Category Archives: Family

CHRISTMAS WON’T BE CHRISTMAS

Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

“It’s so dreadful to be poor!” sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

“I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,” added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

“We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other,” said Beth contentedly from her corner.

The four young faces on which the firelight shone brightened at the cheerful words, but darkened again as Jo said sadly, “We haven’t got Father, and shall not have him for a long time.” She didn’t say “perhaps never,” but each silently added it, thinking of Father far away, where the fighting was. – From Little Women.

It was the first book I ever owned, a copy of “Little Women” given to me by my mother when I was about ten or eleven. I read it over and over again, often enough to be able to recite entire paragraphs from memory. Owning a copy of “Little Women” caused something to explode within my heart. It was never enough, after that, just to read a book although I read library books voraciously. I wanted to OWN those favorite books as well. Perhaps a year or two later, my brother Jim gave me FIVE Nancy Drew books for Christmas. FIVE! What riches! What wealth!

Not surprisingly, you will have to agree, my house today is wall to wall bookcases filled with books throughout most of the house (ok, none in the kitchen or bathrooms) although you can often find a little stack of magazines or catalogues on the back of the toilet. And last year, Bob built a library that takes up half of the garage. I was unpacking books to go onto the shelves as fast as he finished a section. Finally, after two years, the rest of our books were unpacked and placed on shelves.(We moved into this house in November of 2008).  The garage library is primarily for fiction although I have a respectable collection of books – biographies and auto biographies about our first ladies and one entire section is devoted to American presidents. (I think I have more about John Fitzgerald and Jackie Kennedy than any other president. I think this is because he was the first American president – and she the first “First Lady” who really captured my attention. Next high on my list are books about President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.  We have made many trips to the Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley. But I also collect biographies and auto biographies about movie stars and this probably started when I began working at the SAG Health Plan in 1977.

I’ve also collected books – stories, biographies and—yes, even cookbooks—about African Americans (or Black Americans if you want to be more politically correct. I have found so many really wonderful stories written by African Americans. I believe this is an untapped resource of Americana fiction.

And yes, it started with an inexpensive copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. (I love Little Women so much that I have every film edition of this wonderful civil war era story. But, I have never figured out what pickled limes were; you may recall that Amy got in trouble at school for having a bag of pickled limes in her desk. The teacher confiscated the bag of pickled limes and threw them all out the school house window. I do a lot of canning  (and yes, I collect  cookbooks about canning, preserving, making jams, jellies and chutneys – but have never come across a recipe for making pickled limes!)

“Little Women” is one of those ageless stories that I enjoy watching during the holiday season – along with “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Elf”, “The Santa Clause” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

I have loved Christmas my entire life; when I was about ten years old I began taking my two younger brothers downtown – in Cincinnati – to do our Christmas shopping at the 5 & 10 cent stores. We did all our shopping in one day, along with visiting the department store Santas to get a peppermint stick – and then happily returned home on the trolley (or buses if they had replaced street cars by then) to surreptitiously slip upstairs to my bedroom and wrap our gifts – with wrapping paper my mother had saved from the year before. We ironed out gift wrap paper and ribbons to look “like new” again.  My two brothers and I have the most precious memories of those trips downtown. If we were able, we’d make another trip downtown to see the life-size nativity on display in Garfield Park.

And I think opening the presents, as wonderful as it was, might have been anti climatic to the trip downtown with my little brothers to buy Christmas presents for everyone in the family, with pennies and nickels we had saved or earned. We didn’t have an allowance and earning a bit of cash was always a challenge. My girlfriend Carol went downtown with us one year and in later years confessed that she was always jealous of us Schmidts, buying all our Christmas presents for about a dollar—total!  Well, there was also the five cent bus fare each way to take into consideration. And sometimes we even shared a grill cheese sandwich at the soda fountain counter in Woolworths.

How did we do it? I have no idea. Our little change purses were something like the loaves and fishes in the bible – there was always JUST enough to get something for everyone in the family – five of us children, our parents and our grandparents.

My love for Christmas rubbed off on Bob, my partner for the past 25 years. He became as enthusiastic as I, putting up trees (yes, plural – one year we had 8 trees up in the house in Arleta) and decorating everything in sight inside and outside of the house, while I baked cookies. One year we made a fantastic gingerbread house.  He was always as excited and pleased as I, when guests would arrive at our house and begin to ooh and ahh over the two trees standing on either side of our fireplace, the lighthouse tree in the dining room and the little kitchen-theme trees in the kitchen.   This will be my first Christmas without Bob to share it with.  Christmas won’t be Christmas without him.

I originally wrote this in November of 2011, two months after Bob passed away from cancer of the esophagus. This year will mark the third Christmas without him.

Sandra Lee Smith

September 7, 2014

 

 

 

Easter Greetings 2014

Easter Greetings

So often we lose sight of the original (or perhaps not so original) reasons for celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Easter and other events that were originally pagan holidays. When Christianity was in its fledgling years, the church elders wanted to steer people away from celebrating pagan holidays and instead, celebrate Christian ones, so many Christian holidays were built on a foundation of a pagan one. Sounds confusing? It is.
From Wikipedia we learn that Easter (also called the Pasch or Pascha) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

What adds to the confusion is that Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. (I can write it down much easier than I can explain it to anyone).

Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

But, like so many Christian holidays, Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians. Try explaining to any non-Christian how it is that Christians celebrate Easter and credit the Easter Bunny (which does not lay eggs!) with putting colorful eggs in a basket or hiding them in the back yard.

EASTER MEMORIES

The onset of Easter is on Ash Wednesday. Having gone to Catholic grade school, we went to mass every day before classes began, so on Ash Wednesday everyone walked around school with a black smudge of ash on their foreheads. Then we always made a big deal about what we were giving up for lent. The usual things were candy, soda pop, movies (not that we had very much of any of those things to begin with). In my family we always had some kind of fish on Fridays and there wasn’t that much meat to go around anyway.

I do remember my mother placing orders for new clothing from Sears or Montgomery Ward but the highlight of pre-Easter celebrations was going downtown to Schiff Shoes to get a new pair of shoes. These would become our new Sunday shoes and the old Sunday shoes would become everyday shoes. I think most of our shoes were functional, seldom dressy (until I got old enough to buy my own). I leaned heavily towards penny loafers and rarely wore saddle oxfords.

The Stations of the Cross would be said – I think – on Wednesday and Friday evenings. The statues inside church would be covered with purple cloths during Lent. In retrospect, I see that much of our lives revolved around the Church. Our church was St Leo’s, just down the street from my grandmother’s home. My father, uncle and aunt all went to St Leo’s too. My grandparents bought this three storied brick house when my father was about seven years old. Aunt Annie was a toddler who only spoke German and she got lost in the shuffle of the move. My father was sent to find her. I imagine most of the neighbors spoke German too. That part of Cincinnati was heavily populated with German and Italian immigrants.

The day before Easter we boiled eggs and colored them. Easter morning there would be a basket hidden somewhere for each of us. Imagine never refrigerating the boiled eggs—I told my granddaughter this recently. She was astonished. I said we never heard of salmonella poisoning. And nothing in our baskets lasted very long anyway. Easter dinner may have been one of the holidays where the Schmidt family got together – often at grandma’s – and when everyone had eaten, an adult would take the carload of kids to a movie theatre and drop us off there with just enough money for admission and either candy or popcorn. I think Uncle Al usually gave us each a quarter. We thought he was rich.

By the time we got back to grandma’s, the adults would be playing cards and all the dishes had been washed up…by then everything would be brought out again for a snack before going home.
I don’t seem to remember very much about our Easter celebrations.
I remember buying a new outfit for myself, for Michael who was three at the time, and Steve, who was a baby. We were living in an apartment near the Warner Brothers Studio. I never gave much thought to whoever might be going through the nearby studio gates.

Well, I’m not here to explain Christian holidays—what I would like to do is share with you a couple of my favorite Easter holiday recipes! My #1 favorite is my Cool Rise Cinnamon Rolls. Even as we speak, I have a pan of the cinnamon rolls rising in the refrigerator, to bake tomorrow morning.

Cool Rise Sweet Dough for Cinnamon Rolls

Stir together in a bowl:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry yeast (or 2 little packets)

½ cup (1 stick of butter), softened to room temperature
Pour in 1 1/2 c. very hot water. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add:
2 eggs (at room temperature) and
1 c. flour
Mix on high speed for 1 minute.

Gradually add in 2-3 more cups of flour until the dough is thick and elastic, pulling away from the side of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto counter or a cutting board. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out one ball at a time. Roll out into a rectangle that is roughly 10×14 inches. Spread melted butter over the top of rectangle to within 3/4″ of edges. Sprinkle sugar on top of the butter. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of that. Distribute raisins over the butter/sugar/cinnamon. Starting with one side, roll up the dough into a long, thick roll. Slice into individual rolls and place in a 9×13″ pan on their sides. I try to get 12 rolls out of each ball of dough and put 12 to a pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. The flavor really improves if you refrigerate this recipe overnight. Before baking, remove from fridge and let sit on the counter for at least an hour.

