From the category archives:

Heritage Stories

By Stephany Moore

Grandma Marlys Moore is the best cook and hostess I know. Her homemade caramel, pecan rolls are to die for and that’s just a side dish at breakfast.  With the vast amount of home baked food, you would think it was Thanksgiving every meal in Grandma’s house.  Tonight’s feast, for example, will include barbeque ribs, spinach salad, potato casserole, buttery green beans, strawberry-marshmallow salad, garlic butter bread, and choice of lemon meringue pie (Grandma’s favorite) or chocolate Oreo cream pie.

And that’s a meal she can whip up like it’s no big deal, and to Grandma, it is no big deal when you consider how many years of practice she has had preparing meals.

Grandma was seven years old when she began cooking, in 1938.  Her mother, Marion, had to go to great aunt Helen’s house across town every night to take care of their sick parents, leaving Grandma to cook dinner for the family.

Cooking on an openhearth

“Can you imagine?” She dramatically explains. “ A seven year old starting a fire in an open hearth! If you heard that today, it would be considered abuse, or neglect, or something.”

Grandma grew up in St. Ansgar, a remote town in Iowa, just south of the Minnesota state line.  Her father, Adolf, or Adie as everyone called him, raised chickens, pigs, and cows and kept a vegetable farm.  He grew lots of potatoes. “We always ate potatoes at every meal” says Grandma. “And we canned everything, even the meat.”  That must have eased dinner preparation for Grandma as a young girl. “Oh yea, I’d just warm up a can of meat over the fire,” she says.

Mealtime was always a big family event. “We always had a big breakfast with fried pork, eggs, oatmeal,” Grandma says. “Everyone came to eat together see, so we had to fix a lot of food.  And of course our biggest meal was at noon.”

Ah, the Christmas feast

Nothing, however, compared to the feast they prepared at Christmas.  According to Grandma, her family served the same meal in the same house for thirty-five years. Lutefisk, a Norwegian cod recipe, was always the main course, and is “completely disgusting” according to my dad, Kevin.

“Oh it’s not that bad!”  Grandma gives a scolding glare towards her 53-year-old son, before continuing. “But we did start serving ham too as people started getting married, because none of the in-laws liked lutefisk.”

Lefsa, a potato tortilla rolled in butter and sugar, is another Norwegian dish that we still serve at Christmas Eve dinners. Then there was the side dishes: mashed potatoes with butter, cooked rutabagas – Grandma shuffles to the kitchen to grab one from the cupboard and show me – and other vegetables from the farm, dumpling soup, bread, pies, and futtigmand, a funnel cake-like dessert.

Another family food tradition was fruit soupa.  Grandma bustles to the kitchen again and retrieves Great Grandma Nelson’s Cookbook.  The front cover is missing, the pages are aged, and little notes are scribbled in next to several of the recipes.

Good for the sick, good for the healthy

As she flips the pages looking for fruit soupa, she tells me from memory that the soup is made with tapioca, grape juice, raisins, and prunes.  According to Great Grandma Merion, it was supposed to be good if you were sick. “Mom took it to everyone,” she says. “It was probably good for you because it was like a laxative!”

Almost everything Grandma makes was and still is made from scratch, and according to her, all Norwegian food is made with eggs, cream, and butter. I stifle a laugh because now I understand why Grandma insists on putting butter on everything and why she can’t understand why anyone would pass up the chance to put butter on their caramel rolls.

Even bread was homemade; Great Grandma Marion baked rolls, bread, and fried donuts weekly.  According to Grandma, store bought bread was a real treat.

“I can remember this one time,” she reminisces, “I was in home ec and they had a schooling for mothers.  So my mom went to the class and they learned how to make rolls.  She came home and said ‘that was the hardest thing I’ve ever eaten, we make better than that!’ And it was probably true!”

After many years of preparing meals for her family as a young girl, potlucks with the neighbors when she started her own family, and hosting great family reunion meals during the holidays, it’s no surprise that Grandma has grown tired of cooking.  Her real passion is baking desserts, her specialty – rhubarb pie.  “I hate every day meals, but I love to bake pies and cakes, even cookies.  I always have to have something sweet around.” She says with a mischievous grin.

