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Old 10-19-2014, 05:09 AM   #1
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Remembering Grandma's Cooking

Hey guys, for whatever reason, I woke up at 5am today thinking about my grandmothers cooking ( even though she had passed away 20 years ago). I began thinking about what meal/ dish/ recipe , of hers, was the one that reminded me the most of her.

Grandma Rosie used to make Hungarian goulash served over egg noodles, with a Ba-Tampte pickle on the side ( I know kinda strange coming from a vegetarian, but it was good ). Being honest, she wasn't the greatest cook. She had many restrictions. Having grown up during the depression, she used the basic of basic ingredients. She never travelled, so her cooking experiences were strictly based of what her mother made back from the mother country ( Eastern Europe). She was kosher. In addition, she had arthritis which limited her ability to prepare certain things, and an ulcer which was why she avoided anything spicy , acidic or even salty. So, when we found out we were going to grandma's for dinner, we would throw a fit. Unless she was making her goulash ( and pickle). In addition to that, she made a killer vegetable soup ( kinda like a mushroom barley ( undersalted of course). Which as a vegetarian, I still make to this day.

Grandma Ruth, on the other hand , although a similar background as far as where she came from, she wasn't kosher, travelled worldly, didnt have any health issues to worry about and also came from money, so this didnt prevent her from doing whatever she wanted. The dish I remember from her was some kind of Greek meatball. Instead of breadcrumbs she would just rip pieces of white bread up and mix them in. The sauce was a basic tomato/ white wine sauce. And, she used to make the meatballs more football/ sausage shaped than round. Im pretty sure she would brown them first in a pan, the n cook in sauce until done. In addition she was a great baker too, but the Greek meatballs were what we lookde forward too most.

Ironically, both recipes I was most fond of are meat ( Im now a vegetarian, for those who dont know). I never had the pleasure of having cooked with my grandmothers , cause at the time, I wasn't into cooking as I am now. Both grandfathers passed away before I was born, which is why I didnt bring them up.

One thing in addition. Although Grandma Rosie was frugal as a result of the depression, I remember she would go to the kosher butcher to get her meat, and she would spend a fortune ( $30 +, and this is going back 35 years) on the cut of meat she wanted. That was the only thing she spent money on. Also, when I became a vegetarian, she would always try to sneak meat into the vegetable soup, thinking I wouldnt realize it

So, my question to you guys is to skip a generation, and share what your favorite dish or signature dish was from a grandparent of yours.

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Old 10-19-2014, 07:13 AM   #2
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Grama Vera, use to make the most awesome salmon patties and no one yet has made them or found a recipe to match. Funny thing, She would make plain boiled potatoes and they were so good and my mom never got them to taste the same, when I started cooking I discover the difference she put butter on them , my mother is a margarine lover. Butter a good thing !!
Grama Martha, one heck of a cookie maker, she was a basic home cook, lots of comfort food. Everything tasted great no matter what.
Both are gone but always with us.
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Old 10-19-2014, 08:05 AM   #3
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MawMaw (mom's mother) used to make the best fried chicken, biscuits and chocolate meringue pie. They lived on a farm, grew tobacco as a cash crop, but kept a few cows for milk and later slaughter, a few pigs to slaughter each year, chickens for eggs and later eating, and had a large family vege garden. We'd get strawberries, tomatoes, corn as long as we'd pick them. I loved her fried chicken and fried steak on the rare occasions she'd make the steak. Her other pies were always great too. She's the one that got me interested in cooking good food. Mom was an okay cook but nothing special since she was always tried from working when she got home, was in what was considered a high-stress job for a women back when I was younger.

Let's just say the other grandmother was a fan of the can and plain fried or oven roasted her proteins, which were always overcooked and dry. She was a great lady and always paid the g-kids lots of attention but cooking was definitely not her forte. She was able to finally teach me to crochet, which my mother was unable to do, kind of like teaching your kid to drive, and got me interested in needlepointing and other crafts.
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Old 10-19-2014, 08:19 AM   #4
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I don't remember my city grandmother ever really cooking or eating much of anything. When we went to her house she would have a cocktail or a cup of tea and we would have a treat from the local bakery or candy store. When we stayed with her for a few days she would always take us out to lunch in a fancy department store restaurant, that was pretty impressive to a kid from the sticks!

