Vintage Recipe Week – A Tribute to Grammy

A few months ago my grandmother passed away.

I want to tell you a little bit about her. And tell you how these precious cookbooks of hers landed in my possession.

My grandmother was a stubborn pistol. (So that’s where I get it from…ah ha!) But the one thing she was most stubborn about, it was this…eating together around the dinner table when we were all gathered at the lake.

She had a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota, where we visited every summer as kids.  We would stay for at least a month, escaping the 100 degree Texas summer heat, and basking in the cool Minnesota sun.  We waterski-ed. We canoe-ed. We sailed. We swam. We fished. We tried skiing on canoe paddles. (Seriously, my cousin Mark was an expert canoe paddle skier.)We even managed to get 6 of us cousins, all on slalom skies (that’s one ski), skiing all behind the same boat. 6 of us. It was nuts, but we did it.

Anything and everything to do with water, we did it.

But around 6 or 7 every night, we’d hear the dinner bell. She would ring the bell.  And whether we were out swimming in the water, building sand castles, or 6 of us skiing behind the ski-boat…we immediately stopped what we were doing and skidaddled up to the cabin for dinner. All 16 of us. Around the table. Together.

Sandy. Wet. Sunburned.

But together.

That is the legacy she left for us. And that is what I intend to carry on.

I dedicated my next cookbook to her.  And only wish she was here to read it.  I was in the middle of working on the Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook and testing recipes when she passed away.

A few weeks later, my mom asked us all several times if there was anything of hers that we’d like to have. A special figurine that we remember from her home growing up, a blanket, any furniture, anything.

I had one request. I just wanted one of her cookbooks. I wanted to have them to use and carry on her legacy and love for cooking and feeding her family.

My wish was granted.  Recently, my mom sent along a few of her cookbooks. And her cookie jar…that now sits on my counter…and will be the joy and delight of my boys…just as it was the joy for all of her grandchildren growing up. Why? Because it was a bottomless pit of Oreos.  (I still can’t figure out when she restocked that thing…it was always full.  And there were always grandchildren around, trying to get their grubby, sandy little hands in there.)

So all that to say, we’ll be having a Vintage Recipe Week in October!

A few recipes that I’ll be trying and batch cooking during Vintage Recipe Week, mainly coming from the cookbook pictured above…with her signature from 1940!!!

  • Chicken Croquettes – page 10
  • Smothered Pork Chops – page 17
  • Shipwreck Stew – page 34
  • Breakfast: German Coffee Cake – page 71
  • Dessert: Apricot Upside Down Cake – page 52
  • Norwegian Fattigmann – page 150 (Only because it sounds interesting, will be a challenge, and will be a good bad source of calories…considering all the running I’ve been doing lately!)
  • Swedish  Tea Rolls – page 157

And yes, I’ll be sharing as many of these recipes as I can that week…if they turn out, that is!

What are some of your grandma’s favorite recipes?! Or what do you make of your grandmother’s that everyone loves?!

Feel free to leave a link in the comments or in the Linky!

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  1. says

    Next month will be two years since my sweet grandma passed away. The things I remember most were potato candy, ridiculously amazing chocolate pie (she called the meringue “cow slobber”), and “butter sketty” (buttered spaghetti noodles with parmesean cheese. haha). I’ve carried on the potato candy tradition and make it at Christmas time, and I know she would be proud. Thanks for sharing about your grammy!

  2. says

    I miss my grandmas food, she was the type that didn’t have or use recipes so all I can do it try to do what she did. Usually they don’t taste like hers :( She did make fantastic tortillas, huge batches, she knew everyone would be over throughout the day and at the end they would gone.

  3. Schroeder says

    What a lovely story. I look forward to the recipes.

    OMG – I forgot about potato candy. Ive made that … so much sugar … so much goodness !!!!!


  4. Shannon says

    What a lovely post! A few years ago our aunt made copies of the handwritten recipe notebook my Grandmother made (she turned 95 on Sunday!) and it has a special place in my kitchen. Unfortunatley, none of the recipes taste the same when I cook them. Close but they are missing 90 years worth of experience and her own special touches.

    Can’t wait to hear how your recipes turn out!

  5. Jodi B says

    My great-grandma past away and I had the same request: one of her cookbooks. I used to keep it with all my others, but as I would look through it, some of the pages would fall out. So, it’s hidden away.

  6. Roz says

    What a great tribute to your grandmother. I grew up eating my grandma’s tasty Fattigmann, yum yum. Northern MN was my home as a child and I’m curious where that lake was. Probably my favorite thing my grandma made was Date Filled Cookies, she wrote the recipe out for me, and that piece of paper represents my favorite memory of her.

