Tag Archive | family

Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday

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Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday. My mother always referred to me as her mother’s birthday present since I was born just after midnight on June 2. I always thought that was a complement. Now I wonder if that was just another way to distance me as her changeling. Another thing she called me when I was little or her fairy child.

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I’m a lot like my grandmother and my mom greatly disliked her mother. Grandma was adventurous, curious and always learning new things, all the things my mother wasn’t. Grandma and my Uncle Winn were the only ones in the family that wasn’t always judging me for something. My eye disability, or because they considered me homely, my lack of athletic ability, something, and I was well aware of it early on by their tone of voice. I still react to people’s tone of voice when they speak to me, not what I see.
But Grandma saw me and not just as a mini me of her. Her gift to me after my eye surgery was not a stuffed animal or a toy but a beautifully illustrated version of Grimm’s fairy tales and not the Disney versions either, the original gruesome ones. I adored it and I still have it and one of the few times I outright tried to kill my little brother was when he coloured in it. A homicidal 7 year old is not a pretty thing.

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I spent most summers with her in their house in Leimert Park where I was the only white kid on the block and to be truthful I never noticed I was, until someone pointed it out. My grandparents never said anything to me. They were just my friends. But most days I spent lying on the wide front porch watching ants or we took drives and we went places like Marineland to talk to the whales or one of the many piers in LA or we went to see all the buildings my grandfather had designed for Hunt and Chambers. We went to the San Diego Zoo where she talked the bird keeper into letting me hold and feed the toucan. She taught me to talk to trees and to listen to nature and we took walks around the neighborhood every summer evening. She taught me divination with her gypsy deck and told me family history stories. She taught me to embroider and cross stitch on gingham and hoe to make clothes for my collection of troll dolls. She taught me chants to do when I was learning to weave paper. She taught me Scottish fairy stories, all our clans and Scottish folk songs.

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She taught me to be curious and to always keep learning. She had gone to the Alaska Gold Rush in 1906 when she was 16 by steamer with her best friend. She gave me a bracelet of wolf teeth on gold wire that she had brought back. It’s way to small for me to wear and it was way before conservation so she wouldn’t have thought about killing the wolf but it sits in my drawer and is one of my treasures. She was a member of one of the first women’s groups in the US called the Friday morning club.

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She taught me to listen and try to make good decisions based on information and logic and to always want to know WHY? unlike most of the other adults I had contact with. She taught me what other people thought of me didn’t matter, what mattered was how I felt about me. She was really my best friend and when she died when I was 17, I was totally bereft. Even though I had lost a lot of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandmother, it was the first time I knew what grief really was. I still miss her.

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She was born in Ontario Canada near Hamilton in 1890 and came to Los Angeles at the age of 11 on January 1, 1901. Her parents were born in Scotland and Northern Ireland and they went by train across Canada and down the West Coast, evidently they wanted to go cross country but couldn’t because trains were being attacked at the time going through the Southwest. She married my grandpa who was 5 years younger which I guess was a huge scandal at the time and graduated from what is now UCLA with a teaching degree in 1910.

She was an expert silver smith and leather worker and I have a trash can she made of wood and then covered in worked copper covered in woodland scenes and a table with a leather table top.She was taking Japanese cooking lessons when she died.  I just hope I measure up to her someday.

Jesse Alexandra Cumming Sjoberg, my great grandmother didn’t want a kid and was busy making jam when my grandmother decided it was time and when my great-grandfather wanted to know what to name her, she said name her after yourself, so he did.

 

Memories of the day

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Every May Day morning when I was growing up my dad would greet me with “Crown me Mother, for I am to be Queen of the May!” and we would laugh. When I was really little he took me out in the garden before mom woke up.
I miss that.

Yule Cookie – English Matrimonials

English Matrimonials

1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of butter
3/4 cup of raspberry jam (Mom used Mary Ellen but use the good stuff)

Measure flour, sugar, oats, salt and butter into bowl.
Mix with hands to a crumb-like consistency
Place half of mixture in an ungreased 6×10 Pyrex pan and press firmly
Cover with jam and top with remaining half of mixture
Press firmly
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Should be slightly candied around the edges and not too moist in center
Cut when cool
Makes 3-5 dozen

The recipe can be used as a dessert by substituting 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce or cherry or apple pie filling for the jam. Serve warm with ice cream.

Grandma Sjoberg’s Coffee Bread

Mom always made this Christmas morning.

2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
2 yeast cakes
1/4 cup lukewarm water
8 cups flour
2 eggs

Scald milk in small saucepan; stir in melted butter, salt, sugar, and cardamon. Cool mixture to luke warm. Pour water on yeast. Stir until dissolved.  Pour into milk mixture. Add beaten eggs and 4 cups of flour. Beat well and work in remaining 4 cups of flour.

Place on board and knead until smooth. Place dough into greased bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise 1 hour. Punch dough and let rise again about 1 hour. Return to board and shape into 4 braids. Top with nuts and granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 degree oven until medium brown.

This was another recipe my Grandma had to stand by my great-grandmother with measuring equipment to translate “a little of this” and “quite a bit of that”.

Yule Cookie – Walnut crispies

2 Squares bitter chocolate
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate in heavy saucepan
Add all other ingredients except nuts
Beat well by hand
Spread mixture in greased jelly roll pan or 3 (8×8 inch pans)
Sprinkle with nuts

Bake in  400 degree oven for 15 minutes
While warm cut with cutter into bars or squares
Break apart when cool.

Makes 4 dozen

Yule Treat – Lemon Angel Pie

This used to be my requested birthday dessert if I didn’t want a cake and the weather was right. Meringue is weather dependent. Good thing my birthday was in June

Beverley Robb’s Lemon Angel Pie

4 egg whites (large)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar ( superfine)
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Grated lemon rind
1 cup heavy whipping cream  Powdered sugar to taste
½ teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 275 degrees (250 if using a glass pan)
Grease a 9 inch pie pan
Separate the eggs and return the yolks to the refrigerator
Let the whites come to room temperature
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in large mixing bowl until whites are stiff but not dry.

Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff, glossy and sugar is completely dissolved
Put in pie pan and smooth top.

Bake for an hour or until the top shows palest tan.
Cool
Not to worry if top cracks.

In mixer bowl, beat egg yolks until stiff and lemon coloured. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Blend in lemon juice and rind. Cook in double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly until thick, 5 to 8 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Whip heavy cream, and sweeten with ½ teaspoon of vanilla and powdered sugar to taste.
Spread half the cream over the crust to the edge.
Spread lemon custard over the cream and top with the remaining cream.
Chill 4 hours or overnight.
Serves  6 This recipe may be doubled using a 9×13 pan.

My mom usually made the doubled recipe and it’s great for after a heavy meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Yule cookie – Grandma Dorchester

These are really good year round

Grandmother Dorchester Cookies

2 cups Brown sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of water
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon of cloves
2 cups raisins

Cream together brown sugar and shortening
Add egg and water
Sift together the dry ingredients

Add to the sugar mixture
Add raisins and mix well
Dough will be quite stiff
Drop by large tablespoon on foil lined cookie sheet

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 -15 minutes

Makes 3 -5 dozen

This is a very old recipe and is named for the grandmother of my grandmother’s girlhood friend in Canada. Really, really good