A visit to the house of my grandmother, Edith Paulson Manning, always greeted me with savory smells from the kitchen. She was an excellent cook, known for her signature dishes: homemade bread and rolls, chocolate roll, lemon pie, chili sauce, divinity, emerald Jell-O salad, seven-minute icing, fudge ... I could go on.
A meal at Grandma's house was always served on a beautifully set table with tablecloth and centerpiece. Meals were the main course of the visit; they were savored and enjoyed in both appetite and conversation.
Edith was magic. She could conjure up a delicious meal cooked from scratch and lure the entire family — teenagers included — into sitting around the table for hours eating and talking.
Food was Edith's potion to bind our family. She graciously served her love on the plates of all who came to her home. She didn't have to fix an extravagant meal every night. The fulfillment was the same whether it was tuna casserole or Sunday's roast. She took the time to make mealtime and food meaningful.
One Thanksgiving, she made 13 pumpkins pies, one for each grandchild.
She noted on her recipe cards when and with whom she made the recipe. She listed grandchildren's names, ages and dates of baking together.
Edith also taught me that good cooks aren't just born. It takes practice and a lifetime to master.
For another meal, Edith made too much rice. Wasting food during the Great Depression was a sin, so she secretly took the extra rice to the outhouse and dumped it. Her landlord, after visiting the outhouse, promptly called the exterminator because he had seen maggots!
To honor her life, three generations (my mother, myself and my daughters) compiled a cookbook of her trademark recipes. We included our memories in the kitchen, photos of mealtimes and quotes she had written and filed in her recipe box. This became her life history and cherished legacy for our family.
Edith's Chocolate Roll
(You'll never find a better recipe!)
6 egg yolks (beaten)
4 tablespoon sugar (rounded)
5 teaspoons cocoa (heaping)
1 tablespoon flour (heaping)
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 level teaspoons cocoa
1/2 cup water
For Chocolate Roll: Mix sugar, cocoa and flour and add to beaten egg yolks. Whip egg whites stiff; add baking powder to egg whites while beating. Fold into the egg-yolk mixture. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment or waxed paper and pour batter in pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool. Turn on cloth and remove paper. Spread sweetened whipped cream (1/2 to 3/4 pint cream, sugar and vanilla to taste) on cake. Roll and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Slice and serve with sauce.
For sauce: Mix ingredients and cook 3 minutes and cool. Pour over each slice of chocolate roll.
— Melissa Mecham,
Salt Lake City
Thanks Melissa! I remember Grandma telling us those stories of her early cooking experience. They were so funny. Grandma was the best cook.
Melissa suggested that we should all make Grandma's chocolate roll today in celebration of her birthday & post about it later. I'm not sure if I will be participating in this challenge or not. I'm not much of a baker or a cook (I guess I didn't inherit the cooking gene). Plus it's too hot to turn on the oven here (more excuses). But if anyone out there wants to try, please do so, and don't forget to post about it. And send me a piece!!!