Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Memory of Marge . . .

When my uncle's call came yesterday, it wasn't a surprise. My grandmother had been sick with Alzheimer's and lung cancer for a while now. Almost ten years after we lost my mom, Nana is joining her and my grandfather....wouldn't that be cool if they greeted her with a Goldie's Hamburger? ;)

{This is Nana with my mom, 1945.}

My Nana's picture just might be in your dictionary under the word "character." She went to mass every morning and her favorite word was "sh@#." {That's the truth.} She was the craziest dancer at every wedding (though, my Uncle Mike & my sister are running neck & neck for that title now).


{This was always the picture I would stare at when I visited. I love this picture!}

She was in the Women's Army Corps in WWII and she and my papa got engaged at Pat O'Briens in New Orleans. {No wonder I like those Hurricanes so much!}


{Here we are in 1979. Nana had that same hair-do for 40 years. I'm on the left. Knee socks & sandals were high fashion apparently.}

Now, to me, Marge wasn't known as a cook or a baker. I remember her with a crochet hook in her hand rather than in the kitchen. But every time we visited, there were always two cream pies in the fridge...always chocolate and either lemon or coconut. She was famous for her "macaroni & meat" (pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef....totally kid heaven) and made a mean whiskey sour.

So, I made a Chocolate Cream Pie in her honor.

Chocolate Cream Pie

{Recipe modified from Food & Wine magazine}

6 ounces, about 1 & 1/2 c. Oreos (just the wafer part), or chocolate wafer cookies
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°.

Using a food processor, finely grind the Oreo cookies (not the creamy centers...do with them what you will).

In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch glass pie dish and press evenly over the bottom and up the side of the dish to form a crust. Bake for 8 minutes, until the crust is fragrant.

Remove from the oven and, using the bottom of a drinking glass, immediately press the crumbs again to compact the crust. (brilliant idea from F&W!) Let cool completely.

make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with 1/4 cup of the sugar until bubbles form around the edge. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture.

Pour into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate until smooth. Strain the chocolate filling into the pie crust through a coarse sieve (this does not work with a fine sieve, I tried!) and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie filling and refrigerate for 3 hours, until chilled.

{Nana made this ♥ doily!}

Let the pie stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla until firm. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, cut into wedges and serve, garnished with chocolate shavings, if desired.


Nana...we will miss you. The dance floor at the next family wedding won't be the same without you. And, I'll think of you the next time I say, "sh@#"...it shouldn't be long.



{Works for Me Wednesday and the "troubleshooting" post will be back next week.}

75 comments:

  1. Sorry for your loss, Bridget... fond memories of our loved ones, keep them close and present forever...

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. I am happy that you have such fond memories of your Nana. It is such a gift to know your grandparents. I was blessed to know mine too. It isn't easy when we have to say good bye. Bless her heart.

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  3. I might need to make a sheet (sp?) cake and buy some little boxes of cereal... I love the idea of baking something in her memory. And thanks for the pictures! I love that one of her and your mom.

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  4. I'm sorry you lost your Nana, Bridget! What wonderful memories you have, and the pictures are fantastic - she was quite a pretty lady!

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  5. Oh Bridget I'm sorry for your loss--What a beautiful tribute though...the pie and your post. {hugs}

    I have a little "funny" about the "s" word....I tell people that growing up I thought my name was "sh@#"...because my mom would ALWAYS say "OH SH@#!".....and I would ALWAYS say "What?" LOL

    That pie looks DELICIOUS!♥

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  6. Terribly sorry for your loss, but what a -beautiful- way to remember her.

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  7. I am in tears what a beautiful post for a great Nana~ I made a cake yeasterday for some unknown reason (I haven't had sweets for MONTHS!) and then got the call. She will be and has been missed. I have always loved that army picture as well, thanks for sharing it~ Love you

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  8. Bridget, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute, a chocolate cream pie seems very fitting.

    I didn't really know my boyfriend's grandmother before she passed last summer, but she was also in the Woman's Army Corps and hearing stories and reading articles about it was so fascinating!

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  9. What a beautiful post and a great way to remember your Grandmother.

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  10. Oh Bridget. I love that you found a way to make me laugh and cry all in one post!! What a beautiful tribute...AND recipe! This is the BEST post! Can I ask you a favor?? Can you do more posts about you and your family? You write so well and are so sweet I just love it!

