By Jordan Cox
The Peninsula Club’s Executive Sous Chef
When I was growing up, I never realized how important it was to cook with fresh ingredients every day. I recently traveled to Michigan to visit family, and we reminisced about all of the struggles they went through growing up. One side of my family lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. This trip put a number of things in perspective for me. [Jordan’s Grandma and Grandpa Johnson shown above in the featured photo.]
Will family recipes disappear?
I now realize that cooking all of our family and holiday meals was not an easy task. Both my grandmas were up super early doing their daily tasks along with making giant meals for all my family to eat. I think being together for meals is so important, especially now when a busy family typically turns to fast-food. When the next generation doesn’t cook, the recipes that were passed down from older generations get lost. That one family touch on a recipe can disappear. It really made me take a step back and reevaluate what I’m doing.
What can I do?
When I’m at work I’m constantly asking myself, “What can I do more from scratch?” or “How can I make this dish better?” I never thought about asking my grandparents on what is the proper diet for a cow to produce the best product or how to grow certain vegetables. They’ve done all of that on their farm. My grandma at 83 still kneads her own fresh bread! That inspires me to put more love into my cooking. My other grandma is always cooking for my family. Recently, she has had to learn new methods for gluten-free cooking. It was a struggle in the beginning, but she has developed some amazing dinners from it. These people aren’t classically trained in school to do this, and I think it is so inspiring to learn from them.
A special thank you for mom and dad
I can’t forget my parents in all of this inspiration. They have always stood behind me with all my crazy ambitious ideas. It was their idea to start an awesome Christmas breakfast of omelettes for the whole family. Some of my earliest memories of cooking was that breakfast.
Make memories as well as delicious things to eat
My final thoughts: start cooking and making memories with your family in the kitchen. It will be a learning experience for all and memories you will be able to pass down. Don’t let your family traditions become extinct, and start new ones of your own. I’ve learned so much from my family already, and I get excited by the thought of passing on my own traditions.
Great Grandma’s Apple Pie
In my grandparents day, they didn’t measure anything. This recipe was originally written with a dash of this and a dash of that. I’ve updated it for you with measurements that are more recognizable today.
8 northern spies apples
1 granny smith apple (for the tart flavor)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Crisco shortening
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
½ cup hot water
- Peel all apples and slice them ¼ inch thick (make sure core is removed). Toss with sugar and cinnamon.
- For the pie crust, be very gentle, making sure not to over roll it or over mix it. My grandma told me it took her fifty years to get this down.
- Combine all ingredients except for the hot water.
- Gently fold in water until just combined.
- Roll out on floured counter to about ¼ inch thick. Place in buttered pie pan.
- Fill with apples. (Over fill because apples will bake down.)
- Cover with remaining dough and score the top.
- Brush with a little melted butter for color.
- Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown and apples are soft.