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

Grandma Had No Recipes

I heard a rumor it’s already November. I’m not sure I’m speaking to November. However, I am leading with the topic for this month, so I’ll just have to get over it. The official topic is “From My Grandmother’s Kitchen.” This means that all our wonderful bloggers will be writing about some of their favorite foods, and sharing memories, along with one of Grandma’s favorite recipes.

Grandma

Here’s my dilemma: oh, wait, you already read it in the title of this post. Maybe I shouldn’t have led with it. You may be wondering why Grandma had no recipes. Everyone uses a cookbook, or borrows recipes, right? She probably did, at one time or another, but by the time I came along, most everything Grandma made, she knew how to cook. She never used a recipe. She added a little of this and a pinch of that.

My grandma made the best biscuits ever. If you’ve read my Kinsman Redeemer series, or maybe just the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, Cousin Thelma’s biscuits were like my grandma’s. They were big and fluffy. Toasty on the outside, moist on the inside. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!

I watched her make them. We all did. But no one could duplicate them. We’ve all tried, with no luck. She also made wonderful teacakes—an old-fashioned sweet biscuit-y cookie. I ate plenty of that cookie dough. As soon as Grandma turned her back, into my mouth went another lump. It was delicious, but no one could duplicate the recipe. She even tried writing that one down. We could get really close, but not quite. It was so disappointing.

Grandma was a plain cook. Kind of like Amish plain. She cooked the best vegetables–lima beans, corn pudding, grits and red-eye gravy. Yum! And her creamed potatoes were a-maz-ing. She even made a warm mashed potato version of potato salad, topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs. Delicious, but no recipe to be found, anywhere.

However, she could not create a meat dish unless it was fried. She fried steak. And nine times out of ten, her cakes came out burned, or dry. Her egg white frostings cracked. Sorry, but it’s true. We ate a lot of crumbled cakes, because nothing was wasted in Grandma’s kitchen.

The meringue for a lemon pie was a way to redeem herself. She made a lovely meringue, and the filling was scrumptious. Not me, I usually pile on the whipped cream. I’ve made meringue in the past, and it turned out pretty good, but I take shortcuts these days. She did, too, as time went on. An invention came along that changed her life. It was called “canned biscuits.” It set her free. From that day forward, we ate canned biscuits at Grandma’s house. It was heartbreaking. Such a sad waste of talent.

So, what recipe shall I share, since Grandma had no recipes? Well, I have a binder filled with all my favorite recipes, and guess what? I’m Grandma! So I’ll share one of mine.

Here’s the scene: You’re going to brother’s house for Thanksgiving, and sister-in-law asks you to bring a dessert. She’s a wonderful cook, and always has a gorgeous array of desserts, so you’re intimidated. This simple little cookie may save the day. They taste a little like a pecan sandie. Make a practice batch a few days ahead, just to get the hang of it. These are a hit, wherever I take them—almost as good as Grandma’s—but not quite.

Click to Tweet: Find out why my Grandma had no recipes. #holidayrecipe #cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

¾ cup pecans
½ butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup (or less) confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

  1. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 5-6 minutes to toast them. Remove and let cool completely. When cool, chop finely and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat again. Slowly add flour and salt until completely combined.
  3. Mix in pecans.
  4. Use a medium cookie scoop to spoon out cookie dough (a regular spoon works fine). Roll dough into a ball. Roll the top of the ball in reserved sugar. Place sugar side up on an ungreased cookie sheet (I line them with parchment paper). Use a small glass to gently flatten cookies.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12-14 minutes, just until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.
  6. After removing to racks, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Makes about 30 cookies.

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Thanks Giving Tips From The Salvation Army: Serve a Wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner — and Save Money!

Our friend, Nike Chillemi, was kind enough to share this money saving article. It might be June but it’s never too early to start planning for the holidays! 🙂

3 Tips for Keeping Costs Under Control

The Salvation Army works hard to ensure that every dollar you donate is used as efficiently and effectively as possible — Doing the Most Good, for the most people, in the most need. In that spirit, we offer these money-saving tips to help you stretch your own budget this Thanksgiving.

Tip #1: Keep It Simple. Instead of five kinds of pies and a dozen side dishes, trim your Thanksgiving menu down to those favorites everyone loves. Also, choose simpler recipes rather than those requiring the purchase of spices and other ingredients you won’t be likely to use again.

Tip #2: Start Shopping Now. The earlier you shop, the more time you have to take advantage of weekly sale prices and coupons. You can also save money by comparison shopping — visiting different stores, and scooping up the best buys at each.

Tip #3: Use Natural Decor. Look to nature, and save on store-bought Thanksgiving decorations. Bring the beauty of the season indoors with your own display of autumn leaves, pine cones, acorns, and other natural elements.

