Hope Sinks

VeganMoFo: Baking with Grandma
October 2, 2008, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I got some really crappy news today: my grandma fell and broke her hip this afternoon. Luckily, she happened to have her cell phone (which my dad bought for her and made her learn to use) on her and was able to call 911 from the spot near the back of her yard where she fell. She got to the hospital, and my dad tells me that while she was looking a little grey when he saw her, she’s doing okay and will be having surgery late tonight or sometime tomorrow morning. Anti-serendipitously, I had planned to write about my grandma today (without having known about the accident), following a conversation I had had with my sister, but now it feels like a bigger deal. I’m going to write anyway, but watch this spot, because I’ll very likely revise this entry to do proper justice to the subject. Anyway.

My grandma was born in England in 1922. She was a nurse aide during the second world war and bicycled through the English countryside during the blackouts delivering supplies to various hospitals and medical centres, one time pitching headfirst into a ditch and knocking out some teeth. She became interested in communism following the war and has remained a principled leftist and keen political observer. During the brief time between leases one summer that I lived with her, I was more up on current events (especially local and provincial politics) than I have ever been in my life. Long story short: my grandma is awesome, and I am unmitigated scum for not calling her as often as I should.

Bringing it back to VeganMoFo, though, my grandma was also the person who taught me to bake. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of standing on a footstool at her kitchen counter making jam tarts – tiny, simple tarts made of basic pastry and homemade raspberry jam. Baking jam tarts with my grandma was my absolute, bar-none favorite thing when I was five years old. It’s hard to remember now how much I was actually able to do, but at the time, it seemed like my grandma hardly did any of the work, which meant that I was, at five, a totally awesome baker. Of course, grandma must have done most of the work (I live with a five-year-old now, and she is balls in the kitchen), but she did it in such a way that I felt like I was in charge. I guess the really awesome thing she did was give me confidence, and I am thankful that that confidence in my ability to make food has carried through to today.

I’m not an amazing cook. I’m a pretty good baker and definitely serviceable in the kitchen, but I know when I’m out of my league. I make the odd crappy dish (like the first thing I ever made for my husband and didn’t have any time at all and only had shitty knives and pots and pans, and the kitchen was a mess, and I was so nervous, and my dish sucked so bad, and I was so embarassed oh my god), and I still sometimes have to throw things away and start from scratch, but I’ve never had to deal with the hand-wringing, anxiety-inducing crises of confidence that so many people have when it comes to cooking. Cooking and baking have never been scary to me, and for that, I think I largely have my grandma to thank.

I had meant to post the recipe for those little jam tarts before I found out about the accident, but now I can’t call my grandma to get the pastry recipe she used. Instead, I’ll just have to leave you with a promise to make them tomorrow and admonitions to all call your grandmas, you unappreciative jerks.


12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i hope your grandma’s okay! wow, we just got my grandma a cell phone a few months ago and i’m really glad now that we did. and i should totally call my grandma.

Comment by sarah

Hope comes with me.

Comment by John McCain

So sorry to hear about your grandma, I hope she’s OK.

Comment by Jeni Treehugger

If my grandma were alive, I would of course call her.

I didn’t write that to make you feel like a jerk by the way. Just putting it out there that I wish I had my nan around. She passed away when I was 4 so I only have small memories of her, like how I used to play with the saggy skin under her arms (sounds weird but it was fun at the time!). She was also a fantastic cook and I had a designated green plastic bowl I would eat from whenever I was at her place. I knew that when she would bring me the green plastic bowl, it meant deliciousness was on it’s way!

I really wish I could have long conversations with her while drinking tea, I know we would have really gotten along well.

I hope your grandma recovers, but by the sounds of it she will, she sounds like a kick arse lady!

Comment by meekins

Please enlighten me, what is a Vegan? Is that some sort of slang for vegetarian? I was just wondering. You have a nice blog, it reads well.

Don Smith

Comment by Don Smith

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Don, thanks for the compliment. A vegan is a person who does not consume any animal products. As a vegan, I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or any animal byproducts like gelatin; I also don’t wear leather, wool, or silk.

October is VeganMoFo (or Vegan Month of Food), so you can stay tuned for many of my thoughts on vegan cooking, baking, eating, and grocery shopping, and you can check out the links in my blogroll for other vegan stuff. You can also head over to http://www.cok.net or http://www.tryveg.com for some more information if you’re interested.

Thanks for stopping by!

Comment by jordanpattern

Okay, got it.


Comment by Don Smith

I hope your grandmother will be okay!

Comment by jcd

my grandma was once an amazing baker, too. she taught me how to make pies, which..is hard! i’m actually going home this weekend to care for her while my parents are out of town (she had a stroke about 9 years ago and lives with them now). she’s totally eating tofu this weekend, rock!

Comment by allularpunk

I’m sorry to hear about your grandma. Hope she gets better soon. I like this entry a lot. It’s always good to know about the people that inspired you to cook in the first place.

Comment by Monique

Man. I’m so glad your gran had that cellphone, it must be so scary to be frail and vulnerable like that. I can’t wait!

Anyway, I hope she recovers quickly, she sounds smart. My Grandma Millie once showed me how to make radish roses, and I thought that was just the best thing ever.


Comment by kittee

Aww, your grandma sounds like the coolest! I hope she recovers quickly.

Comment by melisser

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