My Grandmother was an excellent cook. I loved her fried foods: fried potatoes, fried chicken, fried pies. She was always trying new recipes. She was a wonderful baker too - lots of cakes and cookies and the best baking powder biscuits! I strive to immitate them on a regular basis. I'm not doing too bad.
She was the only Grandma I knew that had a job outside her home.
She was "just a housewife" for many years but then they moved to the big city and the love of her life found someone else. She became a single woman in a strange city with no income. Her son was in the Air Force at the time and she sent my Mom went back to West Virginia to live with family and finish school. Grandma was alone for the first time in her life and had to support herself. She said she lost 50lbs in 6 months.
This photo seems to be of Grandma at work. Grandma was only about 5 foot tall so don't think that the woman in the back is six foot tall or something, this is just a picture of a lot of short women. Grandma probably had some good sized heels on too.
If we were out shopping and Grandma saw someone shorter than her she would try to stand by them and then do a whispered shout to get our attention. Once she had our attention she would point out the shorter person and stand as tall as she could to show us she wasn't the shortest person in the world. It was all we could do to keep from laughing out loud!
Grandma loved her grandbabies. Here she is with one of "The Boys." My Uncle had 6 boys and my Mom had 2 girls. I liked spending time with Grandma growing up. We always lived close to her and often lived with her. I loved Grandma's house dresses because she always had a piece of peppermint in her pockets. Once when I was very small I felt a little piece of candy in her pocket and decided to bite the pocket to get at the candy. I was shocked when I discovered I'd bitten into a bitter asprin. I must have made a pretty good face because Grandma sure had a good laugh. Her belly would shake up and down when she laughed and if she continued laughing she'd tear up. Her laugh was a throaty laugh almost horse sounding from the cigarettes she smoked.
Grandma loved to laugh with family and friends. She liked to tell jokes. Most of her jokes were dirty or ethnically inapproriate. Whenever she was telling these kind of jokes she'd stop and say, "Lisa you better leave the room." This picture is a good example of how she looked when she talked or told a joke: a cigarette and cup of coffee in front of her and her arms propped up on the table. My favorite times were when she told stories about growing up in West Virginia.
This last photo is one of my favorite of Grandma. We were living in Oak Park and it was the first snow of the season. I don't remember who started the snow fight but it made me laugh to see Grandma throwing snowballs. I had obviously gotten her a few times. I don't remember if she got me but I'm very glad I had my camera. I made her pose for the picture and it's been one of my favorites ever since.
Chicago is famous for food like Pizza, Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches, however one of the things I missed right away after I moved west was Pork Roast with Bread Dumplings. Bread dumplings were readily available in the freezer section back home but not out west.
I wondered what people ate with pork roast if they didn't have bread dumplings.
Fortunately my Grandmother gave me an easy recipe that I am going to pass along to you today.
The recipe (given below) only requires two slices of bread,
some flour, eggs, milk, baking powder, salt and parsley.
I was out of parsley so I left it out.
After mixing it all together with a spoon you divide the dough into two balls.
I always roll these two balls into loaf shapes as it is easier for them to cook evenly.
The dough then sits for an hour or so (I actually often cover mine loosely with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours so that I can take a nap before dinner).
The next step is to boil a big pot of water (about 4 or 5 inches deep) and put in the dough.
You will boil it for 10 minutes on each side.
And here are the ugly breads. I think they look like pale brains but the taste wonderful.
Finally slice these puppies up
Pour pork gravy (aka pork grease) over the top for a yummy addition to your pork roast dinner.
Never Fail Bread Dumplings
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
2 slices bread (cubed)
2 tsp. parsley (we always use dried but I bet fresh would be wonderful)
Put dry ingredients into bowl and stir to combine. Put milk and eggs into another bowl and lightly whisk together. Add dry ingredients and bread to wet ingredients and mix together until well blended. Divide the dough into halves and roll lightly in flour. Set dough aside for one hour.
Cook in boiling water for 10 minutes on each side. Slice and serve with gravy.
One of the saddest parts of my Mother and Grandmother being gone
is that they aren't here to tell me who these people are. . .
