Summertime: Cooking with Grandparents

Summer is a time for families to get together.

It’s always fun when grandparents share recipes and family cooking traditions with grandchildren.

How do I know summer is here?

Summer smells like mango jam simmering on the stove, the first thing my Lola makes after she flies in for her summer stay.

It smells like the cassava cake covered with smooth and glossy custard, sliding out of the hot oven as Lola tells us a story about the first time Mom made this cake and confused sugar with salt.”

This is from one children’s book about a grandmother from the Philippines who comes to visit.

Read more stories about baos, ice candy, mac n cheese, tomato dishes from India, spicy sambal, flan and Cuban traditions, Jamaican breakfast, berry picking in Alaska.

  • Dumplings for Lili by Melissa Iawi
  • Lili is helping her Nai Nai (grandmother) make baos (Chinese steamed buns). But there’s no cabbage leaves to put in the steamer to cook the baos. Lili goes upstaris to Babcia’s apartment.

    Babcia has cabbage leaves, but is cooking pierogi (Polish dumplings), and needs more potatoes.

    Lili goes up to Granma’s apartment to borrow potatoes, Granma is making Jamaican beef patties, but has run out of garlic.

    Next, Lili borrows garlic from Abuela who is cooking tamales, but she needs more cumin.

    Buongiorno” says Nonna in her apartment one floor up. Nonna has cumin, but she is making sauce for ravioli, and lacks olive oil.

    Lili goes to Teta’s apartment, where she is cooking fatayer (Middle Eastern dish with cheese, meat or spinach).

    All the grandmothers now have the ingredients to cook their favorite dishes – they gather outside for a dumpling feast!

    I love making them. My Nai Nai taught me all the secrets to happy and delicious baos.”

  • Tomatoes for Neela by by Padma Lakshmi, Juana Martinez-Neal
  • When Neela cooks with her Amma (mother), there’s portrait of Paati (grandmother) in the kitchen.

    Today Neela and her mother are going to the market to make Paati’s recipe for tomato sauce.

    It’s the bounty of summer, and there are different kinds of tomatoes – they pick plum tomatoes, best for making sauce.

    While they cook together, Amma tells Neela stories, tales passed down for generations.

    Neela loved how the sauce tasted, but sweetest part was it made her feel closer to her Paati, who lived far away in India.”

    Recipes for tomato sauce and chutney included.

  • Sari-Sari Summers by Lynnor Bontigao
  • Every summer, Nora goes to the Philippines to visit her Lola (grandmother). Lola runs a sari-sari (convenience) store where she sells rice, beans, snacks like kropek crackers, sour tamarind candy, and drinks.

    In a heat wave there are no customers, so Nora and Lola rest in the shade of a mango tree. Nora has an idea – let’s make mango ice candy.

    Next morning they put out the frozen treat, and customers come to buy the refreshing ice candies. They make more flavors – coconut, melon and avocado. The sari-sari store is a success this summer.

    Recipe to make ice candies, see below.

  • Granny’s Kitchen by Sade Smith, Ken Daly
  • In Jamaica, Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny, in a house surrounded by fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Granny promises to teach Shelly-Ann how to make Jamaican dishes, saying “Gyal, you betta can cook.”

    Shelly-Ann’s first attempt to make dumplings doesn’t turn out, but Granny encourages her that next time she’ll get it right. More dishes to try – ackee, a Jamaican vegetable, saltfish, plantains, and soon Shelly-ann can make the best Jamaican breakfast.

    Included four recipes, and info about Jamaica.

  • Spicy Spicy Hot! by Lenny Wen
  • When Lintang’s grandmother (nenek) comes to visit, Nenek makes her yummy sambal (chili sauce).

    With a mortar and pestle, Nenek pounds the chilis together with spices, shallots, garlic, sugar. But when Lintang tries sambal for the first time, it is spicy, spicy hot!

    Sambal is an essential condiment used in cooking throughout Indonesia, recipe and ideas for serving.

  • Berry Song by Michaela Goade
  • In Alaska, a girl and her Grandma go berry picking in the forest.

    The berries sing to them – Salmonberry, Clouberry, Blueberry, Nagoonberry, Huckleberry, Soapberry, Strawberry, Crowberry.

    And the forest sings to them, and they sing too, so the land knows they are grateful.

    Our ancestors sing to us, their voices dancing on wind and water.
    We sing too, so they know we will always remember

    Back at home, they make salmonberry syrup, blueberry jelly and nagoonberry jam, and cook huckleberry pie, strawberry crisp and raspberry scones.

    Gunalcheesh – giving thanks.

  • Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom
  • Anita likes to cook with her Abuelita (Grandma). Today Anita goes all over the kitchen, finding ingredients for flan de queso (cream cheese flan) – eggs, sugar, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese.

    After Anita accidentally breaks the special plate for serving flan, a plate her grandmother brought from Cuba, Abuelita has stories about family traditions – more recipes for chocolate flan, party flan with twenty five egg yolks, and how Abuelo (Grandfather) broke the original plate. Plus recipe for flan.

  • Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham, C. G. Esperanza
  • Every Sunday a large family gets together.

    This week a boy learns to cook with his Granny – grating cheese for mac ‘n’ cheese, washing and chopping greens.

    Recipe to make, grab your cheese grater.

  • When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Aaron Asis
  • How do I know summer is here?

    Every summer, a girl’s Lola (grandmother) comes from the Philippines to stay.

    Lola cooks cassava cake covered with custard, suman (sticky rice), sizzling sisig, kalamansi (sour lime) pie, lumpia (spring rolls), arroz caldo (chicken and rice), brown sugar bananas.

    The whole family gets together for kamayan – a feast spread out on banana leaves.

    When fall arrives, the girl remembers “the last sweet bits of summer – in Lola’s mango jam.”

Ice Candy Recipes

Mango Ice Candy

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups mango puree
Ice candy bags

Put everything in blender, blend until smooth. Use funnel to fill ice candy bags.
Recipe makes about 14 ice candies.
Freeze for 10 – 12 hours, but can eat sooner, ice candy will just be softer.

Pineapple Ice Candy

7 oz sweetened condensed milk
12 oz evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb frozen pineapple

Ube Ice Candy
4 tbsp ube powder
2 tbsp ube extract
1 cup water
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)

Mix ube powder, extract and water in a pyrex measuring cup. Whisk, then microwave one minute, whisk until smooth.

Add ube mixture, condensed milk, heavy cream, sugar in blender, mix.

You can mix up all kinds of fruit – fresh, frozen, purees to put in the ice candies.

Taste the mixture, and adjust accordingly. If fruit is really sweet, use less condensed milk. Or add bit of sugar if fresh fruit is tart.

Ice candy recipes adapted from Sari-Sari Summers.