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Sep 3, 2011 07:58 PM

"Grandma's" or " Nonni's" kitchen

I met my grandmother only once when I was young. She was a immigrant from lithuania coming to America at the turn of the century. Living in Connecticut she spoke no english.What I do remember is the pot of beet soup on the stove. Made with some beef simmering in stock , beets with the tops,potato and the smell of vinegar and dill. Top with sour cream. Or my fathers abalone. I will always go back in time when I try to duplicate this.Do you have recipies that you pass on to your children?

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  1. How sad that you only got to meet your grandma once, but I'm glad you at least had that one opportunity.
    Ah, she made Borscht. Yum. I love that she turned you onto something with such a rich historical context. And the Abalone? Wow. I haven't thought of that in years, but my dad used to put on his wetsuit at least several times a year to go diving for them. He and a buddy would bring them home, clean them, and wind up with a pearl pink translucent football-shaped chunk of shellfish. They'd slice them, pound them, flour them lightly, and flash-fry them for less than a minute altogether. Salt and pepper; quartered lemons on the table to squeeze as you wish. If the haul was good, he'd use his food grinder to make a mixture of scallope and abalone, which he'd form into a patty, like a crabcake, flour it, eggwash it, flour again, and saute (again in unsalted butter) and serve with a homeade mayo-based tartar sauce.
    Thanks for reviving that memory for me. To answer your question, I have shared several recipes with my kids. I'd say Matzo Ball Soup is the most important. They all love good food, but at this point only one really does bust out and do some serious creating - that would be #2 son, who made an awesome pizza a few weeks ago using a pizza stone and was so happy w/ the results that he decided to build a pizza oven in his backyard. Onward!

    2 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      A freind brought over a abalone last week from Fort Bragg , northern California. I have not had any since the 70's. I have my fathers abalone mallet . It is very old and made and made of wood. As I was pounding the slices this really brought back memories. We would cook them the same as your family only we would use saltine crackers instead of flour. We would have these feasts when he would get his limit.
      I have access to some more and I am really interested in grinding them up as your father did and making them into a patty. This is genius.

      1. re: emglow101

        Glad it revived good memories for you. Hey, thos Saltines? Hang onto them. :) You'll need them for a binder, if you make the patties. He used half scallops and half abalone, ground to the consistency of good hamburger; bound w/ Saltines, and an egg. He also tossed in a tot of worcestershire, the juice of half a lemon, minced celery, minced onion (not much) and salt and pepper. They were absolutely delicious and my mom would serve them as sandwiches sometime if we we had leftovers. But that was rare. :)

    2. Last Christmas I compiled a cookbook of family recipes to give as gifts to my siblings and my parents. Prior to making it, I sent out an e-mail asking them about favorite recipes from childhood as well as any recipes that are in heavy rotation or are favorites in their home now.

      Many of the childhood favorites were recipes from my grandmother - meatball soup (Italian wedding?), biscotti, manicotti, cream puffs, pizzelles, etc. Surprisingly, everyone also wanted me to include the recipe for what is officially known as "Hamburger Noodle Casserole", but that we groaned and called "Toxic Waste" when my mom served it for dinner. :-)

      I was just reading another thread where someone was lamenting the loss of their mother's recipes, so I am glad that I am compiling these now so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.

      1. I remember Granny's never-measuring anything cooking, including her from-scratch cakes (we only had boxed at home). First: build your fire in the wood burning stove/oven (wouldn't have a clue how to cook like that). Next, she'd dump in a handful of this, a pinch of recipes, no measuring, nothing fancy, eggs just pulled from under the chicken, fresh non-pasteurized, still warmish milk from that morning's milking, butter from the same source. Then she'd leave a good cup and half of batter in the bowl for my brother and me to "lick." All this happened in the early 60's, rural south. I miss her.

        1. This thread has lit a little fire under me. I *need* to compile my mother's recipes and my grandmother's recipes. My mom has a falling-apart notebook with a lot of handwritten recipes that's been around since before I was born - the thing is on its last legs and I need to copy the info out. No one else in my family would be interested in doing this so I need to get on it.

          1. My grandma made a lot of 'the bests'. Chicken soup, gefilte fish, mandel, strudel, borscht, calves foot jelly, fried fish but was not a typical Jewish grandma type, she was skinny around 4'11", always dressed in suits, everything matched perfectly, nails and hair done, spoke with a posh English accent but had her ciggie dangling from her mouth while she cooked. My sister and I used to watch the cigarette more than the cooking to secretly take bets as to when the ash was going to fall into the food.
            She died aged 86 but could still cook till the last few months.

            2 Replies
            1. re: smartie

              I think we had the same Grandma. What's your name? You have to minus the cigarette for my Grandma: she never smoked, but she let me, and would buy me cigarettes when I was underage, with a look of disapproval that you couldn't mistake. She was always immaculately turned out: weekly manicures, hairdresser appointments, etc.
              It was her soup that I taught my kids.
              She's 92 now. She is still tidy and still cooks every night for herself and my aunt Vicki who lives with her. Usually there are extras at the table; cousins and their friends just happening to stop by right about then. When we last saw her, she made us a full-on brisket dinner. She's still one of the best bakers in the MidWest and has a baking freezer like some folks have a beer fridge.
              Thanks for telling us about your darling Grandma. I smiled all th e way through it.
              It's ridiculous of me to think that I could ever make her brisket, but I do have the recipe. It's never the same, and it never will be. Grandma's brisket has 92 years' worth of loving experience in it, and that's impossible to duplicate.

              1. re: mamachef

                love your grandma mamachef, still miss mine. My sister and I often went to hang with her while she cooked and I still went most Fridays after work to help her finish off for Friday nights. I was 40 when she died and she taught me her strudel recipe about 5 years before that. My uncle proclaims my strudel is better than grandmas which was quite an accolade.

                One Friday she was adjusting the soup taste and grabbed what she thought was the salt (in England you can get salt in white plastic round containers which look like dish soap bottles) but picked up the Fairy Liquid dish soap and poured it in. Oops. She said don't tell grandpa or the others and still served it. Neither she nor I had soup that night!