Monday, December 11, 2006


My grandmother passed away on Saturday, her 84th birthday. She finally succumbed to the complications of Alzheimer's disease. The service is Tuesday at the little country church where she taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and worshiped for all her life. She will be laid to rest next to her husband of over 60 years, Walter, but she will also be among family and close friends who left this mortal coil before her for this country church cemetery is essentially our family's cemetery.

Driving up to Green Bay to say good-bye, I was flooded with memories. Staying over at her house and watching one of her favorite shows, Johnny Carson. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world to be able to stay up way past my bedtime. I still do. Sledding down the hill in her backyard in winter. Playing the card game Rook. Looking out the window on Christmas waiting for her and grandpa to arrive. OK, waiting for them to arrive so we could open presents but still, waiting for them to arrive. I remember being shy and embarrassed as she proudly showed off her young grandson to her friends. She was there for all of my achievements as I grew into a man. Birthdays, graduations, awards, plays, games; I can't picture one without her. She enjoyed crochet and the afghan she made me when I was young always made it onto my bed in winter and it is still one of my prized possessions, safely hidden from the two feline terrors in our house. Sunday dinners are another wonderful memory. I would give my eyesight for one more Sunday dinner of hers. Or even just one more bag of her rolls!! She was the baker in the family. I can only hope to one day bake the way she could. Sadly, Alzheimer's claimed many of her recipes before she could pass them on. Potato pancakes, bread, fudge, dressing (stuffing); all we have left are approximations and best guesses. In a lot of my writing there are references to Germany and my German cookbooks. My family's ancestry is German and my grandparents could speak it fluently. I purchased these cookbooks to help me understand the basis for her recipes so that one day I might be able to recreate some of the greatness from her kitchen. I know she would have enjoyed this site. I could go on but it's hard to see what I write through the tears.

Still, while we here all mourn her loss, I know one man who is happy. My grandfather is now reunited with the love of his life.

Grandma, I love you and I miss you.

As a tribute, I am including one of her recipes we do have, Ice Box Crunch.

4 cups flour
3 Tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water
1 cup shortening
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs

Sift dry ingredients. Add shortening. Mix like pie crust. Beat eggs and mix with milk. Add yeast and pour into dry mix. Mix well. Put in refrigerator.

Roll out like pie crust. Put your favorite filling on, or cinnamon and nuts. Lap the sides together. Fold the ends up. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350°. This is similar to Kringle.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you do or if this post moved you, please donate to the fight against Alzheimer's, either now or when you have a chance. Thank you.


FreyaE said...

I am so terribly sorry to read about your loss. I hope that you will find comfort in cooking the recipes that your grandma cooked for you, they are all part of our legacy. In that way, the person we loved never really leaves us.
Kindest Regards, Freya

Paul said...

Freya, thank you. I'm looking forward to doing her proud.

Claire said...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother. I hope that you remember her every time you cook something she made. I know that every time I use my grandmother's cast iron corn stick molds, I have happy memories.

Paul said...

Claire, thank you. She is a huge influence on the foods I like to make and eat so she will always be a part of my cooking.

Tery Spataro said...

I'm so sorry about your grandmother. Sounds like you found a way to incorporate her legacy into your life. My best to you! Tery

Paul said...

Thank you Tery! That's exactly what I'm trying to do.