From My Grandmother’s Kitchen: No Elves in Nan Nan’s Kitchen

By Steve Connolly

Photo from Pixabay

The house at 106 Cadima Avenue in Coral Gables, my grandmother’s house, will be one of those addresses that stick in my memory banks forever.  As a kid, I was fortunate to spend time with her during my summer vacations from school.

My grandmother was known as Nan Nan to her 33 grandchildren. She was fondly given this name by my oldest cousin, Cathy Tracy Dickinson. I am not sure where she came up with such a moniker, but it stuck over many years.

A visit to Nan Nan’s house broke up the endless summer days of playing army with my buddies, shooting basketballs, or fighting with my brothers. With Nan Nan you were guaranteed to have an adventure. When I was very young, I remember her walking me to the park to do arts & crafts.  Later years we would walk several miles to downtown Coral Gables for a hot fudge sundae. For a real treat, we would hop a city bus to downtown Miami. We would explore parks, museums, libraries or go to a movie. Being the oldest of five (Peter waited until we moved to New Hampshire to be born) I enjoyed the personal time she spent with me.

I remember my grandmother as the school librarian at a small Christian School.  I’m told Nan Nan started teaching there as the Home Economics instructor. Later at the age of sixty, she continued her education and became the school’s librarian. Being a Home Ec teacher I often wondered if this is why she was a fantastic cook. I have known only one other Home Ec teacher in my life, Mrs. Bernice Kyte, and she, too, was an excellent cook.

My Nan Nan was famous for her cookies. Visiting her house, the first thing we kids would do is check in the bottom cupboard to see if there were any cookies in her original Tupperware container. And you know, we were never disappointed. Nan Nan had several cookie recipes that we loved as kids. One was her Chocolate Chip cookies and another was her Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies. For years I have tried to duplicate her Chocolate Chip cookies without success. She must have kept something secret as I have her original recipe and have never successfully made them good as she did. One of her many cooking shortcuts must have been an unwritten instruction in her recipe. Someday I may resolve this mystery!

Click to tweet: My Nan Nan was famous for her cookies. #holidays @InspiredPrompt

However, I have mastered her Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies recipe. I know they are good as my wife often forbids me to make them. She claims they are addictive. I must disagree with her as I can limit myself to ten or twelve of them a day! I hope you enjoy them. Make sure and pay attention to the little tricks Nan Nan taught me about making these cookies.

Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies (must be her original name)

  • 1-1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2-1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon of Salt
  • 14 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature (or squishy)
  • 3 teaspoons of Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs plus the Egg White of One Egg
  • ¼ teaspoon of Nutmeg

 It is best to start off by having all your ingredients measured out – this way you can double check and prevent missing something. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees after you evenly space the racks in the center of the oven.

  1. Next, sift into a separate bowl all the dry ingredients (except the nutmeg).
  2. With an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat till light and fluffy
  3. Mix in the egg products one at a time beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour to the egg/sugar mixture – about ½ cup at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary (You may need to chill the dough depending on your eggs).
  5. Roll the dough into one-inch size balls. Then roll them in a mixture of sugar and nutmeg (I always measure by eye – personal taste can dictate this – for Christmas use colored sugar)
  6. Put onto cookie sheets – I find aluminum sheets work the best.
  7. Start one sheet on the lower oven rack and bake 5 minutes. After 5 minutes move it to the top rack. When the 5 minutes is up, check to make sure the cookies are slightly browned around the bottom edges.  Time may have to be adjusted according to your oven.
  8. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack – I start mine out flat then stack them after a few minutes to let them fully cool.
  9. Wash your sheets in cool water between batches – Careful not to burn yourself.

My grandmother lived just shy of her 101st birthday.  She was an incredible person whom I think of most days.  In my house of five boys and one girl, it was required that we all learned to cook. Thinking of the skills I have developed over the years I find the majority are from things my grandmother taught me.  And by the way, my grandmother’s daughter, my Mom is a great cook too!