Only a few of the Norwegian traditions have remained present in our family today.  But when I sit down to the professionally set dinner table with steaming fresh and colorful foods with aromas that make your mouth water, I must admit, I am thankful that Lutefisk never makes it on the menu when I visit.

Lutefisk
From Grandma Marlys’s Norwegian Recipies

Unsalted dry cod is used for this recipe for cod prepared in potash lye. It should be chopped in small pieces as it swells greatly when immersed in water. The fish should lie in water for 8 days, the water to be changed daily. Place the fish in a solution of 1 pint potash lie and 12 pints water where it should remain for 3 days. Remove and place in fresh water for 2 days. Cook in boiling salted water (2 ounces salt to 2 quarts water). By adding the salt after the fish, when the water has reached boiling point again, the fish will “shiver”, which is a good test of first class “lutefisk”. Serve with melted pork drippings, melted butter, or white sauce and boiled split peas.

Lefsa
From Great Grandma Nelson’s Cookbook

16 cups potatoes
1 cup butter
1 cup cream
8 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt
6 cups flour

Boil and rice potatoes. Drain potatoes well before ricing. Add butter, cream, sugar, and salt. Cool potatoes over night then take about ¼ potatoes and mix with ¼ flour, mix, roll, and back on lefse grill.  (A lefse grill is traditionally a flat cast iron grill pan and griddle all in one.) Serve with butter and sugar.

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By Chelsea Patton

From a very young age, I had a hearty appreciation for food.  I was adventurous and willing to try nearly anything offered to me.  I was blessed with a mother whose passion for food and cooking was shared with me.  Looking back into my childhood, I recall fresh from the oven artisan breads, romaine salads before every meal, and something Mediterranean on my plate for every meal.

Irish, English, German, Russian, Scottish, and Native American blood all run through my family, yet absolutely no Italian or Greek.  Why then, does my family eat so much Mediterranean food, and what traditions have been derived from my family’s heritage?

I sought my grandmother, Linda Zwetzig, for an answer.  When I recall eating at Grandma’s,  I recall a traditional English fry up, with bacon, or sausage, eggs, toast, garden tomatoes, the works.  However, since my mother was deemed the family cook, she would take over the cooking from there.  My grandmother’s cooking was otherwise unknown to me.

‘We ate a lot of beef’

I decided to ask her what foods she was raised eating in rural Nebraska in the 1950s.    “We were pretty much a meat and potatoes family,” she told me.  “We ate a lot of roast, meatloaf, a lot of salads, fruits, but really a lot of beef.”  I was surprised to find so much beef in her diet, since I was raised on far less, but at last I could see where my salad before dinner tradition had formed.

“Why so much beef?” I inquired.

My grandmother just laughed, and with her usual striking energy, joked, “This is Cattle Country!  If you took my beef away, you might as well shoot me!”

Finally, I inquired about the tradition of a hot breakfast every morning, and this is where the story begins to find conflict.  According to my grandmother, it was just an economical thing she did when she married my grandfather, and it’s something she has been doing the same way for the duration of their marriage.  However, my mother seems to recall eating a different breakfast.  “[I was served] really nasty eggs with ketchup, which she used to microwave,” she scoffed.  I could hear in her voice that her repulsion over the food had softened into a laugh over time when she joked, “No wonder I don’t like breakfast now!  She didn’t love us then.”

I was beginning to see very little insight into the reasons behind my family’s eating habits by asking my grandmother, who as it turns out, wasn’t the primary cook for the household.  I asked my mother about her nanny Dianne.  If my mother had learned to cook from anyone, it was Dianne, who had even taught her how to bone a chicken, much to my mother’s horror at the time.  “I would have just as soon cut off my fingers than cut that chicken,” my mother recalled.  “If I thought it would get me out of it, I probably would have.”

The tradition that wasn’t catching

However, Dianne’s specialties were “farm foods.”  I had reached another dead end in my investigation.  I decided to search further back.  Perhaps my great grandmothers had been influential.  “Grandma [Betty] Beckley never let me cook with her,” my mother remembered.  “It was always done.  She was a real ‘Betty Homemaker,’ and the queen of make-ahead food.”  As I  thought I had reached another dead end, my mother began to shed light on what turn out to be some of the only family recipes, and more importantly, the very foods which make up my holiday memories.

