Tag Archives: Grandmothers

Zucchini Bread

I mentioned a while back that I am working my way through some treasured family recipes which at some point will culminate into a family cookbook. Many of the recipes I am making right now originated with my Grandma Elizabeth or Ibby as she was known to those closest to her.

Grandma-Ibby

When I came across this photo, I couldn’t help but spend some time with it; really looking at it. Studying my grandmother’s face and bearing. Remembering her.  It is a beautiful picture of her, but not just of her. As I take it in, I see my aunt, my mother, my sister, myself. I wish I could tell her but I’m pretty sure she knows just how fondly she is remembered.

I remember the aroma and the warmth of her zucchini bread; fresh from the oven, a pat of rich butter melting into the moist crumb. I remember all of the times my mom made it for us just as grandma Ibby had made it; the rich flavor of cinnamon and bright hint of orange making it absolutely irresistible.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini-Bread-IngredientsIngredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts best in this)

Directions

Beat the eggs until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until well combined, another minute or two. Stir in the vegetable oil, vanilla, grated zucchini and orange zest.

Shredded-Zucchini

Adding-Orange-Zest

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and then stir into the wet mixture until just combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.

Walnuts-in-Zucchini-Bread

Divide the batter between two buttered and floured 8×4 inch loaf pans.

Zucchini-Bread-ready-for-th

 Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Zucchini-Bread-3

Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling,

Zucchini-Bread-2

or slice and serve warm with a little bit of butter.

Zucchini-Bread-4

This particular loaf was on its way to bible study along with Grandma Ibby’s bran muffins and some pretty tasty individual crustless quiche. I will share those recipes with you this week as well. Until then, I hope you will try the zucchini bread. My Grandma Ibby would be so happy to know that her “cooking” is still making some very special people feel loved and well fed.

Enjoy!

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Preserving Family Memories, Stories and Recipes

I come from women I am proud of. Women whom I love dearly and are such a part of who I am. And the women who came before them; women that I never knew personally but feel a love for and a connection with through the memories that have been shared, the wonderful stories I have heard and the incredible food I have eaten all my life.

Not perfect women but strong, loving and faithful women none the less. Women who worked hard and never quit. Women who found joy and made the most of what they had, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Many, the wives and daughters of farmers and loggers in the Pacific Northwest. Women who pulled meals together everyday to feed countless crews that worked hard and needed to eat hearty; maybe that is why I love to feed people, it is in my DNA. Sturdy French peasant stock as my husband likes to joke. He may be teasing me but in truth, he is right; not entirely French peasant but adding the whole mix of heritage would be too complicated.

I come from mothers and grandmothers who’s cooking and baking filled their kitchens with warm and welcoming scents. Scents that have become synonymous with home and nurture. Scents that linger still, swirling through the memories of their children and the recollections that have been passed down; generation to generation.

I am truly thankful to know where I come from, who I come from. And I am blessed to have heard so many stories of an earlier time and to have countless photos and recipes to go along with those stories. At this point in my life, it has become very important to me to remember the women who came before by preserving their stories and recipes for my family, for my children and for the children to come. And if I can share them with others who enjoy stories of food and family and a good recipe or two, all the better.

Many of these recipes and stories will come from the life of my Grandma Ibby (short for Elizabeth), my mother’s mother; the wife of a Gyppo Logger on the Yak River at Hell Roaring Creek above Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho. That, however, is only part of her story, only a part of who she was; but that is where I will start.

AD-23Elizabeth “Ibby” LeFebre Chapman, age 18 circa 1938 

My grandmother raised four children in many a harsh and remote location and she cooked incredible meals, for a lot of people, with no electricity and no running water. Propane fueled the stove she used and powered the refrigerator and once a week my grandfather would fire up the generator so she could run her mixer and bake. Water had to be hauled in daily to fill two galvanized tubs, bucket by bucket from a creek about a quarter mile away.

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My mom (in the back) uncles and aunt, circa 1954

Very early, every weekday morning, my grandmother arose to prepare breakfast for her family and a 6 man logging crew and to lay out meats, cheeses, bread, sides, fruit, and homemade cookies, brownies and treats for the lunches the crews would pack to take to the job site. When the men returned in the evening, they would be welcomed by the hot meal my grandmother had ready and waiting for them.