I've inherited numerous photos, some are beautiful, some are funny, some are even out of focus. I love them all because they represent a moment in time.
How can you not love a photo of a woman in the real fur coat standing by a plastic Santa Claus on a green lawn. I have no idea who she is but she makes me smile. I'm sure Mom or Grandma would know and they would have a funny story about the picture too.
The black and white photo at the bottom looks like it might have been taken at one the apartments we lived in in Chicago, but I have no idea who the tall thin man is in front of it. He seems very mysterious to me.
The picture of the two boys buried at the top right was with a stack of photos that were taken in England. My guess is they are siblings, cousins, neighbors or friends of my Aunt who is from England.
Obviously someone wanted to remember them so they took their picture. I'm sure Grandma would be able to tell me what scoundrels those boys are but without her here to ask I can only guess.
I really don't have a clue as to who all these strangers are.
And without Grandma or Mom around to ask who these people are I'm feeling a bit sad and in the dark.
A few weeks back I posted photos of my girls making Fried Pies with my Mom. We were carrying on the tradition passed down to us by her Mom but every since Grandma has passed on we knew there was something not quite right with the pies. The dough was off. I now know why.
I did a little research online and found that we should be using our recipe for biscuit dough NOT pie dough. (You should really watch this video of an elderly woman from Kentucky making these pies. I love her accent.)
The video does not give amounts for her recipe but more of a "this is how it's done." I, on the other hand, am going to share the recipe I made to make these delicious pies - but first a few pictures.
Yummy fresh apples from the farmers market. I used these Jonathans mixed in with a few Granny Smith's from my Mother-in-laws tree.
The apples are cut up and cooked down to make the filling. . . this is what was left after I filled the pies. We enjoyed it straight from the pan as well as a some over vanilla ice cream. Here are the unfried pies. . .
And here is the delciousness frying up to a golden brown in the skillet
And the best part, of course, is the eating!
My husband insisted we have them with vanilla ice cream on top
and so we followed his advice.
And now for the recipe:
8 apples (Granny Smith & Jonathans work well but you can use any variety)
sugar and cinnamon to taste
1 tablespoon butter (yes butter, no margarine please!)
Core, slice and peel apples. I like to use the same corer/slicer I use to cut up apples for the kids and then use my paring knife to peel the apples. I then cut these pieces in half so they are chunky. Put the peeled apples pieces into a 3 qt or larger pot, with the butter. Cook on medium to low heat for about 20 minutes with the lid on the pot. Make sure to stir the apples every five minutes or so to make sure the heat isn't too high and to see if they are softening up. Once your apples are soft you can break up some of the apples, but leave some chunks too. I suppose this is really a personal choice. Add about 1 Tbsp of Cinnamon to the apples and stir. Taste the apples to see if they are already sweet enough, if not start by adding a couple tablespoons of sugar and then tasting the apples as you go. Let the apples cook another minute over low heat and then remove from heat. If your apples are soupy you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch. I personally haven't had this problem.
2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 - 2/3 cup milk
Measure flour and shortening into bowl. Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir together with large spoon. If the mixture is dry and doesn't come together in a nice ball after stiring add a little more milk until it forms a ball.
On a well floured surface briefly knead dough. Roll dough out very thin. Cut out circles. I have a 4" diameter circle cutter that I used. The woman on the video cut around a small saucer and so her pies are larger than mine.
The size of your circle will determine the amount of apple you place in the middle of the pie. You will need enough filling to fill half the circle and leave a small amount to seal the pie. Once filling is in circle, fold the dough over the filling and seal the edges with the tines of a fork.
Put skillet over a medium heat and add about an inch of oil. I use a combination of canola oil and shortening. The woman in the video uses Lard. This is definately not a diet food! The oil will need to be replenished as you fry the pies because the pies will absorb the oil.
I test the heat of the oil by placing a corner of a pie in the oil. If bubbles form around the pie edge then the oil is hot enough. Do not overheat the oil. Watch the pies as they cook and turn over once they are golden brown. Remove pies from oil and place on paper towels once both sides are cooked to absorb excess oil.