Janet's Notebook
Grandma's Table: Creating A Legacy Of Love Through Food

Dana Ramsey & Her Granddaughter

It's official... September brings us National Grandparents Day! While technically observed on September 11 this year, I see no reason whatsoever to limit ourselves! Granted, this grandma may be a wee bit biased, but I think we should be celebrating these folks every day of the year. I honestly feel that every meal I make is an homage to the lessons learned from those who have gone before... never mind the countless other ways my life has been enriched by that older generation.

Help me spread the love this grandparently season by serving up a spread of family favorite recipes handed down through the generations. Jessica Harrington of Bennington, VT may just have the perfect way to start: with her Grandma's Secret Apple Brownies! "My Grandmother used to make these all the time for me when I was young," explains Jessica. "She finally gave me the recipe and I have been making them since! They are super moist and just incredible. Have one in the morning with your coffee or warm one up and place vanilla ice cream on top for dessert!" Or if you're anything like me, do BOTH! We're so glad Jessica was willing to share this simple apple cake with us... Just remember, it's a secret!

It is a favorite recipe for Congo Cookies that causes Franklin, TN cook Carie Turner to start reminiscing about her grandmother. "This was my Grandma Bure's recipe and she made it for me when I was a little girl," says Carie of these easy, chocolaty bar cookies. "Yep, I loved chocolate even then. I remember making this in the kitchen with my mom and with my own children as they were growing up. It still remains a family favorite. Recently I made 4 batches that were consumed by my daughter's college soccer team. They didn't last long." The Crew and I just love how very easy Carie's recipe is! Her grandmother's Congo Cookies capture the magical richness of homemade chocolate chip cookies, but with the ease of a bar cookie. It's a great choice for feeding a big crowd... or your own big sweet tooth!

And with memories so sweet and vivid you can almost taste them, comes Jackie Garvin of Valrico, FL.

"I spent a lot of time during the summer with my grandparents in the little town of Geneva, Alabama in southeast Alabama," recalls Jackie fondly. "Summer in the South means insufferable heat but it also means blackberries. My grandmother would send me out, as a very young child, to pick berries armed only with a bucket to fill with the delectables. The best berry bushes were down by the railroad track. The bushes grew dense and the thorns were big and protective of the fruit. As Granny walked me out of the front door to start my journey, she would admonish me to 'be particular for snakes, Shug'.

"She was sending me off to the railroad track amongst the snakes to pick blackberries. You can’t get away with that today. That was a different era and a different place. But I loved picking the berries. I’m not sure what part of it I actually enjoyed. Was it the freedom of being responsible enough to have a job as important as picking the berries that Granny would turn into delicious cobblers and jelly? Was it the challenge of seeing how quickly I could fill up my bucket? Or was it simply that I loved the smell of the berries as they cooked away in Granny’s little kitchen knowing what the end result would be? Whatever the reason, I developed a love of blackberries that is still with me today. I remember the sweet, fruity wine-like aroma that wafted throughout the house. I thought the scratches and stickers from the thorns and the occasional chiggers (redbugs) were worth it all. But most of all, it was worth it hearing Granny sing her hymns as she went about making cobblers and jelly. Granny singing, the aroma of blackberries cooking and the promise of cobblers and jelly... That’s what heaven will be like."

Jackie was generous enough to share with us her favorite Blackberry Cobbler recipe from those early days in Alabama. Let me tell you, you can taste every bit of love that goes into this spectacular dessert! It has fast become a favorite among the Crew and I. Serve it with a dollop of cream or a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Eat it while it's still warm, and savor every bite of the season.

Special thanks to all you grandparents for the innumerable ways you've enriched the lives of family and friends alike. In particular, I'd like to acknowledge Just A Pinch member Dana Ramsey who recently reminded us of just how important - and fulfilling - it is to get the grandkids involved in our everyday cooking. She let us know that she loves getting into the kitchen with her young "JAP Member in Training" (also known as her beautiful granddaughter.) Dana and her family are living proof that with every cookie baked together and every spoon licked clean, comes one more priceless memory made.

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Katie Wilson - Oct 28, 2011
I go over to her house about once a week she lives 30 miles away so its hard to get over there. To often wish there was 2 of me to be with her before her kids move her by them which is like 100 miles so it will be even harder for me to see her! I'm the only one close by except my grandma's brother but he is not able to do much for her and the lady that puts her medicine out week to week I'm pretty sure is lying about cuz the days dont add up not sure how to handle that been trying to get ahold of my aunt and uncle to tell them but with my schedual and mine its hard to get a hold of till the weekend. even the pharmasist dont think she is taking her medicine cuz she told the lady that was picking the medicine up that my grandma should have been out by now. I work for the pharmasist cleaning her house so that is how I know this! my grandma used to work for her so I talk to her about my grandma a lot. Think the hardest thing for me is what they remember and what they dont like she remembers me all the time still but she asked me one time what my dad had been doing and he has been gone since 2002 so that was hard. not sure how to handle these questions? Thank you so much for the post
Colleen Sowa - Oct 28, 2011
Hi Sherri... You inspire me and many others on this site! You are such a loving person and so gifted! I can't wait until you show us the photos from your upcoming trip! Love you...xo
Sherri Williams - Oct 27, 2011
Katie, you are so blessed to still have your wonderful grandmother here. Cherish each and every moment that you can with her. I've worked with alzhiemers patients in the past, even with their disease, they have those special moments when they are their old selves and can carry on a good converstion...that's when you jump in quickly and get those recipes to post to JAP to share with us!!! LOL...we all just have to remember to always tell them that you love them, even if you think they don't understand what you are saying...just do it...and mean it. You just never know. You are a wonderful granddaughter and ypu have those memories of a happier time. You are blessed.

