaking of canned asparagus...it's all I knew of asparagus...drizzled with Miracle Whip mixed with chili sauce...until after I was married. Who knew? City girl raised in an apartment building.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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My Jamaican-Jewish father only ate a very small array of vegetables - corn, peas and green beans - either canned or frozen - and preferably overcooked. And my farm girl mother catered to his tastes. I put this down to my paternal grandmother's cooking. I never tasted broccoli or eggplant until I left home. Or a pea or green bean that wasn't cooked to mush.

Elaina


Edited by ElainaA (log)

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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My family is mostly gone and what remains is dysfunctional, the only thing my Grandmother made that I cared about was her browned potatoes after making a pork roast in the pan. I cant ever get the potatoes to get that rich brown coating on them. Maybe the pork has changed so much that you cant do it anymore.

As a lover of oven-browned potatoes with the pork roast, something i grew up on, I felt obligated to reply. Yes, the pork is not the same, although you can buy a heritage breed. I recommend par-boiling the potatoes before putting them in with the roast, and you can add some lard if needed. Since we cook pork at lower temps and shorter times than back in the day, you can also remove the pork and finish the potatoes at a higher heat while the pork rests.

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I never knew my paternal grandparents. They were gone before I arrived. Same with my maternal grandfather.

I have one very vague memory of my maternal grandmother. A huge house and a tiny kitchen. She had 13 kids. My 84-y-o mother is the youngest and one of only two surviving. The other is her twin sister.

I have no recipes or anecdotes to share. She died when I was about 3 or 4.

I always felt deprived as a kid. Other kids had grandparents. Not fair. (Stamps foot!)

But in that only memory of my grandmother, she was cooking.. I've always wanted to know what. It could have been a grand meal or maybe just a fried egg. And I still feel sad that I'll never know.

More clearly, I remember the huge kitchen garden. Herbs and root vegetables and beyond that the fruit. Raspberries and blackberries. Rhubarb. Then the orchard with apples and pears. There were no flowers. Only food plants. This was a family who had escaped Hitler and were eminently practical.

The garden was my playground long after my grandparents had all gone. And I badgered my parents and uncles, and particularly the gardener to tell me what everything was. I clearly remember asking him how he knew it was a tomato plant before the tomatoes appeared. That baffled me.

So, in the end, my grandmother did teach me something about cooking and food, after all. She just never knew she did. And neither did I till many years later.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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My mother once bought canned okra. The horror is still with me.

One of my great aunts once brought a can of Del Monte zucchini with tomato to the family beach cottage when I was little. None of us had ever had zucchini in any form (WASPs in the Pacific Northwest in the 50s). For years after, my parents would say, "Zucchini? It's awful. Just tasteless glop."

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My mother once bought canned okra. The horror is still with me.

One of my great aunts once brought a can of Del Monte zucchini with tomato to the family beach cottage when I was little. None of us had ever had zucchini in any form (WASPs in the Pacific Northwest in the 50s). For years after, my parents would say, "Zucchini? It's awful. Just tasteless glop."

I had only ever eaten canned string beans when I was growing up. (Canned string beans, canned peas and carrots, canned corn. That was pretty much my exposure to vegetables. Except potatoes, of course. My mother was not a very adventurous cook.) Anyway, I'm sure I don't need to clue you in on the fact that canned string beans are vile. Much, much later, I would see fresh string beans in the outdoor market and avoid them like the plague. And then I was at a friend's house and there was a side dish of string beans, and I tried them. I remember the bright green and the crisp fresh flavor. Goodness, but that was revelatory.

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Check here for the recipe for the Sour Cream cookies...

I am going to make a batch substituting dried apricots macerated in cream sherry for the raisins and 1/2 tps vanilla for the nutmeg.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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