My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes

I love the title for this month’s blog post. I had different relationships with both of my grandmothers. They each taught me so much in the precious time I had with them. After our family moved from the city, I used to spend a few weeks each summer with my Grandma Milem.

She lived in a cul-de-sac with other homes filled with folks much like herself; elderly, with grown children. There were very few kids my age living, or visiting in that semi-circle of homes; so I ended up spending a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa. This is the place where I learned to sew, embroider, and watch Grandma cook. A favorite family memory: she loved to whistle while she worked.

There was always fresh produce on Grandma’s table. Tomatoes sliced on a plate, cucumbers bathed in vinegar, or swimming in sour cream with dill, and onion stalks with their greenery spilling out of the top of a glass of water. She taught my mother how to can the benefits from our garden, her bread and butter pickles were the best! We had jars and jars of corn, green beans and tomatoes. Grandma would take zucchini home and come back to visit with loaves of zucchini bread!

I have fond memories of holiday gatherings. Wonderful smells would fill the house. There were no store bought pies here, no sir. Everything was made by hand, and if you went home hungry it was your fault.

By the time I became a teenager, Grandpa had passed away and their home had been sold. Grandma called herself a vagabond; she lived from place to place. Mostly with her grown children in different parts of the country. She would visit us in southern California for a couple of months, she would then divide the rest of the year between Arizona, South Carolina, or Ohio.

In 1999, we were all called to my Uncle’s home in Ohio to say our good-byes. Hospice had advised that Grandma would be leaving us soon. A memory from that time, so precious to me  was when my Uncle’s home lost power, and there was no air conditioning. My cousins and I took newspaper and made fans. Then we went into the bedroom where Grandma rested and fanned her while singing hymns. If you listened real close you could hear her humming along.

When asking my cousins which recipe they remembered most from Grandma’s Kitchen our memories varied.  But we all think of her as a constant reminder of our childhood, and her great cooking abilities. I just found out recently that one of my cousins had  snagged her recipe box! Oh what a treasure! She then proceeded to send me a picture of all of those recipes. So, per her request, I am happily sharing Grandma Milem’s pancake recipe.

 

Grandma Milem’s Pancakes

1 Egg
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup of Baking soda
1 1/4 Cups of Flour
1 tsp. Sugar
2 Tbs. Soft shortening
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Mix the dry ingredients together well. The shortening should be soft like butter at room temperature. Add shortening, and  buttermilk; stir well. Let batter rest for a minute or two before pouring on hot griddle.

Click to Tweet: My Grandma’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes #holiday #memories .@InspiredPrompts

From My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie

By Jennifer Hallmark

Mamaw’s chocolate pie. Rich, creamy filling in a flaky crust with no meringue or whipped topping. No, sir. Mamaw didn’t like meringue. My dad’s parents spent a lot of their life in Arizona before moving back to Alabama to retire. My brother, Jesse Lee Dison III, and I enjoyed visiting my dad’s parents during our teen-age years, a time to get out of the house.

When Mamaw passed in 2010, my brother, living in Alaska, could not make the trip. But he had a way to honor our grandmother. He wrote a tribute which he had me place in a stand-up photo frame and asked my mom to bake a chocolate pie. We set them in the funeral parlor, a fitting acknowledgement of her love and cooking skills…

Here’s what Jesse wrote:

Since I could not attend I wanted to have something there that meant a lot to me when I think of Mamaw.  Now chocolate pie may seem like an odd thing, but every time we would get together that was one thing that I knew she would have and what I looked forward to.  Without the whipped cream! Whenever I see a chocolate pie, it reminds me of her and I know that they won’t be as good as hers. Just a very special memory to me.