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Grandma Ibby, circa 1956

These meals are before my time and are the childhood memories of my mother. Even so, I can picture the bounty of them placed along the long wooden table of the cookshack. I can picture the comfort they brought as a hardworking logging crew began to unwind over a meal that certainly nourished more than their hungry stomachs and weary bodies.

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My grandfather on his Skagit loader, circa 1957.

My mom is back for a visit and has brought with her a wooden recipe box containing many of my Grandmother’s recipe cards. In her handwriting. I lost my grandmother in 1986, when I was just 15. To me, that box is filled with treasure.

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The process of compiling stories, photos and recipes for this family cookbook has been shared with my mom and has made for some very special moments. With each recipe card we pulled from that plain brown box, came a story and a connection to the past. The shared history of mother and daughter.

 “Oooh, here is grandma’s gingerbread recipe. I remember coming home from school to a house permeated with the smell of that gingerbread. The house was big and open but not fancy; it was warm and it seemed as if that smell lingered in every corner. I could hardly wait for that piece of gingerbread dolloped with whipped cream.”

And then the hunt for the apple dumpling recipe.

“Oh, we have to find her apple dumpling recipe, you have to include those! The first time I ever had these apple dumplings was when we lived in Lincoln, Montana; I was about six or seven (which would have been about 1951-’52). I remember grandma struggling with the dough a little bit when she rolled them, but she made them for us anyway because they were delicious and we loved them.”

We did find the recipe, and made them this weekend. There is not one left. I am still trying to stop dreaming about them.

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Just the other day, as my mom and I continued to talk over these recipes and the memories they contain, she casually mentioned to me “you know, I have a box with your great-grandmother LeFebre’s recipes in it. Do you want that one too?”

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My great-grandmother May LeFebre, circa 1958

Yes. A thousand times, yes!

“Yes, mom. I would like to have that one too.”

Please visit again tomorrow for my Grandma Ibby’s Apple Dumpling Recipe. These dumplings are unlike any apple dumpling you may have had before and something you have to try for yourself because I really can’t begin to describe to you how incredible they are and I can’t wait to share them with you.

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

Click here to read the story behind the cookies.

Finished-Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 pound butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less – about half – if you use table salt)

Directions

Shape into a small “log” roll. Refrigerate several hours, slice and bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! Okay, so those were my grandmother’s instructions, written back in the day when knowledge and technique were assumed.

I have added slightly to the “how to” of the recipe:

Cream the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Creaming-Sugar-and-Butter

Add and incorporated the eggs, one at a time.

One-Egg-at-a-Time

Add and incorporate the vanilla and the soda dissolved in water.

Mix salt into the six cups of flour and mix into butter mixture one cup at a time.

Flour

Mix in the roughly chopped walnuts (or the nut of your choice).

Walnuts

Add-in-Nuts

If you have a dreamy little brown-eyed boy, let him lick the beater.

Nathan-Beater

Nathan-Beater-2

Shape the dough into three rectangular log rolls by placing the dough in thirds onto sheets of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to help you shape the dough.

Wrapping

Log

Logs

Seal it up and refrigerate for several hours, otherwise, it will be impossible to slice – also, this is why they are called “Ice Box” cookies.

After the dough has chilled, remove the plastic wrap and slice the cookies 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Sliced

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

Just-out-of-the-Oven

Cool and store in an airtight container or freeze.

Enjoy!

A Flood of Memories from The Icebox

This post was supposed to be about cookies. My Grandmother’s Icebox Cookies. But in the process of looking for a (as in one) picture of her to go with the recipe, I found myself spending the morning digging through hundreds of photos and remembering countless special moments from a childhood filled with them.

There are so many things that make me think of my grandmother. I lost her almost 30 years ago but rarely a day goes by that she isn’t with me. She was such a big part of my childhood and I have so many precious memories associated with her. She truly was my very first best friend.

Grandma-&-Me-2-blog-ready

She was a wonderful lady and a good cook. The queen of the baked ham and Jello mold. A simple cook and not an overly confident one but her meals were always delicious, often prepared fresh from my grandfather’s incredible garden. My grandparents are the reason I didn’t know kids weren’t supposed to like vegetables. What is better than a carrot pulled straight from the ground and washed off with the garden hose? Not much.

