Yes, I realize that my post title is rather cliche but it also suits my topic.
Hello, I’m Bryonna Nobles, the newest member of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Blog Group. To say I’m a little nervous, this being my first post and all, is an understatement.
I honestly had no idea what I would talk about today. Not until I was at work and one of the ladies there told me about how she’d made a cookbook. Her daughter had been asking her for years to take all the recipes in her head and make a cookbook of them. So two years ago, she did, giving it to her daughter for Christmas.
As she described how her daughter began to cry, tears came to my own eyes. I know exactly how her daughter felt.
My Nana passed away unexpectedly in November of 2010. While we readied for her funeral, my aunt handed me her recipe box. This old fashioned wood one that had definitely seen better days. As I opened up the box I knew so well from baking with my grandmother, I fingered through the stained index cards, picking one out every now and again. I’d smile at the memories and I’d cry knowing we’d never have that time together again.
Nana taught me all I know about cooking. I remember as though it were yesterday, dragging my little footstool up to the counter, cracking eggs into a saucer and watching her pick out the shell bits that inevitably joined the egg whites in the bowl before she pitched the contents into her Sunbeam mixer.
These are memories I shall always cherish. Missing her like crazy, the day after her funeral I drug out her recipe box and I took out each card, one by one, and I typed them up on my computer. It took me nearly a week, typing obsessively, but I wrote out each and every recipe into a cookbook.
That Christmas, I gave everyone in my family a copy of Cooking with Nana, some cried but all appreciated it. No one wanted to lose those recipes we’d all grown up with.
What’s more, every time I came across a recipe that held a special memory, I wrote out that memory, sharing it with my family. They, in turn, shared their memories with me and we spent Christmas with Nana, even if she wasn’t with us.
One such memory involved Nana’s favorite pound cake. When I was a child, we always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. I was 2 and my mother gave me a set of dolls. Papa, never a ceremonial man, just stood up, saying, “We’re giving out Christmas presents? Alright.” He then proceeded to go down into the basement where his office was.
A few minutes later, he returned with a large, unwrapped box still in its K-mart bag.
Before she even got it open, my two year old self looked up and said, “Oh Nana! You got a mixer. Let’s go bake a cake!” My dolls forgotten on the floor, I toddled off into her kitchen. And we did bake that impromptu pound cake.
I told my Aunt Reen, Nana’s older sister, this story at Nana’s funeral. This made her laugh. She said, “You know, its funny, Paula (Nana) always said that it’d be me having my kids cookin’ at 2.” She then told me a story about my grandmother, I never knew.
Nana’s favorite desert is banana pudding. Real, old fashioned banana pudding. Not that box stuff.
Having been raised by her older sister, my Aunt Reen, she was very upset when Reen got married and moved away from the farm. Whenever Reen would come to visit, Nana would have everything she needed for Aunt Reen to make Banana Pudding.
Well one day, Reen called to tell Nana she was coming to visit. “Good, I have all the stuff so you can make me banana pudding,” Nana had said. I’m guessing she was about eight years old at this time.
Aunt Reen replied, “Paula, I’m not going to make you banana pudding today. I’m going to teach you how to make it so you don’t always have to wait for my visitin’.”
“I can’t do that!” Nana exclaimed. “I can’t separate eggs!” As though this was the most impossible task ever set before her in her life.
But Aunt Reen was true to her word. When she got to the house, she sat at the kitchen table and talked Nana through the steps of making Banana Pudding. It came out perfectly.
“Reen,” Nana said as she sat down to her plate of pudding. “You’re goin’ to have your kids cookin’ by the time they’re 2!”
Isn’t it amazing how one little thing like a recipe, a certain food, even the smell of a certain meal can bring up so many memories? And these are just a couple of mine.
What about you? What foods bring certain memories to mind? I’d love you to share them.
Oh, and in honor of my grandmother, allow me to share with you, her Pound Cake and her Banana Pudding Recipe. I hope you enjoy them.
Nana’s Pound Cake
3 cups sugar
1 cup Crisco
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
6 large eggs
1/2 pint whipped cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sift flour 3 times. Mix sugar and Crisco together. Mix eggs one at a time into mixture. Alternate flour and whipped cream. Add vanilla. Cook at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes in tube pan. Do not preheat oven.
Nana’s Favorite Banana Pudding
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ripe bananas, sliced
Mix together all ingredients but vanilla wafers. Cook on stove top until pudding thickens. About 5 minutes. Take vanilla wafers and line the bottom and sides of baking dish. Pour in pudding mixture. Float more wafers in pudding if desired. Top with meringue.
Preheat oven at 425 and bake about 5 minutes.
Meringue for Banana Pudding
3 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Bake at 425 degrees about 5 minutes.