Editorial director of Chronicle Books, Bill LeBlond, had once said that if he had to read one more cookbook proposal from people who learned about cooking at their grandmothers’ knee, he would throw up.
Well, no need to get a basket, because I’ll tell you about my grandma who did not know how to cook. Or actually she just didn’t care about cooking. And well, she really didn’t have the time for that. She was a single parent, her husband had died.
Grandma had her own business, a small store where she sold cosmetics, paper stuff and toys. She work long hours, six days a week to raise her family, two daughters. (Before she retaired she sold the business and worked as a typewriter in a police department – I’ve always thought that is somehow a cool job for a grandma)
So really, no time for cooking. This was in 1960’s and food industrialism had just “liberated” women from kitchens with convenience food. And my grandma loved sausages. They were fast and indeed convenient. So she raised her daughters with sausages. According to my mum, they ate a lot of them – and liked them.
I liked grandma because she always took me to a restaurant when we met on my autumn holidays. And the highlight was that she let me order a steak from the adults menu, though she thought that it was too big for me. I always orderd the same steak and yes – it was always too big for me.
I also had another grandma. She was housewife and a great cook. She did all the dishes that you could imagine and many more. The one I remember best is a dessert: vanilla ice cream with strawberries. A dish, that involves no cooking what so ever.
So the thing is to have a signature dish. It could be heated sausages, same steak in a restarant year after year or ice cream from the freezer, served every time, exactly the same. The thing is to have a food tradition.
That is what makes kickass grandmoms.
This side dish is a traditional Finnish dish, it’s called Grandmom’s cucumbers. Maybe it was some grandma’s bravura. Maybe not. Maybe it will be yours? It sure is easy and loved.
0,5 dl sugar
1 tsp salt
1,5 dl water
0,5 dl vinegar
punch of fresh dill
Slice the cucumbers. Combine sugar and salt. Place the cucumber slices in a jar and sprinkle sugar-salt mixture and chopped dill between the layers. Finally, pour the water-vinegar mix on top of them. Close the jar and shake it well. Leave it cool to season for a moment.