    Blessings-
    Amanda

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  11. Bridget, I'm sorry about your loss, but thank you for sharing your memories with us. She sounds like one fantastic lady!

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  12. Sorry for your loss!!! Our thoughts are with your family!!
    What a touching tribute!

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  13. I'm so sorry, Bridget!

    (love those pictures)

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  14. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a great way to remember someone you love!

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  15. I think I followd your fashinon advise that day of the PICTURE~ Aww socks with sandals :)

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  16. I'm sorry for your loss. Beautiful pie for a beautiful lady!

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  17. I'm so sorry for your loss Bridget. She sounds like a great lady. The fact that she and your grandpa got engaged at Pat O'Briens speaks volumes about her zest for life! The pictures are fabulous!

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  18. So sorry for your loss. I hope you had a whiskey sour with that pie, in her honor.

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  19. I'm sorry for your loss and its a wonderful write up that you did in her honor. I'm sure she's extremely proud.

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  20. I'm so very sorry...
    sending hugs.
    Robin
    All Things Heart and Home

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  21. Sorry to hear of your loss. I really enjoyed looking through your pictures and hearing stories. Your 'macaroni & meat' we call 'little spaghettis' at our house. And your right...kid heaven! Thanks for sharing.

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  22. I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Bridget!

    Thanks for sharing a little bit of your Nana with us.
    ~ingrid

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  23. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. I love that you are celebrating her life and her memory! My prayers are with you and your family, Bridget.

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  24. So sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful legacy you are left with. I especially love the "character" aspect of your memories. I've been a daughter, sister, wife, mother and now at 47 I can best be described as a character too! Bless you, Marge! Destiny

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  25. What a beautiful post and a wonderful way to remember her. The memories are so incredibly important. I think of my grandmas every time I make certain recipes.

    Prayers for you and your family today.

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  26. what a lovely tribute to your nana...so sorry for your loss...
    memories are great treasures & i am sure you have so, so many.

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  27. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. It sounds like she had a great life, which always helps make these things a little more bearable.

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  28. What a wonderful blog about your amazing grandma. Sorry for your loss, but what a wealth of memories.

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  29. I'm so sorry for your loss and I think when I see a chocolate pie, I'll always remember this post. She looks to have been an incredible woman and the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing her with us.

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  30. Bridget,

    What great memories of Nana!!!

    I think of her as a "Human Character" rather than a human being. There is something special about a person who went to mass daily, was a pastoral assistant and who had so many religious articles in her house, but still said Sh&*!!! all the time. She was a one of a kind.

    Uncle Mike--the crazy dancer

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  31. i'm so sorry for your loss, bridget. grandmothers are a precious thing..especially those that are "characters" as mine is, too.

    we're expecting our second child in 2 weeks and something about your post just really resonated with me. as stressful as pregnancy, labor, delivery, and motherhood can be - what better way to spend your life than investing in your kids, grandkids, and doing things that create wonderful memories for those you love (like cream pies!).

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  32. I am so sorry for you loss. My sympathies to you and your family.
    Such a beautiful way to honor your gran!

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  33. Since this is a baking blog, I have to thank your Nana for teaching me to make German Chocolate cake from scratch 35 years ago. If not for her, I'd still be mixing up a BOX!!:( of German Chocolate Cake Mix..... and popping it in the oven to Bake@350. I seriously thought that was just fine as long as I used made-from-scratch icing to top it. I'm so glad she taught me there is a difference and it's worth the extra time.

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  34. Dear Sweet Bridget!
    What a sweet sweet tribute to your Nana!
    I'm so sorry you lost her...but what a sweet heavenly thought that she will be joining your mother and grandfather for a nice juicy hamburger! Adore that thought!
    The moment I caught a glimpse of her...I just knew I saw a bit of her in your adorable face!
    XXOOXX
    Thinking of you and adoring that dollie!
    You are such a fun loving unique soul...and I am blessed to be apart of your sweet world.
    Luv...Teresa

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  35. I'm so sorry for your loss. My grandma died 2 years ago and I miss her like hell. This is a lovely tribute to your grandmother.

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  36. Oh Bridget, so sorry for your loss! What wonderful memories that you take with you, though.
    That picture of the two of them together is so great!

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  37. So sorry about your loss. What a beautiful and loving tribute.

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  38. How lucky you are to have such great fond memories--L-O-V-E that photo of nana with all the grand kids!

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  39. What a touching tribute to her. I'm so glad you shared her with us. Love to you.

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  40. sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was a fun lady!