My country grandmother was not a very good cook and my mother always believed it was due to the fact that she had scrimped and cut corners all of her life to stretch the food needed to feed her family. My best memories from her kitchen were simple things like leftover potatoes that were fried or creamed, fresh shelled peas cooked in milk with butter and black pepper, creamed codfish over baked potatoes, corn fritters and maple syrup. I learned a lot about simple country cooking from my grandmother and spent a great deal of time with her when I was not in school.
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Old 10-19-2014, 08:35 AM   #5
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I never met my paternal grandmother. She died two years before I was born.

My maternal grandmother was Emma. She was an excellent cook. Her specialty was German fare, although she could cook pretty much anything. And I do mean anything. Having grown up on a farm, she believed in using every single part of the animal, and would often have meat-type items in her fridge that I couldn't identify.

The one food that always reminds me of her is sauerbraten. She would pickle a roast for days with her own blend of spices. I wish I had taken the time to get the recipe from her before she passed. I've been unable to duplicate it myself. It was heavenly food.
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Old 10-19-2014, 09:19 AM   #6
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I never met my paternal grandmother. She died two years before I was born.

My maternal grandmother was Emma. She was an excellent cook. Her specialty was German fare, although she could cook pretty much anything. And I do mean anything. Having grown up on a farm, she believed in using every single part of the animal, and would often have meat-type items in her fridge that I couldn't identify.

The one food that always reminds me of her is sauerbraten. She would pickle a roast for days with her own blend of spices. I wish I had taken the time to get the recipe from her before she passed. I've been unable to duplicate it myself. It was heavenly food.
Steve, both my paternal grandmother and grandfather died before I was born, as well as my maternal grandfather. My maternal grandmother was born in 1893 and passed in 1977. She was German and the dish I remember most and asked for quite often was her sauerbraten and potato dumplings (kartoffelkloesse). She made sure to make extra dumplings to slice and pan fry the next morning for breakfast. The dumplings were about the size of a tennis ball and stuffed with a little surprise in the center, a stuffing she made with homemade croutons (the size like in commercial turkey stuffing mix) with onions and celery.
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:04 AM   #7
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great stories everyone!

and a great idea for a thread. thanks, larry.

sadly, i only met my paternal grandmother and only a few times as she was in her 90s by the time i remember anything. she only visited once or twice a year from flatbush with an aunt, with whom she lived.
she never cooked, but she used to pull the white hairs out of her hairbrush and chase us around the house, saying she was going to stuff it in our mouths. we'd squeel and scream and run and hide. scared the crap out of me but it was fun.

lol, ireland is the world's largest open air asylum in the world.
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:04 AM   #8
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I don't remember much of my Grandmother's cooking. I do remember fatty roasts of pork that I thought were gross. My grandparents were farmers who basically survived on what they produced themselves, so the food was very plain. Meat and potatoes, mostly. Desert was a bowl of molasses with a hunk of white bread. They did their best, I figure.

My father's mother was already passed before I was born so I don't remember eating there at all.

Kind of depressing, now that I think about it. Although, we moved away to another community, when I was two, and were raised in an English speaking town, so when we did visit, which was rarely, I didn't feel any sense of commonality, nor did I have any fond memories. There was nothing to feel sentimental about. Certainly not the pork roasts.....
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:27 AM   #9
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I'm enjoying these stories of grandparents and trying to picture the scenes you are describing.

