What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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JAG's picture
JAG
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What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

Hi Everyone,

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

poisonivy113's picture
poisonivy113
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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/141657565...)

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. 

robie robinson's picture
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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)

 

The Robinsons

get free copies of "Graze", and "Stockmans grass Journal" 

Gungnir's picture
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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)

Fillings...

Custard

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.

Riccotta

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.

 

JAG's picture
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

Poisonivy and RR,

Thanks for the book recommendations, both look great!

Gungnir....thanks for the recipe and keep um coming.

bklement's picture
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

Dumplings....

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)

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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.

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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.

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db
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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. 

http://www.youtube.com/user/DepressionCooking

db

 

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

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.

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?
MarkM wrote:

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.

To repeat what robie robinson said, because it really can't be said enough as we've been the generation that was given all the lies about nutrition - read Sally Fallons' "Nourishing Traditions" to understand why all that bacon grease wasn't as unhealthy as we've been led to believe. Or go to www.westonaprice.org. 

Disclaimer (since this is my second post about Weston Price:) I'm not involved with this organization, just really passionate about its message. I found it when I was searching the internet trying to find appealing vegetarian meals after my husband had a heart attack at the young age of 46. I thought no fat/low fat/no meat was the only way we'd keep from repeating that depressing event. Instead I discovered almost everything I thought I knew about nutrition, fats and meat was wrong.

The Weston Price information is backed up by years of true research and science ... not to mention common sense (how many of us had "unhealthy eating" grandparents who miraculously lived to ripe old ages.)

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

also read "Pasture Perfect","Grassfed is Best" Jo Robinson.

www.eatwild.com

 

The Robinsons

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

My mother's family had (still have) a farm in Eastern Iowa.  She grandma C. was always serving fresh-picked eggs [from her henhouse] for breakfast and veggies/etc. galore from her big honkin' garden.  Even in winter she'd be serving things she grew herself cuz she'd can like a maniac all summer and into the fall.  She'd make her own sauerkraut, too, and pickle eggs/cukes/beets and such.  She'd also serve up [chicken] roasters that were among her laying flock, and lot of the pork and beef they served was raised on the farm (although as I got older, they gave up raising hogs).

So I was essentially spoiled rotten in the locavore/organic sense of things whenver I spent a summer month or xmas vacay on the farm.

And a second big shout-out in support of Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions" -- about 10 years ago I went back to Iowa for a visit and one of my cousins pulled a copy out of a case of the books (he was giving 'em away to everybody).  I joke about Sally being a know-it-all retro-food snob (just check out the supercilious expression in her headshot on the cover) but my wife and I pretty much follow her dictates because I remember eating the way Sally recommends.  And whatever my other faults, I grew up big, strong and with an immune system that more or less annihilates everything on contact (I was sick for the first time in 9 years this past summer).

Thanks Grandma C.  HUG.

Viva -- Sager

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?
MarkM wrote:

This unhealthy eating led to a short life of 97 years.

LOL.  I love it!

As Saffron says, it just goes to show that many of the dictums we've been fed about nutrition have turned out to be totally false.  The whole vegetable oil/margarine myth, the avoid eggs myth, and avoid fats and eat carbs myth are just a few.

 

 

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

My maternal grandmother was a phenomenal cook.  She was actually a cook for one of the royal families in Germany, the Hohenzollerns, before coming to America.

My favorite was her marrow bone soup.  Little marble sized balls of bone marrow, seasoned bread crumbs, eggs, and chives in a beef broth.  Unbelievably good.  Another favorite soup she called strudel but it was not the pastry.  It was large stuffed egg noodles (similar to ravioli but much better) filled with a mixture of ground beef, pork, and lamb with scallions in a chicken broth.  Also incredible.  She also made pancake soup.  It was sliced up German crepes served in a beef broth.  In addition, she made the best vegetable soup I've ever had.  I've never had German food in any restaurant the came close to hers.  I remember eating at Luchow's in NYC with my high school German class and all the kids raving how good the food was while I was thinking that it tasted like dog food in comparison to Grandma's.

She served many roasted meats including turkey, goose, beef, and pork, and of course, German wursts and cold cuts served on various dark, dense breads.  She served a wide variety of vegetables as well, mostly grown in her own garden.  She also grew a wide variety of berries and fruits.  Deserts were often open faced fruit cakes made with apples, peaches, plums, or other fruits in season.  A favorite was her onion cake made with flour, eggs, and onions, similar to a quiche but much better with the slightest bit of sweetness.