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  41. Sorry for your loss. What a great tribute to her though, she sounds like a great lady. Helen x

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  42. I'm so sorry. What a wonderful way to remember her, though. I know I cherish all of the recipes and little traditions that keep them near in our hearts.

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  43. I'm sorry to hear about your grandma. What a fitting tribute to make something so sweet to conjure up sweet memories of your grandma:)
    Treasure the memories!

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  44. Bridget,
    Sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. It sounds like she left you with some fabulous memories.
    Mimi

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  45. My condolences on the loss of your grandmother, Bridget. What a beautiful tribute you have created. I bet she is looking down from heaven with a smile and so very proud of how you use your talents of both writing and baking to bring joy to yourself and others.

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  46. I'm so very sorry for your grandma :-(
    She was quite an extraordinary lady!!
    Hugs
    Sophie

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  47. What a sweet post! I hope you feel my love..
    (Hugs)

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  48. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    blessings
    ~*~

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  49. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother. Love the old photos. They are treasures to have.

    Your chocolate cream pie looks wonderful!

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  50. Bridget, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. It's heard to miss the people we love. I know your nana is enjoying that burger in heaven with her hubby.

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  51. So sorry for your loss...btw my Mom was also a WAC in WWII...think they knew each other???

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  52. So sorry about Nana. This is a beautiful post, though - she sounds like an incredible woman! I'm sure she was (and is) so very proud of you!

    Beautiful pie!

    -Amy
    www.singforyoursupperblog.com

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  53. I am so sorry for your loss! I love chocolate cream pie, what a nice tribute to her!

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  54. I'm very sorry for your loss...my grandma has Alzheimer's too, so I understand what you mean about not being surprised.

    I think it's wonderful that you made her pie today...it must have been therapeutic for you, and she was probably smiling on you from heaven!

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  55. I'm sorry for your loss. She seems like she was an amazing woman!

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  56. I am so terribly sorry to learn of your loss, Bridget. What a grand reunion in heaven there was, for sure!

    I am devastated to hear that you've lost your mother too.

    I am finally together with my parents tonight... They are just across the hall here at the hotel in Atlanta and I am so profoundly grateful to have them here with us as we say good-bye to our soldier before his deployment.

    You take care and thank you for sharing this wonderful and meaningful recipe!

    Much love!

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  57. So sorry for your lost. Love those old photo of your grandma & grandpa in their navy uniforms..and the family photos are priceless.

    Yummy choc cream pie!

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  58. Bridget, I'm so sorry, for your loss. What a beautiful post you wrote, and the pictures are beatiful.
    hugs
    Paula

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  59. Love all the pictures. Great post!

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  60. Until I saw the picture of Marge and Jack, I didn't realize how much MK looks like his dad. Isn't it funny how we sometimes think of the food that we associate with someone. The smells, tastes, activities of making that food. What a great memory to keep.

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  61. B ~ sorry for your lost!

    isn't it funny that when we think of our grandma's we think of food? whether they made it or always had it in the house?

    what great pictures of your grand parents and memories for you!

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  62. I disagree with your statement that she wasn't known to be a cook or a baker. That is exactly what she did in the Army. It is on all of her papers....cook/baker. The reason she told me that she didn't like to cook/bake was that she did it for thousands a day for those Army years and she had cooked enough in those years to last a lifetime!

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  63. Aunt Shawn...I amended my earlier comment. I just didn't remember her in the kitchen much when I visited...she was busy taking me to Bingo and the "beauty parlor", but I did love those PIES...and macaroni & meat! And I remember LOTS of Goldies & Coneys! :)

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  64. So sorry to hear of your loss. Your Nana sounds like quite a lady! Your post and cream pie are such a great way to remember her and celebrate her life.

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  65. I'm so sorry. What great memories though, and what a better way to honor her.
    I'll keep you in my prayers.
    ~Liz

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  66. Beautiful tribute to your Nana...she reminds me so much of mine...my Nanny is either always cooking or crocheting...Great post!

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  67. I am sorry for your loss...what a wonderful tribute to you Nana. I wish I knew mine, you were very blessed to have known her:)

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  68. So sorry to hear! But my god, was your Nana pretty! Love the picture in the uniform!! The pie looks delicious.. Great tribute!

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  69. I like your NaNa...I too am a fan of the hurricane, Pat O'Brien's, and New Orleans! And where are you from, Goldie's hamburger, Oklahoma maybe?

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