Dinner with Bubbe . . .

l pinkmountain

No, not the former CF member Renee known as Bubbe for all you old, old timers. My actual Bubbe, who died in 1977.


Last night I took a hot dinner over to my Dad's house, and sitting there eating it I realized if felt exactly like dinner at my Bubbe's house, because I was serving exactly the kind of meal she would have made and did make. It was baked fish with a butter, lemon dill sauce, loskshen (noodle) kugel, coleslaw, (the sweet and sour kind that hubs doesn't like but he's out of town), and cooked plain green beans. The noodle kugel was slightly dry, using cottage cheese and only slightly sweet topped with butter and cinnamon sugar. Of course my dad thought it needed more sugar so he doused it with some from the sugar bowl . . . ah old times! I like the less sweet kind . . . Bubbe made hers by just adding butter, cinnamon sugar and cottage cheese to hot noodles but mine was a slight variation that was baked and had eggs and sour cream too. I also used twisted dried wide egg noodles but Bubbe would have either made her own or used flatter thinner ones. But the taste was darn close.


The other meal I make when I want to channel Bubbe is a roast chicken, mashed or boiled potatoes, stuffing and home made applesauce. Chicken soup with home made noodles or matzah balls as a starter. I didn't use to like Bubbe's applesauce because I would occasionally find a bit of peel or apple core in it. I was spoiled. She had arthritis pretty bad so cooking became more and more difficult for her as she aged. I was too young to help at first, and later too dumb to realize what was going on. Subsequently I didn't learn some of the things from her that I wish I had.


Bubbe's only memorable baked goods were banana cake or bread, and oatmeal cookies. That's pretty much all I remember, she may have made stuffed cabbage but I didn't like that as a child. She also ate stewed dried fruit but I didn't like that either. I love both dishes now. She had that old school tradition of offering you a piece or two of chocolate candy from a fancy box of candy as your special "dessert." She usually had a fancy candy box on the dining room credenza and I always wanted to sneak one . . .


What meals or dishes do you make that channel a beloved grandparent or revered elder?

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plllog

I never knew one grandmother and the other wasn't a great cook (fine, but just food. Mostly not memorable. She had more of a head for business). Something I adore, from the first one (or her sister, maybe) via my mother was cooked spinach with sour cream and chopped hard boiled eggs. Very Russian, I think. I don't make it, generally, but it brings me right back to childhood. From my father, who helped his mother as a boy, I have her best recipe, her gefilte fish. I could eat it—and it was wonderful—because it was cold, she was a stickler for freshness, and I was young. I can't make it. Even the fumes from hot fish trigger a reaction. I can still remember the flavor and texture and what the dish smelled like (onions, carrots and pepper). Especially at Passover, but really any time the multitudes gathered for a meal, Grandma would drive the fishmongers crazy with her demands that the fish not have the evil eye, and must be that day's catch, practically still wiggling. She'd bring it stacked high on a thin porcelain plate so fine it was practically translucent. My cousin got the cookie jar, but I have the gefilte fish plate,

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l pinkmountain

Apparently my grandmother also made great fresh gefillte fish back in her day. I was told that she befriended local fishermen to get the fresh fish. My uncle loved it. Everyone in my immediate family hated it, including her youngest son, my Dad. So she never made it after I came along so late in her life. I did encounter the store bought stuff at the homes of other family members who liked it. Still not a fan . . . although I think I inherited a family love of fish from both sides.

I joke about there being a "gefillte fish test" in a Jewish family when a boy brings his girlfriend home to meet his mother. My grandmother apparently made her famous gefillte fish for my mother and she bravely tried to enjoy it. Having just come back from Japan and eating sushi she thought she could do it. But apparently she didn't do a good enough job of faking it and my aunt (who was nuts) made a big issue out of it and berated my grandmother for having been so insensitive to have made such a thing for a non-Jewish gal (that's the PC version) and they got in a big family fight. Mom married Dad anyway, and was probably one of my grandmother's favorite family members, the gefilte fish was immaterial in the big picture.

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blubird

I never knew any of my grandparents as they all perished in Europe during the Holocaust, however my mother had one surviving elderly uncle and aunt, Uncle Dave and Tante Lotte, who always invited us over for Passover. Tante Lotte was Austrian and a fabulous cook and baker. I was very young but I still remember her red wine braised roast chicken and her pastries for dessert, some 65+ years later.

