2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  Week 16 (April 15 – 21) Out of Place

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 16 (April 15 – 21) Out of Place

“first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Out of Place

Well, this “prompt” had me perplexed until I became obsessed with all the many Thrulines on Ancestry… something is definitely “out of place” on there… and I’m trying to weave links to the many possible ancestors they’ve teased me with. This will be a good post to write, whether I make a connection or not, I’ll have all the evidence to make the connection… one day… well maybe… maybe not!

Askew Thrulines 2

This “ThruLine” hint shows a possible connection back further… from my Elizabeth F. Veazey (1825abt-   ) to my James Britain Askew (1830-  ).  If I’m able to prove to Alanson E. (1800-1863) Veasey (Veazey) & Cynthia Reynolds, then I’ll be able to take this line back three more generations on my Veazey side. The only proven box here is the one in white… the dotted line boxes are unproven. Alanson also a daughter, Margery born in 1825.

James B. Askew was born about 1830 in Georgia to parents of William & Mary (Gerald) Askew. He married Elizabeth F. Veazey (circ 1825/29), parents unknown, on November 18, 1849 in Greene County, Georgia. If they’d only waited one more year, she would have still been living in her parents household and would have showed on the census! Darn!

Askew James B marriage clip

Marriage license of my James Brittain Askew to Eliza F? J? Veazey on November 18, 1849 in Greene Co., Georgia.

  • 1850 Census: James B. Askew b. 1830, marr. to Eliza, b. 1825. Now living in Greene Co., Ga. Both born in Georgia.
  • 1860 Census: Jas (James) B. Askin, age 30 (Askew), wife Eliza, age now 35, with children of: Mary W. (10), Milton A. (8), Eloucise (Ella 6), Redwin T. (4), Lola M. (Ola 6/12) Wm M. (6/12)… I’m assuming Lola and Wm are twins. This family name was butchered on the Census – Family surname is Askew, living in Greene Co., GA.
  • 1870 Census: James Askew (now 43, b. abt. 1827), spouse Julia (now 41, b. abt. 1829); Children – Milton (18), Ella (16), Thomas (14), Olla (Ola 12-my grandmother), Sam (10), and Julia (8). Lida Battle (black) in household, age 9. Living in Powellton, Hancock County, GA.

(Several searches on Ancestry has shown my Elizabeth F. Veazey listed as Eliza Ann, Julia, Eliza Francina,  and Eliza. I’m not sure how the census enumerator interpreted it as Julia, other than mishearing her name said.) I”m wondering if that F. middle initial wasn’t always a “J” as on the 1870 census where I found her  listed as Julia, wife of James B. Askew.

How am I tackling this “Out of Place” discovery on ThruLines?

  • I contacted several Ancestry members who have parents listed for my Elizabeth F. Veazey. I did check their pages, but could not determine any true sources for the parents of Elizabeth F. Veazey they listed.
  • I searched for a will/estate papers for Alanson E. Veazey… nothing… but I did find estate papers for his father Ezekiel Veasey 1759-1837 (Veazey) with Alanson as executor of his estate. His father had quite an extensive listing of his estate; I found no will.
  • Ezekiel died 29 DEC 1837  White Plains, Greene, Georgia / Estate Appraisement dated Sept. 8, 1838

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Another Thruline I took a look at was the Elizabeth Bryan they posted… naturally intriguing me as she was the only “Bryan” to show up!

thruline elizabeth bryan

In taking a closer look at a member’s tree, of from where Ancestry took her… this is a perfect example of “out of place“… as this person’s tree is trying to show her as my possibly 4th great-grandmother… and it’s only happening because her tree is all wrong. On this incorrect tree they have my Elizabeth Cain with no spouse… and she clearly is married to my James Bryan. I laughed when I saw that they had a photo of her… cropped from my photo of James, Parthenia (daughter) and Elizabeth (Cain). The inaccuracy of this person’s tree connected to Thrulines is trying to show that my 5th great-grandmother was Elizabeth Bryan, daughter of my John and Nancy (unk) Bryan…. but in this tree they have her as the daughter of John and Nancy Mayes Bryan… which, again is “out of place.” The unknown Nancy (unk) Bryan is actually my 5th great grandmother.

My head is spinning in even trying to figure out this tree… as they actually have John and Nancy (Mayes) Bryan, as the parents of  my James Bryan (1791-1885) and Elizabeth Bryan… and then they have added John Bryan marrying again to Elizabeth Ann Hinkle and have the same Elizabeth Bryan as their child. This tree is totally “out of place” and is making me feel that we all need to go back into our trees and revamp them. I’m sure I have a few on mine where I’ve added people… just so I can relook at them on another day, but that day never seems to come. Maybe Ancestry should have a tab where we could put ancestors in a holding area for sorting, but not attached to a tree. Ancestry are you listening?