Bake at 350° until golden brown. Remove from oven. While they’re still hot, drizzle some glaze over them. Serve warm. Glaze: a cup of powdered sugar, a drizzle of melted butter, and just enough milk or lemon juice to make a runny glaze. Recently, I saw a bunch of glaze recipes and so I tried one. I was very disappointed with the results. Note to self: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This is a versatile sweet dough recipe and you can make a lot of coffee cakes with it.

My next favorite holiday recipe (for any holiday!) is my friend and former co-worker Nina’s recipe for making deviled eggs. I have no idea how many different recipes I have tried for deviled eggs—but always come back to Nina’s recipe! At work, when we had pot lucks, Nina had to set out one batch for immediate consumption as people arrived at work. She’d have a second batch when the dishes were put out for the department at lunch time.

To make Nina’s Deviled Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs
1/4 C mayo or salad dressing (less if eggs are very small)
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp horseradish
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Nina writes, “I very rarely add salt or pepper, but it depends on what you like. My recipe book also has alternatives: Add 2 TBSP crumbled crisp bacon, or 1 TBSP finely chopped olives, or 1 TBSP finely chopped green-onions or chives. Enjoy!”

I generally associate cookie making with Christmas but Easter is also one of the occasions when I make up lots of large egg-shaped cookies; two of the cut-out egg shaped cookie dough fit on a cookie sheet so you will go through a good amount of cookie dough and I prefer to bake one sheet of cookies at a time* so it takes a while to get the cookies baked.

*The reason I bake one sheet of cookies at a time is because my stove is almost as old as I am and I can bake two sheets at a time, by checking them after five minutes and switching the trays around – but if I am in a hurry or working on frosting, I do one tray at a time and set the timer. I made a lot of cookies this year—who doesn’t like cookies?

I made a batch of Hot Wings for an appetizer but those are so easy—does it even constitute a recipe? I like the McCormick’s brand of Buffalo Hot Wings spice mixture and bought a 4 pound bag of wings with the tips already cut off. All you have to do is mix the raw chicken wings with the seasoning mix and bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven. The directions don’t say so, but trial and error has taught me not to put the wings directly on the foil-covered cookie sheet—I use a rack. You won’t believe how much oil collects on the sheet underneath the wings. A lot!
My sons like the wings best if they are “dry” (not greasy) so I baked them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes according to the package directions—but they weren’t “dry” so I turned the heat down to 250 and kept them in the oven for well over an hour checking every 15 minutes to see if they felt and looked “done” enough. These wings are not mouth-burning hot like many hot wings ARE but we have young children who like hot wings and so the recipe has to be toned down for them.

I’m not hosting Easter dinner this year—I haven’t for a few years. I am going to my son & daughter in law’s for lunch. There will be an egg hunt at my son’s. Our holidays are a far cry from those of my childhood.

But I wish you all a Happy and Joyous Easter holiday.
Sandy

MY COUSIN CONNIE

Some of you may have heard this story. True story.
It starts with a 5th grader at St. Leo’s (me) and my discomfort hanging around the fifth grade girls who sat outside on the steps during recess and lunchtime talking about boys, makeup and getting their periods. It could have been Greek where I was concerned–so I did what I was comfortable doing; I herded together the first and second grade girls to play circle games (like Farmer in the Dell). There was a little chubby-cheeked first grader who stole my heart; she was like a little sister. She went home for lunch but when she got back, she would take my hand away from whoever was holding one of them – and it was ok, because all the little girls knew I loved Connie. She was my favorite.

At some point in time, my Grandma Beckman came to visit and one day when I was about to leave for school she asked me if I knew a little girl named Connie C. “Why yes!” I exclaimed “Connie is one of my little girls!”

“She’s your cousin” my grandmother said.

I didn’t know the story at that time – There had been 5 Beckman children born to my Uncle Tony, one of my mother’s brothers. Their mother died in an accident and their father, suffering from battle fatigue (from serving in World War II) that led to alcoholism, couldn’t care for them. They were being raised in an orphanage in Cincinnati; my mother would go get them for some holidays or during summer vacation. the youngest child, Connie, was put up for adoption. I never knew her.

I told Connie she was my cousin (adoption notwithstanding) and, innocently, told her she should tell her mother–I thought it was wonderful that she was my cousin. We walked around the school building telling the nuns she was my cousin. Connie’s mother told her I was lying and I began to wonder if I had done something wrong. I guess in time I stopped taking charge of the little girls and after graduating from St Leo’s, I lost contact with Connie even though her family lived right up the street from my sister Becky, on Trevor.

Once when my mother brought the Beckman cousins home for a holiday, I told Peggy – who was my age — that I knew where her sister lived and we walked over to Trevor Street so I could show the house to her.

Time passed and I lost contact with my cousin Peggy, who was living a really rough life for a teenager. She was living on her own by the time she was 15 and letters to and from each other stopped. Throughout my life, I never forgot Connie and was burdened with the guilt of having been the person who told her about a life her adoptive parents wanted her to forget. It always weighed heavily on my mind.

More years went by. My cousin (our cousin) Renee began getting into geneology and began tracking the Beckman family. Her mother and mine had been sisters–two sisters who married two best friends. There came a time- maybe 10 or 12 years ago–when someone emailed Renee asking about the Beckman family. She had a friend, she wrote, who was a Beckman. That friend was Peggy (now being called Margie). Renee responded but didn’t hear from the woman again. Then my curiosity was piqued–and I wrote to this woman, sending photographs and telling her I believed that her friend was my cousin Peggy. And so a broken thread was repaired.

But unbeknownst to me, when Connie turned 18, Peggy contacted her and the two sisters were reunited. They sometimes wondered how they managed to become reunited. Their other siblings, three of them, passed away at early ages. Now there were just the two sisters.

In September, 2011, just after Bob passed away, I flew to Cincinnati to meet with three of my cousins – Renee, Peggy, – and Connie. The two sisters had reunited and sometimes visited Cincinnati to see their mother’s sisters. We shared photographs and talked a mile a minute and took pictures of ourselves – they both said they couldn’t ever remember what the connection was, how they knew how to find each other. “YOU!” Peggy said, “YOU were the connection!”. I don’t think I was the connection. I think God was. He wanted those sisters to find each other.

Out of all the pictures we took that day, there is one special one, of me and Connie holding hands. That is what she remembers most about our meeting at St. Leo’s – she always wanted to hold my hand. And I always wanted to hold hers.

Well, Connie married and has a loving husband and children but as I write this, she is in a hospital in Virginia suffering from a heart condition. I can’t imagine Peggy not having Connie in her life. I can’t imagine me not having Connie in my life, either–not after so many years of not knowing.
I want to hold her hand again.

love, Sandy

UPDATE: June 1, 2013 THIS JUST RECEIVED FROM MY COUSIN, PEGGY, CONNIE’S SISTER. JACK IS CONNIE’S HUSAND:
Today the doctors informed Jack that Connie had several strokes, and one massive one. There is no brain activity. As soon as all the children are assembled in Norfolk, they will take her off life support. There is no further information at this time regarding services, etc. Connie is an organ donor. I will send you and e mail when I know more. I will be leaving for Virginia as soon as I get the news from my niece Jenny about arrangements. Thank you for your prayers and please continue them for the family.

MY HOMETOWN – CINCINNATI THE QUEEN CITY

cincinnati skyline from kentucky shore

FORTUNE magazine called Cincinnati the best run big city in the United States. LIFE magazine said “Cincinnati has one of the best police forces in the country”. TIME Magazine, on the other hand, once labeled Cincinnati “dowdy”!! Dowdy? Cincinnati? I knew there was a good reason why I don’t subscribe to TIME.

To Indians, Cincinnati was a calamity; to slaves, it was a promised land and to the REDS Baseball Team, it’s a place to play ball. To children on skates, it’s a seven-hilled impossibility, while to Proctor Gamble it was a place to make soap. To beer-makers it represented memories of “over the Rhine”. Which Cincinnati you know depends on your point of view…” from “Vas You Ever in Zinzinnati” by Dick Perry, published by Doubleday in 1966.

You may have heard of my hometown, Cincinnati—which I have written about several times on this blog. I was born and raised in Cincinnati; as were both of my parents. My paternal grandparents were German and Hungarian and came through Ellis Island by way of Rumania. From there they went to Cincinnati. Quite possibly, they had friends or other connections which led them to Cincinnati, which already had a huge German population by the time they got there.

