Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Recipes from Our Grandmothers

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Scone, apple pie cake, chocolate cake with white icing, and strawberry shortcake are just a few of the baked sweets that come to mind when I think of my grandmother. She's a great baker but an even better baking teacher. From the time I was old enough to reach the counter, she's been teaching me how to master her traditional Scottish scone and perfect her chocolate cake. There's something so special about her recipes. Along with their delicious taste comes memories of afternoons spent with my arms covered in flour, chocolate-stained aprons, and lots and lots of laughs.

During "Living Today" this afternoon, I was reminded of how much I've enjoyed learning my grandmother's recipes. Faye Porter, author of "At My Grandmother’s Knee," joined us to share three recipes from her book. The really unique thing about her book is that all the recipes are collected from contemporary Southern women who inherited them from their grandmothers. Three of her recipes (Nana's Peach Cobbler, Southern Pecan Pie, and Red Velvet Cake) are included below. Enjoy.

Nana's Peach Cobbler
Makes 5-6 servings
Mary Ann Lawson (Nashville, Tennessee) shares that her Nana, Venice Wilson (Mayfield, Kentucky), was a wonderful cook. “I would pull my chair up to the kitchen counter right next to her and I would watch her do her thing,” Mary Ann recalls. “She always let me help make desserts—that’s how I learned to make this special peach cobbler. I’m fortunate that she passed down many of her wonderful recipes to both my mother and me.”

Ingredients
Filling:
3 cups peeled and sliced peaches
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 stick butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. For the Filling: Combine the peaches, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract in a medium bowl. Mix well and spoon into a 9-inch square baking pan.
3. For the Topping: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and egg in a medium bowl. With a fork or pastry cutter, work in the butter until crumbly. Spoon the topping on top of the peaches.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Serve warm or cool.

Southern Pecan Pie
Makes 6-8 servings
Grandma Erma Smith (Tupelo, Mississippi) made the best pecan pie, shares granddaughter-in-law Faye McGee (Nashville, Tennessee). Aunt Sarah Smith carries on the tradition of making the best pecan pie these days. Faye’s husband, Terry, often spent the summers with his Southern grandparents. As his grandfather came in through the backdoor and called out to his wife, his Southern drawl sounded as if he were calling her “Hammer.” It would be years before Terry learned that his grandmother’s real name was
actually Erma.

Ingredients
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pie crust (9 inches), unbaked

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2 In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Whisk in the sugar. Add the corn syrup and butter and mix well. Add the flour and vanilla and mix well. Add the pecans and stir until well moistened. Place the pie crust into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
3 Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. About halfway through baking, cover the outside edges of the pie with foil to prevent overbrowning. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes before slicing.

Red Velvet Cake
Makes 10-12 servings
What Georgia Thompson McGraw (Nashville, Tennessee) remembers most about Grandma Hanny, Hannah Eades (Somerset, Kentucky), was that she walked with a crutch as the result of a car and train accident. Hanny was always in the kitchen with the other womenfolk and they were usually wearing aprons over their dresses. Georgia first tasted red velvet cake at age seven and has requested it for her birthday ever since.

Ingredients
Cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 ounce red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing:
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. For the Cake: In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs. Add the vinegar, cocoa, and food coloring and mix well. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

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