Friday, November 11, 2011

No One Who Cooks, Cooks Alone

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” Laurie Colwin

Shawn and I saw this quote framed at one of the booths at a local Farmers Market here in Tulsa a few months ago.  Immediately Shawn had me take a photo of it so we'd remember it.  After reading it over again I realized how true it is that even at our most solitary time in the kitchen, the foods we prepare have most likely been prepared before us, perhaps by our own Mother or Grandmother, and then tweaked from generation to generation, cook to cook.

I thought of my own Grandma, Grandma Stubbs.  Without doubt, we all have a Grandma that is or was the best at something.  My Grandma Stubbs made the absolute best lemon cake.  For years and years after her passing no one could find her recipe.   Then, not long ago I came across a plastic sugar bucket full of Grandma's handwritten recipes, including the recipe for her
 As if I'd just found out I'd won the lottery I called my Mom and sister to share the good news, and they took it as if I'd won it too.  In a small sense, I had, we had.  

Some days or weeks later I began to go through the recipes of Grandma's that I'd found, one at a time.  As I held each of the tattered index cards and loose sheets of paper smeared and stained with ingredients past, all written by her hand,  I very much longed to be with her.  I did not have the good fortune of knowing any of my Grandparents beyond my childhood.  I imagined what a time we'd have together in the kitchen.  Now a grown woman, I would share with Grandma my inherited love of baking and cooking.   A gentle feeling came over me as if she were there, watching me contemplate each of her recipes as I held them in my hands.  At that very moment, Laurie Colwin's words again came to mind: “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”   

For the past couple of months I've had three of Grandma Stubbs's handwritten recipes attached to a Victorian styled photo holder in my kitchen as a reminder of her, to me.  I chose these three to display primarily because they are representative of the season now upon us.  In the back is a classic recipe for Pecan Pie , at the center is her Pumpkin Pie recipe and at the front, a Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe, which I'm sharing tonight, along with my own tweaked version for Egg Nog Ice Cream Pie, my own Ginger Graham pie crust recipe and my Butter Brandy Caramel Sauce.

Surrounded by her recipes I realize, I am not alone.  I am cooking with Grandma after all.  

Grandma Stubbs's Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie 
(makes two 9-10 inch pies)

1/2 Gallon Homemade or Store Bought Vanilla Ice Cream (when using store bought, use a quality ice cream...I like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla best).
1 15 oz can Pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar

Use ice cream that is slightly softened as it will be easier to blend.  You can put it in the microwave for 20-40 seconds to soften if necessary.  Add all ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Divide ice cream and fill your cooled crusts.  
I usually have a little left and we eat it right then and there...soft serve style!

Nancy's Egg Nog Ice Cream 

1/2 Gallon Homemade or Store Bought Vanilla Ice Cream (when using store bought, use a quality ice cream...I like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla best).
1 cup Egg Nog
1 tsp nutmeg

Use ice cream that is slightly softened as it will be easier to blend.  You can put it in the microwave for 20-40 seconds to soften if necessary.  Add all ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Divide ice cream and fill your cooled crusts.  Place in freezer for a few hours to overnight.  When you serve this you might set the pan in another pan of warm water or heat in the microwave about 15-20 seconds to slightly soften and make it easier to cut.
Drizzle with Butter Brandy (or Rum) Caramel Sauce and toasted pecans.

I made this a few days ago and layered 1/2 Egg Nog ice cream on top and 1/2 Pumpkin ice cream on the bottom.

I drizzled drenched my slice in my homemade Butter Brandy Caramel Sauce and topped it with toasted pecans.

Both the Pumpkin and Egg Nog ice creams are great served just as ice cream.  Here, I sprinkled a bit of the extra pie crust crumbs I baked off over the top.  

Nancy's Ginger Graham Pie Crust
(makes two 9-10 inch crusts)

15 Biscoff cookies  
15 Annas Ginger cookies
1 1/2 Cups Graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup melted butter
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

Process cookies in food processor to make fine crumbs.  Combine crumbs with brown sugar and gradually add melted butter.  Stir with a fork to blend.  Pat into a 9-10 inch pie pan and bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely before filling.

The crust mixture will look like this before baking:

And after baking:

In case you're not familiar with Biscoff or Anna's cookies, here are pictures of the packaging to help you identify them in the store.  This made a really delicious crust that got rave reviews from my family.   You can always substitute graham crumbs in place of these and have a traditional Graham cracker Grandma Stubbs did.

Brandy Butter Caramel Sauce 
(enough for two pies and takes only a few minutes to make)
(optional...nicely compliments the Egg Nog and Pumpkin flavors and is impressive looking to drizzle atop each piece for serving company...personally I like to drink it or at the least smother my piece of pie in it)  

1 cup cream
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp brandy (or rum)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

Heat cream in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly so it does not scorch.  Add sugar; stir to dissolve.  Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes continually stirring.  Serve warm over ice cream pie.  Leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge and reheated in the microwave.