My mom uses my her grandmother’s recipe for “Freezer Mashed Potatoes,” a mashed potato made ahead of time, and kept in the freezer until needed, then baked.  Her seven layer salad sits on my table every year, but most importantly, I look forward to the cool, sweet, and texturally unique “Frog Eye Salad.”  This was the dessert I would eat for days and days after the holiday.

While I was pleased to find some sort of long-standing tradition in my family, I still was no closer to finding the origin of my daily food choices.  With no options left, no family member left out of our conversation, I finally resorted to asking, “Mom, why in the world do we eat all of these artisan breads, and light foods?  Who taught you to make these?”

The answer was so simple.  I was not eating secret family recipes.  I was raised on the traditions of several celebrity chefs, expertly tweaked by my mother.  Indeed, the Food Network taught my mother the art of artisan bread-making, and light flavorful meals.  “[Mediterranean food is] healthy and fresh, and I’m health conscious,” she so simply stated.

I recommend we all question our eating habits, and their origins.  While I uncovered no rich culinary history, passed down from generation to generation, it’s possible I uncovered my predisposition to hyperbole, passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, and to me, and one day, this flair for the dramatics, and the tweaked Food Network recipes will be passed down to my children.

Grandma Beckly’s Frog Eye Salad

Yields about 24 servings.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups pineapple juice drained from pineapple
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package acini di pepe (pasta)
3 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 (20 ounce) cans pineapple tidbits, drained with juice collected for sauce
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice collected for sauce
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup miniature marshmallows

In a sauce pan, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoons salt, sugar, pineapple juice and eggs.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Remove from heat; add lemon juice and cool until it reaches room temperature.  Cook pasta in 3qts water using remaining salt until pasta is al dente, then drain. Note: pasta will cook very quickly.  In large bowl, combine pasta, sauce, and remaining ingredients.  Mix well, and then chill the salad for at least 4 hours.

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By Chell Gardner

“Times are so different now…the younger generation has food readily available…we worked the farm for food,” stated Rachael Hugunin, lead cook in the Gardner family.

Hugunin was born in 1923 from parents Celina and Richard VanDenBroecke.  She had four older sisters:  Genevieve, Marguerite, Mary, and Odelia.  She helped her dad on the farm, plucking fresh vegetables, and slaughtering chickens, pork, and cows.

At age 8, she became the family cook because her mother was bedfast due to an illness, her sisters had jobs outside of the home, and her father ran the farm.

She used fresh tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beef, and eggs to cook her favorite meal: pot roast.  “I liked pork better, but those big potatoes with the pot roast were so good.”

Growing from a Belgium heritage

“My parents came over on a boat from Belgium…at that time, they ate similar things as Americans,” stated Hugunin.  “We would have fancied meals with fresh bread at every meal.”

Hugunin met her late husband, Jesse Hugunin, in 1941.  Married a year later, they started a family.  They had eight children:  Ruth, Cathy, Roger, Jessie, Judy, Richard, Larry, and Teresa.

She continued to cook, while her husband was the breadwinner.  Mr. Hugunin built houses and the children worked in the community.

Hugunin cooked the holiday dinners.  “Grandma [her mom] gave me $46 dollars to go shopping at holidays…I had to feed the entire family…my dad, my sister’s families, and my own family,” Hugunin stated.

A family of cooks

For the holidays, she would prepare family favorites:  ham or goose, chicken and noodles, stuffed green peppers, blood sausage, potatoes, and fresh bread.

In 1982, her cooking dwindled.  “At this time, my kids were grown with families and my husband passed…there was not much need to cook anymore.”

Although she shared her cooking knowledge with all of her children, her youngest daughter, Teresa Gardner, continued cooking.

Gardner married her husband, Dan Gardner, in 1983 and had three children:  Nick, Danielle, and Chell.

“I’ve cooked for my family the way my mom taught me…when mom started getting older, I took over the family dinners…I cook for both mine and my husbands’ families,” stated Gardner.

