You're probably here simply because the title drew you in. Confession: I had no clue what to title this. All I know is that for the last two hours, the sweet aroma of ham balls covered in a delicious sauce have been filling my house. Tonight I made dinner for me and my boys (my husband, son, and Sinatra that is!). A family favorite and tradition on my side is to make ham balls with augrautin potatoes or cheesy potatoes. My grandmother used to make this each Easter and most Christmases as well. Thankfully, my mom usually carries on the tradition at Easter, though since moving to Kansas, we haven't been able to travel home at that time of year. Thus, anytime I make this meal, I think of home...I miss my family...I miss my grandmother...I remember her amazing abilities in the kitchen, and wish I would have soaked up more of her baking expertise (saying she used recipes is an understatement-I don't think I ever saw her measure a single ingredient!) before she passed away.
These bittersweet thoughts (and the prompting of an old neighbor for my ham ball recipe) led me tonight to my grandmother's recipe book. It's not really my grandmother's, technically. After my grandma Lucy passed away, my mom was going through her old recipes, and saved some of the family favorites, most in my grandmother's classic cursive handwriting, and scrapbooked them for me. I cherish this book.
Tonight as I was flipping it's delicately designed pages, I came across an odd recipe-one probably not found or used too much these days, and it took my imagination back to the days of the 1950's...to the housewives in aprons and heels with one baby on the hip and another on the way...to the mother in the kitchen leaning over the stove with her pearls shining 'round her neck and her hair perfectly pinned up. I'm wondering how in the world a woman can vacuum with heels on?? Other than Donna Reed, who does that?! And, being a housewife and mother now, I can't remember the last time I got that dressed up to do laundry and change a diaper!
But there's something respectful about the way that the women of the fifties dressed. They were professional homemakers, and they dressed the part. The home was their office, their board room, their career, so why not wear heels, if only in the kitchen?
Back on subject!! The recipe that you are by now probably thinking that I completely forgot to mention is for Homemade Window Washing. I'm not sure when Windex came along, but apparently this must have done the trick back during the time of my grandmother's housewife and mommyhood days.
Homemade Window Washing Recipe (in beautiful cursive handwriting of course!)
1 quart water and add:
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons Borox
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 cup alcohol (my guess is rubbing alcohol, though perhaps it was a cocktail for after the window washing was done?)
It amazes me the kind of grandmother that I had. Economical, practical, intelligent and beautiful, all with three children in tow! There are days that I find myself wearing more of Isaac's food that he's eaten, forgetting to shave my legs for a week, rarely having time to do my hair and wear it down and not in a ponytail, and most of my weekly cooking consisting of frozen meals. How did she do it, I wonder? How did she wear the dress and the heels and her curls pinned up and still manage to make the world's best sweet rolls?
I only hope I can be half the housewife, mother, and woman that my grandmother was, and though I might not wear my heels and pearls tomorrow while doing laundry, I may just try that window washing recipe after all ;)