Friday, January 21, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Donna's Heaven on Wheels Frosting

Our family loves to eat. And drink. And cook. Fortunately, we've had quite a few good chefs and bakers on both my Bartram and Brittain sides. Nobody goes hungry at our family get-togethers!

My mom has a very old recipe box crammed full of recipes. Some are recipes that she's found in cookbooks or magazine over the years and decided to keep around. Some are from dear family friends. A lot of them are recipes that our own ancestors used back in their day -- many in their own handwriting, and sometimes with helpful (or cryptic!) notes in the margins.

Recipes such as Aunt Rae's Crabby Potato Salad, Dad's Monterey Clam Chowder (which he modified from an old Milk Advisory Board flier from the 1980s that had a pre-stardom Heather Locklear on the cover), Great Grandma Madsen's Tamale Pie, Cousin Stan's Spaghetti Sauce and many more are still made over and over in our family kitchens. My favorites are the ones that aren't precise in their ingredients lists or instructions: requiring "a no. 2 can of crushed pineapple" or telling me to "bake in a moderate oven." I love that the "bake in a moderate oven" instruction doesn't even bother to note the amount of time that particular cake needs to bake!

One year, for Mom's birthday, I "borrowed" her recipe box and typed all of her recipes into a cookbook that she could actually use. Dad and Cindy helped me put the pages into plastic page protectors, we made a cute cover and put it into a three-ring binder for her as her gift. She loved it so much that she had us make a couple dozen more of "Mom's Recipe Collection" books to share with other family and friends. I still refer to my copy regularly and occasionally add new recipes to the collection.

I like to think that my own fairly solid culinary skills came from a combination of good genes/osmosis plus all the years I spent in Mrs. Birkhahn's 4-H cooking group. I hope my relatives, living or dead, don't mind if I share some of our not-so-secret family recipes with you from time to time.

My sweetie's birthday is coming up, and I'm thinking about birthday cakes right now. So, here's my first submission for Family Recipe Friday: 

Donna Madsen Bartram
Grandma Donna's Heaven on Wheels Frosting
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbls. thin cream
1/2c. brown sugar
3 Tbls. butter
powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
nut meat halves

Mix in saucepan cream, brown sugar, and butter. Bring to a good boil, stirring constantly. Allow to cool and add enough powdered sugar to make thick enough for spreading. Add vanilla and spread on cake. Top with nut meat halves.
(Note: I lost the file with the recipes in it ages ago, so I'm no longer honoring requests for new copies of Mom's book)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dr. Bill! I just checked out your profile and see that we both have roots in the Flint Hills of Kansas. My great grandfather, Joseph Bartram, immigrated to Wabaunsee County, KS, in around 1883. He and his father brought Hereford cattle to Kansas from Herefordshire, England. He married into the Veale family, who migrated to Kansas from Daviess County, Indiana, in 1879.

    I appreciate your warm welcome, and I look forward to following your own blog as well as staying in touch with you.

    Cheers, -wendy