Hugunin made a cooking legacy that has been successfully passed from generation to generation.

Stuffed Green Peppers
Originated by Grandma VanDenBroecke

This recipe was read from Grandma VanDenBroecke to daughter Rachael Hugunin.    Hugunin used all fresh ingredients from the farm to make this dish on the holidays.

Yields 6 servings.

2 cups rice
15 fresh tomatoes
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 large fresh green peppers
4 thick slices of pork bacon
1 pound block cheddar cheese, chopped into 1 inch cubes

Cook rice as directed on the package.

In a stock pan, boil tomatoes, and then when tomatoes are soft, peel the skin off. Grind the tomatoes, making a chunky tomato sauce. Stir the tomatoes in with the rice.

Brown ground pork in a saucepan.  Add sugar, salt, pepper, and pork to rice and tomato mixture.

Cut off the top of peppers and scoop out seeds from inside the pepper. Parboil green peppers so they are slightly soft. Stuff green peppers with rice mixture.

Place in a 9×13 pan. Place bacon over the top of the peppers.  Place cheese blocks on top of the bacon and peppers.  Cover and place in oven. Watch peppers until cheese is melted. (Modern cooking temperature is 350 degrees for 1 hour.)

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By Ben Marshall

Mealtime in the Warning household followed a simple formula.  Protein + starch + vegetable resulted in a satisfied family of six.

“A lot of fried chicken, a lot of meatloaf, a lot of tenderized round steak and a lot of potatoes – mashed, boiled or fried,” Meleia Marshall (née Warning) said, recalling meals growing up in Bloomfield, Iowa.  “And we always had a vegetable.”

Bloomfield, a tiny speck in the southeast corner of the state, is one of those towns that is lucky to appear on state maps.  Although slightly larger today than in the 1950s and early ‘60s when Marshall was running the streets, Bloomfield remains a largely rural community.

Marshall said she didn’t realize it when she lived there, but this type of rural environment had a large impact on the way she and her family ate.  Growing up with access to local livestock and farm fresh produce meant “good beef, good pork, farm fresh chicken” was all Marshall knew.  Until she left the boundaries of Bloomfield in 1972.

City food just didn’t taste right

“When I first came to Kansas City, I could have totally given up eating meat products,” Marshall said.  “Because it was nothing like what I was used to eating.”

The family bought local meat butchered at the town meat locker.  They bought eggs from Miller’s Produce.  In late spring and early fall, fresh fruits and vegetables would be picked from nearby gardens.

“There’s a difference in farm fresh chicken, beef slaughtered off the local farmer’s field and hogs and everything else,” she said.  “There just is.”

Breakfast in the Warning house was generally always prepared from scratch by Marshall’s mother Ritzanna.

“My mom always made a hot breakfast for us,” she said.  “French toast or pancakes or waffles, oatmeal.  Sometimes sausage or bacon and eggs and toast.  And milk – always milk.”

During the school year, Marshall was adamant that she would always pack her lunch.  Bologna sandwiches and chicken and tuna salads were often toted in brown paper bags to school.

The Sunday tradition

On Sundays, Marshall said the family’s largest meal was in the afternoon and it usually consisted of a roast with potatoes and vegetables – anything that could be “put in the oven and be ready by the time we got back from church.”

By fifth or sixth grade, Marshall said she split evening cooking duties with her mother.  When her mom worked, Marshall cooked and vice versa.  This is when Marshall said she learned the most – by getting in the kitchen and just cooking.

“I did not necessarily learn to cook reading a recipe.  If I was reading a recipe, it was for cookies, I did not read recipes for mealtime dishes,” Marshall said.

And it is from these experiences and dishes that she gets the inspiration for the food she prepares today.  Lots of hamburgers and fried chicken and meatloaf and potatoes – fried potatoes.  Goulash and chili, too.

“If it wasn’t being roasted in an oven, it was on top of a stove in a fry pan,” Marshall said.  “I’ve never really strayed too far from what I knew growing up.  I pretty much fix today what is familiar to me; I prepare what I knew and what I ate growing up.”

And for Marshall’s own family of four, this proven formula has shown to be a winning one some 50 years later.

