16 Feb 2012

Dinner With Grandma

Holmes & Edwards ad from the
March 1947 Ladies' Home Journal
Patrick had soccer on Valentine's Day so we instead had a mini celebration on Monday, and on the actual Day of Hallmark's Emotional Exploitation, my good friend Anissa came over for dinner, desserts, and a lot of booze. It was all also the perfect excuse to initiate a very special gift I received from my aunts and my parents.

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to accept the most wonderful package from my Aunt Teresa, my Aunt Janice, and my parents: It was a completed set of my Grandma Price's silver.

My Grandma and Grandpa Price
in 1947.
Four days after she turned 24, my grandmother married my grandfather in 1947. At some point after that (whether it was a gift or something she collected on piece at a time, we're not sure), my grandmother acquired the Youth silver pattern from Holmes & Edwards. It was a very popular pattern, one that some baby boomers might recognize, and retailed for just under $70 in 1947. It's sweet and special and features little flowers that almost anyone with a preference toward the traditionally feminine would be charmed by.

It's a set that has seen decades of anniversaries and parties, family dinners and tea with the girls. Eventually my grandmother acquired another set of silver, her own mother's (my Great Grandma Steffler's), and that set was later gifted with much love to her daughter, my Aunt Teresa, in celebration and in honour of Teresa's wedding. It was a big surprise to Teresa as my Great Grandmother Steffler's silver set was something my grandmother still quite cherished, but Grandma Price felt it was time to hand it off. She wanted to see Teresa enjoy this little inheritance while she was still alive  - and it was a gesture that was met with many tears and hugs.

And that fall, my grandmother unexpectedly and sadly passed away - something that made the early gift of an heirloom that much more emotional and sentimental.

After the funeral, my grandmother's original wedding silver eventually went to my aunt Janice, but she found that she didn't get as much use out of it as she would have liked. She offered it to Teresa, but she, too, didn't use it on account of already owning her Grandmother Steffler's set. And so they thought of who in the family might appreciate it and use it more, and a certain someone with a vintage obsession and disturbing love for dining came to mind. Yay for being a Fatty '50s Weirdo!

My Grandma Price's Holmes & Edwards pattern was typical of a woman who had raised a brood of children (eight kids!) - there were a lot of incompletes. Once, when asked where all the teaspoons went, my grandmother joked (but not) that they were probably in a sandbox. With my Aunt Teresa's work and my parents' help, they filled in the spaces, replacing the pieces that had been lost to sand castles of the 1950s and '60s, and then sent the completed set to me, tagging the forks, spoons, and knives that had been newly bought.

And so, I naturally did what anyone would do with such a thoughtful and sentimental gift:
Image Source.
HAH. You guys have no idea how incredibly and thoroughly dead I would be if I wasn't joking. I'd be murdered so hard by my aunts that my lifeless carcass would actually make Kristen Stewart look like she had an emotional range. I don't even think there would be dental records left to properly identify me.

In reality, to "break in" this beautiful silver, I did something much nicer and life-preserving: I made a special meal that my grandmother might have served, using recipes from the Steffler Family Cookbook (which I've mentioned once before when I went on a bender for prairie foods).

For dinner with Patrick, I adapted my grandmother's recipe for Shrimp Puffs and instead used tuna, so as to not kill my shellfish-allergic husband:

I then made Crispy Parmesan Chicken, whipped mashed potatoes, gravy, and buttered broccoli:

Happy Hubby:

For my ultra romantic dinner with Anissa, I cooked up a vegetable soup and we enjoyed two of my Grandma Price's desserts: Pecan Pie and Almond Cherry Cake.

I know the Almond Cherry Cake looks suspiciously like the dreaded fruitcake, but I promise, it is really frigging amazing. Because Patrick likes chocolate, I added chocolate chips to the mix. Next time I make this, I might replace the candied cherries with sour cherries or maybe even dried blueberries just to see how it compares.

For me, food is a simple everyday way to share and show my love and appreciation for my family and friends, and there's no better way to do that than with the help of someone who was so caring and special, my Grandma.

Thanks again for this beautiful gift, Teresa, Janice, Mom and Dad. I love it.


Susie 6:02 pm, February 16, 2012  

What a great and fitting gift for you! That food looks amazing -- I've already decided that I need to make that chicken RIGHT NOW. I also very much share your sentiment about food+love: the basic motto in my kitchen, especially when cooking from scratch, is "I made you dinner because I care about you."

Anonymous,  9:21 pm, February 16, 2012  

Well, for our part, you are welcome but the real thanks goes to Teresa and Janice. All we did was pay for replacements for pieces that I almost certainly am responsible for losing in various sandboxes to begin with.

Let's not forget Cidney who helped order the replacements and who, with Teresa polished it all up before shipping it off.

Enjoy it (and just THINK how cool it would be to have yet another generation to pass it on to...), Right Mern?

Father of the Monkey,  9:46 pm, February 16, 2012  

Might I add - Marie also points out that the tablecloth you used in that photo was hand made by her mom, your other grandmother!

Anonymous,  11:44 pm, February 17, 2012  

I am totally stealing this meal for my anniversary. Thanks!

Meghan,  4:56 pm, February 18, 2012  

I don't know what is more entertaining-your blog or your family commenting on it; either way, now it looks like you've been given another reason for having children to swat down! : )

Piroska 10:22 pm, February 20, 2012  

Wow, I love the idea of the silver passing through generations like that, how special! And cooking some of your family's favourite meals to break in the new stuff is really cool.

Anonymous,  1:05 pm, February 21, 2012  

Jen, what a touching post. It confirms that the silver has landed in the right home!

The pecan pie - one of my favorites! I remember when mom first made this pie. It was after one of the Eldorado Long Service Award functions (always an elaborate event). My boyfriend was working at the function and brought us some of the untouched leftovers, which included the pie. I loved it and mom sought out the recipe. Anytime I went to visit in Carstairs, there was always a pecan pie waiting for me. Perfect!
(Aunt) Teresa

Jennifer 11:09 am, March 16, 2012  

I love the silver! It reminds me a little of my mom's silver with a rose pattern. Your cooking makes me wish we were friends and I lived in Canada so you would invite me over for dinner. Cheers!

Colleen,  10:14 am, March 31, 2012  

Oh, for cripes' sake. I'm crying! And hungry.

Ann B. Kennedy 10:35 am, May 02, 2012  

Enjoyed this post a great deal! Thanks!

SkippyMom 12:18 pm, September 20, 2014  

See? Still commenting to ...air? I kid, but if you are emailed new comments. . .well, sorry to wreck your inbox. I have been reading all night.

First, before we get to the silver [the whole point of the post] I just want to ask. . .can I adopt you? I know you have an amazing family, and I won't take you away from them, but this sentence made me know that you should have been one of my five kids:

"I'd be murdered so hard by my aunts that my lifeless carcass would actually make Kristen Stewart look like she had an emotional range."

It's the Kristen Stewart reference. I thought *I* was the only one who thought that. You make me laugh with nearly every post you write, but this did me in, AGAIN. [and I have to mention - I have a condition that makes laughing painful in some instances, which makes living with my crew sort of hard] SO THANKS! :)

The silver is so lovely. And the gestures on the part of your Great Grandmother first and your Aunts is so beautiful. The love, the memories. It's a wonderful thing to have and cherish.

Love the menu - you are quite the cook!

You'll fit right in. :)

Okay, okay I'll stop commenting. Because I am standing on the ledge between being complimentary and stalker-y.

You're the best! Glad I found you while in insomnia land last evening.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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