Most of my memories of her would range from her being mean, not letting me answer the phone when my girlfriend was calling (had to climb through a window to grab the phone), to her relationship with Papaw.  I truly believe that strong family trees start at the roots and you learn from what you watch while growing up.  Mamaw and Papaw had that relationship where you know they loved each other and it was passed on although not out loud, but through watching and being around them.

Being in Alaska has been hard since it is so far away.  Holidays are hard because I miss being there with all the family.  When Mamaw would yell “Jesse” and Papaw, my dad and I would holler “yes” at the same time. She would get so mad.  I know when I would call to talk to her and hear everyone in the background it would bring back good memories.  To know that all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have and are raising close strong families in today’s society is a testament to how great Mamaw and Papaw were.

I am saddened by Mamaw’s passing but I know she is where she wants to be now, with my dad and Papaw.  And someday we will all be together.

And I know we will. Here’s her pie recipe. You can always add meringue or whipped topping, of course. 🙂

Click to tweet: Just in time for the holidays. Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie. #InspiredPrompt #food

Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Blend together sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt in a boiler. Add milk. Cook over low heat. Stir constantly util the mixture has thickened. Add a small amount of hot mixture to beaten egg yolks, stirring well. Add to mixture. Cook until it is a thick consistency. Add vanilla and butter or margarine. Pour into baked pie shell. Let cool…

Go, Dawgs!

by Gail Johnson

We are talking football this month! Favorite teams, colors, and tailgating recipes. Woo hoo! Are you a fan?

Sanford Stadium Wikicommons author Pruddle

Sanford Stadium, Wikicommons, photo: Pruddle

No one would call me a diehard fan. That would be my son, the one with all the red, white, and black memorabilia. But I do enjoy getting together with family and watching a college game now and then. For my family, that includes the Georgia Bulldogs. Here are a few stats for those unfamiliar with Georgia.

Sinkwich_bulldogs Wikicommons

Frank Sinkwich, Wikicommons

Inaugural season – 1892
UGA Fight Songs – Hail to Georgia, Glory, Alma Mater, Going Back, and Bulldog Marching Song
National Championships – 1927, 1942, 1946, 1968, 1980
Heisman Trophy Winners – Frank Sinkwich, Herschel Walker

And who can forget Coach Vince Dooley and announcer Larry Munson?

Tailgating Recipe

No matter the team playing or the fan watching, food is a must. Who can say no to a bowl of hot chili?

1 pound ground beef (85-15)
1/2 roll Jimmy Dean roll sausage
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 jar Paul Newman’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic sauce (Trust me. It’s just tomato sauce)
Salt and Pepper
1 packet Chilo seasoning (Or use your own)
½ – ¾ cup water
1 bag nacho cheese Doritos
1 carton sour cream
1 jar deli-sliced Tamed jalapenos

Herschel_Walker

Herschel Walker, Wikicommons

Directions
Place beef, tomatoes, Rotel, beans sauce, salt and pepper, chili seasoning, and water into a pot and cook until beef is done. Let simmer until ready to serve. Can be cooked in a crockpot. Serve in individual bowls over crushed Dorito with a dollop of sour cream and jalapenos. Enjoy.

Let the games begin! Go, Dawgs!

 

Click to Tweet: “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker #GoDawgs

Writing Prompt:
Unbelievable! Everyone in the stadium stood to their feet and waited for the referee…

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Alpha Males Can Cook

By Linda Wood Rondeau

in-the-kitchen-march-2016According to an article on the “Ask Men” website, though not stereotypical, the alpha male does have a few dominant traits:

  1. He is comfortable with crisis. He loves to win.
  2. He is unconcerned about self-image and is more focused on the tasks at hand. He likes to lead rather than follow. He operates according to his own game rather than follow someone else’s agenda.
  3. He will take up the fight with confidence.
  4. He is self-reliant and doesn’t take advantage of others expertise or position.
  5. He owns up to his mistakes and takes responsibility for his actions.
  6. Like a good boy scout, the alpha male is loyal and trustworthy.
  7. When confronted with the need to change, he does so with diligence and forethought.
  8. He does not lie or bend the truth to his advantage.
  9. He is respected because he respects others.
  10. He does not shy away from the big decisions.

