Grandma knows best

February 10th, 2011

Lately it seems that good meals at JCU are few and far between. The past few times I have gone to dinner in the cafeteria, there hasn’t been much choice of food.

It’s days like these, when I miss my Grandma’s delicious Hungarian cooking.

I know everyone says that their grandma is the world’s greatest cook. However, in my case, it was actually true.

I miss her food even more now that she has passed, especially because nobody in my family can re-create her famous dishes.

This makes sense because in order to be able to cook up the magic that she did, a person would have to be 5-feet-tall, wear a babushka outside, wear a pair of nylons under their jeans each day, be incredibly outspoken (often at the wrong times), rarely miss a day of work, and cook delicious meals.

I do not have her ability to cook, but I definitely learned to be outspoken from her example.

These are the qualities that my grandma possessed, but one of my favorites is the last one mentioned.

She could cook the greatest Hungarian potatoes, city chicken, pork and sauerkraut, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash, polachintas, corn, homemade soup and stuffing.

Her Hungarian potatoes, stuffed cabbage, corn and stuffing were among my favorites. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now.

Since her passing, my family has her recipes written down on index cards. One would think that with the recipes copied down word-for-word, the food would be fairly easy to recreate. To assume this would be incorrect.

The recipes have the ingredients and their order written down. The only problem we face now is the fact that my grandma never measured any ingredients when she cooked. So, the recipe card will read something like “add butter,” but it doesn’t say how much to add. In most cases, it is pretty safe to say that she used an entire stick of butter.

Maybe that is part of why it was so delicious? The entire stick of butter did the trick.

Although my family is left guessing on the measurements of ingredients, we have mastered at least one dish: the stuffing.

Well, I can’t exactly take credit for mastering the stuffing. I would like to, but I really had no part in making it.

Since my grandma’s passing, our family celebrates Thanksgiving at my cousin, Matt and his wife, Stacie’s new house. Now in our second annual Thanksgiving celebration, Matt and Stacie have figured out the trick to making the stuffing. It was so good this year that much of it was gone before we even sat down at the dinner table. I’m sure our grandma would be proud.

The fact that we are left with no measurements is not the only quirk in the situation. Grandma used cooking utensils that were a bit outdated. And when I say “a bit,” I am making an understatement.

Her potato masher is older than I am, and the handles of her pans are so loose, they are almost falling off. I have one of her pans (the one she cooked corn in) and it remains more of a keepsake than a tool that I can actually cook with.

All of this is proof that my grandma was not only a wonderful person, but a fantastic cook. The best don’t have to use measurements, they just know how much ingredient to add. They don’t need the best cooking materials — they can make delicious meals from scratch with any pan or potato masher.

So for now, my family will continue to perfect her stuffing recipe on Thanksgiving, and use whole sticks of butter when recreating her homemade Hungarian goodness.