Pancakes
From Ritzanna Warning’s small green cookbook

No Bisquick or packaged pancake mix has ever seen the light of day in my grandmother’s house.  Or my house, for that matter.  This simple recipe for pancakes was handwritten in my grandmother’s green cookbook, and it has always been a family favorite.  My mother recalls her mother fixing this recipe before school.  “I never left the house without eating breakfast,” my mom said.  On holidays or special occasions, her father would take over pancake duties, creating Mickey Mouse pancakes or snowman pancakes, depending on the season.  This recipe doesn’t call for blueberries or chocolate chips, but you may certainly add them if you’re so inclined.  (But they’re just as delicious left plain with a little real butter and maple syrup.)  Enjoy this easy recipe and never buy Bisquick again.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

1 ¼ cups flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a large bowl, mix egg, milk and butter.  Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and stir until flour mixture becomes incorporated.  Don’t over-mix; lumps are fine.

Let batter stand a few minutes and thin slightly with milk if needed.

Spoon batter onto a griddle or pan over medium heat.  Cook until bubbles form and pop, about 2 minutes.  Flip pancake over to finish cooking, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately with maple syrup.  Or freeze and reheat on griddle or pan until warm through.

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By Michele Carylon

When it comes to food, I might be the pickiest eater in my family. I hate everything from meatloaf to goulash. My family on the other hand will eat just about anything. Recently I sat down with my mother’s mom, Wilma Kingsbury, commonly known as “Nanny,” to try and figure out some information on where my food choices come from. Nanny currently lives in Junction City.

Nanny was quick to point out that a majority of our ancestors were English, and she was extremely proud to say so. Nanny was unaware of when exactly the ancestors came to the United States, but somewhere along the line they ended up in Smith County.

Smith County was a very rural community that faced a lot of the same weather conditions as Kansas faces now. The summers were hot and the winters were freezing and occasionally Nanny and her family had to deal with dirt storms.

Nanny grew up in a family of nine. She was the youngest and by the time she came around in 1927 some of her older siblings were already living out on their own, creating their own families. Her father, Elmer Wilkerson, was farmer who raised livestock. Elmer also did the butchering of their cows and pigs. He made most of his living by selling the butchered meat to local stores, but saved the family money by providing all of the meat the family needed.

Switching from horses to tractors

When Nanny was growing up, her father was still doing a lot of his farming with horses. As she got older they transitioned into tractors, but she can still remember being out there and helping her family to farm. Along with having a fairly abundant supply of meat, they also had their own milk from their cows and eggs from the chickens that they raised.

My great grandmother’s name was Jenny Mable Wilkerson. While my grandmother was growing up her mother had a significant role in everyday family life. She was not only the cook, but she also cleaned, cared for the children and helped with the multiple chores that farm life presents. The family meals that Jenny prepared typically consisted of meat and potatoes as well as some kind of homemade bread.

Although Nanny’s father farmed, her mother had a difficult time making a small family garden work due to the incredibly hot and dry conditions. Nanny talked about remembering how much her mother would can. Apparently they would buy potatoes from the sale barn for $1.99 for a hundred pound sack, some of which would be used to prepare meals and the rest would be canned. Nanny also rolled her eyes thinking about the fact that her mother also canned vegetables, meats and the dreaded tomatoes.

One summer Nanny and her mother canned one hundred quarts of tomatoes, some of which were sold and rest was used by the family. Since the family struggled to get a garden to really grow they relied on buying fruits and vegetables by the bushel and then they would can them for later use. Nanny can still remember snapping and cleaning green beans by the bushel in order to can them. She hated it.

She loved her mother’s fried chicken

When I was talking to Nanny about her childhood, she was very eager to talk about her favorite meal growing up. The meal consisted of her mother making homemade fried chicken, roasted corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes, and occasionally they were treated to a loaf of bread that was purchased from a local baker for $.10 which was a family favorite. This meal happened every Sunday after church and it was one that all of the children looked forward too.

For special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving the kids were treated to a special menu. They would either have roasted duck, turkey or hen, and occasionally they would have ham. They would also have sweet potatoes, white potatoes, homemade pumpkin pie and a fresh fruit salad that consisted of bananas, grapes and oranges.