    • sarah says

      My husband’s Norwegian grandmother used to make a date filled cookie, and I’ve been trying to find a recipe for them, they were like a sandwich cookie with date filling. If that’s anything like yours, any chance you’d be willing to share the recipe?

  7. Cindy says

    My Grandma passed away almost 2 years ago and I treasure her Pecan Pie recipe. I make it every Thanksgiving! I wish I had more of her recipes, but she didn’t use many that were written down! :)

  8. Dana says

    haha. yep- every time I make some I’m shocked at how much it takes. Grandma said the trick wasto let the potato cool completely… but I’m always too impatient. :)

  9. Stacy says

    One of my fondest memories of holidays as a kid is when we’d come into the door at my grandma’s house, get off our coats, and she’d ask, “OK now, who would like some lefse?” She’d have it all buttered and sugared and ready for us – her amazingly perfect homemade lefse. My great-grandparents on both sides are from Norway, so Norwegian foods are a big staple of our holidays – lefse, fattigmand, krum kake, rosettes, roomegrot, lutefisk… you get the idea. She’s into her 80s now, so she unfortunately doesn’t do as much cooking as she used to, but I am going to make it a point to continue those traditions with my kids. She also gave me a very old Betty Crocker cookbook that is over 50 years old that she and my grandfather received early in their marriage. I plan to use many of those forgotten recipes with my own family :)

  10. Rena says

    Just yesterday, I called my aunt and asked if she had my grandmother’s tea cake recipe. She did! Eating those tea cakes was like taking a memory enhancement pill. I could practically see and feel my grandmother’s house. All day memories from my childhood that I hadn’t thought of in ages swirled around my head. For Halloween, I plan to try my great-grandmother’s popcorn ball recipe that I recently found in a old cookbook from her church .

  11. says

    Though its been nearly 30 years since I had the pleasure of eating one of her meals, I can still taste Mimi’s (my dad’s South-Louisianian mother) vegetable soup, banana pudding, fresh okra, and chicken-in-brown-gravy-on-toast. The only dish I’ve halfway replicated is her okra (fresh okra pan fried with corn meal–not battered) Everything else is missing her magic touch with seasoning.

  12. says

    I have a grammie too and She is with your Grammy in heaven :)– She passed away 5 weeks ago today and I asked for the same thing: her cookbooks. (not that we have even started to think about going through her things yet though) — Such a wonderful tribute to your Grammy!

  13. Regina S says

    my favorite Memaw recipe was what she called “thickened potatoes” she boiled cubed potatoes like she was going to mash them but left them chunky and added milk, butter and flour, salt and pepper – so simple and sooo good. My mother (who was an excellent cook) now has alzheimers and I am now in the process of collecting her “famous” recipes (such as her english toffee recipe) so that I can continue her legacy – family recipes, to me, are more valuable than all the homemade quilts in the world!

  14. says

    I love this post, Erin! I saw you tweeting about this last week and I will definitely be pulling my grandmother’s cookbooks back out sometime soon – as you mentioned, what a great source of frugal recipes!

    For me, it was my Dad’s cookbooks that I was so glad my mom let me have – growing up my mom and dad both spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen. My Dad loved cookbooks, but he usually made adjustments or modifications as he went along. A few months after he died my mom and I went through his cookbooks. I cherish cooking recipes with his notes in the margins…

  15. Denise G says

    My grandmother died many years ago. I would love to have her cookbooks someday. I love to cook and look through old cookbooks. She made many things when I was at her house and she let me help cook and bake. I loved when she made pies with the fancy top crust. She had a special little tool she used to cut out fancy shapes and pinched the crust so it looked so pretty. She had a favorite cookie that she made (I have the recipe). It was a roll cookie – butterscotch flavor. O what good memories I have spending time at Grandma’s house.

  16. Kara M says

    My grandmother passed away many years ago and was born over 100 years ago. (My mom was a surprise late in life.) The memory I remember most from my grandmother is her always full cookie jar too. However, hers was full of homemade butter cookies (aka sugar cookies). I have the recipe and they taste kind of like them, but really no where close. I guess it was the fresh eggs she gathered that morning and the fresh flour she got from the mill in huge “pretty” flour sacks. Mmm…

  17. Glenda says

    That was a great post and I look forward to ‘Vintage Grammy’ week.

    My Grandma used to make a molasses cookie that was so good. I remember in the 70’s her sending us a large coffee canister (the old steel ones with the plastic lid) THROUGH the mail to us. Not in a box, just with a label and the lid taped closed. They weren’t sticky but would stick together and we’d reach in and get well, a molasses cookie gob. Only two of us five kids mastered the art of making them so they had the right consistency. I was not one of them but my older sister makes a batch every Christmas for me!

