Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Honey of a Grandpa

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Grandpa was a beekeeper. He was a regular exhibitor at the Ionia Free Fair, and often the Michigan State Fair. Even today when  I dip a spoon into a jar of honey, I think of him and Grandma. They lived only a block from us in the little town of Hubbardston, Michigan.

I remember pulling a chair up to the kitchen table and poking a knife into the waxy cells of honeycomb to collect the golden liquid that oozed to the surface. While I liked honey on a thick slice of bread, my hands-down favorite was a spoonful of honey drizzled over a mound of homemade cottage cheese.

I loved visiting Grandpa in the corner of his basement where he worked on his “honey of a hobby.” After extracting and bottling the liquid honey, he melted the leftover beeswax into little “cakes.” Mom always kept one of these in her sewing cabinet for waxing thread to strengthen it and to prevent tangling. Dad used beeswax to fix sticky drawers and to lubricate nails and screws for his woodworking projects.

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Like my Grandpa, my dad, Harvey Allen, took up beekeeping as one of his many hobbies after retiring. Grandpa would be proud to see that HONEY FOR SALE sign in my parents’ front yard.

Grandpa’s hobby doubtless accounts for all the recipes in Grandma’s collection that call for honey. They will all appear in the reproduction of her book that I’m producing, but, to tempt your tastebuds, here’s one:

HONEY COOKIES

2 1/2 cups honey

1 cup shortening

3 eggs

ginger + cinnamon + salt (a dash or a pinch will do)

2 level tablespoons soda dissolved in

6 tablespoons vinegar

Enough flour to hold shape when dropped

She noted no more instructions, but she probably baked them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes

 

What is it?

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I certainly wasn’t expecting this concoction in the middle of Grandma’s recipe collection:

33# oats

50# wheat

18# meat scraps

5# bone meal

18# bran

3 pts cod liver oil

70# shelled corn

1 1/2# salt

15# alfalfa meal

2# charcoal

Trying to decipher the faded handwritten label at the top of the page explained it all: Chicken Mash. I should not have been surprised. After all, Grandma was a farm girl and a farmer’s wife.

Grandma Allen’s Bread Pudding

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Poring over my grandmother’s recipe collection proved to be a popular pastime on a recent camping trip with my siblings. Since some of us were staying in a cabin equipped with an oven, we even tested a couple of them. The berry cobbler, we determined, needs some modification. The bread pudding recipe, however, was a clear winner. Of course, the maple syrup one of my sisters drizzled (no, poured) all over it certainly didn’t hurt the flavor one bit.

Here’s the recipe from Grandma’s collection. Parenthetical notes indicate our modifications. Modify yours to suit your taste and the ingredients you have on hand.

GRANDMA ALLEN’S BREAD PUDDING

2 eggs separated

3/4 cup sugar of 1/4 cup honey (we used maple syrup)

salt (a pinch)

1/2 t lemon extract (omitted because we didn’t have any on hand)

2 T melted butter

2 cups hot milk (we melted the butter in the hot milk)

3 cups dry bread crumbs (we used raisin bread)

Mix together and put in 8×8 baking pan. Bake about 30 minutes in 350-degree oven.

Enjoy with or without a dollop of whipped cream.
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Now, this is what I call camping!