When talking to Nanny I kind of assumed that she had learned to cook from her mother, but she actually learned to cook from one of her older sisters, Ines. A lot of things learned were by watching and some of it was learned by trial and error.

One thing that Nanny did learn to cook from her mother was Chicken and Noodles. Nanny talked about how this was a rare treat, but one that was loved by all. After Nanny grew up and had children of her own, she started making Chicken and Noodles with beef instead of chicken. Her kids loved it and therefore Beef and Noodles was born and has been passed on the each of her kids and grandkids.

I consider myself very lucky to still have Nanny around and to have the opportunity to ask questions and learn from her. Although a lot of the foods that she cooked for her kids were never officially written down in recipes, the ones that were will always be cherished. It’s amazing to see how foods are passed from generation to generation and the changes that are made to make each dish a little better or different than the original.

Nanny’s Beef and Noodles
From Wilma Kingsbury

Serves 4 to 5.

1 pound stew meat
12 ounces of egg noodles (can be frozen or made from scratch)
4 beef bouillon cubes

Fill stew pot half full with water. Bring to a boil.  Add meat. As water cooks out, add more. Make sure meat is fully covered by water. Add a bouillon cube every time you add more water. Once meat is cooked, add noodles. Bring noodles to a boil and then cook on low for 25 minutes.

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By Kristin Deason

My family has been in Texas for about five or six generations on my dad’s side of the family.  Grandma Lewis, my dad’s mom, was born in 1927 and still cooks on an occasion today.  Her childhood was very different than what mine was.  She married Bill Deason, my dad’s biological father, when she was in college.  They had three kids, my aunt Karen, my dad, and my aunt Kim, in that order.  I don’t know when, but my aunt Kim was still kind of young when Bill left Grandma to raise three kids all on her own.  She didn’t meet Grandpa Lewis, my dad’s stepdad, until my dad was already in high school.

When Grandma Lewis was a kid she lived on a small farm consisting of about five acres of land in Houston, Texas.  She lived with her parents, brother (Uncle Bubba), and her sister (Aunt Jake).  They raised chickens, ducks, cows, goats, and usually had a hog.  Grandma told me “We raised most of our food, vegetables, fruit, pecans, and of course chickens, which laid eggs. We had gravy at most of our meals, sometimes just biscuits and gravy.”

Gravy with every meal

Grandma Lewis told me “One of our favorites was smothered chicken. After my brother and I killed the chicken Mom would fry it and then made gravy to go over it. Cover it with a lid and let it simmer about an hour. I made this dish when my children were growing up and occasionally make it still.”

I  remember Grandma making smothered chicken when she would come visit us in Washington State and it was always good.  She also told me “Another thing I remember as a child is Hot Water Cornbread. Put cornmeal in a bowl then add hot water. Mold it into a pone and put in hot grease. Fry until golden brown. I still fix it once in awhile.”  I don’t think I have had this kind of cornbread before; my mom usually bakes it in the oven.

Since Grandma was born in 1927, she grew up during the depression and the aftermath, but she told me that, “Even though I grew up during the depression we always had plenty to eat because we always had a big garden which we ate out of.”  The only time they went to store was to get flour, cornmeal, and sugar.  Grandma’s family made their own butter and bread.  Smothered chicken is not Grandma’s only favorite, today she stated “One of my favorites is chicken and dumplings. That was usually our Sunday meal.”

“…being from Texas”

With my dad being from Texas, and even though I grew up in Washington from the time I was five years old, he loved and still does to barbecue.  Grandma said, “David (his son) likes barbecue so well because he grew up eating a lot of it. He learned to cook outdoors while in the Boy Scouts. On most holidays that is what was fixed. Texas is known for their barbecue.”  Every time I go to visit my dad’s family in Texas he has to barbecue something at least once or go to a barbecue restaurant.

My families, on both sides, have been in the United States since the time of the colonies.  Somehow both sides of my family managed to end up in Texas and they have been there until my parents decided move Washington.  When my parents got divorced, my dad decided to move back to Texas to be closer to his family.  I grew up eating northwestern food, mostly fresh salmon, and Texas barbecue.  I will continue this tradition with my kids even if we aren’t in Texas.