The tree listed above is definitely incorrect for me as Elizabeth Bryan is the daughter of John and Nancy (unk)… and she is not my 5th great grandmother, but instead my 5th great aunt. And in the same incorrect tree, they showed Elizabeth Cain as the daughter of the Elizabeth Bryan, who married Ransome Cain. Are you confused? I still am… and I’m not even trying to prove or disprove this so “Out of Place” tree anymore!

relationship to me Cain

This is my correct Elizabeth Cain, parents unknown at this time. I have not found an actual birth certificate for her marriage to my James Bryan, but in his War of 1812 pension records, he stated they were married on Oct. 10, 1818 in Franklin County, Georgia. Could he have shown those records at that time to the Army, or did they take his word? Those things we will never know, but as they listed it in his records… might I assume it’s correct? I had hoped to find that marriage license hiding in his pension records, but no documents were there. I, along with many researchers, have searched for that marriage record to no avail. One day, I may make that trip to Franklin County and try, but so many courthouses have lost their early records… so we may never actually find that documented copy other than using his pension records.

relationship to me

My documented Bryan Family line

I’m beginning to feel that those Ancestry Thru-lines have made me more turned around, than helpful! If you’ve had luck with them and found a match… do let me hear from you!

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Stay tuned for Week 17… At Worship

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

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2019: P… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Pepperoni Bread

2019: P… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Pepperoni Bread

I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

pepperoni bread

Pepperoni Bread

Another great recipe I learned from my mother in law… one that she often brought to family functions. Being it was a favorite of my husbands, I made it quite often. There have been many changes through the years to this recipe… as it started with using either frozen dough or dough bought at the local pizzeria… and here in New Haven… we have plenty. My husband was often sent to pick up dough for his mother… they’d cut off a pound and throw it in a brown paper bag… how easy was that!

We soon progressed from the timely process of using fresh pizza dough… having to wait for it to rise… to a “use now” dough sold in the dairy department of your local grocery store. It was Aunt Catherine (Celia’s sister) who discovered this new pizza dough and after we all ate it… we were hooked… it was just too easy! Soon everyone abandoned the old favorite pizza dough! No waiting for it to rise… just make and bake… and you’re done!

One thing about pepperoni bread… you can never make just one loaf… as it goes way too fast. If you’re making it for a party, make the day before, slice and wrap in foil… just before serving, heat slightly in oven. I find it great cold, but hubby enjoys his warmed. But the real secret is… always have enough because it goes fast! It will be the hit of the party.

kneeko thief

Be warned… if you happen to have a dog in your home, keep the pepperoni bread out of reach. We quickly discovered that our puppy, Kneeko, stretched with all his might to reach the top of the counter and drag off a loaf… and before we discovered one was missing, he had devoured the entire loaf… we found him lying on the bathroom floor… with a tummy ache! Hmmm, I wonder why?

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I’ve shared this recipe with many family and friends… even sharing it to my hometown paper, The Houston Home Journal, in Perry, Georgia. I sent it to Miss Mildred Warren, who wrote the “Cook’s Nook” baking column; she featured it with an article about me living in Connecticut, and cooking Italian foods. I decoupaged it onto a wooden plaque and it now hangs in my daughters kitchen.

Pepperoni Bread Ingredients:

pepperoni bread ingredients

pepperoni directionsMy husband has taken over now as the “Pepperoni Bread King” and kicks it up a notch… as he likes to say!

He begins by laying parchment paper on a baking pan… using clips to keep the paper from moving. There are two types of the Pillsbury Pizza Dough… classic and thin. Hubby prefers the thin… his answer is, “less bread, so I can eat more.”

The pizza dough is unrolled and slightly stretched to fit the inside of the pan. I find it easier if you add grating cheese to your beaten eggs… helps it to not run off your dough… and you definitely don’t want that! Pouring in the center will give you better control for it not to reach the sides.

Sprinkle your cheeses and pepperoni all over… don’t overdo the pepperoni as it’ll make it too heavy to roll up, and you’ll get holes in your dough. When I start rolling “jelly roll style”… I slightly roll the dough over about half an inch before rolling the bread up. By having your dough already on the parchment paper… you are ready to now bake. Hubby slightly brushes the top with some of the leftover egg and sprinkles with sesame seeds… his signature on pepperoni bread! Bake 350, 30-40 minutes till nice and golden brown. Let rest before slicing… if you can resist, but I love slicing the ends off as soon as I can!

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Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: O… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Only the Best Pizza by Dad

2019: O… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Only the Best Pizza by “Dad”

img_8619

I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

pizza dad

Only the Best Pizza by “Dad”

Saturday night at my in-laws was often pizza night… and who made the best pizza… my father in law! But it wasn’t made with pizza dough from pizza parlors… it was made with the Pillsbury pizza classic dough sold in the grocery store. I can’t remember how it came about in using it, but we all loved it… and none of us have ever replicated it… but I keep trying.

Ingredients:

  • Pillsbury pizza dough – classic style
  • pizza sauce or crushed tomatoes (dad used both at different times)
  • mozzarella cheese (opt., but dad didn’t use)
  • meat – your choice (optional)
  • grating cheese
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • EVOO – extra virgin olive oil

I don’t remember how it all started with Dad making pizza… maybe because he had the most patience… I see his cooking ways in his son… my husband. Lots of patience and meticulous in his cutting skills…  everything must be precise!

This pizza is made and baked in your baking pan… the same one you make cookies in. Lightly grease with Crisco or spray Pam on the bottom and stretch the dough out… very carefully… having no holes…  stretch just to the edge of the pan.

