Love You. Granny.

There are a lot of types of love in the world.  All of them special in their own way, but nothing–NOTHING–is better than the love you get from your grandparents.  I feel love from my parents, but it is nothing compared to the love that I see them display with my nieces.  It’s more than just love–it’s unconditional adoration. 

I am a very lucky person in that I had both of my grandmothers for 39 years; more impressive is that they both lived nearly 94 years and were both healthy until about a year ago. I see so much of myself in both of them, and for that I am so very thankful.  Perhaps I’m just lucky to have such amazing grandparents, but I don’t think that’s quite it either–I knew a lot of my friends’ grandparents and they were pretty darn special too (Grandpa & Grandma and Nanny, I’m looking at you!!!)

Just over a week ago, I lost my Granny.  She was truly the most amazing person I know (that’s not a dis on anyone else in my life, btw, my Granny was just that amazing).  She always had a smile, something sweet for you to eat, and always, always ended every conversation with “love you.”  She taught me how to bake and impressed upon me that the most important ingredient for baking is love.  She made awesome pies, kept in her freezer no less than six different types of cookies (every grandchild’s favorite), her cream puffs were divine, and her bread, well, if I close me eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell the daily loaf of bread baking in the oven.  But it was her smile that was the most amazing.  It was warm and it was always genuine. 

A few hours before her 94th birthday, the nursing home called to say that she was struggling to breathe and that perhaps someone wanted to come sit with her.  I can never thank them enough.  Momma, Teresa, and I held her hands, told her we loved her, said a few prayers, and let big, fat tears roll down our faces as she slipped quietly away from us.  It was truly the most beautifully heartbreaking moment I have ever experienced. 

But Granny wouldn’t want us to mourn.  Oh no, she was too practical for that.  She had a very long and very good life.  It wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but I believe that she made the best of it and all the while made everyone feel like they were her favorite…but of course, we all know it was really me 😉

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Granny’s Cream Puffs!

I thought it only fitting that the very first thing I made with Lucille was my Granny’s Cream Puffs.  I make them every year for my birthday because when I was growing up my Granny made them for my birthday.  Momma was the master cake baker and decorator, but I always, always, always only ever requested Granny’s cream puffs.

Of course, being 93 years old Granny flat out refuses to make them anymore because QUOTE I am too damn old UNQUOTE.  So I have taken over and I am very thankful I had the insight in my teenage years to make sure Granny showed me how.  The secret Granny always said is that you have to make homemade pudding.  She’s not wrong.  Have you had pudding not from a box but cooked and just warm enough to melt the whipped cream you dolloped on top?  It’s magical.  I usually forgo the whipped cream and just eat it straight out of the pot–it might be the closest thing you can get to true love ;- )

The secret, Momma says is to make sure your eggs are room temp which allows the dough to bind better with a light, fluffiness. They’re both right.  Now, cream puffs aren’t much of a workout for Lucille, since all she did was help make the dough, but still…it was an homage to my birthday!

Delicious Chocolate Pudding Inside!

Delicious Chocolate Pudding Inside!

So without further adieu:

Granny’s* Cream Puffs

PUFFS:

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 2.25 cups of water
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 8 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a sauce pan, bring water to a hard boil.  Add butter and heat until butter is thoroughly melted.  Add the flour.  Yes, all of it.  Stir, stir, stir vigorously until a big, smooth blob forms (WARNING: if you don’t stir vigorously or continuously it will burn and that will be tragic!).  Put blob into a mixing bowl and beat in one egg at a time until each is thoroughly incorporated (NOTE: This is where Lucille comes in very handy!).  Once all the eggs are added the dough should be light and fluffy.  Drop by tablespoon (or other implements of transfer) to a greased cookie sheet or baking stone (I find I don’t need to grease my stone…and I truly mean that only the strictest baking sense–get your minds out of the gutter!).  Bake at 400F for 35 minutes or until golden brown.  When cool, use a bread knife to cut off the tops, fill with warm pudding, and put the top back on.  If you want to be extra fancy-schmancy you can lightly dust with powdered sugar.  I prefer to just inhale them!  🙂

PUDDING:

  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 1/3 cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (yes, a whole tablespoon!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla (see cinnamon comment above!)

It says to use a double boiler.  Honestly, I never do.  BUT be warned if you do not, it burns very easily–so do not walk away or stop stirring!  Whisk eggs lightly and add with milk to a saucepan/double broiler.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Bring to a slow boil, continuously stirring.  Cook until it’s thick (usually 10-15 minutes–ish.  I don’t know.  I don’t time it–I’m stirring like a mad woman.  Not vigorously like with dough, but continuously!).  When it is thick, remove from heat and add butter and vanilla and gently stir until butter is melted.  Let it cool for a few minutes and then add to puffs.  You should have a bit leftover–it is perfectly acceptable and expected for you to eat this directly out of the pan while warm.  You will thank me for that ;- )

BTW, the * is because I changed the recipe slightly from Granny’s–I add cinnamon and more cocoa, if you must know.