My mother’s parents were definitely German as well but we know so little about their roots. My father’s parents immigrated to the United States when they were in their early twenties and we all grew up strongly influenced by our surroundings. North Fairmount was heavily populated by German Americans and Italians. South Fairmount was more heavily populated with Italians. My grandparents bought a house on Baltimore Street when their daughter, my Aunt Annie, was a toddler. (The story was that they bought this house “in the country” because my Uncle Hans was asthmatic. I guess North Fairmount was country to them, back then.)  The three storied big brick house was large enough to raise their children in, and when those children got married, they lived in separate apartments in the same house—until they could afford to buy a house on their own. My parents lived in the house on Baltimore until I was five years old. That meant they lived in my grandmother’s house for nine years. Some of those years were a part of the great depression and some were a part of World War II.

I have no real memories of living in the house on Baltimore Street although when I reflect on scattered early memories, I think some of those must have occurred when we were still living in my grandmother’s house.

Down the street from my grandmother’s house was St. Leo’s church and school. My father, his younger brother and their younger sister all went to St. Leo’s—not only that, but all three had Sister Tarcisius in the first grade—as did my older sister, older brother and me—along with two of our cousins. Sister Tarcisius taught first grade at St Leo’s for over fifty years before celebrating her Golden Jubilee as a nun and retiring to the convent in Oldenburg, Indiana.  There was a continuity to our lives back then—often when I became girlfriends with someone in my class and went to her home, a parent was sure to say “Oh, yes! Schmidts! I went to school with your father”. (Many years later, my youngest brother Scott would buy and remodel the house that had belonged to his first wife’s grandmother. When I first saw the house, I realized it had once belonged to my classmate Joan—whose younger sister, Val, became the grandmother from whom Scott bought the house.

Our neighborhood was all of North Fairmount and extended into South Fairmount in one direction and English Woods in another. Now, if you drive through these neighborhoods they are almost all downtrodden and ramshackle—a far cry from the neat and tidy brick houses that lined all the streets with geraniums in the front windows that were a part of our lives. I think we could have approached any house in an emergency for blocks around—not that anything serious ever happened. It wasn’t anything any of us ever thought about—we rode bicycles and skates and/or walked from one place to another without ever stopping to consider our safety or security.

There was a state of stability and absence of disruption throughout our lives, throughout the lives of our parents (despite the great depression and WW2) that can’t be found in Southern California where I have spent most of my adult life but I think still exists in most of Cincinnati, where girlfriends of mine who grew up in North College Hill married and bought houses near their parents’ homes, to raise their children in close proximity to their parents.

We took good cooking for granted, I’m ashamed to admit. I don’t think any of us ever stopped to think twice about my grandma’s exquisite Palascinta (Hungarian pancakes—like crepes); grandma’s strudels with dough made from scratch—we each had a favorite filling – mine was spicy pumpkin—but any of them, apple, cherry, or cheese, were to die for—or homemade noodles drying on the backs of kitchen chairs—or the German wurst sausages, delicious with a chunk of fresh-baked salt bread.

My grandmother made Dobos tortes with up to fourteen layers of sponge cake, spread with bittersweet chocolate frosting; she made dozens and dozens of cookies at Christmas-time—I only remember the diamond shaped cookies dipped in egg white and spread with finely chopped walnuts and sugar although my older sister swore there were many other kinds of cookies.

We went to grandma’s house for lunch most days of the week during the school year—her house was just a short walk up the street from St. Leo’s—and feasted on Hungarian goulash and salt bread, or a bowl of chicken broth which contained something WE called “rivillies” but which, I discovered in one of William Woys Weaver’s books—was a tiny Pennsylvania Dutch dumpling called Rivels or Riwweles which is probably much the same as my grandmother’s Rivellies. We also grew up on Spatzle and homemade noodles, dumplings, sauerkraut, scrapple, and hasenpfeffer. Scrapple is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, which is baked in a loaf pan and then kept refrigerated. You sliced some of it and fried it in a skillet for a breakfast side dish. (I could live without the hasenpfeffer but loved everything else).

Or grandma might make a huge chicken sandwich for you (if you were the only child who happened to be around) with leaves of lettuce fresh from her garden, and mayonnaise spread thick on homemade bread. We often had Palascinta for lunch, with jelly spread over it and then rolled up; we called the crepes “German pancakes” not knowing their true origin was Hungarian. If nothing else, we might have a snack of a slice of rye bread spread with sour cream.

My grandmother taught her cooking skills to her daughter and daughters-in-law. Many years would pass before I realized that my two aunts, Aunt Annie and Aunt Dolly, knew how to make many of Grandma’s desserts and savory dishes. My mother learned how to make bread; my mother made two huge loaves of bread twice a week most of my adolescent years. Aside from the recipes my aunts remembered, most of grandma’s recipes—all learned from watching, none written down—are now lost. A few were written down but most are gone, along with my mother and aunts and grandmother.

For one thing, my grandmother never wrote much in English except for her name; some times she would instruct me to write something down for her. But German was her native language and she and my grandfather had many Immigrant friends in Cincinnati who spoke their language. My grandfather was a tailor of men’s suits and spoke seven languages fluently. The shopkeepers with whom grandma did business all spoke German, too.

My grandparents belonged to a lodge that was downtown near Findlay Market; it was a place where the men played cards and smoked pipes in one room while the women cooked or talked in another room. (Only recently I discovered there were many such lodges).  Sometimes there was a wedding in a nearby Catholic church and the reception might be held at this lodge; I remember the dancing and the music. We went to and from the lodge on the streetcars—later buses took over. When we transferred buses at Colerain and Hopple Street, my grandfather would hurry into Camp Washington Chili Parlor to get Coney Islands for us to eat when we got home. (I remember there being a coupon in the Sunday Paper – five or six Coney islands for 25 cents).

Findlay Market was an open market with stalls of fruit-and-vegetables—around the perimeter of the open stalls there were grocery stores—I particularly remember a meat market where grandma sometimes bought a chicken.  Grandma was ahead of her time carrying tote bags made out of oil cloth and often taking a grandchild along to help carry the bags. In recent years I visited Findlay Market with one of my nephews; it is over a hundred years old and has been vastly renovated—almost all the stores and shops are now indoors and the meat market always had us drooling over the many kinds of sausages.

I grew up in Cincinnati, learning my way around the city at a very tender age—by the time I was ten years old I was making trips downtown by myself—first to make payments on a coat my mother had in layaway at Lerner’s for which she paid $1.00 a week and I’d have two nickels for bus fare each way. Later, I took my two younger brothers with me downtown to do our Christmas shopping. There were no malls at this time—all the shops and stores were located downtown, near Fountain Square and ladies would go downtown to shop wearing dresses and high heels. Can you imagine?

At an early age—maybe ten or eleven—I began to discover the used book stores (as well as small out-of-the-way dusty antique stores that often had a tray of books outside the door; The kind of books I bought then, for 25 cents each, were often light romance, I think—cookbooks were far from my radar!

We shopped primarily at the five and ten cent stores – there were three or four of these—one was a Newberry’s and another was a Kresge’s, but the chief attraction was    the Woolworth store that had a lunch counter where we—my two younger brothers and I—could buy a grilled cheese and coke to share—and sometimes have enough for a bag of caramel corn which I have been addicted to all my life. We somehow managed to buy Christmas presents for our parents, grandparents and siblings—which amazes to me this very day. It must have been like the loaves and fishes—because somehow, doling out pennies for purchases, we always managed to get something for everybody.  I was equally addicted to “downtown” – to me, downtown has been and always will be “downtown Cincinnati” During the holidays my brothers and I visited all the major department stores to stand in line to see Santa Claus but primarily to get a free candy cane. The store window displays alone were worth a trip downtown.

One of my favorite stores – not a 5&10 cent store – was Shillito’s—Cincinnati’s first department store which opened in 1832. One of the exits, close to my bus stop,was in the book section, where Nancy Drew books were on display.  One year my brother Jim gave me five new Nancy Drew books for Christmas. I was hooked on Nancy Drew. I think the books were about a dollar each—and just GETTING a dollar and hanging onto it long enough to go downtown to buy the next book was a task unto itself. Eventually I discovered that the Nancy Drew books at used book stores were generally a lot cheaper—and I fell in love with the old illustrations in these books.

Another beloved place when I was a child – not only to me but to my siblings as well – was the Windmill Restaurant. It was a cafeteria style restaurant, unfamiliar to all of us—where you could pick and choose whatever you wanted to eat. It was a special treat to do downtown to the Windmill Restaurant with Grandma and be able to eat anything you wanted.  (a foreign concept to children of the 1940s, I assure you.)