I never saw any of my grandparents. They never made it to America. I did have an extended family on my mom's side and have some fond memories.
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Old 10-19-2014, 04:30 PM   #10
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All my grandparents pre-deceased my birth. The closest I ever had to a Grandma was my maternal grandma's sister. Nana lived with us the last eleven years of her life, during which time I went from age 7 to 18. She was our house baker, although she did cook a few meals. She would let me sit with her and watch her technique, then have me duplicate it. She made the world's best pie crust. Some days when I make a pie I think "there's Nana" when the edge of the crust explodes into tiny, delicate shards of goodness. Most times, her crust is just a memory.

I do remember one dinner she made that was historic. It was beef soup. During the colder weather, Dad would put a little cold frame over our parsley bed so we could pick fresh most of the winter. Nana brought some in and added it to the soup. During dinner I turned to my Mom and said "there are tiny flies in my soup". At first Mom said it was pepper, but when I kept bringing it up I got the "we'll discuss this later" look. Apparently, Nana did not soak-and-rinse the parsley good enough. Extra protein in the soup! Mom always made sure she also rinsed the parsley before Nana got to put it into anything after that.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:32 PM   #11
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if we're allowed other than blood relatives to be grandparents, then mine would have to be an ex-gf's grandparents.
i dated this girl from when i was 19 to about 27 years old, and a couple of times a year we'd head down to florida to visit them.

grandma lena was an amazing italian cook. her family was from calabria, and grandpa louie was sicillian, but they took me in like i was family.

grandpa louie and i would go fishing or crabbing just about every morning at 4am, and when we got home later that morning, lena would have pepper and egg sandwiches, or eggs in purgatory, or my favourite: freshly baked rolls stuffed witb a scoop of gelato. strange as it sounds, it was great on a hot florida august morning.

then my gf and i would head to the beach with a cooler filled with sandwiches of various cured meats with the rolls generously drizzled with evoo and vinegar, and some kind of fresh herbs. she would even make homemade potato chips (n9ne of that bagged crap), and her own lemonade on ice.

we'd get home when the afternoon rain would come in off the gulf, which happens every day on anna maria island, and lena would be hard at work making dinner. usually, it was what we had caught that morning. while the gf helped in the kitchen, louie and i headed into the living room and share a couple of cold beers or scotch on the rocks as he would regale me of stories of his childhood in sicily at the turn of the century. stories of the black hand, and village "dons", respect for family above everything else, and so on. other afternoons were stories of his life n the garment industry in nyc and how importing italian fashions changed from the '30s through the '70 s.

then it was time to feast. a gigantic bowl of perfectly dresed salad that would feed an army, and more freshly baked crusty bread. then baked sea trout and a side of of penne or bucatini, or blue claw crabs marinara and cappelini, or garlic gulf shrimp and roasted potatoes. and pasta, lol.

i miss them so much. more than the ex-gf by far.

i still regret not smuggling some locatelli, various salumi, and oddly enough sabrett hot dogs (not sold in florida at that time) down to him just before he passed away. he was suffering from heart disease so both the gf and lena forbade me from bringing him such salty foods.

looking back now, he was going to die anyway just after that last visit, so it's always been something i've regretted which has stayed with me these 23 years or so.

because of that, i've learned to appreciate making little gifts thoughtful and special in some way, but more importantly to cherish every minute with your family while you can.
even if it's family that you've adopted such as italian grandparents.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:39 PM   #12
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My maternal grandparents died when my mother was only nine. And both paternal ones died before I was four. So unfortunately I have no memories to share. Only those from my mother. But I did learn from her and have passed a lot of it on to my kids and grandchildren. So the memories continue.
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Old 10-19-2014, 06:14 PM   #13
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I came to California as an infant and my Dad's mother was left behind in Minnesota, so I was never around her. I hear she was a good German cook, and my father learned well from her.

My Mom's parents lived here and Grandma made the best fried chicken I've ever had. I remember Grandpa cutting off their heads and throwing them to run around the chicken yard, headless. Geeze, it was fascinating in a weird sort of way.

Anyway, I was grown before I discovered the secret to her remarkable, unforgettable fried chicken. It's cooking the chicken the last day of it's life.

