Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Old-Time Cooking, Tea and Memories

Mom and dad, 1980's probably, drinking tea
Yesterday on Facebook someone posted a photo of an elderly woman in her kitchen, washing dishes, and asked what was our favorite food that our grandmother or mother made that we ate as a child.

I don't have any memories of my grandmother's cooking; they both lived so far away, one in England, the other in New Orleans, and we did not see them very often. I am envious of those who had grandparents close by, to run and visit, to learn to cook with, and to tell them stories. My English granny came to visit a few times and my memory of her is of drinking tea with her, although I do remember her making a jam tart for us once. She was sweet and loving and we adored her.

My New Orleans grandmother--I have no memory of her cooking at all, although I know she did cook for us occasionally when she came to visit. She did not approve of us thirteen children, calling us "hellions" which no doubt we were! In her letters to her daughter, which came to us after her death, she talks extensively of cooking and sent recipes, often trying out the "new" foods like jello, or new mixed drinks. I am sorry not to have known her better, but her disapproval unfortunately colored my later relationship with her. Perhaps as an adult she would have liked me better, although my country lifestyle was probably also on her "not approved" list.

Mom cooked. A lot. For a lot of people in our house. But my memories of my mother and food actually center around tea: tea made in a china teapot with boiling water, loose English tea and poured into china cups and served with milk and sugar. "Proper tea," she called it, and turned up her nose at tea in restaurants made with hot water and served with lemon. Later in life she used teabags (preferring PJ Tips brand that she mail-ordered). I still make my tea like my mother taught me, although my brand choices are Yorkshire Red and Bewley's Irish Breakfast.

I sent the photo of the elderly woman washing dishes to a group I am in, and asked them, "what food cooked by your mom or grandmother was your favorite? The responses seemed to speak of times gone by, recipes that most people have never tasted or heard of. Here's a few of the foods they mentioned. How many of these have you eaten? I have to admit, I can only claim ten. I think I have some experimenting to do!

  • Stuffed cabbage
  • Fried corn
  • Oxtail soup
  • homemade noodles and dumplings
  • strawberry rhubarb pie
  • cornbread sticks, eaten after school as snacks with peanut butter stuffing
  • wilted lettuce and bacon salad
  • biscuits with chocolate gravy
  • pork, sauerkruat and potato dumplings
  • chicken balls
  • gooseberry mousse
  • chicken schnitzel
  • cottage cheese biscuits
  • pierogi
  • homemade butterscotch pie
  • custard pie
  • fried green tomatoes
  • asparagus in brown sauce over toast
  • currant pie
  • apple cake
  • sugar cream pie
  • sorghum molasses beans
  • lemon cake
  • vinegar pie
  • Hominy
  • tomato dumplings
  • Homemade dill pickles

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Brighid said...

I'm thankful I got to spend quite a bit of time with my paternal granny. My maternal one lived too far away in Miss. (only saw her once).
Interesting list of foods, I have eaten 21 of them, because of my granny mid.

Susan Anderson said...

My grandma made the best bread ever…and Swedish pancakes, rhubarb pie, scones, baking powder biscuits…She was a wonderful cook. Her pie crust was to die for.


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