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annie1992

I grew up in a multi-generational home, my maternal Grandmother lived with us. She was taught to cook by her step-mother, who was from Kentucky, so she made many things that Elery grew up with, things like a pot of beans and cornbread. She seldom made cookies and cakes were for special occasions, but she made lots of pies, cobblers, crisps and dumplings. Her fruit dumplings were cooked and sweetened fruit with sweet dumpling dough dropped on top and cooked, I loved the blackberry ones. I'd spend all afternoon out in the Manistee National Forest, picking wild blackberries and watching out for bears, just so she'd make those dumplings.

She baked all our bread and, being the heathen that I was, I always wanted the white squishy stuff from the store. Now I look back and think about how I'd pass up homemade bread for WonderBread. Yeah, I was a clueless child, LOL.

Grandma had me in the kitchen when I was very small, I remember standing on the kitchen chair, peeling tomatoes for her to can, because I was too small to reach the sink. I baked my first loaf of bread all by myself when I was about 7, Grandma told me that I couldn't hurt it, the more bread got handled, the better it was. Now, of course, I know about developing gluten and kneading...

I have most of her recipes, although she was a very basic cook and Dad said that Grandma could "make a good meal out of nothing". The only recipes she made that I cannot find or recreate was a soft pineapple cookie, so I think she just made that up, and a frosting that was uncooked, but made with whipped egg whites and light corn syrup, kind of a 7 Minute Frosting, but without the 7 minutes. It was light and fluffy and sweet, I could (and did) eat it with a spoon.

I still remember her, though, every time I can her sweet relish or sit down with a cup of tea to think when I'm upset. I can still hear her telling me that we should "just sit down with a cup of tea and discuss things like civilized people". LOL

I was grown up and married by the time she died, and I still miss her. When I think about all the time I spent with her, and everything she taught me, I feel sorry for those people who never had a chance to live with their Grandmother.

Annie

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

Hi, Annie. Haven't seen you around for awhile. We haven't had a frost here yet, so I have to wait to send your package! Neither of my grandmothers made memorable meals and my mother still hates to cook. My paternal grandmother had no sense of smell and I remember her asking me to tell her if the milk was sour. I remember picking blackberries with her in the woods behind her barn and what I thought was a branch was a snake. We bonded over that!

She was widowed before my parents met. She was a thin, smart, scrappy woman. I still remember her mantra to me when I was growing up "No one can take an education away from you" - her name was Jessie. I had an etched red souvenir glass with her name and date from the Ohio State Fair because they couldn't afford to take all of the kids and she didn't go. I kept earrings in it. We had a burglary and the bastard took it.

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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan

Home canned peaches remind me of my maternal grandmother. She died when I was 12. I remember her more for her incredible sewing ability than for her cooking. She had each of her 5 children's families over for Sunday night supper periodically. When it was our large family's turn, we often had her home canned peaches for dessert. Grandpa dipped white bread in the thick syrup so, of course, we tried it, too. It was like getting a second dessert of gooey peach cake. Grandpa also suggested that blowing your nose with sandpaper would cure a cold. My parents made sure to tell us that was not true on the trip home! It is strange what things we remember from our childhood.

My paternal grandmother lived an hour away. She was widowed when I was an infant. We usually visited her in the evenings a few times a month and my siblings and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. She served an evening snack when we visited. It always included hot tea brewed in her brown Japanese teapot. We joked that if she ever ran out of tea she could probably brew several pots just by adding hot water to the pot since it was well infused with tea from years of use. I bought a similar one and use it occasionally. A cookie or rusk was the usual side. She made refrigerator cookies...a roll cookie with nuts, walnuts as I remember. I used to make them, but had forgotten all about them until now. I may look and see if I can find her recipe or one that sounds similar. Rusk is a dry, hard, twice baked biscuit. It may be of Dutch origin, like my grandmother was. We usually ate it with butter on it and liked it as much as sweet snacks.

This grandma also had Thanksgiving and Christmas at her house. Everyone helped so I don't think of any of the foods as "hers" except for two. After a big midday Thanksgiving dinner we would do things with the family and then have a light supper. It always included creamed turkey on potato rolls, and a Jello salad. The Jello was very simple. Two cake pans of Jello, one red, one green. Slice through it in both directions and scoop the cubes into a clear bowl. Ta-da!! A red and green reminder that Christmas was coming and we were moving into that season. This used to be a tradition at our house when our own children were small. Now I can not remember the last time I had plain Jello. We do have creamed turkey sometimes, but usually over mashed potatoes or stuffing, not on potato rolls.