Restaurant food with my parents sometimes had strings attached. I remember once being in a restaurant with my parents; we all ordered hamburgers – but I stipulated no mustard on mine. The hamburger arrived with – guess what? Mustard. I refused to eat it and my parents refused to send it back. That hamburger traveled home with us in the glove compartment and I don’t remember eating anything else on the way home.(many, many years later I began eating mustard—it’s almost a “must” on a corned beef sandwich but I remember, nevertheless, a battle of wits between me and my parents.

The Windmill Restaurant and Grandma are irrevocably tied together. I never went there without her.

There were other downtown attractions; during the holidays, Lytle Park had a “live” nativity scene that was a “must” if you were downtown. Lytle Park, as I remember it, no longer exists*. When the Freeway, Interstate I-71, was built in the mid 1960s. significant changes were made to the area. A tunnel was built under the park; the original Lytle Park had to be dismantled/demolished. After I-71 construction, the park was reconstructed, and “One Lytle Place” (a luxury nigh-rise apartment building) was constructed.

Another favorite event during my childhood was the circus. The only circus I know anything about was one that came to town, to the downtown area. This was the Shrine  Circus and our Uncle George gave us free tickets to go. I went there with my two younger brothers. We didn’t have any money for caramel corn or soft drinks, but it was enough just being there.

We went to the Policemen’s Picnic once a year and it was not uncommon for families to pack up a supper and go to one of the parks located in Cincinnati’s many forest areas—there was Winton Woods and Mt. Airy Forest, just to name two.

Cincinnati has a fine zoo and sometimes you might go with Grandma to the zoo, just to walk around. There are many other fine places to visit in Cincinnati, such as the museums.  What I have described to you, however, are the places I was familiar with as a child

Cincinnati  has, for many decades, been a city of great activity and prosperity. By 1830 it was the 6th largest city in the United States. In a book titled “CINCINNATI, A PICTORIAL HISTORY” by Marilyn Green and Michael Bennett, the authors tell us that “increasing numbers of steamboats were built here, and the huge pork-packing industry gave the city the name of “Porkupolis”, one result of this highly successful business being the common sight of herds of pigs being driven through the streets a long time ago. Many of today’s great businesses were founded, such as Procter & Gamble; showboats docked at public landings and theatres opened their doors to increasingly elegant crowds who were entertained by everything from Shakespeare to grand opera…”

It was during this period (1820-1865) that many illustrious visitors and residents arrived  at the Queen City. Harriet Beecher Stowe came with her amazing father, the head of Lane Seminary; Lafayette came and was nearly killed with hospitality; Charles Dickens praised Cincinnati warmly, and Horace Greeley compared it favorably with California. Jenny Lind produced the hysterical enthusiasm that marked her American tour and Stephen Foster worked and composed in the city. A runaway boy who would become famous as Mark Twain boarded a steamboat for New Orleans from the Cincinnati public landing. Thomas Edison was here, and it was he who received the telegraphed news of Lincoln’s assassination. I was bemused to think that Mark Twain boarding a steamboat at the public landing. I remember the public landing and boarding a steamboat to ride up the river to Coney Island (Cincinnati’s version of the famed amusement park).

But mostly, when I think about Cincinnati, I think about good food and recipes and cookbooks.  I think good cooking must be pretty much taken for granted in my hometown and I was nonplussed when I began removing Cincinnati and greater Cincinnati cookbooks from my shelves, to discover just how many cookbooks I have that are devoted to just this one city.

You may recall (I’ve mentioned it a time or two) that the very first community cookbook in my collection was purchased by my father from a co-worker at Formica, in 1961. Its full title is “50th Anniversary Cookbook Women’s Guild Matthew’s United Church of Christ”  I think my father paid a dollar each for several copies – one for me, one for my sister Becky and one for my mother. It’s always been one of my favorite cookbooks—if nothing else it amuses me to think that daddy had NO IDEA what he was starting when he bought that book for me. Until then, I had never seen any community (or church or club) cookbooks; I had no idea they even existed. A few years later I began to make a serious effort to find other Cincinnati cookbooks. When I began making trips back home with my children in the summertime, my young brother and I began making trips to Acre of Books, in downtown Cincinnati. I rarely made it beyond the cookbook section.  One of the oldest  cookbooks in my collection is a ring-bound book, sans covers, titled “TESTED RECIPES – CALVARY CHURCH, CLIFTON, OHIO.” (Clifton is a suburb of Cincinnati) It’s missing a publishing date, also, and clippings fal out of it whenever I pick the book up—oh, but I love this old cookbook with or without the covers. The former owner inserted pages of her own handwritten recipes or recipes clipped from newspapers and pasted inside.

Perhaps preceding this is a book in my collection titled “KEY TO THE CUPBOARD”  compiled by the Daughters of Veterans (as in the Civil War, 1861-1865) Like so many other old cookbooks, this one is undated; judging by the ads, I would guess it to be published in the early teens—sometime before World War I There is a full page ad titled Mrs. Abraham Lincoln Tent No. 14, and below that DAUGHTERS OF VETERANS 1861-1865, followed underneath by MEETINGS HELD AT MEMORIAL HALL. At the bottom of the page is written “Our Object To Aid and Assist the needy Veterans; to care  for their Widows, and their Orphans, and to perpetuate the memory of the heroic dead, and at the bottom CINCINNATI, OHIO. Amongst the ads is one for Rookwood Pottery. I found a recipe inside for Amber Soup, which was an interesting surprise—only recently I found a reference to Amber Soup while working on What’s Cooking in the White House Kitchen. I also found some recipes for “peach mangoes” and “Sweet Cucumber Mangoes”.  You may recall that I have written about “mangoes” before—it was a Cincinnati term for green bell peppers for many years—the transition from a pickled fruit to being called “mangoes” seems to have stayed strictly in the greater Cincinnati region.  (See “Stuff Mangoes or a Rose by Any Other Name”)

I began collecting cookbooks in 1965; it wasn’t until the early 1970s that I was able to travel home to Cincinnati with my children, to spend from a few weeks to a few months of the summer with my parents, during which time I began to seriously search for Cincinnati cookbooks. One summer we had so much “stuff” to take home that I packed it all in boxes and we took the Greyhound Bus back to California – there was no weight restriction on our boxes, mostly filled with books; it gave a Redcap pause at the downtown Los Angeles Bus Depot when my husband met us there and we enlisted the Redcap to haul all the boxes to our station wagon.

“What you got in here?” he queried. “Feels like FORT KNOX!”
“Not quite, “ I replied, “Just BOOKS!”

Over the years (and many trips to Cincinnati) other old Cincinnati community cookbooks gradually found their way onto my bookshelves. There is DEACCONESS HOSPITAL COOKBOOK published sometime in the 1930s,

THE GARDEN CLUB OF CINCINNATI COOK BOOK published a revised edition in 1937 (I never found an earlier edition),

While in 1950 THE WIEDEMANN BOOK OF UNUSUAL RECIPES was compiled by famous chefs of the day,

THE CINCINNATI COOK BOOK RECIPES COLLECTED BY THE CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY OF THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL was published in 1967 and features drawings of famous Cincinnati landmarks, penned by artist Caroline Williams,

In 1970 the Altrusa Club of Cincinnati published ALTRUSA’S CINCINNATI CELEBRITY COOKBOOKI featuring cartoons of “The Girls” for which cartoon artist Franklin Folger became known,

CINCINNATI CELEBRATES presented by the Junior League of Cincinnati was published 1974,

Also in 1974, Cheviot PTA compiled HAPPINESS IS…CHEVIOT PTA COOKBOOK (one of my favorites—my sister Becky did the illustrations and submitted many of her favorite recipes to this cookbook

ONE POTATO TWO TOMATO, A Cookbook, was published in 1979 by the Catholic Women of Cincinnati,

CINCINNATI RECIPE TREASURY/The Queen City’s Culinary Heritage, by Mary Anna DuSablon, published in 1983 is, without question, my favorite all-time Cincinnati cookbook—it was, and still is, my favorite reference book when it comes to a Cincinnati Recipe.

There is a hardcover book called TREASURED RECIPES FROM CAMARGO TO INDIAN HILL which was compiled in 1987 by the members of the Indian Hill Historical Society,

RIVERFEAST/Still Celebrating Cincinnati by the Junior League of Cincinnati was published in 1990,

While in 1998 the Junior League of Cincinnati returned with “I’ll COOK WHEN PIGS FLY AND THEY DO IN CINCINNATI, another one of my favorite cookbooks.

When asked what my favorite cookbook is, I have to confess, it’s whatever I am reading at the moment. But one of the most outstanding collections of recipes were compiled by Fern Storer, who—for decades—was a food editor for the Cincinnati Post. Whenever my mother was putting together a box of things to send to me, she’d ask if there was anything in particular that I wanted; “Yes,” I always replied, “send me some of Fern Storer’s columns—and maybe a loaf of Rubel’s Rye Bread!” Later on the family would send me packets of Skyline Chili powder mix.

