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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grandma's Recipes

Adriana Trigiani's first non-fiction book, Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers is fabulous, one I gave to several people for Christmas. (If you haven't gotten Mom a Mother's Day gift, this is perfect!)

TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins Publishers are teaming up to offer lunch and a walking tour of Greenwich Village with Adriana Trigiani during BEA (Book Expo of America) and to win, you have to blog about a recipe your grandmother gave you.

I discussed this topic with my husband and we both laughed because, between us we could only remember one recipe each from our respective grandmothers. Apparently culinary skills were not prized in either of our families. (We don't have Italian grandmas- we're Irish, English, Scottish and French/Canadian, maybe that explains it.)

My husband remembers his nana making hotdogs with her famous "Michigan Sauce" on top. Every summer, his grandparents would drive their Airstream trailer up from Florida to upstate New York and spend a week or two with them. Nana had a small kitchen in her trailer, so hotdogs were an easy recipe to make.

The recipe came from Clair and Carl's Restaurant in Plattsburgh, and my husband and his siblings have such fond memories of this tasty lunch special. My husband was thrilled that I made it for him for this blog post, although he said his Nana's tasted sweeter- maybe she added a pinch of cinnamon or sugar to the sauce and didn't tell anyone. I'll try that next time.
Hot dog with Nana's Michigan Sauce

Michigan Sauce for Hot Dogs
1 lb. hamburger (finely ground)
2 tsp. cumin powder
4 shakes of hot sauce
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. minced onions
2 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste
Put hamburger in medium pot, add water until meat is covered. Use a masher to blend until fine. Cook over medium heat until meat starts to brown, the add tomato sauce and rest of ingredients. Simmer for one hour on low.

Whenever one of our birthdays rolled around, my Grandma Hubbard always made her famous "Crazy Cake". She lived in a small town about ten minutes away from us, but for some reason we thought we were taking a "big car trip" whenever we went to see her. I can remember how excited I was the first time I got to watch her make the cake, I was mesmerized. She combined the dry ingredients, made three 'holes' in the cake mix (which she let me do), then poured vegetable oil in one hole, vinegar in the second and vanilla in the third. She poured water over it all and mixed well.

I was amazed when a real cake came out of the oven, and she didn't use eggs in the recipe. Sometimes this recipe is called "Depression Cake" because it was popular during the Depression, and my grandma got the recipe from her mother.

When the cake cooled she'd frost it and then put it in her white Tupperware container, and carefully hold it on her lap for the trip to our house, where the lucky child got to make the first cut. The cake is so moist and tasty, you almost don't need frosting.

Crazy Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. white vinegar
2 cups water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda) in a mixing bowl. Make three wells in the mix, add oil in the first well, vanilla in the second, vinegar in the third. Beat until smooth. Pour into an ungreased 9x13 pan, bake for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Frost with canned frosting or make your own favorite frosting. For this cake, I used my neighbor Barbara's recipe:
8 oz. Cool Whip
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup milk
4oz. package of box INSTANT pudding
Mix together sugar, pudding and milk. Fold in Cool Whip. Frost cooled cake.

Writing this post brought back lovely memories of our grandmothers. My husband's grandma passed away last year and mine lives five hours from me, so this was a nice reminder of them so close to Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all- may your special day be filled with love!

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