Friday, May 4, 2012

Cooking with Grandma

This week I was thumbing through some of my grandmother's favorite recipes. As much as I love the amazing variety of global foods and the availability of specialty products that our generation enjoys, there is something to be said for simple food. My grandmother loved good food, but her recipes are the kind that involve homemade dough and produce from the backyard. She made the kind of food that brought kids to the table and appealed to men who'd been working outside all day.

I recently read a book where the main character made it a goal to bake a couple of pies every week; one for her family, one to give away. For some reason that idea just romanced me right over to my cookbook shelf. I'm not really a pie person. In fact, I don't know too many people these days who are "pie people." The universe of cookies, brownies, and fancy cupcakes has taken over. And yet my grandmother used to make beautiful pies.

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I spent Sunday evening laboring over a pie crust. I followed my grandmother's recipe perfectly. I took my time, smoothing the rolling pin over the dough and then gently transferring it to the pie plate. It looked terrible. But it brought the kids to the table and it tasted amazing. I had taken my time finding suitable ingredients to make the cherry filling since my entire family despises that canned glop from the grocery store. There was an undertone of sour and a hint of almond. The crust was flaky, and when the last piece of pie was gone I thought, That was good. Not give it to my neighbor good, but good. I should try again.

The experiment made me brave and so I went back to my recipe box. What else? What would my grandmother have served?
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A few days later I made a good ol' fashioned chicken and biscuit pot pie, and the next day it was homemade strawberry shortcake. The afternoon I made the shortcake my older girls both had friends over to play. While the shortcake baked in the oven I sliced strawberries, made fresh whipping cream, and set the table. When I called the girls up to eat my oldest daughter stamped her foot and yelled, Mom! Not right now. We're busy!

Some days I feel under appreciated.
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With summer looming ahead there is plenty of time for green salads, corn on the cob, and barbecue grilled chicken. I'm not even sure my desire to make beautiful pie crusts is going to be realized anytime soon since I'm working around a virtual space station a.k.a. my pregnant belly. But I never want to become so forward thinking as a cook, so modern in my commitment to global cuisine that I forget about homemade pie crusts. And buttermilk biscuits. And short cake that leaves trails of flour dust on my apron and in strands of my hair.  This is one of the ways my children will learn where they come from; by cooking with grandma.


  1. I'm a huge pie fan. It will always be my favorite dessert. I also love old style home cooking. I want the shortcake and chicken and biscuits recipes. Will you email them to me? I want to cook with your grandma. P.S. It's obvious by this post that you are pregnant.


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