Saturday, September 1, 2012

Grandma, Picnics, & Pudding

Once upon a time long, long ago, Labor Day brought my family together for picnics. It was so long ago, I couldn’t quite remember if we really celebrated the holiday when I was a kid, or if my memories of picnics were related to different occasions. When I asked my mom, she confirmed that we did have get togethers on Labor Day. (For those of you unfamiliar with Labor Day, it’s a US holiday that is celebrated on the first Monday in September, and its purpose is to recognize the labor movement in America. Mostly, it has become a big day for sales at department stores, and the banks and post offices are closed.)

Labor Day hasn’t been a big deal for my husband’s family, at least not since I’ve been part of the crew. My husband doesn’t remember doing anything special as a kid, either. But since we have my niece’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, the other brother-in-law’s wedding anniversary, our wedding anniversary, and my sister-in-law’s birthday within a three week span, we have more than enough opportunities to get together for celebrations at the end of August and into September.

Still, I’m feeling nostalgic for those end of summer picnics, playing with my brothers and cousins, eating hot dogs and watermelon, and just being around the family that I took for granted would always be there.  

I especially miss my grandma. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my uncle used to call me “Little Cordie”, because apparently I resembled her quite a bit. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder what features I inherited from her. I don’t have any pictures of her when she was younger, so I really don't know. I recognize her artistic talent in my daughter, though. My grandma was a painter in addition to being a good crafter and seamstress. She used to make all of her Christmas gifts for years. Unfortunately, no one in the family learned to sew as well as she did. She was a professional seamstress, and she could whip out a new dress for me in a matter of a couple hours.

I’m a pretty good cook like she was, but nothing ever tastes as good as what grandma used to make. Her specialties were chicken and dumplings, chocolate pies, chicken and dressing, and my favorite, banana pudding. I ran across her recipe the other day. I've had it for years, but I’ve never tried to make it myself. So, in memory of my grandma, I thought I’d share her recipe for banana pudding. For all I know, she cut it out of magazine or found it in a recipe book, but to me, it will always be hers.

Do you have a favorite food you associate with someone you love?

Grandma Cordie’s Banana Pudding
2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas, sliced
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated (but undergoing family therapy to solve their differences)
Vanilla wafers

Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. In a saucepan, beat the egg yolks and milk together.  Add the flour and sugar mixture and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add butter and vanilla to the boiling mixture. Have a bowl lined with vanilla wafers and a layer of bananas. Pour some of the pudding mixture on top. Repeat layers. Beat egg whites until stiff and add 3 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Top the pudding and brown it in the oven. 


  1. Thanks for posting that recipe. It looks terrific!
    My favorite recipe of my grandmother's is one I make for almost every party I attend. It's one of those cheesy hash brown potato casseroles, and though I've tasted other versions, hers is still the best!

  2. Great post, Samantha! :) I don't remember doing anything specifically for Labor Day, though since my dad would have had the day off and we were off from school, I'm certain we would have done something! My father's grandparents were from Germany, so they passed down a great German potato salad. And my aunt, who was not Italian, shared with me her special hot sausage and bell pepper spaghetti that I still make today. :)

  3. I have Grammy Goshorn's gingerbread recipe framed! Mostly because I wrote it on that piece of notebook paper the first year Mr. B and I were married and after 46 years it's stained and the paper is getting pretty old. Plus it's the only one in existence because no one else thought to write it down before she passed on.
    LOVE your recipe for banana pudding...must try it! My kids love banana pudding!

  4. Cheryl,

    Some day soon I'm going to try it. I bought a KitchenAid last weekend, so it makes these kind of things easier. I love cheesy hash brown potato casserole, but some varieties are definitely better than others. And no one cooks like grandmothers! :)

    Have a happy Labor Day weekend.

  5. Terry,
    How great to have your family's German potato salad recipe! The recipe for the spaghetti sounds really good. I love pasta. Too much! :)

    Enjoy your weekend.

  6. Carolyn,
    I love that idea. My mother-in-law framed two recipes from her mother, and it's such a meaningful keepsake.

    Have a great weekend with Mr. B! :)

  7. I never do anything for Labor Day because school has already started, and I'm in the midst of all that. A friend did invite us to swim tomorrow. I always think of my grandparents at Christmas.

  8. Shana,

    Our school doesn't start until after Labor Day, which is kind of nice. I'm never wondering what date the kids go back to school. :D