Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekend Cooking- Memories of My Grandma

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food. 

Last week on Good Friday, my 94 year-old grandmother Mary Hubbard peacefully passed away with her children by her side. She lived a long, full life, one surrounded by the love she shared for her family.

As my family gathered for her wake, we were surprised at how many people came to pay their respects. She was 94 and so outlived most of her siblings and many of her friends, but there were dozens of nieces, nephews, former neighbors and family friends who all showed up to share memories of this kind, sweet, funny woman.
Me and Grandma last Christmas
When I was growing up, my grandma worked in the school cafeteria. She lived in a small town, so every child knew 'the lunch lady'. My cousin Mike remembered the time he, Mary's son Keith, and three friends drove down to Florida for spring break. Mary's sister lived in Virginia, so she rode along with five teenage boys from Central New York to Virginia (a five hour ride), and hoped that they remembered to pick her up on the way back. (They did.)

So many of the memories revolved around food. My brother stayed with my grandparents and when Grandma asked him what he liked for breakfast, he told her any cereal was fine. When he got up in the morning, he found two 12 variety packs of cereal on the kitchen table because, as Grandma said, she "wanted to cover all bases."

The grandchildren talked about Grandma's favorite snacks; she always had a box of Chicken In a Biscuit, and when we stayed overnight, we all had a small dish of ice cream while watching TV before bedtime.

Her favorite snack though was M&Ms. She liked them so much she was affectionately called "M&M Mary." Her M&Ms though were off-limit. When the grandkids came to visit, she would put other snacks out, but her dish of M&Ms would be hidden in a cupboard. Eat them at your own risk.

I remember that when we had birthdays, Grandma would bring her Crazy Cake. I loved watching her mix the batter, bake it, frost it, and then put it in her Tupperware cake container for the trip to the birthday child's home.

This is the recipe for Crazy Cake, which became popular during the Great Depression and WWII because it didn't use butter or eggs, which were too expensive. I watched with fascination as she made the three wells to pour the liquid ingredients. I liked mine with vanilla frosting and brightly colored sprinkles on top.


Crazy Cake
3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Directions: Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Make three wells, one big, two small. Pour the oil into the large well, vinegar into a small well and vanilla into the other small well. Pour cold water over the entire mix, and stir with a fork.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost with your favorite canned or homemade frosting.





24 comments:

  1. Your grandmother sounds like a great lady! I'm sorry for your loss. And I love the crazy cake - how creative people were when they had to be!

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    1. Thanks Sarah- they were resourceful, weren't they?

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  2. So many wonderful memories! We always stayed overnight at my grandmother's one at a time, never all four of us at once. She always made Jiffy Pop on the stovetop for evening snacks. She would occasionally share a glass with us from her private stock of ice-cold Coca-Cola, too! (I will probably be known as M&M Grandma when the time comes, as I have always kept a hidden stash of M&Ms in the house from the time when the kids were little. I thought of it as a version of "Mother's Little Helper" that was better than pills! ;)

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    1. Oh I used to love Jiffy Pop! My Aunt Ellie would make it for us. And how nice that you all got special time with Grandma.

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  3. Sorry to hear about your grandmother. Thanks for this lovely post about her and all those good food memories. Just lost my Mom (89) on April 9. The best memories we have of her also revolve around food.

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    1. I'm so sorry that you lost your mom. While losing someone you love is sad, it's so great to be able share memories with family.

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  4. So sorry for your loss, Diane. Sounds like you have many memories to cherish.

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    1. Thanks JoAnn. She had a long, happy life and we all loved getting to share our memories of her.

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  5. so sorry about your loss Di - and lovely post to honour her. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

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  6. What a beautiful post, so many wonderful memories. Your Grandma sounds gorgeous and she had good taste lol ... I love Chicken in a Biscuit and M&M's. Sorry for your loss but thank you for sharing.

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  7. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, Di, but I love that you shared a little of her story with us and that you were able to share her Crazy Cake recipe.

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  8. What a lovely tribute this post is. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your Grandma with all of us! Your crazy cake looks delicious.

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  9. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It's been a tough year for many of us. We used to call that cake Wacky Cake, but "crazy" works. What lovely memories of a special lady.

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    1. Thanks, I have heard it called a few different things, but it's funny how so many know exactly what I'm talking about.

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  10. Replies
    1. Thanks for following- welcome to bookchickdi!

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  11. Your Grandmother obviously holds a special place in all of your hearts - I am sorry for your loss. I love the idea of Crazy Cake - I am reading Delicious! now and there is a storyline about WWII and the "ration free" recipes people created - so interesting!

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    1. Thanks Colleen, I have Delcious! in my TBR pile.

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  12. I ma sorry for your loss but I think this is a dynamic tribute to her. Thank you for sharing such great memories. I hope you talked to her about family history and traditions. Great post, sad, but great memories.

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    1. Thanks Tina, she was a special lady and we all enjoyed sharing our memories at the wake.

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