Cooking Like My Grandmother

My grandmother was famous for her food.… her bread…. her pies….her Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cake…. and her canned foods…. and her fried chicken, especially her fried chicken. Her fame spread from Ohio to Oklahoma and Texas and among all the relatives strung out in between. She wasn’t famous for fancy food. She was famous for food that made you glad to be home, even if the house was over-full of people. When I was a kid, she would call up to our house on an old black rotary phone, and tell us she had just pulled the wheat bread from the oven. Mom would send us on our bikes up to grandma’s house to bring some home. I remember the wonderful smell of the hot bread as I peddled back home in anticipation of the slice with butter I would have as soon as I arrived. This little sharing ritual was repeated when there were other goodies to be had. However, nothing could compare with Sunday meals when all the family crowded into the kitchen and dining room to eat, laugh, and enjoy the love of family. 

You see, while my grandmother was famous for cooking, she was even more famous for another type of recipe. It was the recipe that included kindness, sweetness, peace, and loving people all day every day in little ways. She would listen quietly while a sad friend poured out her heart and would offer us grandkids a cookie and milk while she pulled out our deepest thoughts. She loved to share. Whether it was her homemade foods, a word of encouragement, or her sweet strawberries straight from her kitchen garden. She would give just as God does…. out of love and often at great sacrifice. 

This recipe is what God calls us as parents to follow. To serve and give and love others following Christ’s example, doing the good works that he planned in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10) Serving Him by serving our families, and proving our love for Him by sharing the love He gives us. The recipe God calls us to calls for Love, Joy, Kindness, and Peace. Let’s work to cook more of this up in our homes. We are aiming for our families’ hearts first, knowing that the mind will follow. 

“We love each other because he loved us first.” -1 John 4:19 NLT

“Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.” -Proverbs 17:1 NLT

Fried Chicken 

from Burthalenoh Thomas

*This is more like instructions than a recipe. Every time it is a little different and I never measure anything, just like grandma! The gravy recipe follows.-Julie

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable Crisco or Vegetable oil
  • Chicken pieces with the skin on, Liver and gizzards, too!

Mix about 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bowl. Dredge chicken in this mix until well coated. Melt Crisco in a large cast-iron skillet. When oil is hot fry chicken on one side until crispy and light brown. Turn to the other side and fry until lightly brown and crispy. Remove chicken pieces to a glass 9X13 pan. Fry livers and gizzards, if desired. Wrap livers and gizzards in foil and set in a glass pan with chicken. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 until chicken is done (juices are no longer pink). Proceed with gravy recipe

Gravy from Chicken Drippings

After frying the chicken, pour off all the oil/Crisco except about 2 tablespoons. DO NOT REMOVE the crunchy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Heat oil until hot. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and a little salt into the oil. This will get bubbly. Stir and scrape the pan until the flour begins to get tan to light brown. Do not burn it. While stirring quickly, pour milk into a pan with browned flour. It will sizzle and pop. Add the desired amount of milk, usually several cups and stir to dissolve any lumps that try to form. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the tasty bits that will make the gravy delicious. When the gravy thickens to desired consistency, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. (If it doesn’t thicken enough you can use 1/4 c of cold water mixed with 3 Tbsp of cornstarch. Drizzle into the gravy while boiling until desired thickness is reached. If gravy is too thick, add more milk.)

Whole Wheat Bread

FROM BURTHALENOH THOMAS (makes two loaves)

  • 1/2 c + 2 1/4 c hot water
  • 1/4 c melted shortening, melted butter, or oil
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 6-7 c whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 c warm water. Stir in honey, salt, shortening, 2 1/4 c water, 3 1/2 c flour. Stir by hand until smooth. Mix enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle (about 3 1/2 cups). Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (10 min). Place in a greased bowl, turn to coat. Cover with towel. Let rise until doubled (~1 hr). Ready when finger impression remains. Punch down. Divide in half, roll into a rectangle, roll up, pinch ends and fold under, place in a buttered bread pan with seams down. Rise till doubled (~30 minutes). Bake at 375 for 40 minutes with top of the pan in the center of oven. Should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn from the pan and brush with butter. 


from Burthalenoh Thomas
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c white corn syrup
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup black walnuts (optional or other nuts) chopped

Combine sugar, syrup, and water in a saucepan. Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Uncover and boil to between soft and hard/firm ball stage on a thermometer. Add vanilla.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar during 5 minute boil time. Beat to stiff peaks. 

(If using a mixer with a bowl scraper attachment then remove the scraper) Slowly pour hot liquid in a thin stream into egg whites with the mixer running on high. Beat about 3 minutes or until it holds its shape a little and folds in ribbons on itself from the beater. STOP beating if glossiness begins to fade. 

Stir in nuts and pour into a buttered cookie sheet. Store covered. 

Mayonnaise Cake

from Burthalenoh Thomas *Icing recipe below
  • 2 C flour
  • 5 Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Mix and then make a well in the center and add:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not light)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Use icing recipe below. Cut cake and top with warm icing.

Icing for Mayonnaise Cake

Large Batch:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • 1 stick butter/marg.
  • 1 cup milk (evaporated or regular)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all but vanilla and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve over cake.

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