Grandma’s Old Shoebox by Cherise Slattery

When I was a kid, I loved Thursdays. It was the night Grandma came for dinner. Mom would clean the house until it sparkled, and something special would be in the oven.  My brother, sister and I would have to change out of our “play clothes” and back into our “school clothes” before Grandma got done with her weekly set at the hairdressers and arrived at our house for dinner.

Grandma would always bring something fun for us. If she stopped by after school it would be with giant sprinkle cookies from the bakery uptown. If she spent the night we would wake up to grapefruit doused in sugar with a cherry in the center. On St Patrick’s Day we could expect her to show up with green bread to have with our dinner.  Grandma always made food fun. So when it was time to get Grandma a birthday present, food naturally came to my mind.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 1.18.35 PMWhat do you get a Grandma, about to turn 80, who has everything? After considering the typical box of chocolates, the idea hit me! She had been mentioning how difficult it was getting for her to read her collection of hand written recipes. Most were written in pencil, on old index cards, and were kind of hard to see, even for the rest of us. My present for Grandma was going to make cooking easy and fun again, without the frustration of not being able to see if it’s a teaspoon of this or a quarter cup of that. I snuck into her cabinet and stole her old shoebox full of index cards…hoping the whole time that she wasn’t going to get an urge to make that old Pig Pickin’ Cake that she needed a recipe for! I set about to organize, and then type, Grandma’s vast assemblage of recipes. That’s where the fun began!

These were not just recipe cards, these were a glimpse into her life. A bank statement from 40 years ago with the recipe for Pecan Tassies written on the back. A receipt from my own mother’s wedding reception! A recipe for Shrimp Di Jonghe with somebody’s five digit phone number scribbled in the margin. Who can even remember when phone numbers were only five digits? And why did Grandma have literally eight different recipes for Key Lime Pie? But my favorite of all was Grandma’s personality written in every instruction. See recipe below; you’ll understand!

Thanks for cooking up so many happy memories Grandma!


Grandma's Pecan Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting
For Frosting
  1. 4 T. flour
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. 1 cup butter, room temperature
  4. 1 cup sugar
For Cake
  1. ½ cup butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 t. vanilla
  5. 2 cups flour
  6. ½ t. baking soda
  7. ½ t. baking powder
  8. ½ t. salt
  9. 1 cup sour cream
  10. 1 cup finely chopped pecans
For Frosting
  1. Cook flour and milk in saucepan, over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Let paste cool. Blend together butter and sugar. Add paste and beat like hell.
For Cake
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in pecans. Spread into two greased and floured 9 inch round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. Frost with Grandma’s Whipped Cream Frosting. If desired, sprinkle cake with toasted pecans.
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