Dad was meticulous in adding the sauce… he spooned it on gently… always starting in the center and slowly working toward the edges, but never getting close enough to the edge… and he’d remind you… that it must not touch the edge; he always took his time… never in a hurry. If he didn’t have pizza sauce and used crushed tomatoes, then he’d add oregano for taste, but his grandson reminded me he mostly used crushed tomatoes, rather than pizza sauce in a can.  Next went a round of fresh pepper… it seemed to make the taste! I don’t remember him ever adding mozzarella…. it was always only grating cheese… maybe that’s why it was so different and yummy! It was very simple… but Oh so good!

Dad very seldom added meat on his pizza… it was just plain with grating cheese… and always a drizzle of olive oil as the final touch before baking!

dads apron

Dad’s Pizza Apron

I was in a sewing mode during this pizza making time and one “Father’s Day” I made Dad his very own special Pizza apron… he didn’t mind modeling it either, but it was the grandchildren, Steve and Melissa, who wore it the most… often fighting over who’d wear it when making pizza!

Making pizza memories!

pizza pics

The young pizza helpers!

The young pizza helpers… all grown up!

Grace and McKinley modeling great grandpa’s famous “pizza apron” – Melissa’s girls!

Nina and Ana wearing great grandpa’s famous pizza apron – Steve’s girls

Ella (Steve’s daughter) with Molly… the family dog modeling great grandpa’s pizza apron!

While writing this post, I got the bug to make dad’s pizza… or rather attempt to… and while it wasn’t bad… it wasn’t his… yet! Dad’s pizza was one of a kind!

I even used the same well, worn pan Dad made his famous and so-remembered pizza in… it’s now my choice for a pizza pan.

Pizza was good… but it wasn’t Dad’s!

Saturday night at my in-laws was always a get-together… besides us, Aunt Dolly was there and often the aunts, Mary and JoJo came over. Sometimes we even made calzones if we’d bought pizza dough earlier in the afternoon at the pizzeria… with everyone making their own favorites and shapes… and it was always a competition to see who’s looked and tasted the best!

Before cooking dinner we usually hung around in the den, watching shows like The Victory Garden, Nick Stellino “Cooking with Friends”, “Ciao Italia” with Mary Ann Esposito, and Wide World of Sports Ice Skating with our favorites of Nancy Kerrigan, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Elvis Stojko, Viktor Petrenko, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan and pair skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov… who were married. Sometimes it was hard to cook when our shows were on, as no one wanted to leave the room… but when they watched Bowling, I always fell asleep. I was never a bowler but it was a big thing in their family; most all the family had been on bowling leagues at one time.

When OTB (off track betting) came to Ct., that often changed our Saturday TV viewing and cooking… if we had placed bets that afternoon, we tuned in to root for our horses. I can still remember how my mother in law would be cooking with the wooden spoon in one hand and the racing form in the other; they were a big gambling family. In cleaning out the family home, I laughed when I found a copy of an Easter pie dough recipe scribbled on the back of a racing form… it brought back memories… and yes I saved it!

My mother in law’s recipe for sweet crust she scribbled on the racing form… it’s what was close at hand!

We rarely watched a movie at my in laws… TV wasn’t like it is today… you had to take what was on … no “on demand,Netflix, or Amazon Prime. If we had had all those choices… dinner would never have gotten cooked!

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My mother-in-law, Celia Insalaco… 2nd from left

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My father-in-law, Steve Insalaco… far left on back row

Dad bowled with several of his friends from Armstrong Rubber… most every workplace had a bowling team. It was about 1963 when Ten Pin in Milford first opened, and every business immediately developed bowling leagues; Armstrong Rubber had about fifteen different leagues. The Ten Pin in Milford was the first “big pin” bowling to open in the area… before that it was all “duck pin” bowling.

DAD… I sure miss your pizza… and You!!!

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Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: N… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Nancy’s Xmas Fruitcake

2019: N… A to Z  Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Nancy’s Xmas Fruitcake

I’m back for “year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

fruitcake3

Nancy’s Xmas Fruitcake

Fruitcake (as we know it today) began in the Middle ages, and just like today, they were expensive… so they generally saved them for the holidays. It was in the 13th century when dried fruits began arriving in Britain… coming from Portugal and the east mediterranean. These type of cakes differ from many other cakes because they often are prepared long before they are to be enjoyed.

People say… Fruitcake last forever…  a classic phrase coined in 1983 by Russell Baker which went along with this story.