I wish I could have met Fern Storer. Well, during one of my visits to Cincinnati, my nephew took me to the Ohio Book store downtown in Cincinnati (Acres of Books went out of business some years ago). I bought about $100 worth of books including a copy of RECIPES REMEMBERED by Fern Storer.  We packed the box of books up and my nephew mailed them to my home—to save me the trouble of packing them in a suitcase.  Well, the box never made it to California. A single book I had read on the flight TO Cincinnati and had a return address label inside surfaced and was sent to me by the Post Office in Bell, California. I agonized over losing that box for months afterwards.

A year or two later I was back in Cincinnati and returned to the  Ohio Book Store; I told my tale of woe to the owner of the book store who remarked “You know, we ship orders all the time—we can mail your books to you for the cost of postage. So, when I had found a couple of armloads of cookbooks that day, I gave them to the owner to send to me. They weighed my books to determine the cost of shipping at book rate. My books were waiting for me when I got back home.

I didn’t find another copy of RECIPES REMEMBERED—but one day began searching for it online – and not only did I find a copy – I found one that is autographed!

Thank you, Fern Storer, wherever you are.

I like junior league cookbooks from different states –they are almost always better than most cookbooks—but when it comes to finding a recipe that is “local” the two books I turn to first are Fern Storer’s RECIPES REMEMBERED and Mary Anna DuSablon’s Cincinnati Recipe Treasury. Granted, my home town has a great deal more to offer than cookbooks—but the ones listed are those in my own collection.

Special Thanks to Howard Brinkdoepke for clarifying the names and locations of some of my Cincinnati memories. Howard became a penpal when I wrote Dinner in the Diner including the Twin Trolley Restaurant that used to be in South Fairmount.

–Sandra Lee Smith

 

EATING GERMAN FOOD IN GRANDMA’S KITCHEN

When I was a child, growing up in a predominately German-immigrant neighborhood, we all ate whatever my grandmother cooked and we called it all “German food”. Little did we know!

It wasn’t until many years later that I began discovering that Grandma’s cooking was really a hodgepodge of German and Hungarian cuisine with some influence from a Jewish family Grandma cooked for, before she got married and had children of her own.

One of the first indications that what we were eating wasn’t just “German” cuisine was my grandmother’s pancakes. We called them pancakes and sometimes had them for lunch at Grandma’s.  She would put jelly on a big thin pancake and roll it up for one of us to eat on our way back to school – her house was just up the street from St. Leo’s church and school.

In the mid 1960s, my husband and I, now living in Southern California,  became acquainted with a group of Hungarian political refugees from the Hungarian uprising in 1956. One of their American-wives would make a dessert called Palascinta— a stack of paper thin pancakes with a filling, such as poppyseed. When the stack was tall enough, the palascinta would be cut into thin wedges. “Hmmm!” I said, “These palascintas look and taste just like my grandmother’s German pancakes…”  (I had not yet begun to collect cookbooks).

A few years later, I became friends with a Jewish girlfriend whose youngest daughter was in the same class as one of my sons. I attended the wake and funeral of her father when he passed away.  While at the Wake, I watched her aunt making blintzes–particularly cheese blintzes!. When I tasted one of these I said “Oh, this filling tastes just like my grandmother’s German Cheese Strudel”.

I was beginning to learn that what my siblings and I loosely referred to as “Grandma’s German cooking” was far more than that. Grandpa was Hungarian, so she learned to make a lot of Hungarian recipes—especially Hungarian Goulash!

As a young single woman, Grandma had worked as a cook for a Jewish family, acquiring knowledge of many foods and recipes that are served in traditional Jewish families. And then, of course, there was Grandma’s own German heritage.

I think of all the things we ever enjoyed eating as we were growing up and having many meals at Grandma’s was the German sausage, wurst, that would be fried in a skillet and eaten with homemade salt bread. When my grandfather was still alive, the family would butcher a pig once a year; Grandpa and his sons would make hams and sausages and Grandpa converted one of the garages next to the house into a smoke house!  My sister Becky remembered sitting on the basement steps watching the men make the sausages.

While most of our childhood memories were intertwined, in some instances one sibling’s memories differed somewhat from another’s. For instance, I only remembered watching Grandma Schmidt make diamond shaped Christmas cookies, that were studded with a mixture of sugar and finely chopped walnuts (and always thought those were the only kind Grandma made.) Becky chastised me, saying that Grandma made lots of different cookies for Christmas. Grandma baked, Becky recalled, thumbprint cookies with raspberry jam, and a fold-over cookie filled with apricot or peach jam. Grandma made Springerle cookies that were so hard you could not even bite into them, and a small pill-shaped cookie with colored sprinkles on top. Every family member got a dress box full of cookies for Christmas. All I could say was…I only saw Grandma make the diamond shaped cookies and someone else must have eaten up all those other cookies!

To the best of my knowledge, there are no Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors in my family tree—and yet, my grandmother, who cooked and baked an array of foodstuffs ranging from German to Hungarian, did include some Pennsylvania Dutch recipes in her culinary repertoire. For instance, I have often wondered why it was that grandma—who made hundreds, if not thousands—of butter cutout cookies for Christmas – always made many of those diamond-shaped cookies with a diamond shaped cookie cutter that I now own. There, on page 167 of PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COUNTRY COOKING is a recipe for Mahantongo diamond doughnuts – with the information that the diamond shape for All Saints cakes can be traced to the ninth century.  I can’t help but wonder if that’s not the answer. I vaguely remember us going to Pennsylvania and visiting some distant relatives one time. Grandma often traveled with us (or anyone else in the family going somewhere and inviting her along.) My brother Jim has speculated that we must all have some gypsy blood somewhere in our background

In any case, these were some of our memories, of being children growing up in Fairmount, a suburb of Cincinnati, when Fairmount was still a nice neighborhood in which to live, of our relationships with Grandma Schmidt and each other, of going to St. Leo’s – where even our father, Uncle Hans, and Aunt Annie went to school and where we all had the same First Grade teacher, Sister Taursisius, who taught first graders for 50 years, until she retired to the  convent in Oldenburg, Indiana.

Fairmount was at that time a stable, friendly neighborhood, heavily populated with German and Italian immigrants, where it was safe for children to play in the streets on summer nights or walk to the pony keg to get a bottle of “pop”, where you knew families for blocks around and very often, the children you went to school with had gone to school with your parents.

Adding to my curiosity about the dishes Grandma served to all of her adult children and grandchildren was a chicken broth which contained something WE called “rivillies” but which, I discovered in one of William Woys Weaver’s books—was a tiny Pennsylvania Dutch dumpling called Rivels or Riwweles which is probably much the same as my grandmother’s Rivellies. We also grew up on Spatzle and homemade noodles, dumplings, sauerkraut and hasenpfeffer. I have a distinct memory of going to Grandma’s and finding noodles drying on all the backs of the wooden kitchen chairs. Ok, I never liked hasenpfeffer—a sweet and sour rabbit that you could smell from the bottom of the steps coming home from school. I don’t recall my grandmother ever making hasenpfeffer but my mother did, when my father went rabbit hunting once a year. I don’t know which was worse—seeing him clean the rabbit in the kitchen sink or finding BBs in the gravy. I loathed the smell of hasenpfeffer cooking on the stove.

When we had this chicken soup with Rivels, we would have hunks of hot homemade salt bread to go with it.

Anytime we had a stew at Grandma’s, it would be Hungarian Goulash. (My mother made a stew that always had a tomato base but it wasn’t goulash).  Possibly the most famous of all Hungarian recipes is Hungarian Goulash. Authentic gulyás (Goulash) is a beef dish cooked with onions, Hungarian Paprika, tomatoes, and some green pepper. Potato and/or noodles (csipetke in Hungarian) may also be added according to some recipes.  Authentic Hungarian Goulash is Hungary’s national dish and is probably the most famous of all Hungarian meat dishes. Its origin can be traced back, over a thousand years ago, to the Magyar migration across the Great Plains. The origin of the word “gulyas” meant cowherd or cowboy.  The men and boys gathered around an open fire under an open sky in the evening and created a meal with meat and vegetables in large kettles suspended over the campfires. The soup was referred to, in Hungary, as “gulyasleves” meaning cowboy soup. Another interesting fact is that the use of paprika was introduced to Hungarian kitchens during the years of Turkish rule and was first referred to as “Torok bors” meaning Turkish pepper. It was only in the 18th century that the name paprika was used.

Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew; it’s somewhere in between. However, in Hungary it’s considered more a soup than a stew, so look for it among Soups on Hungarian restaurant menus.

