Grandma Frieda made the best sandwich buns I've ever eaten.
Once I asked for her recipe, but she'd done it so much, it was all in her head. So I asked her to make buns and let me write down what she did and how she did it.
First, she said, throw in I-forget-how-many cups of flour, and she proceeded to scoop a heaping cup of flour into our bowl. But more than a heaping cup, the cup she used was a crockery cup - with a broken handle, no less - that could have held up to 2 cups of flour. Her teaspoons of anything were an eyeball amount in a huge wooden spoon, and the water was a splash from the faucet.
I've never tried to make Grandma's sandwich buns, though I certainly wish now I knew the recipe so I could give it a try.
I'm thinking a lot of grandmas across the country had a lot of recipes that faded from use when they were gone, and I must not be the only person to think that.
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is hoping that Americans called the World War II generation will respond to its request for individual and collective first-hand memories of rationing, shopping, cooking, serving, eating, even growing the food during the war, all to be compiled in a national grassroots program called Kitchen Memories.
The museum also would like those who did not experience life on the home front to gather stories from those who did - from mothers or grandmothers, relatives or friends.
"The goal of the program," the museum says, "is to produce a collection of stories, recipes and memories of World War II as a community kitchen project, a way to encourage oral history and talk across generations while these stories can still be collected first-hand."
Guidelines for recording Kitchen Memories is available online at www.nationalww2museum.org/calendar/kitchen-memories.com. Information for submitting an oral history, photos and wartime recipes to the museum's archives also is available at that site.
"The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn."
That's what the museum people say.
I say it's a perfect time to talk to your parents and grandparents. Not just to collect recipes and other interesting facts, but to hear in their own words about the toughest times in their lives. It's a good bet the tough times don't always mean the saddest, either.
Just take the time to do it.
I recently got an e-mail from a woman named Penny Harvey from Ojai, Calif., who has a friend in Stratford who sends her copies of some of the stuff I write and did send copies of Joanne Walker's column. She said she always meant to write to Joanne to tell her how much those columns meant, but Joanne died before the letter was written.
"I just wanted you to know and if you can, pass my words around," Penny wrote. "Never, never put off till tomorrow what you should do today."
That's true in all things, especially talking to parents and grandparents.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org