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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Hang on to Old-Time Customs

By Sherrie Norris

Nostalgia seems to rear its head this time every year. There’s something special about Autumn that brings to mind the good old days. I guess it stands to reason, with the end of summer’s harvest and good use is made of what’s left. It’s the time when old-timers, as many of us are quickly becoming these days, seem to revert to the ways and days of old. Many of us  are trying to hang on to the customs of our forefathers, and that’s certainly not a bad thing to do. We see and hear about the day-long process of molasses making, sauerkraut fermenting for a couple of weeks in the crocks (and jars!), apple butter simmering for hours over an open fire — and that’s just for starters. 

Several years ago, I was reminded that our grandmothers “made do” with just the ingredients they had in their kitchens, without having to run out to buy up a lot of extra items just to make something on a whim.

The first thing that came to mind was my late mother’s kitchen drawer in the house where I grew up, where she and my granny kept countless recipes scribbled on scraps of paper and envelopes, along with those ripped from the pages of magazines. 

A former co-worker and I had a discussion about that one day, as we realized those scribbles were more than just recipes.  They were a part of our heritage — links to our past and connections to special people and events in our lives. It’s sad to say that in our current merry-go-round of life, we are losing touch with our culinary heritage, one drive-through meal at a time.

Let’s take a look back at a few “old timey” recipes. Thanks to those of you out there who realize the importance of tradition and are hanging on with me.

Granny’s Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pancakes

Light and tender, easy to make and will melt in your mouth!

1½ cup buttermilk

4 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 cup flour

1 cup boiling water

2 Tbsp. baking soda

2 tsp. salt

In a mixing bowl add buttermilk, eggs, and oil together; mix well then add flour a little at a time and mix.  In a glass measuring cup add boiling water, baking soda, salt, and stir well (be careful with this step as baking soda mixture may boil over in measuring cup). Add boiling water mixture into batter and stir. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat. Pour ¼ cup batter into pan. Turn after pancake is golden brown then flip and repeat. Serve with Karo pancake syrup.

Hershey’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

3 cups sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1½ cups milk

4½ Tbsp. butter


Combine cocoa, sugar and salt. Add milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until syrup dropped into very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from water. Do not stir! Stirring makes a grainy fudge. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Cool at room temperature. Beat with a wooden spoon until fudge thickens and loses some gloss. Quickly spread in buttered 8-9 inch square pan that has been buttered all over. Cool. Then cut into about 3 dozen squares.

Corn Fritters

1 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

½ cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp. baking powder

8 oz. frozen corn, thawed

Oil for frying

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add eggs, milk and corn.  Stir just until moistened. Drop by spoonful into hot grease and cook until done.

Tomato Pudding 

1 lg. can tomatoes, cooked on top of stove until they fall into pieces
1½ cup sugar
1 sleeve of saltine crackers, crumbled for thickening (more if needed)

Mix sugar and crackers in pot with cooked tomatoes until blended and add ½ stick butter. Let simmer until all saltines disappear. Put in baking dish and bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Chocolate Gravy 

2 cups sugar

½ cup cocoa 

½ cup flour

1 dash salt (optional)

4 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Add in just enough of the milk to make the mixture a smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Serve over hot, buttered biscuits.

Buttermilk Pie

1½ cups brown sugar

 1½ cups white sugar

 1 stick of butter 

Add 2 Tbsp. flour,

 6 eggs, one at a time; 

½ cup buttermilk, 

1¼ tsp. of vanilla 

 ½ tsp. salt

Two pie shells

Cream together the sugars and butter. Add flour. Add eggs, one at a time. Add buttermilk, vanilla and salt, mixing well. 

Pour evenly into unbaked pie shells. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Do not over-bake as this tends to make pie watery.

Recipe For Living

Take a generous amount of self-respect, spice it with humor. Stir in equal parts of compassion and love. Measure in a few drops of frankness, but not enough to be bitter. Blend well. Knead gently until firmly formed. Keep warm. Baste occasionally with sincerity; serve generous portions daily. Your family will love it – your friends will envy your skill and strangers will long remember you for it.