This certainly describes my alpha male hubby who loves to cook. He’s always been willing to “man up” to any challenge, and has willingly shared household duties. He’s never even shied away from shopping for those girly products either.

Through most of our nearly forty years together, I’ve been the primary cook and managed meal preparations and planning. He’d fill in as necessary, as long as he did it, “his way.” His way often turned out to be quite good. Ask the kids, who said, “How come Dad’s pot roast tastes better than yours, Mom?” From then on, the hubs was king of the pot roast!

He might have retired, but my writing career became busier than ever after I published. So, it was decided my very alpha male husband would become primary cook. He met the challenge head on with great results. Even if his inventions didn’t quite pan out, he made no excuses, adapted his approach accordingly and tried again until he got it right.

pressure-cookerOur stash of appliances enlarged as he added a waffle iron, salad chopper, and sundry appliances deemed to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I think his favorite became the pressure cooker. I never used one. They scare me. He won’t use an electric pre-programmed one. It has to be stove top and man handled!

I think my favorite of all his creative recipes is his beef stew. As delicious as it is fast to prepare.

We had company for lunch, friends we hadn’t seen in years. My alpha male can operate on several levels at once. Not me. So he cooked. We stood in the kitchen and enjoyed our coffee oblivious to his fast action. Within fifteen minutes his famous beef stew was ready, complimented by buttery biscuits. Our friends were so amazed they snapped a picture as he labored in love.

Writer, how do you portray your alpha male? Note, the characteristics are not so much what they do but how they approach what they do. My alpha male hubby who loves to cook has always adapted the motto: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” Colossians 3:23 KJV.

in-the-kitchen-march-2016-beef-stew

For the curious…here’s my alpha male’s recipe:

Steve’s Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Ingredients –

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ – 2 lbs stew beef
1 large onion, cut up
4-5 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, peeled & cut into chunks
4 potatoes cut into chunks
1 ½ – 2 cups beef broth
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions –

Heat oil in bottom of cooker. When oil is hot, add meat all at once letting it sit for one minute to sear before stirring.  After meat is completely seared, add onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, bouillon cube and broth. Add salt & pepper if desired.

Lock lid with pressure setting on high.  After achieving pressure, cook for 15 minutes. Use natural release method.

Writing Prompt: “What do you mean can I cook?” Jason stood in front of me, hands on his hips. Uh oh. I’d done it now…


img_3790Winner of the 2012 Selah Award and Carol Award finalist LINDA WOOD RONDEAU writes to offer hope for those with damaged lives and demonstrate our worst past, surrendered to God becomes our best future. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida. When not writing, the author enjoys golfing, hiking, and spending time with her best friend in life, her husband of nearly forty years. Her recent release, Miracle on Maple Street, has already won the hearts of many.

Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com where they’ll find a list of her books, her blog, Snark and Sensibility. Email her at lindarondeau@gmail.com  or find her on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, Google Plus and Goodreads. 


Miracle on Maple Street

moms-final“Christmas is a time for miracles,” Ryan McDougal tells his mother, when he is told that a long lost cousin, Millie, has resurfaced after nearly forty years, the cousin whose picture his mother clasped the day his father abandoned him. Though they occurred decades apart, he always believed the two disappearances were connected like opposite links of a chain. With Millie’s arrival, perhaps he might finally receive the answers he so desperately sought. However, Ryan has a third thorn in his side, more devastating than any mystery. His wife, the love of his life, has left his arms and his bed. How long before she moves out of the house and takes his beloved son with her? He prays for his own Christmas miracle. Millie’s anticipated visit prompts Ryan’s mother to reveal secrets that bring all to light. However, when past and present collide, the truth is more than Ryan can bear.

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