Thursday, March 12, 2009

Old Fashioned Dinner

In these times of economic hardships, recession, and struggles I keep hearing about how the "experts" are telling us that we need to get back to the basics in our lives. To live like our Grandparents and Great grandparents did in the Great Depression.

Well, as a family affected by these current economic challenges we have been cutting back in many ways in our life. Not buying extras or conveniences as often, not going out, but staying home. The funny thing is that it hasn't been all that hard and it certainly hasn't killed us. I have found that it has brought our family much closer together.

So in honor of getting back to the simpler things in life I decided to make a good old fashioned dinner. I have had a hankering for White Beans and Ham, Home made bread, and Grandma Johnston's Oatmeal Cookies.

My mother used to make beans and ham when we were kids, and I still love them to this day. There is something about that smell when you walk into the house, you know exactly what is cooking.
That's my mom, isn't she swell? Good hair! (no, not the cheeky little kid on the table, that mess of curls is me, I used to think I was pretty hot stuff, as most kids do at 1) She also used to make homemade bread once in while and we all devoured it. It has taken a while but my kids now enjoy homemade bread as much as I used to.

I really have to take a moment and thank my Mom for teaching me all that I know about domesticity. She always gardened, canned, sewed, and was frugal with everything. Those childhood lessons are coming in very handy now that I am a mom of my own home. I find that I enjoy many of the same things as my mother. That is one of the important lessons in life, being like your mother and loving it.

For our dessert tonight I pulled out a recipe that my Aunt Sharon emailed to me a while back. Isn't she just the cutest thing? I am sure I will be getting an email from her for this one, but I wanted to share just how cute she is. She is just as cute now as she was in this picture.

Anyhoo...She was going through her family recipes and passing them on to me and my sister to keep in the family.
This recipe is from my Great-Great-Great Grandmother Anna VanDoren Johnston. She was born in 1869 in Iowa. I don't currently have a picture of her, but I do have this picture...

...This is her daughter, my Great-Great Grandmother Rena Johnston VanHorne and her 8 daughters. They were workin' the hair, that's for sure. It appears they knew their way around a bottle of Aqua Net. Don't they look like the loveliest ladies? Trust me they are and were. There are only two left. My Great-Grandmother is the second from the right on the back row. She is not longer with us but we all adored her. She was a world class fusser, she was always one the move, and it usually involved baking something. She was one of those women who could make you feel like the most important person in the world. Every memory I have of her has a warm glow of love about it. We all loved Grandma Evelyn to pieces. I am sure she got it from her mother, Grandma VanHorne was such a wonderful, sweet, kind woman.

Talk about a family who loved on another and worked hard for everything they had during hard times. All those women adored their Mother and Father, and loved each other very much. They had a farm in the town where I grew up in and it helped them get through the Depression. There are still wild horses in the area of their farm that they had to turn loose because they could no longer afford them. They are all such an inspiration to me, knowing that I come from good "stock."

I want to share this simple recipe with you to pass along in your families. It is a simple cookie for simple times. Don't be expecting "wow" because these cookies are not, they are just plain simple and homey. I hope you enjoy these simple cookies as much as I have.

Grandma Johnston's Oatmeal Cookies

2 T. Butter

1 c. Sugar

3 Eggs

2 t. Baking Powder

1/2 c. Flour

1/2 t. Salt

2 c. Oatmeal

2 t. Vanilla

Melt butter, add to sugar, add vanilla and salt. Beat eggs and add to sugar; beat well. Add oatmeal, flour baking powder; mix. Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in a slow oven as they burn easily. Note: These were probably made in a wood stove.

*I recommend you either chill the dough or add a little more flour. They went a bit flat. I also baked them at 350 for 15 minutes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and get back to the basics in your own family. Remember as the quote says "Enjoy the little things in life...for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."


Connie said...

What a great post. You said some wonderful things about me and I thank you (although you did paint a rosier picture than I remember). Thanks for being such a wonderful daughter and giving me the experience of having a healthy mother/daughter relationship. I love being a mother and grandmother and feel so blessed to have 2 daughters that make my life fulfilling. (Sons are great too, but there's nothing like a daughter to share things with)

Amy said...

Very sweet post. I too know how important family is... carrying on the traditions is so important. Our future generations are depending on us to keep these traditions alive. Enjoy your simple supper!

Megan said...

That was a great post. I loved the picture of you and your cute mom! You are making great memories for your own kids now.

Apronly Yours said...

Maria you really did it this time. I found myself reminising and tearing up a little. You really have a way of creating a homey picture and making me want to be a better homemaker and get back to those basics. Thanks so much for your sweet and powerful spirit. As always I enjoy your comments . Keep up the good work. Mona