Sunday, August 23, 2009

In celebration of what would have been Grandma's 99th b-day

Today is August 23rd which is Grandma Manning's birthday. If she were still alive she would have been 99 years old today. I thought this was the perfect day to post an essay that Melissa wrote about Grandma.

Melissa had written this essay as an entry to a contest that Deseret News was having asking their readers what they had learned from their own Julia Child. The 4 best entries would get 2 tickets to see the movie Julie & Julia.

I asked Melissa if it was OK if I posted her essay here on the family blog & she gave me her permission. If you want to see the entire Deseret News article click here.


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.

When I became discouraged learning how to bake bread or make candy, she would tell me stories about her early cooking experiences: When she was a young newlywed, she was learning to make bread. She was unfamiliar with using yeast. When her dough didn't instantly rise, she kept adding more yeast. A short time later, the dough had expanded over the entire kitchen counter. Not willing to admit failure, she took the dough and buried it in the flower garden outside. The bread continued to rise and Grandpa immediately started to treat the garden for gophers and hired an exterminator. Edith refused to fess up.

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!)

Chocolate roll:

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

Dash vanilla

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!!!



Erin said...

I'd never heard those stories! I'll have to try that recipe, uh, someday...

Prescott family said...

How come I don't remember this chocolate roll? I remember her roasts best. Must say though I didn't get the cooking gene either - nor am I patient enough to try & master those skills like she did. Loved the stories, thanks for sharing...

xinex said...

Beautiful story, Kim! Happy birthday to your grandma! I am sure she is smiling at you from heaven...Christine