When cooked properly, goulash will have a nice and evenly thick consistency, almost like a sauce. In Hungary gulyás is eaten as a main dish. Even in Hungary, most housewives and chefs have their own way of cooking it, by adding or omitting some of the ingredients, or changing something in the preparation process; however they would all say their gulyás is authentic.

This first recipe is an adaptation from one I found on the Budapest Tourist Guide website (the website is no longer valid).  To make this Goulash you will need:

  • 1-2      pounds of  chuck, or any tender cut      of  beef cut into small cubes
  • 2      tablespoons oil or lard
  • 2 medium      onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves      of garlic
  • 1-2      carrots, diced
  • 1      parsnip, diced (*I consider this optional. Grandma’s goulash never had parsnips in it to the best of my knowledge)
  • 1-2      celery leaves
  • 2 medium  tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 fresh green peppers (sweet bell peppers, not hot peppers)
  • 2-3      medium potatoes, sliced
  • 1  tablespoon Hungarian paprika powder*
  • 1  teaspoon ground caraway seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground black pepper and salt according to taste
  • water
  1. Heat up the oil or lard in a pot and braise the chopped onions until they are a nice golden brown color.
  2. Sprinkle      the braised onions with paprika powder      while stirring, to prevent the paprika from burning.
  3. Add the beef cubes and sauté until they turn white and get a bit of brownish color as well. The meat will      probably let out its own juice. Allow      the beef cubes to simmer in it      while adding the grated or crushed and chopped garlic (grated garlic has stronger flavor), the ground caraway seed, some salt and ground black pepper, and the bay leaf. Pour water enough to cover the contents of the pan and let it simmer over low heat for a while.
  4. When the meat is half-cooked  (approximately 1 1/2 hour, but it can take longer depending on the type and quality of the beef) add the diced carrots, parsnip and the potatoes, the celery leaves and additional salt if necessary. Taste and then adjust seasonings. You may have to add additional (2-3 cups) water too.
  5. When the vegetables and the meat are almost done add the      cubed tomato and the sliced green peppers.  Let it cook on low heat for another few minutes. You can remove the lid of      the pan if you want the soup to thicken.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil and add (if you are including it) the csipetke dough; allow about 5  minutes for it to cook.

Csipetke (Pinched noodles added to goulash or bean soup in Hungary) comes from the word csípni, meaning pinch in English, referring to the way of making this noodle. Goulash is hearty enough without csipetke, especially if you eat it with bread, so you can skip making csipetke. (I believe that csipetke is similar to my grandmother’s rivels). We didn’t have Rivels, or Csipetke with Goulash; however, the tiny dumplings were always included in Grandma’s home made chicken soup.

TO MAKE CSIPETKE

You will need:

  • 1 small egg,
  • flour,
  • a pinch of salt,
  • 1  teaspoon water

To make the tiny dumplings, beat up a small egg, add a pinch of salt and as much flour as needed to make a stiff dough (you can add some water if necessary). Flatten the dough between your palms (to about 1 cm thick) and pinch small, bean-sized pieces from it and add them to the boiling soup. They need about 5 minutes to cook.

*One final word about paprika – don’t even bother with commercial American-made paprika. It won’t be the same as authentic Hungarian paprika, which I have been finding more and more frequently in major supermarkets. Look for a red and white and green tin labeled “Pride of Szeged Hungarian Hot Paprika”. The last paprika I purchased was from World Market and a 5 ounce tin was only $3.19.

The following recipe is my Aunt Annie’s Hungarian Goulash – and I am assuming, since she was the daughter of my paternal grandmother, that this was the way Grandma made Hungarian Goulash also:

To make Aunt Annie’s Hungarian Goulash you will need:

  • 2 lbs cubed beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup beef broth or 1 cup water & 1 bouillon cube
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

Brown beef, add chopped onion, garlic, paprika, salt & parsley. Then add juice and broth. Simmer 1 hour. Add sliced carrots. Simmer ½ hour. Add diced potatoes. Simmer 1 hour.

My grandmother frequently made pans of strudel (generally a fruit strudel) – she had sour apple trees which often became the filling for apple strudel. I remember a cherry strudel and my absolute favorite—one I have never been able to duplicate—was a pumpkin strudel. The raw pumpkin slices were seasoned heavily with pepper, I think. There were enough apples to enlist the help of Grandma’s daughter and daughters-in-law to peel and cook apples to make apple sauce. Any overflow of apples would be loaded into a wagon and Grandma would have one of the grandchildren tote the wagonload of apples to the nun’s house behind St. Leo’s school. The sister who was cook might (or might not) reward you with a cookie. During World War II when sugar was rationed, the apple sauce was made without sugar! When a jar was opened to be eaten, we were allowed to sprinkle a little sugar on our helping of applesauce—we ate it like this for many years after the war (and rationing) ended.

Sometimes Grandma made Sacher Torte; sometimes Dobosh torte. I think we all loved the Dobosh torte the most – seven thin layers of sponge cake with layers of bittersweet chocolate frosting between each layer; the whole thing encased afterwards in the same chocolate frosting.

My grandmother often made doughnuts and on the Feast of the Three Kings, you could expect to find a coin – a nickel or dime – inside your doughnut. One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather’s lap in the kitchen on the second floor, overlooking the back yard, while Grandma fried doughnuts.

Most of my grandmother’s recipes died with her – she never wrote anything down…but her youngest daughter in law wanted to learn from Grandma and stood by her elbow watching, repeatedly, to see how things were made. My aunt was the only person left who remembered how some of these dishes were made. In January, 2012, my Aunt Dolly (whose name was actually Evelyn) passed away.

One of my best memories of sitting at the table with my grandmother didn’t involve an elaborate meal, however. Often, when I was spending the night with her, we would have tea with lemon and some buttered saltine crackers as a snack before going to bed.

To this day hot tea and lemon and some buttered crackers are one of my comfort foods.

So this is what eating “German Food” means to me.

–Sandra Lee Smith

EASTER GREETING!

So often we lose sight of the original (or perhaps not so original) reasons for celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and other events that were originally pagan holidays. When Christianity was in its fledgling years, the church elders wanted to steer people away from celebrating pagan holidays and instead, celebrate Christian ones, so many Christian holidays were built on a foundation of a pagan one. Sounds confusing? It is.

From Wikipedia we learn that Easter (also called the Pasch or Pascha) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament.  Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

What adds to the confusion is that Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. (I can write it down much easier than I can explain it to anyone).

Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21,  (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

But, like so many Christian holidays, Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous.  Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians. Try explaining to any non-Christian how it is that Christians celebrate Easter and credit the Easter Bunny (which does not lay eggs!) with putting colorful eggs in a basket or hiding them in the back yard.

EASTER MEMORIES

The onset of Easter is on Ash Wednesday. Having gone to Catholic grade school, we went to mass every day before classes began, so on Ash Wednesday everyone walked around school with a black smudge of ash on their foreheads. Then we always made a big deal about what we were giving up for lent. The usual things were candy, soda pop, movies (not that we had very much of any of those things to begin with). In my family we always had some kind of fish on Fridays and there wasn’t that much meat to go around anyway.

I do remember my mother placing orders for new clothing from Sears or Montgomery Ward but the highlight of pre-Easter celebrations was going downtown to Shiff Shoes to get a new pair of shoes. These would become our new Sunday shoes and the old Sunday shoes would become everyday shoes. I think most of our shoes were functional, seldom dressy (until I got old enough to buy my own). I leaned heavily towards penny loafers and rarely wore saddle oxfords.

The Stations of the Cross would be said – I think – on Wednesday and Friday evenings. The statues inside church would be covered with purple cloths during Lent. In retrospect, I see that much of our lives revolved around the Church. Our church was St Leo’s, just down the street from my grandmother’s home. My father, uncle and aunt all went to St Leo’s too. My grandparents bought this three storied brick house when my father was about seven years old. Aunt Annie was a toddler who only spoke German and she got lost in the shuffle of the move. My father was sent to find her. I imagine most of the neighbors spoke German too. That part of Cincinnati was heavily populated with German and Italian immigrants.

The day before Easter we boiled eggs and colored them. Easter morning there would be a basket hidden somewhere for each of us. Imagine never refrigerating the boiled eggs—I told my granddaughter this recently. She was astonished. I said we never heard of salmonella poisoning.  And nothing in our baskets lasted very long anyway. Easter dinner may have been one of the holidays where the Schmidt family got together – often at grandma’s – and when everyone  had eaten, an adult would take the carload of kids to a movie theatre and drop us off there with just enough money for admission and either candy or popcorn.  I think Uncle Al usually gave us each a quarter. We thought he was rich.

By the time we got back to grandma’s, the adults would be playing cards and all the dishes had been washed up…by then everything would be brought out again for a snack before going home.

I don’t seem to remember very much about our Easter celebrations.

