The roots to our recipes:|:May 4, 2015

My two grandmothers were very different and very good friends. They both lived into their late 90’s.

Grammie Withy had help in the kitchen. She knew what people liked and she put on spreads for her eight children and their copious children and her many grands, great grands and friends,  making each one of us feel like her special guest.

GrammieWithie Grammie Withy (Withington) in her younger years

Gramma Brewster cooked and baked with ease and the more the merrier in the kitchen. She had a practical nature using every piece of stale bread, grapefruit rind and cup of sour milk turning them in to yummy custards, pancakes and desert.

GrammaBrewster Gramma Brewster on the left

Do you remember when you could still use your milk when it turned?  Can’t do that today. Milk has certainly changed.

Have you ever had a candied grapefruit rind? Surprisingly delicious. I thought I’d try her recipe when I was in college. It took about a week to make. Cannot say I have done that often since!

She made each one of her fifty odd grandchildren a “Rocky Pond” chocolate cake for their birthday every year.  She poured her frosting over the cake and its seven or eight fat marshmallows (those were the rocks) on top. It melted into the marshmallows and the cake a little bit before it hardened creating a soft layer under a slightly crispy hardened outer layer. It was a treat for us as children and continued to be even when we went off to college. It instantly transported us back to childhood. Such a thrill to find a heavy square package in otherwise sparse mail box!

My grandmother created a cook book of old pilgrim recipes and illustrated it as a fund raiser. It went into at least four editions with lots of old fashioned simple recipes and lore using the abundance of harvests and making the best out of ingredients at hand: Cod and clams, corn and potatoes. The concepts we are re-discovering today. There are lots of recipes calling for 'fat back' and pork scraps. Although these ingredients seem modern due to the chokingly over-used trend and resurgent love for all things pork.



In there are some gems I use today, popovers, corn breads, apple pan dowdy, fish chowder.



My dad’s famous fish cakes or fish balls are in there, unbelievably good, and directions for a clambake ( Indian style or “modern style”) on the beach which I remember being one of the most fun, let alone delicious ways to spend a summer afternoon and evening on the beach. I remember eating the crispy pieces of salty sea weed off the hot stones.


There is an ancient Fannie Farmer Cook Book recipe, we live by, I have never had it anywhere but out of one of my relatives ovens. The recipe was taped inside my mother’s kitchen cabinet door for this creamy custardy centered, crispy crusted spider corn bread or spider corn cake we grew up with. 
A spider, the pan it is cooked in, is a cast iron fry pan with thin legs which kept it up off the coals while baking. Today we use a cast iron skillet.


My children and all their cousins got up on stools, just like my siblings and I did, to make the cornbread treat with my mother and father. In truth, it was both a way to busy us and to fill up many little bellies. It was ritualistic and with great anticipation that we waited 50 minutes to discover just how good this one would be.


IMG_4842 Ingredients needed for Spider Corn Bread
IMG_4854 Last step is to pour a cup of milk on top of the mixture right before you slip it in the over
You pour sweet milk over the batter before it goes in the oven.
The secret would be revealed when you cut into the bread. One never knew how warm and gooey, how custardy or how thick the buttermilk center would be.


 It is supposed to be spring, but the only things edible so far in my garden are the chives, some of us had the cornbread with chive butter, but it really did not need a thing.

IMG_4871 IMG_4872

IMG_4881 Holly and the rest of the office were our official taste-testing crew!

Spider Corn Bread Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place skillet in the oven to warm up as well.

Mix the following ingredients together:

1 1/3 cup of Corn Meal

1/3 cup of Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

Add to that-

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs (beaten)

1 cup of milk

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

Once mixed, place 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter into warm skillet to melt and coat the pan.

Pour mixture into the pan.

Then pour another cup of sweet milk  in a circular motion over mixture in the skillet.

Place in oven and check after 35 minutes.  The top should be golden brown without much movement when you jiggle it slightly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Best served warm!




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