This week I lost a very special person in my life. My Grandma Madeline passed away on Monday morning. She was the inspiration and motivation for many of my different baking adventures. She was a strong woman who loved dancing (she taught me how to properly dance, too see below), her family, cooking, baking and anything glitzy and glittery (clothes, jewelry etc.).
Her baking specialties were her yeast breads and goodies. Later in life, the specialty: her cookies, which she took to the western dances she organized with a friend. Everything she made was delicious and she spoke her love through her food. She was a Home Economics teacher to many people I know. She loved to teach her students, but she loved to cook and bake for them more. She taught me how simple things can be fabulous.
I wanted to write a post about her, because I don’t want to forget the memories that are so top of mind at the moment. Part of the reason I blog is to have these memories in print, so they are there for my children when they grow up. If you have a story about her (since she’s passed I’ve heard so many nice stories I don’t want to forget), would you care to share it in the comments at the end of the post. I’ll be forever in your favor if you do.
In September, she turned 90 years old. She wasn’t as handy as she had been in the past and didn’t get out quite as much. This year we took her to Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse and it was a wonderful night. She was so happy, we talked about every menu item and the different flavors and spices. We all visited for 2 two hours while we ate anything we darn-well-pleased.
(And all 3 of the little ones were on their best behavior, thank God.) She and I both ordered the same thing, filet mignon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and summer vegetables. We visited so much that for the first time in my life, my food got cold. I’ll never forget that evening, forever. She looked beautiful and fully enjoyed herself, in a fancy way. She loved her ice cream sundae and candle. She made a wish, blew the candle out and insisted that the children eat her sundae. She loved to share her treats.
She had strong working hands and they were typically adorned with sterling silver and turquoise rings. She wore everything I gave her, all of the time. I loved to give her gifts because she genuinely appreciated every one. She kept them all out to see and enjoy.
The first recipe we ever baked together was the recipe for Cream Puffs. I got to go to her house and play in the kitchen with her, by myself and I’d never felt more accomplished. She treated me like a professional pastry chef (though I was 8 years old). It was the time of my life. The last thing we ever created together was fresh pasta on her Atlas pasta machine with my daughter.
Here’s our 4 generation picture (minus my Dad who was looking for ball gloves).
I have such vivid memories of making that with her, from that day. She taught me everything about the machine and cranked it while I fed the dough and my daughter caught the 5 foot long sheets of pasta. Grandma also let her crank the machine herself, my daughter felt so special.
We made fresh lasagna that night. My daughter put on a show for her, pitching the softball to my Dad. Grandma loved it. Anything my Dad did was magic to her, she always noted how he took such good care of her and held things together. She was never short on compliments for him and she always told me everything he did for her, which made me feel good.
(See, she has her sparkly horseshoe ring on. She loved that one. I gave it to her when I was in college. She’s also wearing a Mickey Mouse pin that my daughter got her at Disney World. She was so good at loving the things we gave her.)
She loved watching me pitch (long ago), but really enjoyed this show and talked about it every time we visited for the next year and a half.
I’ll miss her every day and when I bake, her memory will be fully lived and loved.
“Happy Cooking | Love, Madeline Slings”
**Thanks to Facebook, I didn’t really have time to notify anyone personally about her death and I’m still apologizing for that. Please, I urge you to think before you post if you have sensitive news (ie: births, deaths, etc.) Out of kindness, consider the other people around you who may need more time to digest and notify others (family and friends) of a situation, before you reveal information on any social platform.