For more information on the Salvation Army:
THE SALVATION ARMY
GREATER NEW YORK DIVISION
120 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 337-7339
www.SalvationArmyNY.org


Nike Chillemi

Like so many writers, I started writing at a very young age. I still have the Crayola, fully illustrated book I penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about my then totally off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is crime fiction. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys smarter and better.

I write hard-boiled detective novels with a soul. My detectives, both male and female, are jump into the fray, tough, shoot it up types. Yet, they’re all vulnerable. They’re not so hard-boiled they couldn’t be actual people.

I’m the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. I writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. I was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category, a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories, and a judge in the Eric Hoffer Awards in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

My four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s, has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. My new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press became a best seller in Amazon’s private investigator category, won the Grace Award 2014,  and has also garnered critical acclaim.

I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN).

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An Alabama-Inspired Thanksgiving

img_20141012_173651690By Jennifer Hallmark

Thanksgiving Day will soon arrive. I’ll wake early, eat a bowl of Cheerios and savor my morning cup of tea. As I hold the steaming mug, I’ll find comfort in its warmth and the sweetness of the honey-laced liquid inside. But only for a moment. Soon, thirty to forty people will crowd inside our home and there’s still much to do.

I’ll prepare part of the food on Wednesday. It releases some of the stress and flurry from this day and gives me more time to relax, be thankful, and maybe watch part of the early football game. But this morning, we’ll finish cooking. The savory smell of baked turkey permeates the air. It will soon be joined by cornbread dressing, pinto beans, sweet potato casserole, and yeast rolls. My husband, Danny, always makes the dressing, a recipe passed down from his mother. I scurry and pour the sweet tea in our three-gallon beverage dispenser. I’ll make a gallon of unsweetened tea but hardly anyone will drink it with the well-sugared kind around. We work as a team, making sure everything is just right.

thanksgiving-231781_960_720Around noon, we usually finish the last-second tasks and sit for a moment to eat a turkey sandwich. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, my husband and I will open our home to a hodgepodge of family, friends, and a few others who have nowhere to go. Everyone is welcome at our annual Thanksgiving feast.

By one o’clock, a few of the family has already arrived. Danny’s sister will open the front door and shout, “knock-knock” and I know the fun has begun. Each person arrives with different delectable dishes of food and we arrange them the best we can on the kitchen counters and stove top.

Football is still on the television but no one’s really watching as people drift from room to room. Handshakes and hugs abound as many catch up on old times. The garage doors have been shut and the space has been transformed into a dining room/fellowship hall. Large tables are set up for the adults. A special kids table, complete with coloring books and crayons sits by its side.

Mamaw Avon’s Pink StuffAt the appointed time, we all squeeze into the kitchen where my son or daughter will welcome everyone. One of the grandchildren will say “grace” before the long line forms to tackle the cafeteria-style selection of meats, vegetables, and casseroles that take up every inch of available space on the counters. Everyone loads their Chinet plates to the brim, grabs the plastic flatware and napkins and hunts a place to sit.

In the garage, large tables of sweet delights line one wall and hold twenty or more desserts, many new recipes that someone wanted to test on the crowd. Last year, I tried two pie recipes but neither turned out. I was teased over my pie “soup”. This year, I’ll stick with a cake and maybe some cookies. 🙂

800px-Pumpkin_Pie

Not my pie…

Before the afternoon is over, everyone will have eaten more than enough and recipes will have been swapped. Some will be scouring the day’s newspaper, planning to brave the crowds and start their Christmas shopping later in the evening. As a few linger behind to help me and Danny clean up, my heart swells with gratitude. I wouldn’t trade our Thanksgiving for anything.

For the next few days, we’ll munch on leftovers and when we warm our plate in the microwave, the fragrance of Thanksgiving will return. I’ll sit in the recliner and sip another cup of tea, content.

And thankful.


Someone usually makes a macaroni casserole at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe for you to try…

Macaroni Casserole

8 oz. package elbow noodles
1 jar chopped pimentos, drained and dried
1 jar sliced mushrooms, drained and dried
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Kraft American Cheese, grated (set one cup aside)
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped onion

Cook noodles; drain and place in large bowl. Grate cheese and set aside 1 cup. Stir together noodles, pimentos, mushrooms, soup, cheese (minus the cup), mayonnaise and onion. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. Bake 10 more minutes.


Writing Prompt: I pulled the spice cake from the oven. The aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon flowed through the house and set my stomach to rumbling. As I started to carry the heavenly confection across the kitchen…

Happy_Thanksgiving_sign


Jennifer Hallmark writes southern fiction and fantasy. Jennifer’s website and blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

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