Fruitcake is Forever

Thirty-four years ago, I inherited the family fruitcake. Fruitcake is the only food durable enough to become a family heirloom. It had been in my grandmother’s possession since 1880, and she passed it to a niece in 1933. Surprisingly, the niece, who had always seemed to detest me, left it to me in her will….I would have renounced my inheritance except for the sentiment of the thing, for the family fruitcake was the symbol of our family’s roots. When my grandmother inherited it, it was already 86 years old, having been baked by her great-grandfather in 1794 as a Christmas gift for President George Washington. Washington, with his high-flown view of ethical standards for Government workers, sent it back with thanks, explaining that he thought it unseemly for Presidents to accept gifts weighing more than 80 pounds, even though they were only eight inches in diameter…There is no doubt…about the great age of the fruitcake. Sawing into it six Christmases ago, I came across a fragment of a 1794 newspaper with an account of the lynching of a real-estate speculator in New York City.”
“Fruitcake is Forever,” Russell Baker, New York Times, December 25, 1983

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Aunt Nancy: “I have made this fruitcake for many years and always cut it on Christmas Eve to share with my family. I took this recipe out of a magazine many years ago… the story was about a family who always baked this fruitcake and how they began to buy the ingredients right after Thanksgiving. They would buy a few items at a time, as things were very expensive, and money was scarce. The cake was baked a couple of weeks before Christmas and kept in a tin can. The children were allowed to open the cover and smell the cake, but they had to wait until Christmas to enjoy eating the fruitcake. A sliced apple is kept inside the hole of the cake, keeping it fresh and moist. As the apple becomes moldy, replace with a new piece of apple.

Cambino Family photo

Aunt Nancy (far right) with her parents and siblings!

“This is not an ordinary fruit cake. Most people hear fruitcake and skip over the recipe. If you try this… you will love it. I have been making this cake for as long as I can remember, and there is never enough to pass around as everyone wants a piece.”

fruitcakefruitcake2

Fruitcake is very popular in the South… I remember seeing Claxton Fruitcake in all the grocery stores there, as well as here now in the North. My mother never baked it, or my grandmother, but I remember hearing people talk about it… but never in good terms.

I have never been a fan of fruitcake, but Aunt Nancy insisted that this was not like any regular fruitcake… I gave it a try one year… and it was delicious! I’d suggest if you want to make, do like the woman in the story… buy your ingredients little by little… too much to buy at once!

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Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: M… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Mama’s Old-Fashioned Root Beer

2019: M… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Mama’s Old-Fashioned Root Beer

