Happy Birthday, Granny!

On this, my Granny’s birthday, I honor her memory by reblogging this post……miss you, Gran!

The Holidays are a time for making merry, celebrating what we believe, and practicing our traditions.  Whether that means going Christmas caroling, lighting a Menorah, or playing Mary in the church Nativity scene, we all have some sort of festivities in which to partake this time of year. This is also when many of us remember and honor our loved ones who have passed.During my family’s annual Christmas party, a group of us were in the kitchen (where else?), talking about my cooking adventures, and someone said to me “your Granny would have been so proud of you…”   I was taken for a moment, but not because I was surprised at all to hear it.  My Granny was proud of all of her children and grandchildren, whether it was for academic achievements, athletic prowess, or just being the tallest kid in class.  She would have been proud of me if I chose to dig ditches for a living, as long as I enjoyed it. But to hear it put into words that she would have been proud of me for this culinary adventure meant a lot. Anyone that has read my “About Me” page will know that I give much of the credit for my culinary interest to my Granny, Neva Lee Knight Gough, in whose kitchen I spent the majority of my youth.  She was a stunning woman, beautiful both inside and out. She had a constant smile, and this huge, gi-normous laugh.  The kind of laugh that made others laugh to hear it. She dedicated much time and talent to support fund-raising efforts for the nuns at the Incarnate Word convent–for several generations my family has attended school there. Many of those efforts were kitchen-centric. Each year, the convent would have a “Pounding Party”.  This was not when all the naughty students got clobbered for their misdeeds, although that would have been quite a sight.  This was a “stock the pantry” event, of sorts, for the nuns.  All of the guests would bring bags of sugar, flour, cornmeal, etc, to restock the sisters’ kitchen for the coming year.  I remember her making the bourbon spiked eggnog for this annual Christmas event, and folding in copious amounts of stiffly whipped cream. We Catholics are opposed neither to adult beverages, nor to copious amounts of whipped cream.  We are opposed to giving children booze, however, so as good as it looked, I never got to taste it.. What I remember most is that she always, always cooked with love.  Favorites included Chicken and Dumplings (she did the big, fluffy, drop variety), Vegetable Beef Soup, and Chicken a la King. In the Fall, the kitchen became a non-stop whirl of baking and candy making, of fruitcake, penuche, divinity, and fudge.  The whole house smelled of cloves, and cinnamon, and caramelized sugar. If you were sick, she made chicken noodle soup.  And she would prepare your favorite meal on your birthday, your anniversary, or when you brought home a good report card. My sister, Robbi, loved her homemade macaroni and cheese, with a side of canned beets.  Gross.  Have I mentioned my persistent aversion to beets? My dad loved Chop-Chop, a recipe that surely came off a can of oriental vegetables in the 1950’s.  It consists of pork chops caramelized in a large pot, and then covered with Chinese vegetables and soy sauce, and simmered until falling apart.  It is one of those comforting dishes, and has become most synonymous with remembering Granny. I loved her Salmon Patties.  The recipe for Salmonettes was clipped from a Hints From Heloise column a long, long, time ago. It apparently is still requested periodically, and appears to have been circulated again by Heloise in 2008, by request.  I am including a copy of the one that Granny had in her recipe tin….I just love the verbage and tone of this article, written in the days of June Cleaver and Donna Reed.  I think I’ll make some this weekend–as my Granny did, I put in some grated onion, and flatten them into patties. My Granny was my Pop’s only love, and he was hers.  The picture below was taken when she was 13….13!  There was a garden party at her school, and she didn’t have the right dress to wear, so she fashioned one out of a tablecloth.  Oh, if I could wear a tablecloth like that!

My Beautiful Granny

She looks like a goddess–no wonder my Pop believed her when she told him she was 18, as was he.  I’m not sure if her age made her jail bait back then, but it doesn’t matter–they spent their whole lives together.

Granny and Pop

After serving in the Navy during WWII, he worked as a postman until he retired.  Pop had the voice of an angel.  As a child, he sung in the Boy’s Town Choir.  As an adult, he sung in his church and diocesan choirs and was always humming or singing to himself—“Ave Maria”, “Oh Danny Boy”, “The Lord’s Prayer”…I can’t get through anyone singing these without shedding a few tears.  Like my Granny, he also donated of his time and talent, running the old mimeograph machine for the Church chancery office, and helping out the Incarnate Word Sisters in any way he could.  If angels exist in Heaven, then I know they are both among them, since they were angels here on Earth. On an old hand written recipe for 7 Minute Frosting, or Angel Frosting,  she had written in the margin “Bob’s favorite”.  It is also one of my favorites, and an excellent foil to a Devil’s Food Cake, or something with fresh berries. It is beautiful, shiny, fluffy, and develops the slightest, and most delicious crust on the outside if you frost your cake a day ahead of time.  Try this with my recipe for Chocolate Cake, The Chocolate Cake

Seven Minute Frosting

 7-Minute Frosting

  • 3 ½  cups sugar
  • 4 T corn syrup
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring sugar, syrup, salt and water to a boil until candy thermometer reads 242 degrees. Meanwhile, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl to a froth.  With the mixer running, pour in hot sugar mixture in a slow stream.  When all has been added, beat on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla or other flavoring and continue beating until a nice spreading consistency is reached.