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lindac92

Another who grew up in a multigenerational house hold. I had 4 Grandmas until I was 14 when my mother's mother died. she lived with us at the time and sometimes cooked a big pot of vegetable soup. We had 2 apple trees in the yard ( and a cherry tree and a pear tree and raspberry patch!) and as soon as the first apples fell she was recruiting help to cut out the bad spots and make some apple sauce. We had jars and jars of applesauce in the fruit cellar!
My father's mother ( who eventually came to live with us too) fried everything it seemed....fish, chicken pork chops etc. I do remember going to their house for Thanksgiving for years and years and she did roast a turkey.....and made a wonderful chocolate cake....oh and custard pie! But never a recipe....she just knew how and her measure was a handle-less cup in the flour bin.
She also made me cambric tea....which I didn't like as well as coffee with lots of milk and sugar, but she thought it was better for me! And she made the best penuche. Would love to have that recipe!
One great grandma lived just down the street and ran a boarding house until she was about 80. I remember going to Sunday dinners at her house....but mostly I remember her for cookies. Because she lived close I stopped in often and there always seemed to be a plate of warm from the oven cookies. And she made a cucumber salve that all the family begged for a little tin of. Said it would cure anything...particularly good on drawing the "bad out" of a boil. she said it was simply cucumbers boiled in kerosine over an open out door fire. Hmmmm?
The 4th grandma, my grandfather's mother also lived with us at the tine that my mother's mother did. She never cooked and the only thing I remember eating at her house was a few strawberries. She was so tight she would make the bark on a tree ashamed. But in her defense I don't think she ever had anything to share

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l pinkmountain

These stories are so wonderful to read!

Interesting you mention penuche Linda. Making penuche as Christmas time was a tradition on my Mother's side. My grandma did not make it at the point I was born. I missed out on a lot of time with younger grandmothers in the kitchen because my parents married late and were already the youngest children by a many years gap. My Mom's YOUNGEST brother was 11 years older than her and there's a six year gap between my Dad and his youngest sibling. Anyway, apparently making penuche was a family tradition on my mother's side, I learned this from my much older cousin years later. I remember when I was a child Mom tried a couple times during the holidays unsuccessfully and frustratingly to make the penuche she remembered from childhood, and then gave up. Besides, who can afford the sugar and calories nowdays of eating a lot of penuche?? Mom also tried divinity . . . same deal.

Neither of my grandmothers were big bakers, so I never got the knack for shaped dough things, no one passed that tradition on to me. I'm OK with it, something to leave to the bakeries! But I did grow up with two family friends, one woman was from Germany and one from Hungary, and they made many delicious and beautiful baked goods. Ironically the German woman's husband was overweight with diabetes and heart disease so he could never eat all her wonders, and my Mom was always trying to diet so didn't appreciate the stuff as much either. I think that's why my grandmother's weren't big on fussy baked goods, they had neither the time nor money to invest in ingredients or tasks. I'm following suit in my life. One of my few food memories of my other grandmother was like many of you here, picking fresh berries and then just eating them in a bowl with milk or mashed on top of home made bread and butter. I planted two black raspberry bushes this fall in honor of that grandmother. Hopefully next year I can find room for a few more . . .

And of course my Mom's mom was a big afternoon tea person too, something passed down from my great grandmothers from the old countries. But nothing special went with the tea, the most common accompaniment was a rusk like NG mentions, the classic Dutch tea time snack, or molasses cookie or a very bland sugar cookie that my grandmother made, probably with Crisco . . . I never liked those ones much or the rusks. OK but nothing to treasure although if I had one now I would probably tear up. They were what was known as "refrigerator cookies" not because they needed refrigeration, but because they were rectangular with rounded edges, looking like an old style refrigerator. I think they were a sliced cookie, so actually the dough did need some refrigeration. Not sure I will ever take the time to make such a cookie since I didn't even like them as a kid. I do like snickerdoodles which was a cookie my Mom liked, so I do make something from that side of the family to serve with tea besides molasses cookies. And carrot cake which was Mom's favorite. I also like jam tarts, which no ancestor made, but incorporate jam which I make in honor of my fruit growing and processing grandmothers.