I remember buying a new outfit for myself, for Michael who was three at the time, and Steve, who was a baby. We were living in an apartment near the Warner Brothers Studio. I never gave much thought to whoever might be going through the nearby studio gates.

Well, I’m not here to explain Christian holidays—what I would like to do is share with you a couple of my favorite Easter holiday recipes!  My #1 favorite is my Cool Rise Cinnamon Rolls. Even as we speak, I have a pan of the cinnamon rolls rising in the refrigerator, to bake tomorrow morning.

cool rise cinnamon rolls 002

Cool Rise Sweet Dough for Cinnamon Rolls

Stir together in a bowl:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp dry yeast (or 2 little packets)

½ cup (1 stick of butter), softened to room temperature

Pour in 1 1/2 c. very hot water. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add:

2 eggs (at room temperature) and

1 c. flour

Mix on high speed for 1 minute.

Gradually add in 2-3 more cups of flour until the dough is thick and elastic, pulling away from the side of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto counter or a cutting board. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out one ball at a time. Roll out into a rectangle that is roughly 10×14 inches. Spread melted butter over the top of rectangle to within 3/4″ of edges. Sprinkle sugar on top of the butter. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of that. Distribute raisins over the butter/sugar/cinnamon. Starting with one side, roll up the dough into a long, thick roll. Slice into individual rolls and place in a 9×13″ pan on their sides. I try to get 12 rolls out of each ball of dough and put 12 to a pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. The flavor really improves if you refrigerate this recipe overnight. Before baking, remove from fridge and let sit on the counter for at least an hour.

Bake at 350° until golden brown. Remove from oven. While they’re still hot, drizzle some glaze over them. Serve warm. Glaze: a cup of powdered sugar, a drizzle of melted butter, and just enough milk or lemon juice to make a runny glaze. Recently, I saw a bunch of glaze recipes and so I tried one. I was very disappointed with the results. Note to self: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This is a versatile sweet dough recipe and you can make a lot of coffee cakes with it.

My next favorite holiday recipe (for any holiday!) is my friend and former co-worker Nina’s recipe for making deviled eggs.  I have no idea how many different recipes I have tried for deviled eggs—but always come back to Nina’s recipe!  At work, when we had pot lucks, Nina had to set out one batch for immediate consumption as people arrived at work. She’d have a second batch when the dishes were put out for the department at lunch time.

To make Nina’s Deviled Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs
1/4 C mayo or salad dressing (less if eggs are very small)
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp horseradish
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Nina writes, “I very rarely add salt or pepper, but it depends on what you like. My recipe book also has alternatives: Add 2 TBSP crumbled crisp bacon, or 1 TBSP finely chopped olives, or 1 TBSP finely chopped green-onions or chives.   Enjoy!”

Sandy’s cooknote: I made two batches of Nina’s eggs today, for tomorrow’s Easter dinner at the home of my youngest son and his wife. Don’t add salt! There is already a salty taste to this recipe, which I think comes from the mayonnaise (always Best Foods or Hellman’s brand of mayonnaise) or the horseradish. I topped the filled eggs with a very light sprinkling of Paprika.  **

I   generally associate cookie making with Christmas but Easter is also one of the occasions when I make up lots of large egg-shaped cookies; two of the cut-out egg shaped cookie dough fit on a cookie sheet so you will go through a good amount of cookie dough and I prefer to bake one sheet of cookies at a time* so it takes a while to get the cookies baked.  I baked cookies for all the ladies on my bowling league last week—they each got a carrot-shaped glazed cookie, along with a yellow chick cookie and a white glazed bunny cookie. I’ve done this a few times for holidays – Christmas and Valentine’s Day and now Easter. Now they call me the Cookie Lady.

*The reason I bake one sheet of cookies at a time is because my stove is almost as old as I am and I can bake two sheets at a time, by checking them after five minutes and switching the trays around – but if I am in a hurry or working on frosting, I do one tray at a time and set the timer. I made a lot of cookies this year—who doesn’t like cookies?

I made a batch of Hot Wings for an appetizer but those are so easy—does it even constitute a recipe? I like the McCormick’s brand of Buffalo Hot Wings spice mixture and bought a 4 pound bag of wings with the tips already cut off. All you have to do is mix the raw chicken wings with the seasoning mix and bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven. The directions don’t say so, but trial and error has taught me not to put the wings directly on the foil-covered cookie sheet—I use a rack. You won’t believe how much oil collects on the sheet underneath the wings. A lot!

My sons like the wings best if they are “dry” (not greasy) so I baked them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes according to the package directions—but they weren’t “dry” so I turned the heat down to 250 and kept them in the oven for well over an hour checking every 15 minutes to see if they felt and looked “done” enough. These wings are not mouth-burning hot like many hot wings ARE but we have young children who like hot wings and so the recipe has to be toned down for them.

I’m not hosting Easter dinner this year—I haven’t for a few years. Tomorrow I will prepare for the kids to come and decorate Easter cookies and then make some Easter eggs with construction paper and stickers. Then there will be an egg hunt at my son’s and after dinner, I am going to my sister’s so I can see my nephew and his girlfriend and my niece who I haven’t seen since Christmas. Our holidays are a far cry from those of my childhood.

I wish you all a Happy and Joyous Easter holiday.

Sandy

MY GRANDMOTHER’S KITCHEN

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete – Marcy DeMaree.

My paternal grandmother, Susanne Gengler Schmidt, was the acknowledged great cook in my family. My grandmother was German and my grandfather Hungarian. We grew up with all these dishes and delicacies that we lumped together as “German food”; it wasn’t until I acquired some Hungarian friends as an adult living in California that I discovered that Grandma’s thin crepe-like pancakes (which we called ‘German pancakes’) were actually Hungarian Palacsinta.

My grandmother made huge pans of strudel with homemade tissue-thin filo dough, using whatever was in season for the filling. She had some sour apple trees so there was often apple strudel but we also enjoyed cherry, cheese, and even a spicy pumpkin strudel that made an appearance in the fall. She made a chicken broth with ‘rivvels’ – tiny little dumplings and with it we would often have a homemade bread crusted with kosher salt (appropriately dubbed salt bread). Her goulash, I learned, was more Hungarian than German and generally didn’t contain much more than stewing beef, potatoes and carrots.

We enjoyed chicken Paprikash and Wiener Schnitzel and liver dumplings. We all loved the homemade sausages (once a year my grandparents butchered a hog and made a lot of sausages. The hams were smoked in a converted section of the garage).

The one thing I hated (but everyone else enjoyed) was Hasenpfeffer made with wild rabbit that my father would have caught going hunting a few times a year. I don’t remember Grandma ever making this dish but my mother certainly did. It was the bane of my existence in my childhood, to come home from school and the smell of sweet and sour rabbit cooking on the stove wafted throughout the house.

My grandmother always made her own noodles (from scratch!) to go with these dishes and it was not an unusual sight for a grandchild to come running in to Grandma’s and find noodles drying on the backs of all the wooden chairs.

Sometimes there was Sachertorte and sometimes Dobos torte. I think we all loved the Dobos torte the most – seven thin layers of sponge cake with layers of bittersweet chocolate frosting between each layer; the whole thing encased afterwards in the same chocolate frosting.

My grandmother often made doughnuts and on the Feast of the Three Kings, you could expect to find a coin – a nickel or dime – inside your doughnut.

Most of my grandmother’s recipes died with her – she never wrote anything down…but
her youngest daughter in law wanted to learn from Grandma and stood by her elbow watching, repeatedly, to see how things were made. My Aunt Dolly is the only person left who remembers how some of these dishes were made. Amongst my mother’s recipes, I found a recipe for Dobos Torte written by Aunt Annie (Grandma’s daughter) and addressed in the corner “Dear Vi” – my mother.

One of my best memories of sitting at the table with my grandmother didn’t involve an elaborate meal, however. Often, when I was spending the night with her, we would have tea with lemon and some buttered saltine crackers as a snack before going to bed.

To this day hot tea and lemon and some buttered crackers are one of my favorite comfort foods.

When I was a very young child and my grandfather was still alive, Grandma’s kitchen was on the second floor, at the back of the house – with a window overlooking the back yard. I have memories of sitting on Grandpa’s lap while we sat in his rocking chair, watching Grandma make doughnuts—which were undeniably best when hot and sprinkled liberally with sugar.

On summer nights, we all sat outside on the second floor front porch, waiting for the ice cream man to come up Baltimore Street. No TV! No radio! Just sitting and talking and cooling off after a hot summer day.

My grandfather enjoyed, I recall, a dish made up of cooked potatoes, noodles and eggs— that he liked to eat with milk, but I have never seen a recipe and have never quite duplicated it. It might have been something thrown together with leftovers…or maybe you needed homemade noodles to make it right.