With Dark Chocolate Cake…

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Categories: BAKING, children, Cupcakes, dessert, Family, Food, Gourmet, Holiday, humor, recipes, Texas, writing

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22 Comments on “Happy Birthday, Granny!”

  1. 2013/07/28 at 4:23 pm #

    Seriously your granny is so STUNNING cannot get over it

  2. 2013/07/28 at 4:48 pm #

    In the first picture she looks like Ingrid Bergman. She was beautiful. I love the 7 minute frosting. My mom used to make it as well. Not sure why she stopped. Loved the memories you shared.

  3. 2013/07/28 at 4:59 pm #

    Wow, your granny looks like Marilyn!

  4. 2013/07/28 at 5:15 pm #

    Oh my goodness, it’s hard to believe that gorgeous woman is anyone’s granny! God rest her soul and make her memory to be eternal.

  5. 2013/07/28 at 6:32 pm #

    You know, when I read something about someone that’s so well written it makes me wish I’d met the person being written about, it says a lot about both the person and the writer. Well done, and I miss your grandma, too. 🙂

  6. DGinCC@aol.com
    2013/07/28 at 9:52 pm #

    Beautifully written tribute to Granny and Pop ~ they are surely smiling down on you!

  7. 2013/07/28 at 10:44 pm #

    Legends!! And granny really does look hot in a tablecloth.

  8. 2013/07/29 at 1:21 am #

    Wow!! Your granny is beautiful! 😀 And happy birthday to her. 🙂

  9. 2013/07/29 at 9:01 am #

    What a beautiful tribute to your gorgeous granny! Seven-minute frosting has always been my fall-back position when I’m out of powdered sugar for butter cream It’s fluffy and white like a cloud and I imagine angels like Granny and Pop eat it in heaven.

    • 2013/07/29 at 1:13 pm #

      I love the very slight crust that seven minute frosting develops overnight…..Oh My God!

  10. 2013/07/29 at 11:06 am #

    What an amazing tribute for such a beautiful woman. You know you have lived a wonderful life when you leave such a lasting impression on later generations. How lucky you are to have had someone like this in your life!

    • 2013/07/29 at 1:16 pm #

      At her funeral, I did the eulogy. I quoted a traditional Native American saying about life and death..

      ” when you are born, you are crying, and the people around you are smiling. You should live your life so that when you die, you are smiling and the people around you are crying”

      And that she did….

  11. 2013/07/29 at 1:11 pm #

    As everyone agrees, your Granny is gorgeous, but then your looks didn’t come from a turnip. 7 Minute Frosting is a favorite of mine, too, but I’ve only been able to make it taste wonderful on the day it’s made. Any secrets?

    • 2013/07/29 at 1:19 pm #

      You know, I love it best on day two or three, when it has the slightest sugary crust to it. Try adding vinegar, a little each time you make it, to see if you can land on a formula you like.

  12. 2013/07/30 at 3:58 pm #

    Ah I loved both of my grandmothers dearly. One was a vegetarian, way before that was cool in England. The other, Scottish, made delights such as Scotch broth and clootie dumpling. And they were both terribly glamorous in their youth. I don’t think anyone is going to be looking at pictures of me at 13 in my bad 80s jumpers and saying anything similar!! They both played a big part in making me the person I am today. I miss them.

  13. 2013/07/30 at 5:42 pm #

    What a lovely read.

  14. Roberta
    2013/07/30 at 8:02 pm #

    What a beautiful woman, and memory. We love “salmon cakes”, so I am interested in trying this recipe. Thanks!

  15. 2013/08/03 at 2:22 pm #

    First of all – was that seriously a tablecloth? Amazing. She was a gorgeous woman and I love the photographs! And that recipe is just wonderful – you’re right, the verbiage is great! What a wonderful post.

    • 2013/08/06 at 1:31 am #

      Yes…it was Indeed a tablecloth…oh, that I could wear a tablecloth the same way my granny did…..

      • 2013/08/06 at 6:02 am #

        You and me both. 🙂

  16. 2013/08/18 at 11:47 am #

    I just stumbled upon your blog, and so glad I did. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother! I love this post and can’t wait to try the frosting.
    ~Jen

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