Just Like My Grandmother Used to Make

By August 25, 2020Connections

Celebrating Grandparents Day with Recipes and Traditions

It’s time to celebrate those special people who are always there with a hug, a kiss, and more often than not, something special they cooked for us: our grandparents. National Grandparent’s Day is September 13, which reminds me of one of my favorite memories of my grandmother (and my mother): Sunday suppers.

My family’s Sunday suppers are sacred, even if it is just the four of us. It is a chance to break bread and connect over food. And talk, really talk as I did during these suppers at my grandmother’s house after church services.

With so much happening in this world, dinner (especially on Sundays) is a time to check in. I love to listen to what is going on in the minds of my children and learn how they are doing. While at the table, we take time to reach out to my husband’s parents in Florida via Facetime. The legacy from parents on both sides of our family is the food served during a Sunday supper.

Kimberly Kapustein grandmother

1968: Kimberly sits on her mother’s lap while her grandmother waves (far right).

2018: Kimberly (far right) with her mother (far left) and other family members.

My grandmother, my mother’s mother, loved any kind of applesauce: jarred applesauce, homemade applesauce, chunky applesauce, smooth applesauce, apple butter from the Amish, you name it. It didn’t matter what she was eating; she liked applesauce on the side. She asked for it in fancy restaurants (totally indifferent to the odd looks she would get from waiters) and insisted it be on the table for every holiday dinner. When my mom passed away in December, I found a whole stash of applesauce jars in the pantry – sure to be a ready, easy side for her dinners. And it seems the tradition has stuck.

On Sunday, I made my grandmother’s easy homemade applesauce (see recipe). It’s richly flavored, tart, and sweet (almost like apple pie filling) and a world apart from store-bought. A perfect side with pork loin roast (same amount of cooking time), rice, and green beans for dinner. My grandmother was a maid and caretaker for families in Connecticut and often had to find easy ways to prep dinner with what was on hand.

Homemade applesauce is easy to make; the hardest part is peeling the apples. I bake the apples, which gives a more intense flavor, and I used a mix of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady’s, which I had on hand. Feel free to use the varieties you enjoy, but remember, having all tart apples will yield a super tangy applesauce and might require more sugar to balance the flavor. Mix it up!

I made my grandmother’s 7UP biscuits (see recipe) and lemon pound cake for dessert, and we are making our own Sunday memories with the traditions of the past.

If you can, enjoy the day with the grandparents in your family. That is the greatest gift they can receive from you. If you can’t see them due to COVID-19, call them or set up a Zoom dinner. When you call, make sure you have time for a long conversation.

Remember, grandparents will always ask about you first and listen intently to everything you have to say. They are never rushed or in a hurry, they are there just for you.

Beats with the Eats:

“We Are Family” by Sister Sledge; “Family Reunion” by Jill Scott; “Everything is Everything” by Lauren Hill; “For the Good Times” by Al Green; “Family Affair” and “Everyday People” by Sly and The Family Stone; “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold and the Bluenotes (with Teddy Pendergrass).

Sylvia’s Applesauce

Applesauce RecipeIngredients

  • 4 pounds apples (about 8), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks (I like a combination of McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch chunks
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • Ground cinnamon or fresh nutmeg, for serving (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Place the apples in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray. Scatter brown sugar and chunks of butter evenly over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the apples are very tender.
  • Mash the apples with a potato masher or fork. Taste. If the applesauce is too tart, add more brown sugar, little by little, until the flavors are balanced. (Note that no two batches will ever be the same; the flavor will depend on the tartness of the apples you use.)
  • Freezer-friendly instructions: Applesauce can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to three months.

Grandma’s 7UP Biscuits

7UP Biscuits RecipeIngredients

  • 2¼ cups Bisquick
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup 7UP (or other clear carbonated drink)
  • ¼ stick of butter
  • Quality salt, optional (Jacobsen is my favorite)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450° F degrees.
  • Melt butter in pan, a 9-inch square, 9-by-13-inch , or a cast iron pan.
  • Cut the sour cream into your biscuit mix using a fork, knife, pastry cutter, or your fingers. You just want to make sure each portion of your wet ingredient gets coated with the dry mix.
  • Stir in a ½ cup 7UP. The dough will be very soft, don’t worry.
  • Sprinkle additional baking mix onto your counter (about ½ cup).
  • Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix. Pat dough out (no rolling pin needed) and cut biscuits using a round biscuit or cookie cutter. Don’t have one? No problem. Use a glass or empty soup can to cut out your biscuits.
  • Melt butter in a cast iron pan (you can also use a 9-inch square or 9-by-13-inch). I stick my pan and butter in the oven for two minutes to melt the butter (the butter will burn, so watch it).
  • Place cut biscuits on top of the melted butter. Add a pinch of salt on top of each, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until brown.

I will often make these for outdoor concerts or holiday open house events, adding salt and pepper to the top and fill with sliced ham and a strong mustard. They’re the perfect brunch or picnic snack.