Later, I graded papers and watched part of John McCain’s funeral, some of which almost brought me to tears. I often disagreed with him but never did I question his passionate love of country, his courage, his willingness to buck the norm, to defy convention when he thought it was the right thing to do. I think he and I shared certain values on which this country is based even if the country as a whole rarely lives up to them. These include the conviction that all people are equal, that everyone deserves justice, and each person carries the right to find his or her own share of happiness without judgment and condemnation from others who may think differently.
Later, while working on the latest book I am writing, I found handwritten recipes written by my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Nellie Narcissus Duke (Kaiser),whose father came here from Switzerland as a child. One, for dumplings, remains readable. The other written in pencil on the front and back of thin paper is fragile. It is for Strawberry Shortcake. If Grandmother Duke ever made dumplings, I do not remember it. Mother did–chicken and dumplings. I wonder if she used this recipe. I do remember conversations about the shortcake because Dad did not like strawberry shortcake even though he liked strawberries. I took photos of these two recipes written decades ago in my grandmother’s handwriting.
Mom made fantastic pies of all sorts so much so that when she took a pie to a potluck, people would rush to get a piece even before they acquired any other food. The only pumpkin pie my grandson likes is Mom’s. He seems to like the idea that he is eating something his great grandmother created. Today, I taught him to make homemade pie crust and Mom’s pumpkin pie. Here he is crimping the edges after rolling out the dough and placing it in the pie pan.
We made two pumpkin and one pecan today. Here is the recipe for Mom’s pumpkin pie. He ground the cinnamon–pieces of bark from a friend’s mom’s tree in Ethiopia–using an old fashioned, wooden grinder.
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups milk and cream or evaporated milk ( I use 1 can evaporated milk)
3/4 cup brown or white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg ( I grated this fresh)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Dump everything in a blender. Place your hand on the lid before starting the motor. Blend a few seconds, until smooth, and pour into pastry-lined pie shell. Bake at 450 for ten minutes, then bake at 350 for 30 minutes longer or until firm in the center.
Placed with Mom’s original typed recipe is this note: “Juliana, if you use half evaporated milk it gives a wonderful flavor and I like white sugar best.” I use white sugar.
The finished product looks like this.
This recipe makes a lot of filling so if you do not have a large pie pan, you will need to bake some of the filling in another pan. Since we made two today, we baked the left over without a crust in another oven proof dish–pumpkin pudding.
Recent cold nights brought childhood memories of Mom’s cooking, particularly the one and only soup I recall her ever making, potato soup. Then memories of Dad and how much he loved Mom and her cooking rushed in. Long after Mom’s death on one of my visits home, Dad asked me to cook all the ingredients for Mom’s potato soup except for the milk. He wanted enough to last a while so he could add the milk bit by bit on occasions when he wanted soup. On a cold night this past week, I duplicated Mom’s soup like on that visit home long ago. I even made extra.
Barbara Lightle’s Potato Soup
1 onion, chopped finely
Several stalks celery, chopped finely
Potatoes, chopped finely–enough so that the ratio of potatoes to onion and celery is 2:1
Enough melted butter to saute all the above until done
Finally, add milk and salt to taste, depending on how salty and thick you like your soup.
Mom made it plain like this. I used olive oil instead of butter and also added a few chopped portabella mushrooms. It later occurred to me that adding green chilies or poblano peppers with some cumin would make a nice soup. Or use coconut milk and curry for Asia style.
4 4-6 oz. salmon filets
Enough teriyaki sauce to cover the salmon in a shallow dish
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Marinate the salmon in the teriyaki sauce while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. You may marinate the salmon longer if you wish it to taste less fishy. Saute the onions in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your skillet. Place the salmon and the teriyaki sauce in the skillet with the onions and sauté until the salmon is nearly done. Add the crystallized ginger and cook until salmon is done. Optional additions: 1 large poblano pepper chopped, chopped mushrooms, chopped garlic. The photo below includes poblano peppers which I use in many dishes. They have a unique flavor and little heat. Serve with Jasmine rice with golden raisins and a green salad.
My son is the originator of the basic recipe. I modified it to suit my own taste. He wraps all the ingredients in foil and cooks it on a cookie sheet on the grill. Sometimes I put it all together and bake it in the oven. These latter methods are the easiest with company because it cooks while you entertain.