I didn’t know my grandparents very well. My father’s parents were both gone by the time I was old enough to remember them, and my mother’s parents were pretty remote in their interactions with the rambunctious children of their youngest daughter. They were retired and moved back to their hometown by the time I spent any time with them, and I would not say it was quality time. My grandfather came to live with my mother and father when he was no longer able to live alone, but I was out of the house and long gone by then. So, when I see my friends grandparenting their own grandbabies, it makes me happy to see how involved they are with these precious children.
Recipes passed down from my grandparents? I don’t remember any, but I’m pretty good at appropriating other people’s family recipes . Over the years I have gathered together other families’ recipes and made them my own. We have only one “family recipe” that I know of, our famous Scalloped Oysters, but I don’t know where this came from.
Today’s recipe was not stolen, however. I’m lucky enough to be friends with Linda, whose mother we remembered on June 24. Everyone knew her as Grandma Lill, and although she’s not actually my grandma (she’s not even in the right generation to be my grandma), her recipe was freely given to us.
As I reread my niece Jessie’s post on Vanderbilt Wife which honors my father and her grandfather, it seems totally fitting that I honor Grandma Lill today. We paid tribute to Grandma Lill at her memorial service and Jessie wrote her post on the eve of my dad’s memorial service just a year ago. At both events, there were new great-grandchildren who will not remember their great-grandparent, but life renews itself through the cycles of birth and death. We are also renewed through the memories we share with our children and grandchildren and that includes our recipes.
Grandma Lill embraced Italian cooking and passed her recipes down to her children. Her meatballs are famous — and I hope you will enjoy them yourself in her memory.
Lill’s Spaghetti Sauce with MeatballsMeatballs 2 pounds ground beef 1/2 medium onion — chopped fine 2 eggs beaten 1 cup Progresso Italian style bread crumbs 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese Small amount of oil for browning meatballs Mix all ingredients together and form into “golf ball” size meatballs. Carefully brown meatballs in oil on both sides in a Dutch oven. Remove meatballs. Add to pot: 1 medium chopped onion 1 sliced garlic clove Sauté until tender. Then add: 3 12 oz. cans Contadina tomato paste 1 14 oz. can Hunt’s basil and garlic diced tomatoes 5 cans water 2 tablespoons each of dried parsley, basil, and oregano 1 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add meatballs. Cook uncovered 2 hours — stirring occasionally.
While you’re at it, try the scalloped oysters. It may seem weird, but for those of you who love oysters, this recipe will just melt in your mouth. MANGIA!