Hot Water Cornbread
From Lou Lewis

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 cups boiling water
½ cup oil for frying

Mix together the cornmeal, salt and sugar. Slowly add enough boiling water until you have a thick batter that you can form into patties.Form into about 15 patties and fry in hot oil in a iron skillet until golden brown on both sides.

Serve immediately with butter and syrup if desired..

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings
Form Lou Lewis

Serves 4 to 6

Boil 1 chicken in salted water approximately 1-2 hours until chicken is nearly falling off bone. Remove chicken from bone.

Dumplings
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt if desired
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup shortening
¾ cup milk

Sift dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Add milk and mix into stiff dough (not to soupy). Separate into 2 portions. Roll each portion very thin, cut in strips and drop in boiling broth (same broth you boiled chicken in).

After all dough has been added, lower heat for 20 minutes. Add 1 pint milk and let simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, add boneless chicken. Let simmer 1 – 3 minutes and enjoy.

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By Amanda Rall

“Come Lord Jesus,” this begins the prayer said before all our family meals, “be our guest and let these gifts, to us, be blessed. Amen.” As Lutherans we are taught to welcome the Lord to our table and be grateful for the blessings that He has bestowed on us.

For my grandparents, gratitude meant being aware of even the smallest of pleasures. My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Heintze, lived through troubled times, however embedded deep into her memories are simple indulgences.

Grandma Lizzy grew up near a small town called Sharp, Texas. (By the way, she hates being called Lizzy.) She was 10 when the Depression struck the country. However, my grandma said she didn’t even realize the rest of the country was in a depression because her family was so poor.

Ten children to feed during Depression

My grandmother had 9 siblings. The German upbringing of my great-grandmother gave her the ability to feed her children, husband, and herself for pennies per meal by utilizing every resource made available to her.

All the children worked on the family farm, picking cotton. They lived off the harvest of their crops, livestock they raised, and robust structure of family.

Their innovative use of the entire stock of corn is remarkable. After the stalk of corn had grown, produced an ear and pollinated, the kids would walk the rows and chop the stalk from the ear up. This portion was used to feed their cattle while the corn was still maturing. When it was time for harvest the corn would be either sold, kept for next years crop, or milled for the families own use. The cobs were saved and used in the winter to burn and heat their home. The livestock would graze on what was left still standing in the field.

Efficiency was crucial to their family’s survival. They would slaughter their livestock during the coldest months. This would allow the meat to last for as long as possible. The best of the meat was eaten first and the worst was used to make sausage.

Using the whole hog

The family would grind up all the excess pork and beef they were unable preserve and season it. The day before the slaughter the sow was not fed. After the slaughter, the intestine was removed, washed, and used as a casing for the sausage. For days, the sausage was smoked by smoldering mesquite wood. This initiated the preservation process.

Fat from the pig was rendered into lard. The sausage was stored in a large tin can covered by the lard which preserved it for many months without the use of refrigeration. When it was time to eat the sausage, the casing would be removed and many times my grandmother said, they would barbeque over an open fire they made in a hole in their yard.

My grandmother undoubtedly learned the meaning of hard work at a young age. Nonetheless, the simple joys of her childhood are fresh in her mind. “Saturdays must have been the day my father would go to town and restock the icebox with ice,” my grandmother states, reminiscing, “because on Saturdays we made ice cream.”

Mesquite Smoked Sausage
From Katie Webb

5 pounds pork
5 pounds beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3  glove garlic, minced
6 feet hog intestine

When butchering a hot, remove the intestine. Turn the intestine inside out and using a knife scrape the insides out of the intestine. Wash then turn the casing right side out. Place in cool water. Set aside.

Using a meat grinder, pulverize the pork and beef together. Slowly add in the salt, pepper, and garlic. Take cleaned casing and tie one end. Using a funnel, slowly push the meat mixture through to the end of the casing. Continue until casing is full with no air bubbles. Hang sausage and smoke using mesquite wood for at least 24 hours.

Note: To preserve, store sausage in lard.

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