What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?
Sorry for yet another survey, but I’m interested in learning about the diet and lifestyle of our collective grandparents. My interest is as follows:
When my daughter was born 2 years ago, I decided that I wanted to provide her with a little family culture. Since food is a major component of culture, I thought I would try to learn how to cook some of the dishes that my grandparents did when I was a child.. Then just recently, I came across Michael Pollan’s books In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and they really encouraged me to continue my research into the “old school” culinary ways.
As a side note, one interesting observation that I came across in these books is Nutritional Inflation:
“Nutritional inflation seems to have two principal causes: changes in the way we grow food and changes in the kinds of foods we grow. Halweil cites a considerable body of research demonstrating that plants grown with industrial fertilizers are often nutritionally inferior to the same varieties grown in organic soils. Why this should be so is uncertain, but there are a couple of hypotheses.”
The result is the nutritional equivalent of inflation, such that we have to eat more to get the same amount of various essential nutrients. The fact that at least 30 percent of Americans have a diet deficient in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and magnesium surely owes more to eating processed foods full of empty calories than it does to lower levels of nutrients in the whole foods we aren’t eating.”
Which came first, inflation of our food or our money supply? Maybe they’re just two sides of the same coin. (For more on this see: Brian Halweil’s Still No Free Lunch .
Anyways, back to the survey. I began to ask my relatives about the types of dishes that their grandmother or mother would make and how they made them and its been quite a fascinating and enlightening experience.
So I would like to expand this quest into our community here.
- Why kind of foods did your grandparents eat?
- What dishes did they make frequently and how did they make them?
Thanks, once again, for participating…Jeff
The only thing I remember one grandmother making are apple pies and raisin stuffed cookies. I don’t recall the other one cooking at all, but she did make a burn mark on the counter by setting a hot coffee pot on it. (both lived in other states and were periodic visitors)
That said, I read a book not too long ago called Food Matters (http://www.amazon.com/Food-Matters-Conscious-Eating-Recipes/dp/1416575650/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260144709&sr=8-2)
One premise of the book is that, in the US, the kinds of food grown on big farms and promoted by the US government as being healthy (and appearing in the “four food groups” then subsequently the food pyramid) is dependent financing arrangements between government and the food industry. I don’t remember all the details, but it sure made me think about the extent of influence peddling.
Please read Sally Fallons’ “Nourishing Traditions”, Then post this question again. 😉
beenfarmin’for generations and surprised how little folks think about what they eat.
I’m sorry i tyoe so poorly that i can’t reply sufficiently,but i gotta churn butter and drain
cheese(raw milk of course,off pasture)
get free copies of “Graze”, and “Stockmans grass Journal”
Grandma’s Cannoli… Mmmmm
Both Ricotta and Custard fillings, the dough here’s an approximation I found on the intarweb (adjusted by me)
4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup lard, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 20 tbsp of water or Marsala, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
“Cut” dry ingredients together with a knife until they make pea sized balls, then add the egg and stir in the water or wine. Roll out to about 1/8″ thick and cut out into circles you can size them as you want, normally between 3-4″ diameter from Grandma’s Cannoli experience. Roll these onto Cannoli tubes and seal with a little water at the seam (make sure it’s a good seal to) then deep fry in hot oil until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Makes about 50 Cannoli (depending on your size)
5 cups of milk, 1 cinnamon stick, 2.5 cups of sugar, 1 cup of cornstarch, 1 tsp vanilla.
Heat milk, cinnamon and sugar in a pan, (leave some milk to mix cornstarch), until boiling, take off the heat and add milk.cornstarch mix and stir until it thickens, put in the refidgerator until cool, then stir in the vanilla. This should fill about 25 Cannoli.
1 lb fresh ricotta (2 cups) (Sheeps milk if you can get it), 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon minced candied orange peel, 1/2 teaspoon orange-flower water, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped, 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped (1/2 cup)
Put everything in a bowl and mix together, the add the nuts and chocolate chips and fold these in.
To fill the Cannoli shells just use an icing/pasty bag, and squirt the filling in flip the shell around and fill from the other end, garnish with pistachios, cherries, chocolate chips, confectioners sugar, etc.
NOTE: You got to eat them fast once filled. Otherwise the shell goes soft.
Poisonivy and RR,
Thanks for the book recommendations, both look great!
Gungnir….thanks for the recipe and keep um coming.
Potato dumplings, flour dumplings, fried dumplings, dumplings and sauerkraut, chicken dumpling soup, … I could go on like Forrest Gump but you get the idea.
Sauerkraut, dumplings, and polish sausage was a mainstay.
All the ingredients were easily found on the farm. (pretty easy to make as well)
My grandmother cooked with lots of salt and lard. She also put bacon in the string beans — very unhealthy but it sure was good. Very large amounts of meat, since my grandfather was a trapper and fisherman.
Well my grandparent were from a small town in Oklahoma so there were the staples. Mashed potatos and gravy, okra (fried), bacon, eggs, pork chops, grits, cornbread..you get the picture.
There was that one period where times got kind of lean and we ate grandpa. But other than that pretty normal.
She’s not my Grandmother but, you may be interested in Clara’s “Depression Cooking” channel on Youtube (this was originally posted in Davos’ Daily Digest (Hat Tip Ceci1ia) on 3/16/09). There are two seasons of shows available.
Southern. Fried everything. Squash, okra, apple pies, bacon, bologna (yep, fried bologna). Toast had so much butter on it (applied before going in the oven) that it would hardly brown.
Everything that wasn’t fried had salt pork or bacon grease added to it. The bacon grease was kept in a Folger’s coffee can by the stove.
This unhealthy eating led to a short life of 97 years.
In her later years, one of her favorite meals was a boiled turnip and a piece of toast. She grew up on a working farm as the only girl with 7 brothers. Lived through the depression. She lived with us from the time I was 6 until I was 16. I miss her.