Recently my grandmother passed away. She was a vibrant, loving woman, one I remember fondly for her round shape, but also for her presence in the kitchen. I was always eager to eat dinner at Grandma Wolfe’s because it was always something spectacular. Not necessarily in content, but, even as a kid, I could discern a meal that had been prepared by someone who loved their kitchen and loved to cook for people. Grandma did. My regret was to have never cooked alongside her as an adult. As a child I would stand in the kitchen and watch her move through her small kitchen, making recipes from far off places with spices I was not yet familiar with. I tasted jicama for the first time at my grandparent’s house. Cut into square fingers with a fresh hit of lime and sprinkling of chile powder – I was hooked. I’m sure I ate more than my fair share, as my grandfather sat cross-legged, chatting with grandma and asking me what I thought of the crunchy root.
My answer was evident in my noshing.
After her memorial service, the family went back to grandma and grandpa’s house (not the one that I remember from childhood, but the one they moved into for their last years of their lives) and reminisced over numerous pots of freshly ground coffee. My cousins, younger than I – some the ages of my own children, drank me under the table, adding cream to their cups, and sugar from grandma’s sugar canister. Their mother, my aunt, remarked that when she left for the long drive home, she was taking grandma’s (her mother’s) pizza pan. They had been using the pan while they stayed in the house, and it was going to a new home. She said she’d fight for it. Her desire for the pan sparked a wanting of my own. I figured it must have been one heck of a pan. I realized, though, that I had only been thinking of myself. That day I learned there were plenty of people who held fond memories of grandma’s kitchen. It was a place of wonder. Who wouldn’t want a part of it?
Conversation continued, twisting and turning down numerous roads of topics, but one tidbit I picked up on was that my uncle had scanned the majority of her recipes and made a PDF of them. In my scatterbrained life I do drop the ball and forget to follow-up with quite a few things. But getting a copy of that PDF I did not, and my uncle faithfully delivered.
Grandma’s service was in January of this year, and grandfather’s was last week. He couldn’t, and didn’t, last long without her.
I love this photo of them. Looking at it, you can see why a long-time separation wouldn’t do.
Clearly my thought was to share a recipe of grandma’s, and I will. I’ve only tried one of them, the one that was most pressing, and it was a smashing failure – not giving justice at all to grandma’s version. I have a feeling, though, that her cooking is similar to many of that generation – a written version is a guideline, the real recipe is written in their own mind. Frank’s grandmother, an Italian/German cook, is fabulous in the kitchen, but I’ve never seen a recipe card anywhere.
The recipe below I remember asking for seconds and thirds while I sat with my brother in front of the television, eating off TV trays, while the adults chatted in the background. As usual, my mother was more than likely horrified at my request for more (and more and more). It’s OK, though, because I have a couple kids that pay me back with that same horror of requesting more than their fair share at events revolving around food.
Greek Egg Lemon Soup
1 Qt. water
4 pkg. chicken broth
1/4 C uncooked rice
4 T. lemon juice
3 eggs (or substitute?)
Boil water. Add broth powder and rice; cook until tender. Beat lemon juice and eggs. Whisk half of brother into mixture. Pour into remaining broth and heat (stirring) until thick. Do not boil.
Easy enough, eh? I don’t know where I messed up. I’ll have to try again.