I’m back for “year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

root beer2

Mother’s Old-Fashioned Root Beer

Root beer was created in the mid-1800s by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires. The original root beer was a (very) low-alcohol, naturally effervescent beverage made by fermenting a blend of sugar and yeast with various roots, herbs and barks such as
sarsaparilla, sassafras, wild cherry, wintergreen and ginger.

~~~Ingredients~~~

1 can Root Beer extract
1 fresh yeast cake
sugar
water
(This is the remembered ingredients from
Uncle Johnny… of when his mother made root
beer – below is an actual recipe I found)

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1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 cup water, warm
2 cups sugar
1 quart water, hot
4 teaspoon Root beer extract

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Dissolve sugar in 1 quart hot water. Mix together dissolved yeast, sugar and root beer extract in gallon jar. Fill jar with warm water and stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cover jar. Set in warm sun for four hours. The root beer will be ready to drink the next day. Chill before serving.

root beer

To bottle: Fill the bottle, leaving about 2 – 3 inches of air at the top. Remove the funnel and screw the bottle cap tightly. (If air leaks out, the root beer will not carbonate properly)

Uncle Johnny remembering: “I can still see mama making us Root Beer in the early hours of the morning while it was still cool; I liked to watch as it foamed up after adding the yeast cake. When it was ready to bottle, my brother, Frankie, and I helped to pour it into the bottles while mama got the bottle capper out. We were ready to drink it as soon as possible… and often sneaked one later that afternoon… when mama wasn’t looking.

capper

Bottle capper used when making home brew!

From Johnny:Frankie and I worked together filling the bottles one by one and capping them – working just like an assembly line. We kept the capped bottles in the cool dirt cellar at the farm; my father dug that cellar after we moved there. Of course the longer they stayed, the more potent they were, but we could never let them stay very long. Frankie and I often stole one to drink them – hot or cold – it didn’t matter! Sometimes we’d even hear a big ‘pop’ from downstairs – that meant another bottle lost – it had exploded! The one good thing was that since we had a dirt cellar there wasn’t much mess to clean when they popped open.”

Root Beer was very popular in this area, especially at Savin Rock… an amusement park in my husband’s hometown of West Haven, CT. There also was even a couple of Hire’s Root Beer stands there This was one drink that I never took a liking too… it tastes more like medicine to me!

Homemade Root Beer

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2019: L… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Limoncello

2019: L… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Limoncello

I’m back for “year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

Limoncello

For anyone who doesn’t know what Limoncello is – it’s an Italian liquor enjoyed with family and friends after a meal. Everyone in Italy makes their own – using the huge fragrant lemons often grown just outside their doors.

I made my first batch in 2005 and after making it the first time, my first thoughts were, “I’ll never make this again.” All the zesting really got me and I wondered why would anyone want to do all this work… when they could just “buy a bottle.” But, after tasting my homemade brew vs. bought, I could see why you’d make the effort of making your own!

jar ingredients

Limoncello Ingredients

15 large lemons (5lbs)

(Choose lemons with a thick, waxy skin – they seem to have the best lemon oil content.)

2 – 750ml bottles – 100-proof vodka (I used 1 Ltr.)

4 cups sugar

5 cups water

Wash lemons with a vegetable brush under hot water to remove residue of pesticides and wax… pat lemons dry. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible. If there is any pith on a slice, scrape it off with a knife or spoon. An extremely sharp vegetable peeler works, or a fine microplane grater, or a zester (which I prefered) to remove the thin layer of lemon peel. The zest comes off in strings rather than strips, so more surface is exposed. If you use a fine grater such as a micro-plane, avoid the temptation to shave off every last bit of colored peel, because you’re likely to end up taking some pith along with it. In other words, it’s best to give up on the colored parts of the peel that are in the “valleys” on the surface of the lemon.

jar 3

Step One: In a large glass jar (1-gallon or larger), add one bottle of vodka and the lemon zest – either as you zest or all together when you’re finished. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) days, or up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. My first original batch sat for almost a year and I don’t think it tasted any different than my second batch.

There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait!

As the Limoncello sits, the vodka will slowly take on the flavor and the rich yellow color of the lemon zest. Once the zest has turned white, all the lemon oil has been released from the zest and infused into the vodka; you should see that the zest has lost its color by the time you add the second bottle of vodka and sugar-water mix.

Step Two: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool  to room temperature before adding to the Limoncello mixture from Step One; adding it warm will change the taste. Add the second bottle of vodka and allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.

jar

Step Three: After the rest period, strain through cheesecloth two to three times before bottling – discard the lemon zest. Keep in freezer until serving. Everyone keeps their Limoncello in the freezer so it’s icy cold when serving.

It wasn’t long after before I decided to make Limoncello again… and after finding my original recipe, I went in search of fragrant smelling lemons… finding perfect ones at Costco – in a 5lb bag; Zesting went much faster this time… I was finished in about 45 minutes… yay! It seemed to have gone much quicker this time. Now I had another dilemma – what to do with fifteen “naked” lemons? I turned to the Internet and quickly found suggestions of lemonade, lemon sorbet and lemon pie – or just freeze the juice for a future recipe. Now I had to juice all my zest-less lemons – and that turned out to be quite a chore…  harder on my hands than the actual zesting.

Before making my second batch, I read several comments online… on the making of Limoncello. Many comments were – “it only takes 10 days to infuse the zest and vodka… the longer it steeps together, the better the taste… using a premium vodka results in a better taste vs. a cheap vodka… and use only pure grain 100% alcohol.”

I chose to use a 100% proof vodka vs. pure grain alcohol, but I didn’t use the most expensive vodka. I did find the pure grain alcohol in the store, but the clerk mentioned that many people didn’t actually use it. At first I didn’t remember which brand of vodka I used for my first batch, but I ended up on the second run with the very same one – Majorska 100-proof vodka. It worked very well the first time around, so I knew it would work out for this batch also.