Come to think of it, I think sometimes my Grandma rolled out the bland sugar cookies and cut them in a circle, and I think occasionally put a dab of jam in the center. But I still didn't like them because the cookie part always tasted dry, bland and stale to me. Same with a rusk. I tried to learn to like them, but to me they are kind of like purposely staled bread . . .

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l pinkmountain

Well, a little googling for "bland Dutch cookies" turned up a reference to "Fryske Dúmkes" which are from Friesland (like my great grandmother) and are traditionally made in some type of rectangular shape. The recipes online are very much not bland, and include hazelnuts, but if you made them with Crisco instead of butter, and without much spice or nuts, they might resemble the ones my Grandma made. I could get into the richer variety!


https://www.tasteatlas.com/fryske-dumkes

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lindac92

Refrigerator cookies are called such because you made them in a roll, wrapped in waxed paper and put them in the refrigerator over night, sliced and baked the next day. all my refrigerator cookies are round! ;-)
I find that so many blah recipes for sweets are blah because there is no salt! The original recipe was made with butter, but when you sub crisco you better add salt!


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l pinkmountain

I have a friend who bakes cookies as a side gig, and she calls the rectangular spice cookies that are rolled out and sliced into a rectangle shape "refrigerator" cookies. Yes they spend time in the fridge to firm up before rolling, but they are not the log kind. So different strokes for different folks. I for one am going to give fryske dumkes a try. The name means "Friesan thumbs" which no one is quite sure why, perhaps that thumbprints were put into the cookie, or that the rectangular shape resembled a thumb, but that's the name and if you google the cookie, it has a wide variety of shape variations. One could even shape the dough in a log roll and slice it, getting a round shape that is not traditional but who cares . . . which is I think what my Grandmother did, just make the dough and shaped it however her time and mood dictated, which is why I remember the same bland taste for different shaped cookies.

Low salt was probably part of the problem. I bake low salt, but if I add spices should be ok. The Friesan thumbs calls for traditional Dutch anise, which I like. Apparently they are a popular dunking in hot beverage cookie in the damp cold climate of Friesland. I guess that's why my Dutch ancestors liked Michigan so much. We are coming up fast on cold damp time here!

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nancyjane_gardener

I was the youngest of the youngest and not born until my parents were close to 40 (ancient back then!)

I only knew one grandma and she was almost blind, but she made the BEST cinnamon rolls. I also got her last quilt handmade when she was almost blind!

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caflowerluver

My paternal grandmother died when my father was a child. The only thing I remember from my maternal grandmother was afternoon tea. Us kids got what she called Cambridge tea with, I believe, store bought cookies. The tea cup was filled half way with milk and a couple teaspoons of sugar. I don't remember any meals or special dishes cooked by her. She never taught my mother, her daughter, how to cook. So when my mother got married at 26 she had to learn. It was just at the end of WW2 and she made friends with a war bride from Italy who taught her how to cook. She taught her all the basics like roasted chicken and beef roast but also lots of Italian dishes like lasagna. Always for potlucks she would be asked to bring her lasagna. I thought that was funny since my mother was 100% Irish.

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agmss15

I barely remember my mom’s dad who was born in Lithuania. According to my mom he was a messier but more fun cook than my upright midwestern grandmother who needed to get the cooking and cleaning done before getting any work done.


My uncle and various other family members make various versions of fish stew - zuppa di pesce, bouillabaisse etc... I always loved it. At some point I ran across a photo of a family dinner from my toddler era. And there was little me, various family, friends and a big pot of bouillabaisse made by my grandfather. My grandfather had lived in France and North Africa as a young artist.


So now fish soups make me sentimental for my uncle who made the Italian version (he lived in Italy for a decade) and my grandfather.


As for my grandmother who I knew much better - foods that make me think of her are different - English muffins, fresh orange juice, endive, capers, lamb chops. More than that is a certain formality of presentation. Polished silver, old linens, crystal wine glasses that she served ginger ale in...

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l pinkmountain

I too grew up with the Cambridge tea full of milk and sugar. I still love it, but can't drink much tea due to a bladder condition, sigh.

I also love to do a Sunday dinner with the nice dishes and crystal stuff and nice linens. I have my grandmother's little roll basket liner embroidered with the words "Hot rolls" on the flaps. And her pressed glass salt shakers and a couple of her old china soup bowls with her initials on them. Most are chipped and the pattern is worn, but I use them occasionally still.