She lived a healthy life up until a week before she died at 92.  She was shovelling her own walk and mowing her own yard (a very large yard) up to age 88.  Even when we moved her into senior citizen housing, she'd walk up and down 6 flights of stairs rather than take the elevator.  I remember playing tag with her as a kid (she was in her mid 60s at the time) and chasing her through her garden.  I trapped her in a corner with a stone wall on one side and a hedge on the other.  I figured she was caught but I was wrong.  She leaped over the hedge!  She was amazing!   

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

I remember my Nana (dad's mom) cooking standar June Cleaver 50's fare. Mashed potatos, beef roast, gravy, green beans, corn on the cob... that sort of thing. Alwasy really big breakfasts bacon, eggs, ham, sausages AND cereal or pancakes.

Now my Gramps (mom's dad) was definitely the cook in that family!  Gran cooked the life out of everything she made, so no one could recognize what it might have started out as. Gramps was a farm boy and his family was from Pennsylvania hill country.  He'd cook up even bigger breakfasts than my Nana (if you can believe it) and everything was from his father's farm or one of the local farms nearby. I still remember buckwheat pancakes slathered in cultured cream butter (better than whipped cream any day) with hot blueberry syrup made fresh. There wasn't an animal Gramps couldn't cook up delicious. In addition to "regular" meat like chicken, pork, beef, and lamb he'd serve goat, pheasant, duck, goose, grouse, venison, elk, rabbit and even squirrel.  He made us roast squab (pigeon) and groundhog skewers over an open fire. We got to eat interesting animal parts like liver, and kidneys, and brains, and tongue. There was usually potatos (fried, mashed, boiled, baked, au gratin, scalloped, whatever) in every meal, and at least 2 other veg - one green and one colored.

He ate by farm schedule too... early morning snack, usually bread & butter with juice before sun up, then the big "breakfast" a few hours later. The biggest meal of the day was usually a late lunch during the hot part of the day, with cold leftovers a few hours later and maybe something small (and sweet) before bed.  You normally saw yesterdays main meat in this morning's breakfast hash, with potatoes, of course.

Staying with his parents, Mom-mom and Pop-pop, was an even bigger treat... you had to go out to the coop to collect your eggs for breakfast. We had honey we'd spun out yesterday on bread that Mom-mom had just pulled out of the oven. Lunch was usually whatever was most plentiful from the garden that day and you always ate meat during the season the babes were the right age (chicken in the spring, lamb in summer, pork in fall and beef in winter). There were always fresh trout in the creek, and some crayfish if you were lucky. Wild game made up at least one meal, and wild morel mushrooms if you could find them.  We had lots of nuts in the fall... seeming that everything Mom-mom had put at harvest ended up with onions and nuts in by the end of winter. Lots and lots of turnips and potatos in the winter. Heck potatos all year round, and cabbages too. Fresh berries and peaches with real cream for dessert, and if you were lucky you got a honey comb to chew too.

JAG's picture
JAG
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?
robie robinson wrote:

Please read Sally Fallons' "Nourishing Traditions", Then post this question again. ;-)

I just picked up this book today....its exactly what I was looking for. Thank you Sir.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?
JAG wrote:
robie robinson wrote:

Please read Sally Fallons' "Nourishing Traditions", Then post this question again. ;-)

I just picked up this book today....its exactly what I was looking for. Thank you Sir.

Excellent!

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

Geen Beans with Bacon, Butter and cooked until they were almost falling apart.  mmmmm    Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar baked  in the middle till it caramelized.  Tuna Noodle Casserole as well as Macaroni and Cheese with Ham and Broccoli.  Chicken Fried Steak with fresh Rolls and Pork Gravy.  I'm now drooling.Laughing

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Re: What Kind Of Food Did Your Grandmother Make?

The bad: 

Tomato aspic.

It was horrible.

The good: 

Oven baked butternut squash with 11 pounds of butter and brown sugar.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie.

And one thing I will never forget about my Grandfather.  We ate 4 prunes with breakfast every morning whenever we were visiting.  Grandpa said it would make sure the mail was delivered on time.  I didn't figure out what he meant until I was in my 20s.

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