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A foot wash after some barefoot gardening.

There is so much I remember about my grandmother. She was fastidiously neat, clean and tidy bordering on germ-a-phobic. How many times did I hear from the neighboring stall in a public restroom, “YOU’RE NOT SITTING DOWN ARE YOU?” In fact, the current state of my kitchen floors probably has her begging the Lord Himself to allow her 10 minutes in my kitchen with a mop and bucket. I’m also pretty sure she deserves at least some of the credit for my freakishly strong quads.

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Grandma and Grandpa having a little fun.

She was a lady and very proper but also funny with perfect timing, grace and poise. She never missed a beat. At least that is how I remember her. I remember how beautiful and pulled together she always looked. I also remember the nighttime routine of face cream, curlers and a foam/net hair wrap that were all paramount to her being fabulous the next day.

Grandma-blog-ready

I remember getting dressed up to go downtown and visit my grandpa at the bank where he worked as head of maintenance and then to lunch at the Crescent – a fancy department store with a wonderful cafe. Back in those days, you did not go downtown in black yoga pants and flip-flops; at least not in my grandmother’s world. Heck, I still don’t go downtown in black yoga pants and flip-flops and I go everywhere in black yoga pants and flip-flops. I’m a mom. In Arizona.

Santa-&-I-blog-readyThis picture is from one of our trips downtown where I was dressed to meet Santa in my taffeta skirt, lace tights and a beautiful butter yellow poncho and hat grandma had knit for me. How I cherished those outings with her. What I wouldn’t give for just one more.

Grandma-&-Me-5-blog-ready

I remember how she would rub my forehead as I was falling asleep and how she sat and rocked me first thing each morning even when I no longer fit comfortably in her lap and the tips of my toes were starting to just brush the floor.

I miss her. I don’t think I realized how much until just this moment.

I’m sure by now you are wondering how all of this ties into cookies and where the promised recipe is. My grandmother may not have been Julia Child in the world of savory but when it came to baking, she was in her element. I spent a lot of weekends with my grandparents and I remember my grandmother always having a “little something” awaiting my arrival.  I remember the chocolate cake with white frosting she made so often because it was my dad’s favorite; and the cherry pie that was mine. I remember the amazing birthday cakes she made and decorated especially for me. Doll cakes, a horse cake, a beautiful yellow layer cake covered in handmade sugar flowers. All made with so much love and care for the sole purpose of making me feel special.

My-9th-Birthday-Cake-blog-r

Horse-Cake-blog-Ready

Barbie-Cake-blog-ready

At Christmas what I remember most were the delightful “spritz” cookies she made. Delicate perfect little cookies in the shape of trees, wreaths and stars beautifully decorated with holly leaves and berries. And I remember her Ice Box Cookies. The ice box cookies that started this whole post and the flood of memories that has come with it.

A week or so ago, In my preparations to get started on some Christmas cookie baking, I sought out a recipe I had discovered earlier on a wonderful blog called Piping Dreams. When I went back to the blog and found the recipe I was looking for, Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread, I read through the comments and saw that another lady had asked about a recipe she’d been trying to find for quite some time. A recipe for “Refrigerator Cookies”, which sounded almost identical to my grandmother’s Ice Box Cookies that I remember from Childhood. I hadn’t thought about them in so long and had never actually made them myself. I did a little digging and found the recipe and went back and shared it in the comment section in the hope that it might be what she had been looking for.

And then I made a batch myself. With my grandmother standing right there next to me in my kitchen on my floors that are so in need of her attention. My rushed and busy spirit so in need of her attention. I don’t know if they were what that particular lady had been looking for but they were just what I had been looking for.

Seeing those cookies on the tray after baking was like looking through the eyes of my six-year-old self. They were just as I remember. They tasted just as I remember. A little bit of my Childhood recaptured through a recipe for a simple cookie. I will make them every Christmas from now on and I will think of my grandmother and remember how much she loved me and what she meant to me.

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My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

shown above nestled alongside

Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread from Lauren at Piping Dreams.

Oh, I also remember how she put my grandpa’s whiskey into a musical decanter that would chime out and alert her every time he poured a drink. Sorry, I just needed to laugh a little.