If you're ever able to fry a chicken like that, the flavor is something you'll never forget it.
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:03 PM   #14
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My Maternal Grandmother was no cook. Her Mother, my Great GrandMother was a fantastic cook. Nothing specific comes to mind, but she put on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter every year, the whole spread.

My Paternal Grandmother, Chicken and Dumplings...found out years later her secret was a whole canned chicken. She was a great baker, cookies and coffee breads from Eastern Europe.
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:33 PM   #15
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What a great idea for a thread, Larry!

I was born and raised in SoCal. My maternal grandma was from the Midwest, and my paternal grandma was from the south. By the time I was born, they had all moved here to SoCal so we all got to spend a lot of time together. They lived good long lives and passed away about 10 years ago, both were in their 90's.

I'll never forget my maternal gma's everyday cooking...she put on a huge midday spread at 'lunchtime' for the main family meal, and boy could she cook. Fried chicken, pot roast, mashed potatoes, homemade pies, fresh veggies....it was a huge feast and I loved everything she made. My paternal grandma....I don't remember her main meals all that well (except for succotash, lol) but whenever my brother and I went to her house for mom and dad's date night, she went all out for desserts. I remember her marshmallow snowmen , she'd build snowmen out of marshmallows using toothpicks to hold the arms and legs together, and use choc chips for eyes. She wanted to go all out and make something us kids would remember.

Going another generation back, I also remember going to my maternal great-grandmother's house. She was mean and served us day old oatmeal and played solitaire by herself while we were there.
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:40 PM   #16
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Remembering Grandma's Cooking

My mom was adopted, and her mother died when Mom was 14. Apparently she was a talented cook. Dad's mom was a fantastic cook. I learned how to can, cook, garden, etc. from Gramma and my great aunt. Both wonderful women. Grampa's mother was also an interesting cook, still can't forget the whole pig's head she had on the table to make headcheese!
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Old 10-20-2014, 07:41 AM   #17
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i too lost all 4 grandparents before I was born. But Like BuckyTom, my fond memories is of my now ex-wife's grandparent. Grandaddy Neal and Granny Vivian. They were wonderful people and treated me so well. I pulled up to their table so many Sunday's after church, I cannot count. It was always good, always simple and with tons of love. 'thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories. I am sure that Vivian is correcting Peter's eating habits today.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:46 AM   #18
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What a great idea for a thread, Larry!
The idea literally came from me waking up at like 5am from a dream about my grandmothers Hungarian goulash ( which I haven't eaten in close to 30 years). Not sure what sparked my brain to start thinking about it, but then I started thinking about the meals I missed from both grandparents. When they both passed away, all I wanted was my Grandma Rosie's soup pot ( her directions were to fill the pot to one inch from the top, so I needed it in order to correctly make her soup ) and my GRandma Ruth's rolling pin / pastry board, since it was primarily her baking / cookies that I remember , and can still eat now.

I also forgot to mention that in addition to her ulcer and being kosher, she also had diabetes, so her cooking was very limited ( and in most cases didnt taste too good).

I also remember for my birthday, going out to an Indian restaurant, and my Grandmother saying ( very very loudly) " who likes to eat this gourmet crap" . I guess not the best choice of cuisines for someone who is kosher, has diabetes and ulcers. SHe was know for saying it like it was.

Another time, we went to some diner, with my grandmother, and 2 of her sisters. Every time we went out to dinner with them, they would find something to complain about and send back to the kitchen, and this time was no exception. The only difference was , after they bitched and complained how crappy it was , and that they wanted something different, they then insisted that the waiter wrap up the stuff they returned so they can take it home . The rest of us watched in horror, shame and embarrassment as this whole thing took place, but now 30 + years later, we still talk about it
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:43 AM   #19
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Reminds me of my Grandmother saying loudly in a Chinese restaurant, "What's with all the rice, do I look Chinese?" She ended up with a hot dog off the kids menu.
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:50 AM   #20
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they sell. hot dogs in a chinese restaurant?
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