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My Grandmother’s Green Bowl

One of my most favorite shows is Mo Rocca’s “My Grandmother’s Ravioli”.  If you haven’t seen the show, Mo visits other people’s grandmothers, where they share stories, recipes, and delicious food.  I laugh during the show sometimes, but just as often, I tear up, thinking of my own grandmoms.

Both of my grandmothers were Irish, and as you might imagine, boiled potatoes were about as creative as either of them got in the kitchen.  But everything that came out of their kitchens was simple, comforting, and always tasted like they were made with a grandmother’s love.

My Grandmom Bilbrough had a green glass bowl.  I remember seeing that bowl often through the years.  Sometimes, there would be a salad in the bowl, but more often than not, there was something wonderful being made in there.  Grandmom would mix her famous Irish soda bread in that bowl.  The bread – with a few small tweaks from my stepmom – went on to win awards, appreciated by family and culinary judges alike.  She would mix peaches or apples in that bowl with sugar and vanilla, on their way to becoming the most delicious peach or apple pandowdy.


But then there was her signature dish.  For every birthday in our family, my grandmother would make a pudding cake.  Back before cake mixes had pudding in the box already, my grandmother was making pudding cake – moist, delicious cakes that she made in a tube pan.  They were boxed cake mixes, boxed pudding mix, and even icing from a can, but I so looked forward to the birthday parties my grandmom would have so that we could have that cake.

Somehow, I acquired that bowl.  I don’t use it much anymore to mix cakes, both out of fear of something happening to the bowl and because of the stand mixer I now own.  But I love the bowl.  I love that some of my best childhood memories originated in that green bowl in my grandmother’s kitchen.

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O is for Only in America – a-to-z blog challenge

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I may have expressed a fondness for the Mo Rocca show on the Cooking Channel “My Grandmother’s Ravioli”.  I love it – beyond love.  It is a look at the grandparents who came to this country from foreign lands, bringing with them the recipes from generations of Irish grandmoms, Italian grandmoms, Jewish and Russian grandmoms.

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I am always touched by this show.  I am smiling, thinking of my own grandmothers and their recipes.  Both of them were Irish, and while there weren’t elaborate meals, there was stick to your ribs soups and stews, Irish soda bread, pudding cakes – everything made with the love of generations.

This past weekend, the grandmom came from Thailand.  She grew up in poverty, but came to this country filled with hope, optimism, and a determination for a better life.

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And when Mo asked her, all these many years and American experiences later, what she thought when she came to this country, her face lightened and brightened.  A smile poured across her face like maple syrup over pancakes – slow and sweet.  And with the joy of a thousand Christmases, she exclaimed, “It was WONDERFUL here!”

And you know she still believes it; it IS wonderful here – you could read it in her happy eyes and joyous face.  Most of us will never know or never experience the things that some of our grandparents knew and lived through.  We will never know hunger so great or poverty so desperate or intolerance for beliefs so oppressive.  But we can know how much it meant for our grandparents to get here, find a better life, and hold onto the traditions and the foods that will help us remember where our lives – our histories – began.

I love this show – one that could only have been made here in America.