Also have tea sets from both grandmothers plus my late Mother, but sadly little opportunity to use them. I also have a couple of candy dishes from my grandmothers. That tradition, having a candy dish sitting out in the dining room or living room, has died out, probably for the best for our figures and teeth. Mom told me a story about my cousin who used to go over to my grandma's house as a child and say, "Grandma, I smell candy!" Which was probably unlikely as my grandmother kept it in a dish with a lid, as did most. I do have memories of trying to sneak the lid off and get a piece . . . I use the lidless candy dishes occasionally for serving some type of fancy pickled thing or other condiment, and the lidded one can hold mixed nuts or party mix too if I wanted to revive the tradition of having a dish of treats left out long term. Doesn't make much sense now considering how rarely we entertain guests and how few of them would want to imbibe in a snack while visiting . . .

Agmss I never grew up with that kind of zuppa de pesce but once I tried a recipe for it, it became one of our favorites. It's on my "to do" list to make for this month to use up some fish and shrimp we have in the freezer, not enough for a meal but good for soup if combined. Now whenever I will make it I will be reminded of your grandfather and uncle!

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agmss15

A little story about gelfilte fish -

So my mom grew up in a tiny little New Deal project town of predominantly first generation working class Eastern Europeans Jews. One of the few exceptions being my grandmother. The utopian worker collective concept had failed by the time they moved there but some of the ethos remained.

At some point it was the only town in the US with a synagogue but no churches.

Anyhow after the death of FDR the townspeople decided to rename the town Roosevelt. There was some kind of official commemoration of the event that Eleanor Roosevelt attended.

One of my grandmother’s neighbors made gelfilte fish for the occasion. When my grandmother mentioned them and their maker to Mrs Roosevelt she was touched that Mrs Roosevelt approached the lady and complemented her on the best gelfilte fish she had ever tasted. And got an impromptu lesson on how to make them.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

My mom's family is Lithuanian Catholic and a number of the things she grew up with were very similar to many traditional Jewish foods - like kugels and potato pancakes. My dad's family is Jewish and his mom passed when I was 2 or 3 years old, so I never really knew her.

We made a lot of penuche fudge growing up, and I think my mom and her sisters did the same. We used the recipe in the Settlement Cookbook. That was the family cookbook and I still use recipes from my old copy.

I can't think of anything I've made recently that channeled my Grandma Mary, but I live in my paternal Grandfather's house and the tiny yellow-tiled kitchen channels a lot of family memories.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

BTW, it's cambric tea, not Cambridge. And my auto correct just turned cambric into Cambridge! Pretty sure we had it too, since my dad's family was from England so tea was a big part of our lives.

What I recall most clearly is my dad often made us a kids version of cafe au lait - lots of milk and sugar and a splash of coffee 😊

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l pinkmountain

I thought it was cambric tea too, but then I thought I had been saying it wrong all these years. Actually we called it "Little kid tea." And friends used to tease my Dad for drinking, "Little kid's coffee" as you describe . . . In his old age he's thrown all pretense to the wind and just drinks hot chocolate!

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

FWIW, cambric is a type of fabric. I think it references the color...

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l pinkmountain

LOL Carol. I thought "Well maybe cambric is the fabric in the shirt for Simon and Garfunkel, and so I guess 'Cambridge' must be the tea" . . . Thanks for sorting that out for me. Now I can ask for "cambric" tea instead of "Little girl tea."

Truth be told I can no longer regularly drink any type of tea, even though it is almost my favorite thing in the whole world . . . I developed a sensitive bladder. I can drink chamomile or rooibos, but they don't have the same good flavor memories . . . my favorites are a good ogange pekoe or a malty Assam. Or a mix . . . they hold up well to milk. Dang tannins! They give it the flavor, but that's what irritates my bladder . . .

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

Too bad!

Have you tried white or green teas?

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l pinkmountain

Things like green tea and jasmine tea are even worse, more tannic. Its the tannins that make tea healthful, they are anti-oxidants, but sadly not good for me. I can't drink red wines anymore either . . . Oddly, coffee doesn't bother me, it is acidic but it's not tannic acid. Citrus or vinegar or tomato doesn't bother me either. Milk doesn't help, it makes the tea less acidic but the tannins are still in there. Fate is cruel. Tea is my favorite beverage and tea time is my favorite tradition.

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