After about 40 days of infusing, I added the sugar syrup mixture and the second bottle of vodka. I re-covered the jar and placed it again in a dark cool place to finish the process. I left it for about 30 days this time, before the final process of straining the liquid through cheesecloth to remove all the zest; you want the end result to be a nice and clear bottle of Limoncello.

All I had to do now was bottle it – my Christmas presents were  almost ready!

jar 2

Gather your lemons and Vodka… and get busy!

I look forward to hearing your Limoncello stories!

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Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: K… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: King Cambo’s Meatballs

2019: K… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: King Cambo’s Meatballs

I’m back for “year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

king cambo meatballs

The day I asked Uncle Johnny about making meatballs, he stressed… “always taste the meat before frying, just a little taste, but you must taste.”

In bowl, mix all ingredients well, and taste – it should have a strong garlic taste. If not, add more garlic or garlic powder. Don’t taste too much – it is raw meat! After seasoned, form into balls. Fry in oil (preferably olive oil) in a frying pan… enough oil to almost cover half of meatballs. Turn over when brown on one side, and cook until somewhat crispy. Drain on paper towels – save some meatballs for the sauce pan. Extra meatballs in sauce make awesome meatball subs the next day… don’t forget the provolone cheese.

I use Italian seasoned bread crumbs… and if you can also add a small amount of Italian bread… moistened slightly with milk.

We don’t fry meatballs in our house anymore… my husband has become the official meatball maker and cooks them in the oven on parchment paper. I think they are just as good in the oven… and so much easier. No more messy stovetop with oil splatters all over!

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Hubby preparing his baked meatballs!

In Uncle Johnny’s own words… “I make the “finest” meatballs! They must taste a certain way raw… and after mixing them, I taste the raw mixture. If they taste right, then they’re ready to fry. They’ll taste the same after cooking! My mother (Minnie) always tasted hers before cooking and since I learned all my cooking from my mother, I do the same. Mama was a great cook! Besides adding meatballs to her sauce, she also put squirrel in when I brought them home; they were delicious! Mama even put Starlings in her sauce too… Starlings are good, but squirrel tastes better… because their diet consists mostly of nuts.

Johnny was the cook in his family… his wife and children were in the cooking line, but he was No. 1. His children learned to cook by watching him… he never followed any recipes. If you wanted to learn… you had best to watch. He was their biggest critic… never hesitating to tell them if they didn’t pass the test!

His theory on making meatballs was… always use fresh garlic, parsley and never skimp on the grated cheese… and of course always taste before cooking!

Uncle Johnny was a master at many things… always in the limelight… never afraid of a challenge. His first challenge came at age 18 when asked if he could drive… someone was looking for a driver in the modifieds at the Savin Rock racetrack. Johnny looked him right in the eye…. and said yes! When telling me this story, he said, “I just said yes even though I’d never drove in a race before, but I wanted to do it.” Johnny drove in that race like he’d been driving for years… he never lacked confidence!

johnny married clip

That one race led to a career that lasted until he was age 70-plus… he was a winner more than naught and one of the most popular drivers at Savin Rock Speedway. He even met his wife at that track… she was one of his fans who came to every race… and humble even after she was his girlfriend… as she’d even stand in line to have him sign his racing photograph. Johnny was extremely popular at the West Haven Speedway… so much that the owner asked him to hold his wedding ceremony at the track… his wife squashed that!

johnny and maggie

Johnny & Maggie – Wedding Day

Uncle Johnny left racing for several years after a bad accident, but later at age 60 he came back into the game… it was hard to keep the racing out of his blood! The young guys loved to tease him when he returned to racing… thinking this old man was trying to stay in a game he’d outgrown… but they learned quickly that this “old man” could still drive circles around them… winning more races than not. Johnny always laughed about how strong he was… having arms like Popeye… from the many years of pulling on those old steering wheels… which had no power steering!

It was a sad day in our family when Uncle Johnny Cambino left our family… he was the storyteller of the family… always with a smile, a joke, and doing it his way… and we all loved his racing stories!

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So what’s your best meatball story?

Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: J… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Jeanne’s Christmas Eggnog

2019: J… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Jeanne’s Christmas Eggnog

I’m back for “year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

egg nog bowl

Jeanne’s Christmas Eggnog

Our Favorite Family Holiday Eggnog!

I never tasted homemade eggnog until one Christmas in 2002…. at work! It was brought in to us… and needless to say… we quite loved it… made work much more fun that day! Of course, I immediately wanted the recipe, but there was no recipe. Why is there always “no recipe”?

After listening several times of how she made it, and asking countless questions… I finally created a recipe to share with my family. Naturally when you don’t have exact ingredients, you have to experiment… taste… and repeat until you’re happy with the results. We had always bought eggnog every Christmas, but now we have a new family recipe… no more bought!egg nog recipe

img_9253

egg nog directions

If serving in a punch bowl, you can float
whipped crème on top and sprinkle with a
little nutmeg or cinnamon.
Once you have homemade eggnog,
you’ll never go back –
especially after adding the nog!

Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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2019: I… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Icebox Cake

2019: I… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Icebox Cake

I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

img_9079

Icebox Cake

The first time my husband mentioned “Icebox Cake”… and explained what it was… I was like, “this is not cake!” Even today, I still find the name to be somewhat funny… but it is what it is! I learned to make this as a newlywed… as it was hubby’s favorite dessert. Today after 48 years of marriage… he makes it. How times change!

family pic

Hubby (baby) with the Italian cooks in his family. Great Grandma Julia holding him, with mother Celia and Grandma Minnie behind.

