When I was little, I once asked my grandpa to make me a ham & jelly sandwich. He obliged because grandparents do things like that, and upon asking me how it had turned out, I replied, “Quite tasty!”
As well as my memory usually serves me, I have no recollection of that happening. I wish I did, because then I could truthfully tell you what a ham & jelly sandwich tastes like without having to bother eating one again. For now, I think I’ll settle for remembering my grandpa’s account of it and leaving it as one of those “we have history books so we don’t keep making the same mistakes” kind of situations.
Since Grandparents’ Day was last Sunday, let’s dwell here for a moment. Here are some of my other favorite cooking traditions with my grandparents:
1. My great grandmother on my mom’s side used to make this little piece of magic that we always called foam, involving jello, cream cheese, whipped cream, and crushed pineapple. I’ve come to the realization that many of you like to call this concoction “jello salad.” Look, I hate to break it to you, but its actual, scientific name is foam. Check your encyclopedia. See also pink foam, orange foam, green foam. Green foam (with lime jello) is the best flavor, despite its looking like an out-of-control science experiment.
2. As a kid, whenever we went to visit my dad’s parents, I loved to wake up early and find my grandma in the kitchen, already hard at work on breakfast. I’d sit at a little bar stool by the counter and watch her cook while we listened to the morning news on a tiny TV.
And holidays with them always brought us two of the greatest desserts known to mankind–buckeyes (chocolate-dipped balls of peanut butter goodness) and pecan pie. Let me tell you about this pecan pie, y’all. If I could only have one dessert all year, I’d wait for my grandpa to make it during the holiday season, I’d grab the whole pie, and I’d hide from my family to avoid sharing any of it with them. There is not another pecan pie in the world that can top this one; trust me–I’ve looked, and I’ve been disappointed. I believe this pecan pie is the one that was passed down to us by the founding fathers. This is the pie that George Washington took to England to give to King George, and King George said, “Yes, you may have America. This pie is enough for me.” Again, check your encyclopedia.
3. There’s more than just ham & jelly sandwiches from my mom’s parents. They live in Arizona, and thanks to them, my family is really big on Mexican food. We make it almost weekly. I recently acquired an old box of recipes from my grandma, and I found an enchilada recipe in there that my mom often makes.
Speaking of my grandma’s little recipe box… I also found in there a little handwritten card with the recipe for this apple cake that I’m sharing with you today. If you haven’t ever made an apple cake, don’t be alarmed by the consistency of the cake batter. It’s not really a batter. It’s more like a sticky, heavy glue/dough. Don’t lose faith in your cake; the batter is supposed to be like that, and the moisture from the apples will fix everything as it bakes. Baking and working out don’t tend to coincide, but with this recipe you’ll get the opportunity to build some muscle in those arms!
One more thing: Please be aware that this recipe comes from a handwritten recipe card and that I cannot verify its origins. I am in no way claiming it as my own; I’m simply sharing it with you. I’ll provide the original recipe along with any substitutions I made.
Fresh Apple Cake
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cup oil (I used vegetable oil.)
- 3 cups flour (I used 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour instead.)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 apples, chopped (I used two large Gala apples.)
- 1 cup nuts (I used chopped walnuts.)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Beat eggs. Add white sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Beat for 3 minutes.
- Sift dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt) and gradually add to wet ingredients.
- Fold in apples, nuts, and vanilla.
- Bake in greased and floured Bundt pan at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes. (I baked in two separate loaf pans at 350 for 45 minutes.) Leave in pan until cool.