Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Remembering my Grandparents

Lately I have been thinking about a dessert Grandma Pramik used to make when I was small; she called it Apple Cake. It was not actually a cake of any kind, but a sort of apple casserole. It was always made in a smaller (11 x 7-inch) casserole, lined with, I believe, pie pastry. Sweetened apples went in. It was baked. I loved it. And that is as far as I can recall.

Grandma Pramik, crocheting in our backyard
My Mom gave me the recipe once a very, very, very long time ago. I recall trying to make it, back then. It didn't come out as I remembered it, and that was the last time I tried. So when recently I started thinking that maybe now, with a whole lot more baking experience under my belt (literally!), I might be able to make it come out better - I decided to hunt for the recipe. And it's not in my file. Oh NO! I looked and looked again. Since it was so very long ago, I have absolutely no recollection of the precise ingredients.

I emailed all my 5 sisters, though I had little hope the three younger ones would know what I was talking about. I described what I remembered and asked if any of them actually had the recipe, or better yet, my Mom's old recipe box, where it would surely have been stashed. The two older of my sisters (all younger than me) remember the dessert, but alas, have no recipe. No one seems to know what may have happened to the recipe box.

ONLINE: where we go when all else fails!

I started looking this morning, first searching using more words than desirable, but I just didn't know how to search. Grandma called it Apple Cake. It is not a cake. It is also not a pie. It was always much drier than a pie would be. It's been too long to know how to describe it accurately. I started out with a search for "vintage apple casserole dessert". I got some ideas, but the only thing even remotely close called for using a store bought cookie dough for the crust. No, definitely not! 

Grandparents Michael and Tina Hromish, ca 1950
After a while, with a recipe for a Dutch Apple Cake seeming to sound similar, I made a search for that. No, not quite. Then I wondered: Grandma was Slovak, maybe look for Slovak Apple Cake? That was my next search and looking through sites, I came to one where the Apple Cake recipe was not like my Grandma's, but the site itself was just fascinating. It is called Pauline's Cookbook, and she talks of her Slovak grandma Pauline. My maternal grandma was Slovak, from the Slovakia side of Czechoslovakia. Yet this blog talks of places near Novi Sad, in what is now Serbia, where my paternal grandparents came from. It seemed to be a mixture of both my heritages. After about 2 hours of wandering through her blog, and then Facebook, doing a lot of reading, both her stories and her Grandma's translated recipes, my head was spinning. She has actually traveled to these areas of Europe and apparently speaks the language. Unfortunately, while I heard all my grandparents speak their native tongues all through childhood, I never learned the languages. I wish now that I had. I have plenty of relatives in Europe that I have no contact with; would not recognize them if I saw them.

So after much reminiscing and reading recipes that were familiar, I am still clueless on the Apple Cake. Maybe Grandma played with a recipe from Pennsylvania or Ohio, where she lived after coming to the US. I may have to try my hand at something similar and see what happens. I have plenty of apples. If anyone reading this has any idea what I am talking about, please post a comment! Thanks!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.