Most of the Italian recipes have stemmed from my mother in law… but she made her icebox cake a little different from the way we now make… although mostly the same. She sometimes added bananas or fruit, which we usually don’t. Hubby mostly only eats this, and he’s not a fan of fruit in his pudding, although I enjoy sliced bananas in it. But if you use bananas… drizzle them first with lemon juice so they don’t brown… and I suggest making a small dish as they don’t keep well… but it never lasts long in our house anyway! She also added vanilla extract to her chocolate homemade pudding and lemon extract to the vanilla pudding. I never liked that difference in tastes, so I keep mine original… adding vanilla extract to the vanilla and chocolate chips to the chocolate.

I was taught to make Icebox Cake with pudding made from scratch… which was always called “Italian Cream”, which isn’t hard to make, and sets up better than the instant or cooked pudding in boxes; he often will use the box cook pudding in a pinch.

Ingredients Needed: Graham crackers, pudding (boxed or homemade) of your choice (we use vanilla and chocolate), bananas (optional), vanilla extract, Choc. Chips

If you’d like to try your hand at making “Italian Cream”… recipe is below. It’s really easy to whip up and always a good way to use up any extra milk you might have on hand.

Italian Cream

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cornstarch (I use a regular tablespoon to measure)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract – save for “only” at the end, and only in the vanilla)
  • chocolate chips (abt 8 ounces)  “only” in chocolate pudding. Can add more or less depending on how chocolatey you want it.

This recipe can easily be doubled – single recipe given above:

In large saucepan (5 quart) add egg yolks and milk, whisk to blend well. Add sugar and cornstarch…. turn heat on low and begin whisking all together… slowly add more heat. Once everything is all blended together, I keep heat on medium to slightly higher; stir constantly with wooden spoon. It needs to first come to a medium bubble, then have a medium-low bubble until you feel the mixture becoming thick. When you remove the spoon and the pudding drops off in a clump, it’s ready to take off the heat. Don’t walk away from it, and stir constantly… or you’ll have burnt pudding… just saying!

I remove half of my Italian cream to a bowl, and to that half I add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. To what is left in the pan, I add chocolate chips… adding enough to make it turn into the chocolatey consistency and taste you want… there’s no set rule. You can also make it all vanilla or all chocolate… we just like it half and half. Whisk it well so there are no clumps.

Cool the creams, leaving a layer of wax paper on top… to help it not develop a film, but if it does, just take the whisk and mix up well. Sometimes you need to use the whisk again anyway to make it nice and smooth.

Icebox Cake

Italian cream recipe

Italian cream directions

My recipe is for a large pan, but you can easily make any size pan you want. Usually my husband makes it in a smaller 8 inch square pan… empty nesters now! He’s meticulous in how he lines the dish with the crackers… filling it in all nice and perfect and squared off…. me, I’m not so neat like that. It takes only one batch for small dish.

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Hubby forgot to call me after he layered the graham crackers, but here it is with the first layer of chocolate pudding. Graham crackers also cover the bottom.

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Lay a layer of graham crackers after first layer of pudding.

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A layer of vanilla pudding is added on top of chocolate – a layer of graham crackers is in between.

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A final layer of graham crackers covers the vanilla pudding. You can also use crushed graham crackers on top if you don’t want solid crackers.

Besides making an Icebox Cake with the Italian Cream… it makes an awesome chocolate pie, which we call Italian Cream Pie. You can either make your own favorite crust… or cheat like I have, and buy a crust. This is a favorite to make at Christmas for us.

Do you make Icebox Cake… let me know how you prepare yours!

Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: H… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Ham Pie

2019 A to Z: H… Ham Pie

Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories

I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!

My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.  2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on.  2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!

I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!

pie28

Easter Ham Pie (Pizzagaina)

My first Easter in my new Italian family was very strange to me…so many unusual foods with even stranger names. As I watched my mother in law prepare the pies… well, I can’t even remember what I was thinking, but every time I was asked to try, my answer was always “No Thank You.” I just couldn’t wrap my head around a pie made with ham… but what was I thinking… it’s really no more than a quiche!

Ham Pie today, is one of my favorites… and as Easter is on the 21st this year… this post is fitting in at just the right time!

Like clockwork… every Easter Grandma Minnie would be called to ask how many eggs, or how much flour do I need for the crust. My mother in law had no written recipe for this… and my question always to her was, “why don’t you write it down so you don’t have to call all the time… what happens when she isn’t here to call.” That was the beginning of me taking upon the task of writing a recipe for the Ham Pie and the pepper crust that must be used. I never thought of using pepper in a crust… and seems really strange, but believe me… it just doesn’t have the right taste without it!

Grandma Minnie had “no” written recipes… they were all in her head… and now it was my job to set them to paper. No more calling every Easter! Our grandmothers had very few, if any recipes written down… they just cooked! My own grandmother had no recipes… my mother told me. They knew how to cook from the feel and taste!

I knew that if I was going to bake Ham Pie, I needed to create a recipe… and it was those recipes I created that actually pushed me write two family cookbooks for the family.

On the day Grandma Minnie was going to make her pies… I sat myself across from her and watched… and measured her soup dishes that she scooped the flour with. I couldn’t measure everything, but after making it a few times myself, I devised the ingredient amounts. I believe she could make this pie blindfolded… as she’s made it for so many years. I wish I’d kept my first scribbled notes on that day… it would be funny to look back and read all I wrote.

As I mentioned, a pepper crust always goes hand in hand with the Ham Pie. Some people don’t even use a crust… and I have to admit, that if I happen to have extra mixture, I often bake it alone in a pie dish; nothing gets thrown out!

Ham Pie

23-25 large eggs, beaten (I always use an odd amount of eggs – why – because Grandma Minnie told me too!) This is for a 15 x 10 baking dish. You can cut this down if you want to make a smaller dish… the ingredients are very forgiving.

  • 5 cups chopped ham (I use slightly heaping cups – can always add more)
  • 1 1/2 cups Basket Cheese – cubed ( fresh Italian cheese found at Easter)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper (you will have to judge – you might want more or less)
