Monday, December 22, 2014

Grandma Little's Rhubarb Pie (written by guest blogger Greg Little)

Today I am handing over the blog to my dad.  He originally wrote this for a co-worker who asked him to share his rhubarb pie recipe.  Enjoy

Grandma Little's Rhubarb Pie
Before you set about to make this pie, it is only fitting that you have an appreciation for the chef who created this masterpiece.  Grandma Little’s birth name is Julia Hunter and she was born in Sunderland, England in 1892.  Having one sister and twelve brothers was instrumental in the development of her strong will and persevering attitude.  On October 25, 1923 she boarded the Red Star Line ocean liner Belgenland in Southampton, England and nine days later she and her 5 year old son William arrived at Ellis Island, USA.  Six months earlier her husband Percival “Harry” sailed to America to find a better life for his family.  A better life indeed, but the sweetness of this new land was short lived for Harry.  He passed away twenty years after his arrival due to health problems.  Julia and William arrived with a suitcase and one large shipping crate, the total sum of all their belongings in the new world.  Fortunately this recipe is one of the things that made the trip.  As you mix the ingredients for this pie take a few moments to reflect on how they exemplify her life (our lives):

Rhubarb:  Bitterness and heartbreak, but so rewarding when mixed with the other ingredients

Sugar:  The sweetness of all good things in life

Flour and Salt:  The staples of life that provide consistency and stability

Eggs:  A sign of rebirth and starting anew, and the glue that keeps everything together

Put them all together and you have one remarkable woman AND a mouthwatering pie

INGREDIENTS for an 8” or 9” pie pan

3 Heaping cups of rhubarb (cut the stalks into ¾’ pieces)

1 ½ Cups sugar

3 Tablespoons flour

¼ Teaspoonful salt

3 Beaten eggs (save some to brush on the top of the pie)

For a 10” pie use 5 tablespoons flour, 2 ¼ cups sugar, 4 eggs, 5 cups rhubarb, and ¼ teaspoon salt

Mix the sugar, flour and salt together and pour it over the cut rhubarb.  Pour the well beaten eggs over the rhubarb mixture and mix well.  (Don’t put the filling into the crust until the top crust is rolled and ready to use.  Keep the bottom crust in the refrigerator until ready to use) Preheat the oven to 4250.  Bake the pie at 4250 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 3750 for 40 minutes or until done.  Test to see if done by putting a fork in a hole in the center of the top crust.  If the rhubarb is soft the pie is done.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Funeral at the Bowling Alley

So a few posts ago I wrote about the laundromat and how it was always a critical part of the summer visit with Grandma.  Another fine establishment where we went, not once, but twice during the week was the bowling alley.  If you knew Maddie you know that you would never use the word "athletic" to describe her.  I don't think I can recall a single memory of her telling me that she played a sport, unless you consider "submarine watching" at Lakeview Park a sport.  She was never in a rush to do anything and the only time I actually saw her walk fast was when she spotted a piece of Heisey at an antique show.  But the woman loved to bowl.  Bowling was definitely her kind of sport.  She got to sit and smoke when it wasn't her turn and only had to stand up when it was her turn.  She was actually really good.  She was in at least two leagues.  On one of the mornings she would run into my other grandfather, Jim Gallagher.  I think he may have been in at least two leagues as well.  Anyway, when I would visit I would get to and sit and watch Grandma and the other little old ladies bowl.  I am not really sure how they convinced me this was fun.  I didn't get to play.  Sometimes if I was lucky they I would get to keep score.  This was way before automatic scoring so it was a good way to brush up on those math skills.  But for some reason I liked it.  Bowling Alley's really don't smell good, but that mixture of smoke, feet, the oil they use to polish the lanes, the disinfectant that they spray in the shoes all mixed up in that stale air always brings a smile to my face.  It was a bittersweet day when smoking got banned inside.  Good for my lungs, but the smell will never be the same.  Grandma bowled at Rebman's.  Right up from the Croatian Club on Oberlin Ave.  From what I can remember you went in and there were two sides of lanes.  We always went to the right.  I don't know what was on the left side, but it seemed very secretive.   Maybe there wasn't even bowling on the left, it was probably the bar.  Who knows?  After her stroke Grandma had to quit bowling.  I actually took her up to Rebman's a couple of times during her old league's time to visit her friends.  You could tell she was missed and she really enjoyed seeing everyone.  She kept saying she was trying to get better to be able to bowl again, but it never happened.

When she died she had already moved into the nursing home and there was no family homestead to host the funeral reception.  Many of the funeral homes in Lorain had reception rooms which would have been perfect, but they had all made Grandma mad at one point or another so she made her plans at one in Elyria that didn't.  I asked my mom where we were going to host the reception and she said Rebman's.  Apparently they had remodeled and now had a "party room".  I freaked out.  You can't have a funeral at a bowling alley, but then I remembered how much Grandma liked going there and I couldn't think of a better place.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The O Ring

When I was in high school I had to live through all sorts of humiliation.  I know so did everyone else in the world, but I am pretty sure I am one of few teenagers who had to carry a hemorrhoid pillow around high school.   Even more embarrassing was why.  I had to have surgery to remove a pilonidal cyst on my tailbone.  The typical patient for this surgery is an overweight extremely hairy old man, not a 16 year old girl.  But, in true Little fashion I faced it the only way I knew how.  Head on and try and find some humor in it.  The first surgery was really painful and I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. It was Thanksgiving.  I really didn't have the stomach for the hospital turkey, but my family brought me corn fritters.  I got released on Saturday.  Grandma and Grandpa Little were in town so Mom and Grandma came to pick me up from the hospital.  We didn't go home though.  It was Thanksgiving weekend and there was shopping to be done.  Walking wasn't really a problem, just sitting, so Mom and Grandma just had me lay down in the back seat.  Nothing was going to keep Maddie Little from shopping. They just popped some lortabs in me and away we went.  I got to rest a little on Sunday but Monday it was time for school.  The worst thing about the pillow is it was covered in brown fabric.  I didn't even want to think about why they would choose that color.  But, I had to go to school and I couldn't stand up all day so the pillow had to come with me.  My friends knew what was going on, but I had to keep explaining why I was carrying a brown pillow around school.  Depending on my mood my response would be either "I had surgery on my back" or " I just had surgery to make me a perfect a*****e".  I held my head high, put my pillow in its special bag and carried it like a badge of honor.  Booties weren't the thing in the '80's.  They didn't come into style until the '90's with Sir Mix A lot.  Too bad.  I could have told people my butt was so important it just had to be protected.  J-lo stole my story.  After everyone got used to the pillow it became a joke to steal it and hide it so I couldn't sit.  Ha ha real funny.   It was funny however when a friend, R*****, and I decided to photocopy our bottoms.  Let's just say my scar would make it impossible to deny that I had been the one sitting on the copier.  The worst moment came at our 25th Reunion when somebody came up and asked if I still had to carry my pillow around.  Really!!!  That is how I am remembered!!!  Unfortunately the first surgery didn't work so I had to have another, and another , and another.  I got to carry my pillow to UT as well.  They finally got it under control and so long as I don't do sit ups I am ok. ( no problem there). 

You may not be surprised that this post doesn't have a picture.  All I can say I thank goodness I grew up before social media.