cooking with granny and artie mae . . . a one o’the nine memory

Day 20 November blogcwriting challenge. Great news. It took nearly 24 hours or scanning, nothing was found, but Hubby did ditch the Skype he downloaded. It’s clear to me that this computer, which he assured me in 2001 I’d never be able to fill up the memory it had…well I almost have. Nothing new will be installed on this machine, and I will begin this weekend transferring all the pictures to flash drives and CDs. I think I’ve set some sort of record in saving junk.

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When I put together my family and friends cookbook and printed it in 2001 as A MOVEABLE FEAST of recipes & memories, I asked members of my family on both sides to contribute a memory about the foods or favorites dishes their mothers (my grandmothers) prepared when they were growing up. The response was underwhelming, but I did get this reply from my uncle, which I share with you here, which covers the great depression years of the 1930’s and ’40’s.

Things that Mama used to prepare and fix for us to eat are still pleasantly memorable. She used to make various sweets during the depression years using cane syrup instead of sugar. Sugar was a commodity that had to be purchased and there was precious little money to spend. I remember a sweet cornbread she used to make and called it “By George.” It was not too bad when there was nothing sweet to eat. I’m sorry that the recipe was not passed along.

There was another sweet bread that Mama prepared that was called “Stickies.” This concoction was made similar to cinnamon rolls, but cane syrup was used to sweeten them. I believe that the most popular food around our house during my childhood was hominy grits.

Grits was used as a meal anytime of day–breakfast, dinner or supper. Grits was eaten hot with butter or gravy (red eye or sawmill). Leftover grits would be firm and was sliced, and eaten with cane syrup, or fried in bacon grease and served warm.

We prepared our grits by shucking (husking)  and shelling the corn and taking it to the grist mill and returned home. We had a meal barrel and a flour barrel in the “little room” which was the walk-in pantry. By adjusting the mill just right, the corn was ground into meal and grits. Hominy grits was sifted through a sieve to separate the meal from the grits.

There was an old lady living in the county who was known for her cooking, and as far as I can tell, she cooked exactly the way every other woman on both sides of my family cooked, but some did it better than others. It was all about reputation I suspect.  Now that I’ve grown older myself and been around the world a few times as the old saying goes, I recognize it as “soul food” although no one would have called it that. When she was getting along in years, Artie Mae’s family urged her to set down her recipes, so she typed them up and had them published by a local office supply store and published them in 1988 as COOKING WITH ARTIE MAE. There’s a version of a recipe she called Quickie Stickies that I’m sharing in Wintersong. It could very well be similar to the “Stickies” my uncle remembered.

Artie Mae’s Quickie Stickies

3 cups sifted flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ sticks butter or Oleo
1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup sweet milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup seedless raisins
2 tsp lemon juice

Sift flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut in ½ stick of the butter. Stir in egg and milk just until  flour mixture is moistened completely. Knead dough 5 or 6 times, roll out to a rectangle about 20″ x 9″. Spread with ½ stick of butter and sprinkle with mixture of 1 cup brown sugar and cinnamon, top with raisins.

Starting at long side, roll up, jelly roll fashion. Cut into 12 slices. Melt the remaining ½ stick butter in a shallow baking dish, stir in remaining ½ cup brown sugar and lemon juice. Place rolls, cut sides up, in dish. Let stand 15 minutes, then bake in 425ºF oven for 25 minutes, or until richly golden, and syrup bubbles up in center.

Postscript: Just in case you were stymied by the term “Oleo” in the first ingredient, Oleo was a margarine and those were the days margarine was thought to be better for you–or should I say less bad–than butter. Times sure change. I don’t imagine Granny had the sugar, so she probably used cane syrup made on the farm instead. Sweet milk is simply the southern way of referring to whole milk. Again, those were the days when the milk we used to drink or cook with came out of our favorite milk cows fresh every morning, and was then boiled and used to make butter, as well as sour milk and clabber. That’s why it was important to know that sweet milk was the milk the way it came from the cow or what we call whole milk now. Should anyone be interested, Artie Mae also had syrup pie and syrup cake recipes in her book. Anyone interested in seeing either of those, please let me know.

7 thoughts on “cooking with granny and artie mae . . . a one o’the nine memory

  1. I have too much junk on my computer, too!
    I was hesitant to click this afternoon – didn’t want to read about more money losses (hee, hee).
    The food memories were fun.

  2. I remember my mom calling margarine ‘oleo’ — maybe that was a country thing. I also remember that in Wisconsin where she grew up it was illegal to sell margarine and I recall the signs north of Chicago along the highway that read ‘Last chance to buy margarine’ becayse it was illegal to sell margarins in Wisconsin where she grew up on a dairy farm. I still am not convinced that butter is worse for a person than the mass of chemicals that is margarine.

    I love the stickies recipe!!!! Who know? I might even try it.

    Your ‘one of the nine’ stories are great — they remind me of the way my parents were brought up.

  3. It was “oleomargarine” here in San Diego too. 🙂 Then shortened to oleo. We used oleo until after the war when we had butter again.

    Remember what happened to me. My five year old computer’s programs were not compatible with anything else modern out there in the world. When he started up grading my programs, that was the end of it all for that computer. I moved everything over to an external hard drive…..drag and drop is wonderful stuff. He wiped the hard drive of that computer, and we gave it to my eldest as a computer to get her through school. The new Norton won’t work on these older computers either. It was maddening.

    Consumer Reports says that Costco has the best prices on computers, so maybe it’s time. That’s what I had to do in the end.

  4. A – get an external harddrive – today they hold so much and you can just back up everything to that. I keep all my photos and music on it and then a backup of everything – there is room galore. A CD wont stand the test of time and wont play most likely in new computers as they advance more and more into wireless and memory sticks. Also Skype is fabulous – I use it all the time and if you get on, let me know. I communicate with reporters all around the globe and Tatjana speaks to her Croatian family and friends over Skype often. Her mother Skypes every other day.

    Anyway look into an external harddrive – it really is a good place to park your stuff.

    • Yep, turns out we have one he salvaged from an old computer of SIL (who’s the second person who’s suggested that as a solution to my storage problem) and Hubby swears it will only take a couple of minutes to get it going. Oh yeah, Hubby (who’s standing over my shoulder as I write this) wants you to know he knew that all along but the problem is that I just don’t like to listen to him. Yeah! I say, after the fact, you tell me these things! And he still wants to go out and look for new computers! (We will no doubt re-install the Skye but probably not until after the holidays. We used it (on his laptop) over the weekend to talk to and see the NYC daughter and her partner. It’s pretty nice; not quite but almost as nice as a real visit but no one has to make or serve coffee or tea.)

  5. One more thing – your uncle’s description reminds me of a couple I knew a long time ago describing when they were young and poor and starting their family and they ate tomato sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise and salt and pepper, or buttered rice or grits with a fried egg on top. For some reason, these simple foods elicit the most drooling response in me!

    • Mayonnaise and sliced (summer) tomato sandwiches are gourmet food! I used to eat a lot of those after school long long ago. I believe I’ve even read somewhere that it was a favorite of Elvis too. Hubby teases me because when we have rice (especially with a full south Indian meal) I still like to finish the meal of with a serving of rice with butter melted on the top. And grits!!!! Yum! You can get the girl out of the south, but it’s damn near impossible to get the south out of the girl. And that’s the truth!

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