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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: National Grandparents Day Is September 11

By Sherrie Norris

Since 1978, National Grandparents Day has been observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day, albeit on a rather quieter note than most other special occasions. For some reason, it just hasn’t caught on, but I think most of us could agree that it should be celebrated for many reasons.

It all started when Marian McQuade in West Virginia expressed concern for elderly residents in nursing homes and lobbied for such a day as a way to persuade grandchildren to tap into the valuable wisdom and heritage at their fingertips.

It’s not just because I am a grandmother that I think it deserves more recognition, but because there is so much to be gained at the side of a grandparent, or snuggled up beside one on the couch, or even for the younger ones, on a soft, welcoming lap.

Many of us, as grandparents, seem way younger than we remember our own grandparents. Even though my granny was only 72 when she died, she always seemed old to me. And I don’t say that disrespectfully, but with all honor that she was due. What did I, a young gal at 19 know at the time? Maybe I thought I knew a lot, but I know now that I will never compare with my granny, who really did know a lot. How I wish I could go back and relive those days and really take to heart all that she tried to teach me. I cannot, but I can strive to be the best nana there is to my two precious grandchildren. 

So, as Sunday, Sept. 11 rolls around this weekend, make it count. The date, in itself, holds much significance for the country, as a whole. And for my family, it is also the anniversary of our mother’s death. I expect it to be a bit emotional as all the memories of this date come back to my heart and mind. As if they’ve ever left.

So, whether celebrating grandparents or remembering those who have passed on, or honoring the tragic loss to America that happened on this date, we will need to eat. So let’s go for something comforting to get us through.

Classic Chicken and Dumplings


2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped

6 cups chicken broth

½ tsp. pepper

3 cups cooked chicken, coarsely chopped

In large, covered pot, heat oil over medium heat, add onions, carrots and celery. Cook and stir until carrots are tender. Add 6 cups broth and pepper, bring to a boil; reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken.


1 ½ cups self-rising flour

¼ cup shortening

2 Tbs. fresh parsley

½ cup chicken broth

In medium bowl, cut shortening into very small pieces to evenly distribute into dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in parsley, add ½ cup broth; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop by teaspoonful over simmering broth. Cover and cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, or until dumplings are firm. Serves 6-8.

Granny’s Meatloaf

½ cup breadcrumbs

1½ lbs. lean ground beef

1cup milk

1 large egg

¼ cup chopped onion

½ tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. ground sage

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

½ cup barbecue sauce (or) a combination of ketchup and brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients, except for the (barbecue) sauce together; spread meatloaf mixture into an ungreased loaf pan. Spoon sauce on top; bake, uncovered for 1 hour.

Easy Potato Soup

2½ cup boiling water

4 cups thinly sliced raw potatoes

½ cup finely chopped onion

3 cups milk

2 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

Bring water to a boil. Add potatoes and onions. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Mash potatoes slightly with a fork to thicken the soup. Add milk, butter and seasonings. Heat.

Coconut Cream Pie

½  (15-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts

½  cup sugar

¼  cup cornstarch

2 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 Tbs. butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

2 ½ tsp. vanilla extract, divided

2 cups whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

Garnish: toasted coconut

Fit 1 piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork. Bake according to package directions for a one-crust pie.

Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 tsp. vanilla. 

Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on filling in pan; let stand 30 minutes. Spoon custard mixture into prepared crust, cover and chill 30 minutes or until set.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and remaining 1½  tsp. vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filling. Garnish, if desired.