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Old 12-05-2008, 08:45 PM   #1
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Location: Southern Illiniois
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Help with my book, please?

As many of you know, I'm writing a book about my parents' lives.

My mom's dad was superintendent of a coal mine (the largest in the world at the time), and she grew up in a "company town", where she was the only child in the entire school whose parents were born in the United States...or spoke English at home. The miners were immigrants then, mostly from eastern Europe and Italy.

Here's where I'm asking for help; When she went home with one of her friends after school, how would their kitchens smell different from her own?

Grandma Snarr was a wonderful cook, making dishes such as roast beef, fried chicken, pies and such, while the neighbors made things like assorted homemade sausages, one of the favorites being blood sausage...cabbage rolls...veal birds...all kinds of ravioli and other Italian dishes. They hunted wild mushrooms, stuffed everything you could possibly stuff, and grew things like garlic, rosemary, fennel and grapes for wine in their beautiful gardens.

So what aromas would greet you when you walked into Mrs. DaMatta's kitchen? Or Mrs. Sluzavich's? Or Mrs. Sevenski's? I'm sure it would be far different than my Grandma Snarr's apple pie.

We get by with a little help from our friends
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:11 PM   #2
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My grandparents all came from Yugoslavia (Slovenia & Croatia), and I remember that NOTHING from the animal went to waste. Organ meats were fried or stewed with seasonal veggies, and the pressure cooker was a ubiquitous fixture in the kitchen to make lesser cuts of meats into something palatable. Kidney stew was something I remember smelling as I walked down the street coming home from school, and was served over polenta. Liver & onions was devoured by my 4 brothers and me, and we never left anything for leftovers. We ate smoked garlic sausages every Saturday, and rice & blood ring sausages with homemade sourkraut in the center of the ring were common meals. Tripe stew was a treat, and was a pressure cooker meal. Grandpa's basement always had a colander in the root cellar filled with fat cracklings left over from rendering the lard, which was used in everything imaginable. Of course, bread was made several times each week, so that wonderful aroma would be smelled throughout the neighborhood, regardless of the time of the year. Cracklings were frequently added to the bread dough, as were raisins and cinnamon.

I also remember in the Spring Dad and Grandpa would go harvest dandelion greens, and the salad was made with bacon, hard-boiled eggs and vinegar-oil-garlic dressing. Us kids would fight over the salad dressing that was sopped up with crusty bread.

You name it, we ate it. Oh, and we even used the feet from chickens to color the soup, then chewed on them down to the bone.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:35 PM   #3
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You could just pretty much pick a regional or ethnic dish that could be made with the
locally available ingredients and make that your aroma.......

For example, in KS, my Slavic Grandmother's kitchen often smelled of....
And sometimes kolaches or pickles when she was canning...
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:35 PM   #4
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Well--from the top of my head, at Mrs. Jacobs' house, there were no pork products. Chicken fat (schmaltz) was used like butter on rye bread with kimmel, too fry with and to put in mashed potatoes or farfel.
The gribenes (chicken cracklings, for want of another word was also eaten)
Friday night (shabbat), there was always chicken soup and a roast chicken and freshly baked challah. Chicken feet also went into her soup. As my grandfather owned a steakhouse, he brought home lots of meat and vegetables from the wholesale market and visited bakeries for pastries. Or my grandma baked Hungarian desserts including homemade strudel and makosh. She often made her own egg noodles for her soup.
Sunday mornings, there would be juice, coffee, cottage cheese, swiss cheese and muenster, lox and bagels served with cucumber slices, tomato slices and onion, pickled and creamed herring, and scrambled eggs. Sometimes there might also be smoked whitefish and sable. Often, there would be the Hungarian sour cream cake that I had posted.
My grandma made all the typical Hungarian dishes but did not mix milk and meat. Our stuffed cabbage was sweet and tomato based. Our chicken goulash did not have sour cream. She made cucumber salad. She also made cabbage noodles. Calves liver was eaten broiled and chicken liver was gehocked (chopped). My grandma made stuffed peppers, the best fried chicken, roast turkey with all the trimmings, wonderful ribeyes, and meatloaf. She also made addictive blintzes and potato pancakes.

My grandma also made dill pickles, chow chow, pickled hot peppers and banana peppers and made her own jelly and applesauce.

As time wore on, she started cooking healthier--no more schmaltz and used vegetable oil instead.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:40 AM   #5
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My mom was a meat and tatters cook but our neighborhood was populated with survivors of the Holocaust, aand at five pm every evning you could smell cabbage cooked every way possible and on friday night you could allways smell roast chicken
Oh to relive those memories again .
Cook with passion or don't cook at all
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