He also smoked a pipe…and once, when my mother was very sick – long after Grandpa had died – she sensed a presence by her bed and smelled pipe tobacco.

The Christmas before Grandpa died, I remember him lying in his bed. Grandma and Grandpa gave me a baby doll for Christmas in 1949; I named the doll Susann, after Grandma. Grandpa passed away in February, 1950.

After Grandpa died (I was 9 at the time) Grandma moved to two rooms on the first floor of her house on Baltimore Avenue. She took the two front rooms and rented out the two back rooms (we shared a bathroom with the tenants). She was then able to rent out the entire second floor to another family, while my uncle Hans and Aunt Dolly and their sons lived on the third floor until they were able to buy their first home. Grandma had a kitchen and a combination living room/bedroom with a trundle bed to accommodate a visiting grandchild. The hub of activity was always Grandma’s kitchen.

I went to Grandma’s once a week to spend the night – starting out some time in grade school. I continued this weekly visit all through high school—until I got married, and then Becky and her children and Jim & I would go to Grandma’s for dinner on Monday nights.

When we were all young children, it as considered a great privilege to go downtown with Grandma. She bought most of her produce at Findlay Market and patronized a butcher shop that was in the area of Findlay Market. We carried fresh vegetables home in oilcloth bags that Grandma made on an old treadle sewing machine that may have been grandpa‘s before he died. He was a tailor.

It was only in later years that my siblings and I, along with our cousins, realized that one of Grandma’s greatest gifts to all of us wasn’t in her cooking – delicious though it was – but rather, in her ability to make each and every grandchild feel special. We each grew up believing WE were grandma’s favorite. It wasn’t something she ever said – it was something each of us felt.

She was our anchor; she went to bat for you. She’d stop whatever she was doing to make you a chicken-and-lettuce sandwich, first going out to her garden to pick some fresh leaf lettuce…she would take you downtown with her, to see a movie and maybe get a grape juice drink and a hot dog afterwards. She’d make hot tea with lemon, and you’d have that as a bedtime snack, along with butter and crackers (real butter—Grandma didn’t believe in oleomargarine). She loved to travel, to see things—whether it meant traveling to Niagara Falls with a carload of grandchildren or getting on a streetcar and making a Sunday trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. (My brother Jim thinks we must be part gypsy since we all love to travel and move around to different parts of the country).

I can remember a few occasions of becoming sick at school and at least once two older school girls walked me up the street to Grandma’s. Grandma put me in her bed with a hot water bottle and gave me an Alka Seltzer; then I curled up sumptuously on her bed, dozing while I could smell the cotton cloth of clothing being ironed, and hear Grandma’s daytime radio soap operas, like Stella Dallas.

My brother Bill tells a hilarious story of the time he and our cousin Johnny, one hot summer day, found a tool in Grandma’s basement that Johnny figured would turn on the water faucets at the Junior High school up the street. The two boys went up to the school and turned on all the outside water faucets. They were having a wonderful time dancing in the spray of water as it flooded the parking lot, when they noticed police cars and fire trucks ascending the hill to the school. The two boys quickly turned off the water and taking a back trail, hurried back to Grandma’s, where they sat (completely drenched) on a side step. Of course, the police and firemen arrived, having been advised by other children that Billy and Johnny were the culprits. When the authorities approached Grandma, she would have none of it. Brandishing her broom, she insisted “her boys” (although dripping wet and looking mighty sheepish) hadn’t left the property all day. After the police and fire department left, Grandma shook a finger at the two boys. “Don’t either of you DARE to leave this yard for the rest of the day” she warned. And they didn’t.

My sister, Barbara recalled that applesauce making was a family project in which everyone was put to work. Even small children could help peel the apples—although the actual cooking of the sauce was left to grandma and her daughter and daughters in law. (When there were too many apples or maybe Grandma had her fill of making applesauce, a grandchild would be sent down the street with a wagonload of apples to give to the nuns at St. Leo’s, our parish church).

What I do remember about the canned applesauce is that, during the War years, it was made sans sugar. We had jars and jars of applesauce in the cellar, long after World War II was over, all of it made with sour cooking apples, none of it sweetened. You sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon on the applesauce as you were eating it.

Joyce Brothers wrote “Becoming a grandparent is a second chance for you have a chance to put to use all the things you learned the first time around and may have made mistakes on. It’s all love and no discipline. There’s no thorn in this rose”. (From “A TRIBUTE TO GRANDMOTHERS”. And now that I’m a grandmother myself, I know this is all true.

The following recipe for Dobos torte is in Aunt Annie’s handwriting. Aunt Annie was Grandma’s only daughter. Here then, is Grandma’s recipe for

Dobos Torte

You will need:

12 TBSP sifted cake flour
12 TBSP sugar
12 eggs (separated)
½ tsp vanilla extract

Beat egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in flour, a tablespoon at a time. Then add vanilla. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites last. Pour about 5 TBSP in each 8 or 9 inch cake pans (that have been greased and floured). Bake 10-13 minutes at 350 degrees. This should make about 12 layers.

Icing for Torte:

½ lb butter (2 sticks)
1 box powdered sugar (1 lb)
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa

Cream together and moisten with black coffee to spreading consistency.
~~~~
The Wilton Book of Classic Desserts offers recipes for Dobos Torta and Sacher Torte (amongst others). To make the Wilton Dobos Tort you will need

1 recipe Genoise*
2 recipes uncooked chocolate butter icing**
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. coarsely chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

Butter well and dust with flour the bottom of three 8” layer cake pans, buttered, lined with waxed paper, then buttered again and dusted with flour. Spread 3-4 TBSP of Genoise batter in each and bake in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully remove from pan and peel off paper. Place cakes on racks to cool. Repeat until all batter is used and you have 8 to 12 layers.

Place a layer on a cake plate, spread with icing and cover with a second layer. Repeat until all layers are used. Do not ice top layer. (reserve about 1 cup of icing for side of cake.)

Melt the sugar without stirring in a skillet until it carmelizes. Spread this quickly on top of cake with a hot knife. Mark the cake into serving portions with radiating lines like spokes of a wheel using the hot knife. Ice the sides of the cake with the chocolate icing and if you wish, press nuts into the iced sides. Chill 12 to 24 hours before serving.

*To make Genoise (delicate butter sponge cake)

You will need:
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 CUP sifted flour
½ cup clarified butter, melted and cooled***

Combine eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and stir till just combined Set bowl over saucepan containing 1” to 2” hot water (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Place over very low heat for 5 or 10 minutes or until eggs are just lukewarm. Stir mixture several times to prevent it from cooking at the bottom of the bowl.

When mixture feels lukewarm and looks like a bright, yellow syrup, remove from heat and beat at high speed for 10 or 15 minutes or until it has tripled in volume and draws out in ribbon form when a spoon is pulled out of it.

Sprinkle the flour, a little at a time, on top of the whipped mixture. Fold in very gently. Then fold in the butter. DO NOT OVERMIIX.

Pour the batter into well buttered pans dusted lightly with flour, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Remove from pans immediately and cool on rack. Makes two 9” layers, three 7” layers or one 11”x16” sheet.

**To make the uncooked chocolate icing you will need:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 TBSP hot water
1 ¼ cups sifted powdered sugar
1 egg^
¼ cup soft butter
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler; add hot water and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and blend in the sugar. Add egg and beat until smooth. Add butter a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Makes enough icing for 2 layers or 24 cupcakes

^This recipe precedes salmonella in eggs. Suggest you use the equivalent of one egg in egg beaters as a substitute if you don’t want to chance using raw egg.

***To make clarified butter:

Place any amount of butter in a deep pan. Melt over very low heat and continue cooking until the foam disappears from the top. The liquid butter must not brown. When the butter looks perfectly clear, remove from heat and pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a container, leaving sediment in the pan. (if only a small amount is being made, simply pour off the clear butter, leaving the sediment in the pan). Clarified butter, well covered, will keep for months in the refrigerator. It is pure fat from which all solids and water have been removed.

Sandy’s Cooknote: Aunt Annie’s recipe may be a lot simpler but I have provided all the instructions provided in “The Wilton Book of Classic Desserts” that I have “rediscovered” on my bookshelves. The book was edited by Eugene an Marilynn Sullivan and published by Pine Tree Press for Wilton Enterprises. My copy has a 1970 copyright date.

What makes the book remarkable are the many classic desserts – such as Dobos Torta or Sachertorte and breaks the directions down so that even a novice cook can follow the instructions and make a successful dish. I’ll tell you more about the book another time, if you are interested.

This is as close as I can get to providing an authentic recipe that was made, often, by my grandmother—I can’t remember the cake ever being round, though – in my memory, Grandma made the sponge cakes in loaf pans and the finished cake of many layers was a medium loaf pan size.

Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!
Sandy