The eating season is upon us! With all its glorious sugar filled, gluten swelling, buttery glistening treasures gearing up to look incredibly sexy on tables nation wide. At least that’s what I remember of my childhood. Family, tradition, presents and food, these are the things that made holidays the shiny wonderful days of the 365 that filled the calendar. Food being one of the four wonders that was able to carry across each group. Food was made and enjoyed by family. The foods we ate and made were traditions. Food, homemade and bought, could be wrapped and given as a present. Food was just that, yummy, delicious, mouthwatering FOOD.
This simple time of my childhood was also the childhood and innocence of food. Food wasn’t grown up then. It didn’t contain calories or fat grams. Wasn’t gluten free or vegan. Was semi-homemade before Sandra Lee made the term a household phrase. We ate what was put in front of us and didn’t give a shit what was in it. The freedom! Now food has labels, both nutritional and demeaning. Now food has rules. Now food isn’t fun anymore.
What better way to celebrate food than to travel back to a time when food was food and there were no rules except to clean your plate. Screw the Paleo way and his cavemen. Take a hike Weight-Watchers. See you later high priced organics. Peace out “Weelicious Recipes” with your hidden veggies and hour long prep that my kids don’t even eat. Get out of my face “farm to table” and bring on the bright white flour of B.R.E.A.D.
I began to think of the no-rules menu bringing on a flood of happy memories. Memories of my childhood and teen years with my grandma in the kitchen, dinner at an aunt’s house and watching my mom chop and dice with ease. I could literally taste and smell the flavors of my childhood as I reminisced. I don’t want those memories and traditions to die. I want the legacy and importance they carried for the women in my family and for myself to live on. I want my children to experience those tastes and smells for themselves. I want them to have this special blend of recipes to refer to when they are parents cooking with their children. I want them to experience those simpler times, dripping in tradition surrounded by the essence of the women who originated these belly warming foods. This piece is dedicated to those times and those women.
Here are the recipes of my legacy buffet lineup, devoted to and representing the women of simpler times and foods (maybe one day I’ll even add my own clean eating Paleo recipe to the mix to confuse future generations). I hope you find the time this eating season to jot down the recipes of your special menu, to create and carry on your own legacy.
Ranch salad with apples accompanied by sliced bread and butter (Grandma Baran)
Main Entrée and Side
Beef rump roast (Aunt Marilyn Plesek) with potato-egg salad (my mommy)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie (Grandma Plesek) with Persimmon Pudding (Aunt Lori Baran)
***I am still blessed enough to have some of these women still in my life. Through calls, texts and emails I was able to gather the details of their masterpieces. For the loved ones I no longer have physically in my life, I relied on recipe cards passed on from generations before along with my memories.
Ranch salad with apples and sliced bread and butter – I had a million and one meals made by my grandmother’s hands but the thing I remember the most about all those meals is that she served a salad and sliced bread with EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. She was old school and a damn classy lady.
Head of lettuce chopped
2 peeled and sliced carrots
One large apple cored and diced
One bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (EXACTLY what grandma used)
One loaf of Butternut White Sliced bread and softened stick of butter
Toss lettuce, carrots and apple in large bowl to mix. Distribute amongst smaller bowls top with hidden Ranch.
Remove 5-7 pieces of bread from wrapper. Put on plate. Serve along side butter on butter dish.
Rump Roast – I had this many time growing up during Sunday dinners at my Aunt Marilyn’s. Here is the recipe straight from the chef’s fingers:
I buy a beef rump roast, salt & pepper it all over, along with garlic powder, slice up a large onion and lay the slices on top of roast, shake some Worcestershire sauce over the top and sides, (not too much, just enough to cover most of roast). Wrap in 2 large pieces of foil, crossed so to have enough foil to cover roast firmly, put in a 9″Wx12″Lx2″Deep roaster pan and add water in pan around foil wrapped roast, about 1″ deep, put in 350 degree oven. Check ever so often to see if water is evaporating and getting low, add more water when needed. Depending on size of roast, you need to check the meat by unwrapping foil and poke center of roast with large fork to see if it is tender and brakes apart easily. If not, rewrap it and keep cooking. Once it is tender enough, keep foil unwrapped on top to expose the roast to get it that browning top. You need to only brown top for a short time until it has a nice crest look on top, not burnt.
The key is to keep the water around the roast thru most of cooking time and tightly wrapped in foil. Since you wrap in foil, it cuts the cooking time needed. Probably 2 hours to roast a 3 to 4 pound roast. I cook the roast by eye balling it. I never did time it. Usually when you wrap meat in foil, you raise the temperature to 425 degrees, but I don’t since I allow the steam from the water to cook the meat slowly at 350 degrees. Sorry, I cannot give you specific recipe time.
Potato-Egg Salad – I got this one over the phone from my mom. I remember this salad at every birthday, holiday, baby shower and any other Plesek special event. My mom made it this past Easter and Erik ate it for days … not sure if he was okay with that or not … but it’s amazing, end of story.
5 lbs. Russet or Red potatoes (whatever is on sale)
One jar of Hellman’s Mayonnaise (MUST be Hellman’s)
2 medium yellow onions finely diced
Stalk of celery diced from top to bottom, equaling to about 2 cups
One jar sweet pickles diced
One dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
Put potatoes in a large pot covering completely with water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork but not mush. (All done by feel and touch, no time given.) Drain and set a side to cool. While potatoes cool, in a HUGE bowl mix the next five ingredients. Next the peel of the potatoes should slide right off, remove the peels from the potatoes and roughly cut. Fold potatoes into mixture. Salt and pepper to taste (mom insists that Lawry’s seasoning salt is the way to go). Chill and serve.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – My dad taught me this recipe since the time I was small and I think he puts another ¼ cup of butter in (though he denies it) to make them extra decadent. The recipe can also be found on the top of the small round Quaker Oats tubs.
1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup(s) raisins
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.
Persimmon Pudding– I have numerous note cards, with a number of different hand writings, in my possession from the bloodline of my grandma’s side ending with my Aunt Lori who still makes it for Thanksgiving every year.
2 ½ cups persimmon pulp
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Combine ingredients. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake one hour in 350 degree oven. Serve warm or cold with whip cream.