Today is my grandma's 79th birthday! Happy Birthday, grandma!!
There are many memories and stories I could share about my grandma, many of which I have share over the years on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #thingsgrandmasays. In fact, I am pretty sure I am the one that started that hashtag on Twitter about seven years ago. Be sure to check out some of my tweets using that hashtag by clicking the link in the hashtag above - you'll have a good laugh at some of them.
The story I am going to tell today is how much she is an amazing cook. Even as a young child I remember going to grandma's house for Thanksgiving or just Sunday dinner and always eating great tasting food. Years ago she worked for a catering company, so I am sure that is where she learned many of her tips and tricks while cooking.
Each time I have had dinner at my grandma's house over the last 20 years I have always looked forward to her homemade rolls. Everyone in the family has loved her fresh rolls. They are always the most fluffy, warm and golden-colored. I could just eat her rolls and get filled. There have been many times over the years she has made these rolls for various dinner parties and people always rave over how good her homemade rolls are.
About six years ago I was at grandma and grandpa's house one Saturday morning/early afternoon. I was going to stay for dinner so grandma started getting dinner ready. All of a sudden she pulled out a bag of frozen dough purchased at the store. In a very disappointed tone I said, "Grandma, aren't you going to make your homemade rolls? They are so good." She replied, "Of course I am." I was so confused. I began telling her that some bag of frozen dough will never be as good as her fresh, hand-made rolls from scratch. She just giggled and gave me a look. I was even more confused.
At that same time my grandpa walked into the kitchen and I told him that grandma was going to make her homemade rolls, but they weren't going to be homemade because she was using frozen, store bought, dough! I was really starting to worry. Grandpa looked at grandma, looked back at me and did the same kind of chuckle/giggle my grandma did. Was this some kind of sick game they were playing with me? Why was she not making her homemade rolls? Since when did she start using store bought frozen dough? Grandpa looked back at me and said, "She is making her homemade rolls..." and then he walked away.
At that point I realized what was going on. I said, "Grandma - how long have you used this frozen dough to make your "homemade" rolls?" She laughed and said she hasn't made rolls from scratch in YEARS. She has always used the same frozen dough. My mind was blown! How could this be? Everyone has always said they were homemade. Even she said they were homemade. I realized I had been lied to my whole life! As I am writing this I am laughing hysterically because of how funny I find it now, but at the time I was traumatized!
After getting over my shock I continued to help and watch her prepare dinner. After the dough thawed she began to "make" the rolls. As she was preparing them, she said, "Oh yeah, don't tell Jared they aren't homemade. He'll never forgive me." Jared is my brother. I agreed, although hesitantly. It was about six months later Jared found out they were not homemade and he was traumatized just as much if not more than me.
Later that year, after I had forgiven my grandma for deceiving me for so many years, I suggested to her that she needs to write down her recipes. Every time she cooks she never uses a cookbook or any kind of reference. It is all in her mind. I told her that if she didn't record the recipes that one day no one would know how to make them. Do you notice a trend with one of my previous posts about recording your memories? In the end, grandma and I decided my make a cookbook for all the family for Christmas that year. It was mid summer, so we had a good four months to collect family members' favorite meals and then compile the recipes.
This cookbook was not your traditional cookbook. Just about every page had some sort of family story behind it or it was someone's favorite recipe. We wanted to make the cookbook personal towards our family. So if you were to read through some of the recipes, and the stories and photos behind them, they wouldn't mean much to you - but to us, we laugh each time we look at the cookbook because we know the people and stories behind them. This was such a fun project. I am grateful I had the opportunity to work on such an amazing project with my grandma. Her and I have our own memories of making the book - memories I just realized I have never written down, so I need to do that!
Although you may not understand all the stories, inside jokes and photos, many non-family members who have seen the cookbook thoroughly enjoy it and find it such a great idea. Take a look at the book below. And be sure to look at page 23 for her "Impress and B.S. Homemade Rolls." I have said since I found out that her "homemade" rolls were not homemade that she has impressed and BS'd people for many years - and today makes 79! Happy birthday grandma. I love ya!
Yesterday I went to my grandparents' house for an early Sunday dinner. Somehow as we were talking during dinner I started asking them about all the places they have lived since they go married. They have been married since 1952 - that's 63 years of marriage!
It was fun to hear them reminisce and list of each place they have lived over those 63 years. As I expected, they had their moments of disagreeing with each other over which house they lived in first and for how long. Parts of it were pretty hysterical because grandpa can be so stubborn and grandma rolling her eyes at what he says. Even through the debating they still laughed in the end.
During a few of the more-contentious moments of them debating which house was which, I pulled up some city directories online and found out that neither of them were right! There was even one where my grandma said, "That's right!! I forgot about that house!"
After spending probably a good 30-40 minutes trying to figure each and every place, I suggested we go for their "Sunday drive" and see the houses, at least the ones that are in Salt Lake County. They didn't know if they were all standing, so we took a drive. I wanted to see first-hand the places they lived and get photographs, if possible. Although we found just about every single one of them still standing, they told me many of them looked quite a bit different because of paint color, fences, yards and other things had changed so much. Well, it doesn't surprise me that many of them have changed over the last 63 years. Ironically, one of the first houses they lived in actually looks just like it did in 1953. This house is located at 233 South 400 East in Salt Lake City, Utah. I told them it was interesting they lived right there because a couple of years ago I lived not too far around the corner from that house and I'm sure I have walked past it a dozen times without ever knowing or realizing my grandparents lived there so many years ago. That is actually how I felt about a couple of the places they showed me. I have driven past the neighborhoods many times throughout my life without knowing my family had a "connection" to that street or neighborhood.
We had a lot of fun that afternoon, going from place-to-place. Not only did I get to see the places they lived, but also the stories of each house. I learned about the cockroaches in one apartment, my aunt falling down the stairs in another and my grandma rushing next door to ask for help, the unfinished plumbing in another that made it so my grandma had to use the garden hose in order to have "indoor plumbing," and my favorite, which I have heard many times, the "house" (which was really a warehouse) where my grandmother had an interesting encounter with someone falling through the roof while she was taking a bath. Of course I was on my computer the whole time typing these stories out while my grandpa drove. Now I need to take those stories and photos and put a little book together for them of all the places they have lived. I'm sure I'll also post more in the future about our little adventure we had yesterday!
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, product manager, ux designer, computer geek, and traveler.