Share your favorite Grandma recipe
This soup my grandmother concocted is super simple (the prep takes about ten minutes) and it's delicious. It comes out tasting like you spent a lot of time on it (know what I mean?). I thought I'd share it with all you hounds.
Does anyone else have a favorite Grandmother recipe they'd like to share?
Gertrude Johnson’s Chowder
1 bag of carrots
1 bunch of celery (with leaves, preferably)
2 large yellow onions
1 1/2 to 2 quarts water or chicken stock (soup should be thick with veggies)
1 1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Tomato* or Tomato Bisque soup
1 8-10 oz. can of creamed corn
1 8-10 oz. can of corn niblets
1⁄4 cup oil
Thinly slice carrots and celery (with leaves). I use the thin blade/Cuisinart. Medium dice the onions. Add these three ingredients to the oil in a heavy soup pot and sweat them (covered) slowly for about half an hour or more until onions are golden, stirring occasionally. Add the liquid (stock or water) and the canned ingredients, the thyme and some salt and pepper and simmer for an hour.
*If I can't find Tomato Bisque and I use Cream of Tomato, I add a small 4 oz. can of diced tomatoes.
Of course, it tastes better the second day, and it freezes well. It makes a nice Thanksgiving soup course.
On occasion, I've added cooked shrimp, or clams to this near the end of the cooking time and made it into a entree that I serve with crusty bread and a salad.
I am afraid my Nana couldn't cook to save herself!
The best thing she made was "Blueberry Stew". Throw several pints of fresh blueberries in a saucepan, add a ratio of 1/2 sugar to blueberries and a little water. Slowly simmer until you get a compote.
Very sweet, but as I said the only thing my Nana could make. Her other speciality was white broccoli. That's broccoli boiled until there is nothing green left. Terrible cook my Nana, but I loved her!
"Terrible cook my Nana, but I loved her!"
Yep, Nana's can do no wrong :-)
My Granny used to make Candied Yams:
3 cups of white sugar
Pound of yams
stick of butter
Tablespoon of Nutmeg
Tablespoon of Vanilla
Put it all in a pot, and let it slow cook till tender. Then put it in a baking dish, and sprinkle with some white sugar, and let bake at 350 degrees for a 1/2 hour.
My mothers mother was a great cook, but like your Nana, my father's mother COULD NOT cook. I remember her cooking green beans on a cookie sheet in the oven, neatly spaced out. And NO, there was nothing wrong with her mind. Lol. My mother tells me she made great stew but I guess I missed that. Unfortunately the one that was a great cook died when I was too young to have inherited any recipes...
My mother's mother will probably be remembered by most of our family for her butter mints, which she handed down to her daughters (I need a lesson from my mother soon!). Posting a recipe would probably be silly because it is more about technique -- knowing the right textures at each stage of pulling and cutting -- in order to make a successful batch. They are so buttery and melt in your mouth. I also fondly remember something she kept going in a jar on the kitchen counter for my grandfather to put on his ice cream, but no one seems to have gotten the recipe. It was a brandied fruit compote that she would constantly add more fruit to, both dried and fresh. I loved it.
My paternal grandmother cooked almost everything to death and wasn't the best cook, but somehow made the most amazing navy bean and ham soup -- no written recipe but my family seems to think mine is very close to hers (a few cloves in the bouquet garni is the secret).
My dad's mom passed away before I was born, but my mom's mother lived into her 90's. A superlative eater, she was a dainty size 6 till she died. Strangely enough, though she a widow living alone for 50 years, she was never a cooking grandma. She lived in a studio apartment in a building with "quiet" tenants, so we were hardly ever there because my brothers made too much noise. She always came to our house for shared meals.
She did have her specialties--she would join in at candy making time at the holidays when she and Mom made fondant- and walnut-stuffed chocolate-covered prunes. They were divine. And she always made the turkey gravy--deglazed the pan with the broth from the simmered giblets (which were fed to the cat) after carefully removing all the fat, thickened it with a flour and water slurry, seasoned with S+P--it is my gold standard of gravies. So rich and full of escence of turkey and not greasy....After watching her for several years, she let me start making it under her supervision, and I still make all my roast poultry gravy the same way.
Those are all the "gram" food memories I have. I do remember her food preferences, though! No garlic (heavens!) no onions, boiled (but not to death) or roasted veggies, roasts; simple English cooking. What a revelation when I went to college and started living with a Jewish roommate. She taught me about garlic, sauteing, slow roasting, etc.
