Thursday, November 06, 2008

Grandma's Recipes

Today is the one year anniversary since my grandma died. As you know, from the last post, she's been in my thoughts a lot lately. Of course, me being a food-obsessed vegan, I've also been thinking about my food memories from her.

The year I was born,my grandparents were doing the Peace Corps in Ghana, when she developed heart trouble. The doctors wanted to put her on heavy duty meds, with lots of side effects. She didn't want that, so she did a lot of research and landed on the Pritikin Diet. My whole childhood, she was a very strict adherent to this diet: no salt, no fat, no sugar. So, while most of you might have very fond memories of Grandma with cookies and treats, my food memories are a bit different. Canning my own no-sugar applesauce definitely makes me think of her. Fresh raspberries from her garden will always bring her to my thoughts. Today I made two other recipes that came from her.

Roasted Butternut Squash
A family favorite. My grandma's method was to peel the squash, which is a bit of a chore but you simply must do it. Turn the oven to 400. Scoop out the seeds, and cut the squash into giant disks or half-moons about 3/4" thick. My grandma didn't use oil, but I like to put a small amount of oil on the squash to lock in the moisture. Arrange the slices on a cooking sheet lined with tinfoil. (A silpat will not work - it will stick & won't caramelize as nicely). Cook for about 25 minutes, flip them over, and cook for another 25-30 minutes until very tender and caramelizing on the edges. Yummo!

Grandmommy's Persimmon Bread
A couple of years ago, my grandma brought this great persimmon bread to a holiday gathering. It's dense, spicy, moist, a little bitter and a little sweet. There's a great story behind this recipe. A friend of my grandma's sent it to her, and so my grandma made it right away, but found it to be very dry. So, she fussed with it and came up with something quite nice. Here's the email I got from my grandma after she spoke with her friend:

"Now about the bread. I emailed Sue and told her that the original recipe she sent was too dry to mix. She called today and we went over it. She said "Did you mix the 1/2 cup of butter and the cup of sugar first and add the three eggs?" She had left that out! Luckily. Well, we had a good laugh. She'll do it her way and I'll do it mine. gm"

I love you Grandmommy!

I'm sure that other way is awfully nice, but I really like this bread my grandma came up with, and especially for today I felt honor bound to stick to her fat-free, sugar-free recipe.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a loaf pan.

Puree in a food processor
1 nice orange, chopped up - peel and all

Add in:
1/4 c sherry
1 c persimmon puree (approx 2 persimmons)
1 tsp baking soda

In another bowl, whisk together:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 each: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, Grandma used almonds)
1 cup dried fruit (I used raisins, Grandma used apricots)

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until moist, but not gooey.

I brushed on a little of the leftover glaze I had from the Pan de Muerto, which was a nice touch:
Glaze: Place 1/2 sugar, 1/3 cup orange juice and grated zest of 1 orange in a small saucepan. Boil 2 minutes. You could make a 1/4 of this recipe and it would suffice.


  1. Awww, so lovely! I adore roasted Butternut Squash!

  2. Your grandmother must have been a great cook. The persimmon bread looks really great.

  3. Such a touching (and delicious) post.

  4. the food looks amazing, and what a wonderful grandmother you must have had!

  5. Aw, that's great about your grandma's excellent eating habits...I'm sure she instilled good habits into you from an early age. Love the bread story! And I heart roasted butternut squash!

    My granny, bless her heart, let me eat sticks of butter when I was a kid. :-) And I got really fat in fifth grade. Fortunately, I (and my granny) came around to healthier habits later in life. Now she makes vegan food for me!

  6. Anonymous2:51 PM

    What nice memories you have of your grandmother--my memories of my grandma are tied to food too :o)

    I *love* persimmons! I have never cooked with them before, though...I just love them so much I eat them out of hand!


  7. What a beautiful post, your grandma sounds so lovely! The bread looks amazing, and I love your leaf plate!

  8. I love hearing about childhood memories.
    Persimmons are still new to me so I'm going to try this bread.

  9. What a wonderful remembrance of your grandmother. Her recipes look so delicious. Grandmas are the best cooks!

  10. What a great way to remember your grandma. It's funny how food can connect us with so many memories of a special person.

  11. Anonymous6:16 PM

    She sounds like such a special woman. I love the little email from her. Just adorable.


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