Food & Swine

Grandma Madeline


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.
Cristen H2
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”

And as she would say… “oh, bless your heart.”
A side note:

**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.

If you have a story of my Grandma, would you care to share it?  Every time I learn a new story, it helps me remember her.

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  • Reply Christine Wulf December 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    So very sorry for your loss Cristen

    • Reply Cristen December 25, 2014 at 4:32 am

      Thank you Christine, it has been hard. I appreciate your kindness.

  • Reply jenieats December 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Cristen, thanks for sharing some of her life with us. I’m sorry for you and your family’s loss.

  • Reply jenieats December 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss Cristen. Thanks for sharing some of your memories with us.

  • Reply Joanne December 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    So,sorry for your loss. I also thank you for the warning about posts on Facebook. When my Brother died in April one of my sons found out on Facebook before I could reach him! Love to you and your family over Christmas. You now have another Angel!

  • Reply Kelly Duncan December 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Cristen, I am so sorry for your family’s loss. What a BEAUTIFUL tribute! Her legacy of love and family will be carried on in you.

  • Reply Cindy K. December 24, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Very sorry. I was very close to my Grandma too. She also taught me how to bake and lots of other things. I had her till she was 96. Still miss her and Grandpa all the time. We were lucky to have them! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Cristen December 25, 2014 at 4:35 am

      Wow Cindy! 96! How lucky you were. It is oddly strange how many things I should have asked her, have come to mind since she died. May I have your date pinwheel recipe? Did you use pecans or walnuts in those? I know your favorite song to hear Bobby sing… but what’s your favorite song to dance to? The list goes on… thanks for your thoughts. Xoxo

  • Reply Bonita Olmer December 24, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    What a nice tribute to your Grandma Madeline. Thank you for introducing her to me in this way. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Sending love your way.

    • Reply Cristen December 25, 2014 at 4:37 am

      Thank you sweet cousin! It is never easy to lose a loved one and 3 years ago Grandma Celeste died on 12-17. Tough during the holidays. Thanks for thinking of me.

  • Reply dharmaanchor December 25, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your tribute to her here is lovely.

  • Reply sandyrmiller December 25, 2014 at 3:45 am

    So sorry about your grandmother. What a wonderful way for me to get to know her. This blog will be a great way for your family to remember her also. Thinking of you.

    • Reply Cristen December 25, 2014 at 4:38 am

      Oh Sandy, thank you for your sweet words. I hope this blog post will serve as a little reminder of that sweet lady. I’ll be making lots of her recipes to come… and sharing her stories.

  • Reply tanna December 25, 2014 at 4:52 am

    What a wonderful blog post!

  • Reply Linda Haas December 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    What a tribute to your grandma! Deepest sympathy to your entire family.

    • Reply Cristen December 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Oh Linda, thank you so much. It means a lot to me.

  • Reply linda white December 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Cristen: Thinking of you much as Nov. 21 we lost Marlins Mom at 98-ladies of this era were so very special but this lady never seemed old to us-besides her helping me many times in the kitchen almost 57 years ago and really not knowing how to boil water-she was great to encourage our kids learning to cook but since her passing we have received notes from her former 4H members how special she was to them also-therefore your kind words for your G’ma really mean a lot to us as we too are living a difficult time-we know she did a great job teaching you and no doubt you will carry this on to your family always—I’m sure she loved seeing your ribbons!!!!

    • Reply Cristen December 27, 2014 at 2:11 am

      Oh Linda, thank you for your kind words. She sure did love looking through all of the ribbons, as I loved to show her. I could cast all humility aside and let her know the outcome on some of those really good days at the Fair. She loved to hear it all and get the leftovers from the busy Cinnamon Roll days. Hope you are well Linda, see you sooner than later (August will be here before we know it!)

  • Reply Cindy Kane December 27, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Madeline was a wonderful person, neighbor and teacher. My story to you is my senior year in high school, I was in her ADVANCED foods class. Now, everyone that knows me understands that I do not like to cook. However, I did learn so much from her about, cooking, hosting parties, restaurants and the need for a woman to support herself. What a wonderful person and what a great family she had.
    Cindy Kane.

    • Reply Cristen December 27, 2014 at 2:52 am

      Oh Cindy, thank you!

  • Reply Rory Kain December 27, 2014 at 3:04 am

    I never turned down some of Madeline’s fresh bread. She also had a rule that I had to try everything and how could I tell her no. She made the best honey mustard. I can’t tell you anything about the recipe other than it was simply the best.


    • Reply Cristen December 27, 2014 at 3:05 am

      Thanks Rory! She was very fond of you.

  • Reply Jodi December 27, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Oh my gosh Cristen! You are so going to laugh at this one. I had your Grandma for my Home Ec teacher in junior high. We have to cook SPAGHETTI of all things. Needless to say I didn’t wait for my water to get hot and I poured it all in! lol It all stuck together and was the worse out of the whole class. She looked at me in such disgust, shame, disappointment because I couldn’t even boil water to cook the noodles. LOL I will never forget that. Kind of explains a lot of things doesn’t it Cristen. You know me and I “lack” of cooking skills. I totally forgot about it until I read your post. Sorry for the loss of your Grandma but her legacy of being magical in the kitchen will live on through you and your amazing skills. :)

    • Reply Cristen December 27, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Oh Jodi! Haha! Well, we’d better practice on the boiling water part… so you can make that spaghetti someday! :) Thanks for the laugh!

  • Reply ceil slings December 27, 2014 at 4:42 am

    What a lovely tribute. Between Madeline and my Mom I!

  • Reply Erin Swalwell December 27, 2014 at 6:01 am

    What a nice tribute to a wonderful lady! She was always so kind to us and I will miss seeing her smiling face.

  • Reply Shannon December 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I remember talking to her at Halle’s birthday party last year and she was so nice to me and asked all about my family and we talked about her love of dancing. I remember thinking she was getting more exercise than me! Such a strong woman and you could see how much she loved you all. I will miss talking to her! I’m so sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful tribute!

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