Tuesday, October 14, 2008
My Great-Grandma Nettie had one measuring cup. It really wasn't even a measuring cup, I don't think it had any markings or measurements on it. It was red, faded plastic. For all I know, it was a detergent measuring cap! She didn't have or need a lot of kitchen tools and yet, she was a fantastic baker and wonderful cook.
I was so lucky to have gotten to spend as much time with her as I did. She was always present at Grandma and Grandpa's farm. They had moved a little pink trailer for her to live in right next to their big, white farmhouse. Grandpa would have morning coffee with her every day. She listened to the radio, and sometimes listened in on the party line (Country folk shared a single phone line. You had your own unique ring, so you knew when a call was for you. But, many people listened in on other conversations. Hey, this was before cable!). Great-grandma had an amazing button jar to sort through. She also had a jar of pennies that we could play BINGO with. The local radio station played the game over the air waves. You'd call in if you won. It was a simpler time and our family was always together.
Great-grandma moved into a senior living apartment that had a lot of great hallways for silly grandkids to run through. It also had an old fashioned Coke machine where you could get a bottle of soda pop for a dime. It even came with a crabby guy named Charlie who would yell at us and teach us new words while waving his cane in the air. My cousins and I loved to visit her. Her little apartment overlooked the street and she watched the world go by with the ever present background blaring of her TV "programs" (soap operas). I remember once she told me that the high school kids that were walking past her window to the bowling alley for gym class were all going to get Mononucleosis because they kissed all the time. I was young. I was impressionable. I didn't know what Mono was. From that moment on, I feared bowling.
Great-grandma moved her red measuring cup to her apartment with her and she continued to be a great baker and wonderful cook. She measured by proportion and cooked by feel and had many recipes right up inside that white haired head of hers.
I wish I had her recipes. I wish we would have taken the time to have her write them all down. In fact, if you have a wise one in your family that's getting up there in years, have them write things down for you, film them, set down memories!
Grandma made fantastic Date Cookies and Date Bars. I'm sure they involved a pound of butter, another pound of brown sugar, and a pound that goes on your thighs each time you eat one. I created this recipe when I was craving Grandma's date anything. I found a basic recipe online and then lightened it up tremendously.
I hope you enjoy them. I think they're quite delicious and taste ALMOST as good as Grandma's.
Serves 24 at 3 WW Points per serving.
1 package regular yellow cake mix
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
2 large bananas
1/2 cup egg substitute or two eggs
1 1/2 cup dried dates
1/4 cup pecan pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place first four ingredients in your mixer bowl. Mix on low until combined, turn to medium-high and let it whirl until mixture is light and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Lower mixer speed and toss in dates and pecans. Mix until combined. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter in pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting (if you can wait that long!).
Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!