  • 1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese (we use the fresh grated now, but the can is ok)

When Grandma Minnie taught me how to make this pie – she stressed to always use an “odd” amount of eggs. I’ve never dared to use anything other than an odd amount… as I can still hear her in the back of my head saying, “ohhhh”, you must use an odd amount!” I think it’s an Italian “bad luck” curse… and I wasn’t going to test it out!

The filling is easy – and even easier if your sous chef has pre-cut the ham for you.  Hubby cuts each piece exactly the same size!

While hubby cuts… Penelope kept a watchful eye on my ham!

You won’t have a bowl large enough to hold everything… well at least I don’t, so I always grab one of my 5-quart pots to mix the ingredients in. It’s so much easier to have a deep pan, especially when whisking eggs. After counting out all my “odd” amount of eggs, I crack them first in a separate bowl… unless you want to try and fish out an eggshell… or worse… miss a shell. Nothing worse than biting into a piece of eggshell!

Whisk the eggs very well… and save all the eggshells for your garden. Add pepper and parmesan cheese, stirring all together with wooden spoon. Last, fold in the ham and basket cheese… if you think it needs more, add a little at a time… stir around and if you’re happy with it… you are done with the mixture. It will look similar to a quiche. If you like pepper and think it needs more, this is your last chance!

Now the back-breaking part…. making and rolling out the crust!

Once my ham mixture is put together, it waits in the fridge… better for it to wait, than the crust. After rolling out my crust, it needs to be placed quickly in a waiting dish that has been well-greased with Crisco. It will now wait for you to quickly roll out the top crust.

My metal scooper/scraper is the best tool for pie rolling… if my dough sticks as I roll out, I use the scraper (floured) to help nudge it loose; it also helps to clean off the table when through.

Ham Pie Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour – slightly heaping
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 4   eggs – large
  • 3   tablespoons Crisco (heaping – I use an actual tablespoon)
  • 1/4 water (cold)
  • 2 tsp pepper (judge amount of pepper you want; don’t add all at once; remember you can always add,  but you can’t subtract!
  • 15 x 10 glass baking dish (well greased with Crisco)

Over the years, I have come up with different ways I cook – one new thing when making my crust is I use a plastic tablecloth to work on. If I make all my crusts in one day – all I do when I’m done is roll up all the extra flour and throw it out. It makes for an easy cleanup! I don’t know about you, but by that time, my back is breaking from leaning over the rolling pin –  Viola – my kitchen table is clean! And it always helps to have a sous chef in the kitchen  – and that’s my husband!

To make the dough: Sprinkle the center of your table (rolling area) lightly with flour. In the middle, add the 3 cups of flour and baking powder together in one pile – add your pepper here also. With a spoon, slightly stir those two together, then form a well for eggs and liquids. In the well I add eggs, Crisco and half of the water and begin lightly mixing together with a fork, mashing the Crisco down into the flour and eggs. Once I’ve mixed it lightly – it’s then time to get your hands in the dough – you need to feel the texture. Check your dough as your work – don’t forget to add the rest of the water either – do you need or want more pepper – now is the time; remember it’s all to your taste! I like just enough, but not overpowering.

Don’t overdo adding extra flour… if your dough is too stiff… you will have a heck of a time rolling it out… believe me!

I enjoy the feel of the dough and after you’ve made it a few times, you will know the smooth, somewhat soft feel of it. It shouldn’t feel sticky, but soft and tender is good. Too much flour will made a tough, stiffer dough, and you will pay dearly with your back in rolling it out.

When rolling out the dough, flour your rolling pin well and keep well floured; it helps to not stick and your dough to not rip.

Separate your dough into two parts; one smaller ball for the top crust, about one-third. Wrap the smaller ball in saran wrap and set aside. Clean off the older flour from mixing the dough and re-flour the table generously! With floured rolling pin, roll dough out to match the size dish you are baking in… you don’t want the dough too thick, so roll it thin… but not super thin. After I’ve rolled it out, I back roll the dough up on my rolling pin (very lightly), and while the dough is wrapped around lightly on my rolling pin… I gently, and quickly, lay it inside my “greased” baking dish. (Always grease your dishes before rolling) It’s good to have a buddy in the kitchen when doing this… just in case you’ve forgotten to bring your baking dish close to you, and it’s greased… you don’t want to lay your rolling pin “down” with the dough wrapped gently around it… you need to move quickly so it doesn’t stick together.

Pour the “ham pie” mixture into the bottom crust before rolling out the top crust – you’re almost done. Roll out your top crust in the same way as you did for the bottom… rolling it up on your rolling pin also.

After your top crust is on, I cut off some of the crust all around if too long… just leaving about two inches hanging over the edge of dish. I then fold those two crusts together and tuck under… alongside the inside edge.  I pinch the side sticking up together like any other crust you make. There is no right or wrong – it’s your decision! Make a few slits in top crust for steam to escape while baking.

Ready for the oven!

Preheat Oven 400 – bake 10 minutes then lower to 325 for about 1 hour or more. You will know when it’s done, the top will be lightly brown and usually, it will pull away at the side of the pan. It helps to use your stove timer – if you can remember! Some egg  will run up and crack the crust on top… it just happens.

After removing pan from oven, let sit for about 20 minutes. I prepare my large cutting board with two large layers of tin foil with paper towels on top… why… because you need to place that on top of your pie and flip onto it. If you don’t remove it from pan, the bottom crust becomes soggy. I then take another large baking pan and prepare the same way…. as once it cools again… you need to flip over until the pie has cooled down. I flip it a few more times in the cooling down process.

ham pie pic

My earliest “ham pie” helper… can you tell this was before digital cameras… no do-overs when the picture came out blurry… but I’ll still take it. I sadly have very few photos of my children helping in the kitchen… as I often shooed them out! I’ve never been able to cook with another helper in the kitchen. If  I wasn’t alone, I forgot items and the recipe never came out right. I wish now I had taken more time with those helpers… I would have loved to have had those photos instead of the recipe turning out right!

pie21

Hope you’ve enjoyed my family recipe!

Feel free to comment any questions you might have… be happy to help! Love to hear about your “ham pie” cooking.

Continue reading more of the A to Z…  Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories

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