  18. Rose says

    You are so blessed to have known your Grandmother. I never knew mine. What a blessing and an honor to not only have so many good memories, but to have a piece of your family history. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to sharing your family recipes with mine.
    God bless.

  19. Kim says

    Your post hits too close to home, my lovely Grandma Daisy passed away just last week (seventeen years to the day that my mother passed). Both were major influences in developing my love to cook & bake. Recipes I hold close in my memory from Grandma include beef-rice soup, cookies of every kind (but especially her sugar and molasses) and in those same coffee cans that @Glenda mentioned (but stored in her freezer), and little pizzas she used to let all 14 of us grandchildren make when we were over…refrigerator biscuits, tomato sauce, cheese, meat, and oregano to “spice it up”! Last month when we had to move her into a nursing home, my 1st and only request was that I get her recipe books. They are now in my possession and will be forever cherished, just like my memories of her.

  20. Colleen says

    Both of my grandmothers were awesome cooks….however, my mom never got the hang of it. Hopefully, my children won’t say that about me :) My paternal grandmother made these great prune filled donuts….like jelly filled. It was a big ordeal to make getting the deep fryer out, etc. Nobody ever got the recipe before she died (I was only in 7th grade at the time, so didn’t know then). My aunt said it was in her head and never written down. I still make my maternal grandma’s swedish meatballs…ground pork, beef & veal….a package that’s hard to find at the stores, but when I see it, I grab them up!

  21. Barb D says

    WHERE is the lake? My grandparents’ cabin was on Upper South Long Lake–10 miles east of Brainerd–Crow Wing County! Then my parents bought the cabin…so many happy memories of water skiing, canoeing, berry picking, horseshoes, capture the flag, kickball, & croquet w/ the neighbor kids… :) (And food always tasted better up at the cabin–maybe because it was cooked in cast iron pans!?)
    My mother made Swedish pancakes–almost like a crepe…
    & German Pfferneuse cookies for Christmas (she baked them the day after Thanksgiving & hid them–she did leave a decoy cookie jar kind of hidden for my dad 2 find!)

  22. Judy says

    My favorite from my Portuguese grandmother was Portuguese sweet bread.
    Every time I bake it it brings me back to small kid days.

  23. Jennifer says

    OMG!! Amazing, you are the first person I have even came across that had Shipwreck Stew. I have a cookbook and it is called Shipwreck Hamburger. I am sure an updated version of another original. It is a casserole but calls for uncooked hamburger, I have updated and precook meat, etc. I am excited about your monthly menu. Thanks for the memories :-)

  24. says

    How wonderful. I, too, stay connected to my granny with cooking and traditions. 😉 I am excited for this, I love old and budget friendly recipes. Things like french meat dressing on our Thanksgiving table, fudge for the holdiays, strawberry picking and shortcake in the summer, with whipped cream sprayed on our noses. Good times. :)

  25. LisaE says

    I was not close to either of my grandparents but I love finding recipes from “back then”. Most ingredients are easy to come by and the recipes usually only call for a handful of ingredients which is great with me.

    Since I had no one from my family, including my own mother, who bothered to teach or give me any recipes, I have been compiling some of my family’s favorites to give to my 2 girls for when they move out or have a family of their own.

  26. Susie Jones says

    My Grandma passed away in 1987, and miss her dearly! My mom chuckles because she says I am the grandchild that remembers the food, my siblings don’t and only a few of the many grandchildren do. Grandma grew Ground Cherries in her garden and I loved harvest time! We would have cucumber sandwiches, cracker soup, loved her stewed tomatoes, homemade caramels which my mom still makes. But my favorite food memory, and the only one everyone remembers, is every morning she would fix us homemade hot chocolate and toast from homemade bread. It is the simplest recipe, but my most favorite!! Oh the memories….ALL of them! Dearest, dearest Grandma, I miss and love you much……R.I.P.

  27. Dawn says

    That’s a great idea!!! I haven’t had smothered pork chops in YEARS. I made them once, but haven’t made them since… thanks for the idea!!

  28. says

    You’re inspired me to take a look at the little box of recipe cards my father gave me after my grandmother died over 10 years ago. Not sure what I’ll find since she lived in a mobile home without much of a kitchen, and I’ll likely have to adapt them to be gluten-free, but it will be fun to see what’s there.

  29. Kirsten says

    Aw, what a sweet memory. I am from northern Mn and totally relate to the fun you had as kids up here. I have my grandmothers recipe books because I am the most avid cook in the family (it was finally recognized officially). Even though its been over ten years ago that I lost both of my grandmas, I know the feeling of missing that special warmth of your grandmothers house. I am sorry for your loss…I lost my mother in October of last year.

    At Gram Rian’s house, her jar was filled with M&Ms…. Only a grandmother would actively encourage you to get all sugared up! You are lucky to have such nice memories….so am I.

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