Thank you to all the Grandma's of the world, past and present.

Grandmas fully endorse saving money, so always check for some grocery coupons before shopping.



  1. Nancy!!! You are making me scream for blue bell ice cream!! To share, I found my grandmothers hand written praline recipe in my attic a few yeArs ago amongst a handful of old dress making patterns. I recently framed it and have it in a grouping of my moms handwritten recipes. I feel so good in my kitchen with their hands work in front of me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree...we're still looking for Grandmama's Apple Spice Cake recipe. Thanks so much for the recipes. My mouth is watering. I can hardly wait to try them. Glad that you stopped by for a visit. Cherry Kay

  3. Nancy,

    What a wonderful post. I have my Gram Potter's recipes and I treasure them. I will be making her date and nut bread for Thanksgiving. Your ice cream pies look absolutely delicious. The quote is very true and meaningful.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  4. What a lovely heartfelt post Nancy - I'm pleased you're still cooking with Grandma!

  5. Great story about your grandma and her recipes. Yours look pretty amazing too! Hubs has a sweet tooth, so I will have to try your icecream pies!

  6. Everything looks so good, Nancy! My one grandmother was known for cooking certain things that we all loved. I remember sitting with her as she made them {stuffed mushrooms and braciole, specifically}. Every time I make those foods, I feel she is right there with me.

  7. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother...the pie looks delicious.

  8. I love this! I have some handwritten recipes from my mother, her mother (my incredibly favorite grandmother!) and a few aunts. They are such treasures to me.

    Thanks so much for sharing these recipes ~ I will count them as very special from Nancy! I do think I gained about 13 lbs reading them but will definitel try them. :-)


  9. OH I love this post Nancy, my Dad gave me all my grandma's recipes...they are in a little box in my bedroom and I've been wanting to get them organized to actually use...what inspiration you have given me to get those out and start using them. She was a wonderful cook and actually did it professionally. I love how you have them displayed...I'm copying ...thanks!!
    Happy Thanksgiving!! Your grandma's pies are amazing..going to have to try that brandy sauce!!

    Miss Bloomers

  10. Nancy, this post I almost can't get through without tears. I posted it tonite on my FB. In the possible remaining time for my beloved father..... All the generations, may their memory be eternal, and may God grant us wellness and happiness to continue their legacies. Thank you.

  11. Oh wow, I LOVE this post--it all looks delicious!!!

  12. I'm making this!!....Will you post the Lemon Cake recipe?...Thanks so much

  13. Oh, I love your old recipes. Especially the one with the icing splattered on it! Those are the best.:) I pinned this pie! It looks delicious. We will have to try it. Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  14. I'm pretty sure, i've never seen anything that looked better than the slice with the toasted pecans and syrup on top... i may die if i don't have some of it!


  15. Nancy, Such a wonderful tribute to your Grandmother. I have my 90 year old Mom's handwritten recipes which I treasure. One thing I noticed about your Grandmother's and my Mother's handwritten recipes, is the beautiful penmenship of their generation. Please so share the Lemon Cake recipe. Dianne

  16. I enjoyed reading this post very much, and I'm glad you found your grandmother's recipes. What a treasure you have. I bet those Anna cookies do make a good crust. Thanks for sharing your pie recipes because they look yummy!

  17. Oh my goodness--I have a sweet tooth now!

  18. Hi Nancy,
    Your Grandma's recipe's are so precious and that pie is awesome! Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful week!
    Miz Helen

  19. What a great post! I'm all misty-eyed and wanting to spend the afternoon going through my Grammy's recipes!

    I would love it if you'd participate in my weekend homemaking link-up party! It runs every Friday-Sunday and there's a button at the top of my sidebar you can grab to help you remember!

    Have a great week!


  20. Oh my, Nancy...
    I'm your newest follower.

    I just found your blog after you linked up to my Friday FREE-FOR-ALL Linky Party.

    I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes from your stories. I'm so glad I found your blog.

    I only wish I was able to garner more recipes from family members. I do have a few and I cherish them and pass them on.

    Thanks again for linking up to our Friday FREE-FOR-ALL!

    If you haven't already, stop back to check out the new entries and click the "like" button to vote for those you like. We'll see who the favs are later this week.

    All the best,
    ~ Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D

  21. What a treasure to have your Grandmother's handwritten recipes! And thanks for sharing your recipes too. I appreciate you linking this beautiful post to Potpourri Friday!

  22. What a treasure to find all those recipes. Your Grandmother's handwriting looks so much like the handwriting of my own Grandmother. I am lucky to have a few recipes she wrote for me stashed in my small collection of recipes. I love looking at her handwriting and remembering her. This all looks so delicious...and pretty easy to fix....but where oh where is the lemon cake recipe?


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