Oh, I miss my Oma's soups! She was the ultimate Mennonite Oma - never bothered to learn English, but she would corner me after church and sternly ask me what I wanted to eat next time I came over for lunch.
I usually chose 'Somma Borscht' - a thick soup with sour greens (either sorrel or beet leaves), potato and ham soup with lots of dill. I've been trying to recreate it ever since. Her cabbage borscht was great too-- lots of cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes and dill in a chicken stock base.
No beets in my Oma's borscht!
Grandma no, but Great Grandma YES! Cooked all day! Most of the photographs taken during her life were captured in front of a stove, stirring a bowl or serving cookies to customers at the bakery she owned in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, she believed in keeping her prized recipes in the "vault" - her lovely head!
I don't have a specific contribution, but for those wanting to benefit from the wisdom of generations, the S.F. Chronicle has a series of occasional "Rent-a-Grandma" features which come complete with recipes. Some can be found via this link:
My Nana would make a cucumber and bacon sandwich which, if pressed, I might choose as a last meal.
She'd fry up bacon, peel the cucumber then run a fork down the sides of the cucumber leaving long marks down the length of the cucumber. Then she would thinly slice it u. I think she would use arnold white bread--not the sandwich kind- and toast it lightly, slather on mayo and then pile on the bacon and cucumber.
She would also always have sugar cereals for me when I would come to visit which were verboten at home.
My grandmother was a plain simple good cook, but the 2 things I miss are really simple. She baked her rice and it always had a perfect stickiness w/ just the right amount of crust for us cousins to fight over at the bottom of the enamel pot she cooked it in. Also her parsley soup which I think was a peasant type soup for days when there was not much around- a white roux based soup w/ tons of parsley from her Gruenzeug (greenstuff) patch.
My grandma just passed away this year and oh how I miss our conversations about cooking. We talked often and most of our conversation the last few years focused on food. She made a hearty split pea and ham soup using a portion of bone in smoked picnic shoulder. My husband loved it so much that he requested I try to replicate it at home. I've tried, and although mine is pretty good, it's not as thick as hers. The recipe is similar to the one in The Best Recipe, but she didn't put vinegar in hers and she didn't sautee any of the vegetables she put in. She also added dumplings- just a mixture of flour and egg scraped off a wooden spoon into the soup as it simmered. It was a big deal to me as a kid to help her drop those dumplings into the soup. Here's the other dish of hers I really miss: She would steam two heads of broccoli or cauliflower, put one of the heads, chopped up, into a blender along with some butter, milk, and sugar, and puree, then pour the sauce on top of the rest of the vegetable. When I started making turkey for Thanksgiving, she was on me to use one of those Glad roasting bags. She insisted that she'd roasted turkey every which way and this was the best way to get a moist turkey. Maybe not a pretty turkey but a moist one. And she did make a moist turkey. I was too busy brining and turning, etc. etc. I think this year I'll have to try it her way.
For me it's my paternal grandma who was the excellent cook (maternal, NOT). She passed in 1996, but I am happy to say that I was able to have conversations and write down approximations of some of our favorites: her potato salad and her pies (apple, banana cream, cherry).
I have become the official potato salad maker of the family, no one else quite having got it. I tell them all that I "channel Betty" -- making her potato salad has become almost a spiritual activity for me.
My aunt and my mom make the best chicken soup in town, but you could apply this trick to almost every kind of chicken or beef soup. You often start those soups by cooking the vegetables in the pan in either, or both, butter or olive oil. They use little bits of bacon instead. It adds another kind of flavor and I guarantee you that people will notice immediatly!
Howboy, i'm glad you posted this. It made me think of several things I need to make sure I have the recipe for. My grandmother will be 99 in a couple of weeks. BTW, she was a Johnson also (pre-marriage).
Cold Oven Pound Cake. Delicious, 1/4 inch crust on top, and a delicate, fine grained texture.
Butterscotch Slices. Small, crisp cookies that were ALWAYS in the cookie jar when MaMa was a little younger.
Biscuits. Just self-rising flour, milk, Crisco, and magic. None of us can make those things. They are etherial. I need to ask her if she (or her mother) ever made them with lard, or if they were made from butter before the days of Crisco. Transfat may be evil, but it doesn't taste that way.
Pecan Kisses. Beat an egg white until frothy, then beat in brown sugar, but stop just around the time it starts to become opaque. Toss in pecans, and then pick them out individually with two forks and but on a baking sheet. MaMa's notes say "this is tedious". Bake then up, and you have slighty sweet addictive little bites.