Grandma Ellen

Grandma Ellen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


My plate (don't like cranberry sauce)

This year my family took the huge risk of letting me cook the Thanksgiving feast. Our huge family of three. It actually turned out fabulous. The night before I made a cheesecake. It was the first time I had ever used a spring form pan, and it was pretty easy. I just used the Better Homes and Gardens recipe. And, remembering one of my cousin's desserts, I planned to make a caramel drizzle for serving.

It's a little cracked just like me!

I researched how to cook the turkey like the true Capricorn that I am. I decided to cook it at 325 degrees for three hours. It was a 10 lb turkey. After reading all of the suggestions online how people cook them and their tricks of the trade, I decided to cook it breast down for the first half in the deep roasting pan I had. I decided not to cover it through the whole process and I brushed it with butter and sprinkled salt and pepper on it. I basted it ever half hour. After an hour and a half, I flipped it over to breast side up. After cooking for three hours, I checked the internal temp and what do you know, 160, perfect. I took it out and let it rest twenty minutes.

Isn't it the most beautiful turkey ever?
My favorite thing that I made was the mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, I have never made mashed potatoes from scratch. I have been an instant kind of girl. My mom tends to make mashed potatoes that are whipped. I’m not the biggest fan of the whipped kind. I, again, researched how different people make them on the Internet and decided to make a recipe all my own. I took bits from a bunch of different people. I started with russet potatoes and peeled them. I cut them into thirds and put them in cold water. I then put them on the stove and boiled them til the fork glided into them easily. Next, I drained the water and put them back in the pan on the stove on low. This is when I mashed with a hand masher. Then I added a stick of butter. Then, I was supposed to add heavy cream but I didn’t know I was out, so I used half & half instead. And they were DELICIOUS! No lumps!
Sideways Mashed Potatoes
Hey, did you know that stuffing from a box is incredibly easy and only takes five minutes? Neither did I! I didn't get a proper pic of it but it was really good. Obviously I didn't cook it in the bird. I also forgot to take a picture of the finished drizzled cheesecake. But it was GORGEOUS! As mentioned above, I don't like cranberry sauce. My mom is a big fan so I bought it from the local deli made with real cranberries! And there was gravy, oh yes, delicious gravy, I made it.

My mother was ecstatic with the whole thing. My father, who has a Clint Eastwood appearance and demeanor, told me "it was very good" which is the equivalent of "open a restaurant and and sell this shit!" but he is also never afraid to criticize, so he told me the gravy could have been hotter, and then he ate all of the leftover cheesecake in three days.

There was only one thing that surprised me. I hate turkey. Even when I make it. But theres a reason for it and I'll let you in on it some other time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

My grandmother was a canning expert. All sorts of preserves, peaches, pears, jams and pickles. In the basement at her house she had these shelves stocked with jars. Tons of jars. When she died we divided them up between the three families. They lasted about a year then it was like she died all over again. I decided to try to make applesauce for my first experiment. I don't really remember her making applesauce. I decided on applesauce because the apple trees in the back yard were full of apples and I wanted to try something relatively easy for my first try. I also really wanted to can something. I forgot to take picutres. But here's how I did it:

A lot of people will tell you that the apples you use are the secret and I completely agree. The apples in my back yard are not the best apples to use but they were all I had at the time. I honestly don't even know what kind they are. If you use the right kind of apples you don't need sugar.

Ten-ish apples*

*makes three 16 ounce jars

I peeled the apples and cored them. It was the worst part and it took forever. I cut them into one inch cubes. to save time. I boiled the apples for about ten minutes, until they were soft. Drained any excess water. Then I mashed them with a potato masher. I added sugar until I got the taste I preferred which was about 1/3 cup. And then I added the cinnamon. I love cinnamon, so I wasn't stingy. Applesauce done.

But I wasn't done. I really just wanted to can. So I got a stock pot out and boiled the jars I had for five minutes to sterilize them. Then I got my canning funnel out and filled the jars with the applesauce until they were at least a half inch for the top. I wiped the top of the jar clean then I put the lids on them and used my canning tongs to set them in the boiling water. The water was at least an inch over the jars. I boiled them for twenty minutes. Then took them out with the tongs. This is a very tricky part because if there is any draft in the house the jars can shatter. So I took them out and placed them on a towel and wrapped them up. The only problem with this is that they take a lot longer to seal because they don't cool as fast. But I like to be safe then sorry. Then I took them out of the towel after five minutes. I set them on the counter and after ten minutes or so I heard them start to pop. Success.

Ok, now comes the part where I admit my mistakes. I know about the towel secret from a friend of mine's sister. I was over at her house a couple of weeks ago. She was canning pears and this is where I came up with this idea. I did slightly injure myself when I was trying to pick up the empty jars with the canning tongs. I stuck my fingertips in the boiling water. Holy Moly it hurt. It also made the rest of the process extremely uncomfortable. And doing the dishes after was also no picinic.  When I took the jars out, after I took them out of the towel, I thought I'd check and see if they had sealed. I thought they would seal in the pot. I was very disappointed when I took the lids off and saw they hadn't sealed. I just screwed the lids back on and left them on the counter thinking I would have to do the whole process over again. I was resting in the dining room when I heard the first jar pop. I thought I was just hearing things but then a minute later I heard another one pop.  I got up and was checking them when the last one sealed right in front of me. All in all, it was a huge learning experience.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Best Idea

To make my Grandma's recipes. So I can remember her, through food. She passed away coming up on 14 years ago. My plan:

Make one recipe a week for a year.
Try and remember the first time I ate it with my grandma.
Honor my Grandma by remembering her.

Here we go.

For more info, click her for the full story.