Pioneer Potluck: My trip with Bernie to Denver and about being Irish

This week’s recipes include pineapple pie, sausage gravy and potato dumplings

1996 — Boulder, Colorado

ABOUT MOM AND BERNIE’S HAT

We arrived in Denver after I got my purse strap untangled from my wheelie luggage and slung it over my shoulder. Arriving in Denver International Airport (DIA) and getting to your destination is a trip in its self.

The airport is situated in the middle of a large cow pasture in the middle of nowhere, east of Denver. Bernie’s good friends from Erie, Lillian and Chuck, picked us up and took me to Boulder where my sister, Ginger, and Mom lived. Bernie went home with Lillian.

My Mother was so glad to see me in her own little fashion, frail and old, suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer’s but full of big smiles.

I unpacked the next morning and showed Mom a hat that Bernie had made for me out of cute purple flower fabric. The brim could be bent and shaped in any form you chose. It also had a big purple fabric rose pinned to the side. Mom fell in love with it.

I wore it; she wore it. I wore it and she would take it off my head and put it on hers. We played the hat game all day. The next morning the purple hat was resting on the dresser next to my bedroom door. I looked up just in time to see an old wrinkled hand with a crooked finger grab the hat. Mom poked her head in the door of the bedroom, slammed the hat on her fuzzy, gray-haired head and skip-ran down the hall, smiling and laughing, “tee hee, tee hee.”

She pulled out a chair and sat down at the breakfast table and started eating her oatmeal with the purple hat on. If I came near her she would grab the brim of the hat and pull it down around her ears and say with a big grin, “IT’S MINE!”

She wore the hat off and on each day I was there. We had so much fun with the purple hat. When I left, the hat was in her bedroom and I told her she could have it. “Thank you!” she said with a big big grin. I have a feeling that hat was hers the very first day!

When Mom passed away, my great niece Kaylie wore it and then sent it to me. I wore it off and on and gave it to Susan so she could wear Grandma’s hat.

I treasure the memory of My Mom and the Purple Hat. Thank you Bernie for the wonderful memories.

Make sure you make memories every day. They are important!

ABOUT BEING IRISH

Because St Patrick’s Day is upon us here is a short story about my Irish family:

1937 to 1955 — Northern Colorado

Our family was the only Irish family in a mostly German-Russian community. Mom drilled into our heads and warned us to be good by saying, “Now remember, you are Irish and don’t do anything to make YOUR DAD ashamed of you!”

This statement kept me out of a lot of trouble! And if we did not behave to her standards, she would shame us by saying, “What would YOUR DAD think?”

Actually, we were and are a mixture. Mom’s background is English and Austrian (German), and Dad’s family was Irish, so we were told. But in Mom’s eyes, we were ALL Irish: “Your name in McClure, AND don’t YOU forget it!”

I never knew what nationality our neighbors were. It did not matter. Still doesn’t. During World War II the Germans on the farms around us became Russians and after the war, some switched back to German. Dad teasingly called all his friends Rooshins. It did not matter at all because we were all friends.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day !

PINEAPPLE PIE

I love pineapple and this is the best pie — except for cherry, rhubarb and apple this is right up on top of my list of favorites.

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

1/2 cup sugar

Stir together and add:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

A pinch of salt

Cook in a saucepan until thick and clear.

Stir in:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pour in a baked pie shell and cool.

Frost with Cool Whip or real whipped cream.

Serve to the King and Queen.

Alternatives: Place slightly cooled pie filling in an unbaked pie shell and top with a latticed pie dough. Weave the strips

crisscrossing and pinch and cut edges.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until lattice top is nicely browned.

SAUSAGE GRAVY

A tasty way to serve gravy with biscuits or on buttered toast, maybe even mashed potatoes. This has been approved by the guy who likes gravy — Bob.

1/2 pound of Jimmy Dean Hot breakfast sausage or type that you prefer

Saute 1/2 onion, chopped fine.

Add 6 to 8 sliced mushrooms.

Fry in butter until slightly browned.

Take out of skillet and fry the sausage until done and drain.

Pour 3/4 cup milk.

Add 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup.

Stir with whisk until smooth.

Add the onions and mushrooms and the sausage.

Stir in and simmer 5 minutes on very low temperature.

Add salt and pepper to your taste — I used lots of pepper.

You may have to add more mushroom soup or milk — depends on how thick you like gravy.

Serve hot on hot biscuits, buttered toast or mashed potatoes.

VARIATIONS:

Diced 1/2 red or green pepper sauteed

A small amount of diced jalapeno.

POTATO DUMPLINGS

I looked a long time for this recipe. The dumplings were served at the cafeteria in a Timnath, Colorado High School and in the homes of my friends who mostly were German descent. My sister-in-law Sandy calls this Kaduval and Glaze.

Boil three pound of potatoes with skins until tender.

Drain and chill over night.

When ready to serve, bring a large kettle of water to a boil.

Peel cooked potatoes and grate them into a bowl.

Add:

3/4 cups flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix with hands until well mixed. Shape into small 1-inch balls and roll in flour. Add the dumplings to the boiling water, a little at a time to keep the water continually boiling.

Simmer uncovered until the dumplings rise to the top; let them boil 2 minutes longer. Remove with a slotted spoon to warm serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. So good with fried chicken, roast beef gravy and very good with sauerbraten gravy (gingersnap gravy).


• By Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg, Pioneer Potluck


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