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March 2011 Everything's Relative
12/22/2010
Tales from the lighter side of family history.
Butter 'em up
My two grandmas were very different, even in cooking. I called Grandma Sheppard the original hot-air popcorn maker -- nothing had any taste. Grandma Diveley was quite the opposite: Everything was made with lard or bacon grease. But my favorite was her butter and sugar sandwiches. And she wouldn't use just a little butter, it was a lot, along with a lot of sugar (this was before margarine).

They say my dad couldn't walk until he was 2 years old because he was so fat. I suppose Grandma fed him a lot of butter, too.

Nancy Wofford » Florence, Ariz.

We all scream
When I was a child, ice cream wasn't as plentiful and easily accessible as it is today. This was a little something my mom threw together:

Mix together one can of sweetened condensed milk, one pint of heavy cream, one can of Hershey's syrup and one teaspoon of vanilla until well-blended, and freeze.

Ronnie Soniat » Jacksonville, Fla.

Something's fishy
My mothers' father came from Austria-Hungary. As a special treat for us while my dad was at work, she would make Bunyacowda. She'd melt two sticks of butter in a pan, add garlic and anchovies, and heat until the anchovies melted. She'd put it on the dining room table and give us lettuce to dip into the pan, and bread to daub it on to soak up the drips. After enough daubs, the bread became a second treat.

Joan Strawser » Southgate, Mich.

Life-shortening?
For 60 years, the highlight of any family birthday was Mom's chocolate cake with its scrumptious frosting. The recipe's cocoa powder and leftover coffee resulted in a hint of mocha flavor. Mom passed away in the 1980s, and the grandkids, now grown, still talk about that frosting. If they only knew that the secret ingredient is a glob of shortening about the size of a man's fist.

Deb McCabe » Los Altos, Calif.

Fruitful tradition
Each Christmas, Grandma Rose anticipated making her fruitcake to share. Grandma was always a teetotaler, but on this baking occasion she drank her “special” eggnog. I've never liked fruitcake much, but Grandma's was pretty good -- must be all those unhealthy ingredients (including lard or shortening, sugar and sour cream). She isn't with us anymore, so I've taken up the tradition using a healthier version of Grandma's fruitcake and her unmodified eggnog. Here's the fruitcake recipe:

Grandma Rose's Fruit Cake
  • 1 cup lard or shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • one-half cup sour cream
  • 3 cups flour
  • one-half teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • one-quarter teaspoon nutmeg
  • one-half teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup raisins
  • one-half cup currants
  • one-half teaspoon allspice
Cream together the lard or shortening and sugar. Add the molasses, sour cream, flour, baking soda, eggs, salt, spices and fruit. Mix well and turn the batter into an oiled and parchment paper-lined cake pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes. 

Carolyn Powers » Eastvale, Calif.
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