I Worked at an Assisstant Living facility for alzhiemers residents, I prepared their meals, plan activities for them and just sit and have some of the best conversations in the world. The best part was playing music. We would sing and dance. There is something about music that triggers a wonderful memory of their past.

Christmas music is my favorite...I miss my grandmothers alot, especially around the holidays...they were my inspiration for cooking. They were the best cooks ever! Who knows, maybe someday someone will say that I inspired them. That would be awesome! I love swapping & sharing recipes. I've met some terrific people here on JAP, that I can call friends. I thank JAP everyday for such a wonderful site. Have a blessed day. sw☺
Katie Wilson - Oct 27, 2011
Hot Rolls I'm so blessed to have been able to learn this from my grandma before she was diagnosed with alzhiemers last year! She dont remember how to make them now but glad I took the time to learn this one and many others! Still need to get some recipes from her that she cooked all the time but this one is real special. She always made these for every x-mas and thanksgiving and easter and family reunions and any other event along with her homemade beef and noodles which I also learned how to make and now I cook them every year for thanksgiving and x-mas! Love her so much I didnt have very good parents but I could always count on her being there for anything and everything!
Janet Cosgrove - Sep 14, 2011
My daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter just picked blackberries for jam and pie. The only thing we had to worry about was scratches to the arms and legs that weren't covered. Wild blackberries are VERY prolific in the Pacific NW.
We lived in Oregon where there are blackberries growing EVERYWHERE!
Dana Ramsey - Sep 10, 2011
Thank you Cindy! I am hoping to do this with all my granddaughters as they get older! So much fun. Even my one grandson loves to cook and bake he is 6 years old!!!!!!!!!! Never to young to teach a boy how to cook!
Angela Gray - Sep 9, 2011
LaWanda, I loved hearing about our grandparents and your childhood memories ! Thank you for sharing, they are jewels in our family treasure box !
Straws Kitchen - Sep 9, 2011
Hey Dana, love that you are on here with your Granddaughter. I love baking and cooking with my Granddaughters too. Making memories with them is so very special, things they will never forget....I still remember all the times with my Grandparents.
Congratulations girlfriend.
Rebecca Tooley - Sep 9, 2011
What kind of apples are best for cooking?
Dana Ramsey - Sep 9, 2011
Have you all seen on the Home Page Grandmas Table and the recipes. That picture is just like the original kitchen in my home. I have one of those reflector ovens, and the kettle and all the other things pictured. At first I was like how in the heck did they get a picture of my house! I love it JAP Crew! That is an amazing picture!
L D - Sep 8, 2011
I was lucky enough to know all of my grandparents. My Maternal GrandFather never cooked,I remember him saying he made onion sandwiches when he was young. My Maternal GrandMother passed away 4 yrs ago at 99,she was an amazing lady and cook,she could make anything,she raised 11 children and always welcomed her grandchildren in the kitchen to help or to watch. She gave me my love of cooking and entertaining, I'm so glad I watched and learned some of her recipes,I would go to her house and write down what she was doing because she never measured,her fried pies and butter rolls were legendary,I watched as she made them when she put an ingredient in the bowl,I would remove it,measure it and then she would continue the recipe,she was a patient lady! Now that she's gone,I can re-create those loved recipes(still not as good as hers) My Paternal GrandFather passed when I was eight,but I remember him well,he used to tease my sisters and I that he was going to make us squash pie(we didn't like squash then) when my Father and his brothers and sister were growing up,my Grandfather did most of the cooking. My Paternal GrandMother didn't cook much,she was into very healthy eating by the time I can along,she ate mostly vegetables and fish. She would make all kinds of fruit and vegetable juices,she was way ahead of her time.
We used to celebrate Grand Parents's day by having all the cousins make a dinner and serve our Grandparents and Parents,those were fun days I treasure now as we don't celebrate it any more.
Those memories will last a lifetime,I try to continue those times with my brother and sister and their families,even though I'm the youngest,it's my house everyone gathers at for family meals and I continue my Mother and GrandParent's traditions.
Traci Morgan - Sep 8, 2011
I'm a Rookie Grammy of precious little 9 month old Amelia & can't wait until she's old enough to come to "Grammy's Camp "...I have been planning this camp for YEARS! Cooking together will absolutely be a big part of camp... : )
Monica H - Sep 8, 2011
Michelle... you hit it on the nose! Its the stories and the laughter and the little things that make the experience so wonderful and special.
This is a quote about marriage that can substitute for any relationship... just substitute the word "relationship" in liu of "marraige" here: "Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years." ~Simone Signoret
I remember the laughter and stories in the kitchen, too. My paternal grampa would tell stories at the dinnertable, but funny made-up stories. He would love to take Bible stories and make them funny like how Adam and Eve had to ride bicycles to "the underworld" because they were too tired to walk and the bikes broke down, etc. and my grandma would get so mad at him and then we'd all just laugh.
Michelle Grooms - Sep 8, 2011
I'm a very lucky lady to have had a good many years with my great-grandparents and grandparents both. All of these family stories bring back so many memories that make me smile. It's almost funny when you look back on your childhood and realize just how many of those happy memories happened either in the kitchen cooking or around the table eating all the goodies. It wasn't just the food, but the talk, the stories, and oh my goodness the laughing! Thanks to all of you for sharing these stories; no better tribute to the love of a grandparent could be made than these.
R M - Sep 7, 2011
A remarkable story and well written. I felt like I was right there in the kitchen with your Grandma. I'm happy to read that others enjoyed the simplist of things from their past. I have fond and priceless memories of being in my own mothers kitchen with her or picking huge veggies from her garden. And now I'm sharing my love of cooking with my grand daughter. We share many precious hours cooking up a storm. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.