Grouchy Grandma’s Rules

Susan Metcalf Photograph Image/jpg One Of The Nicest Compliments I Receive Is When Readers Tell Me That They Have Hung My Column On Their Refrigerator Or Mailed It To Someone (often Anonymously) To Try To
Thursday, November 28, 2019
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Cooking in the West

One of the nicest compliments I receive is when readers tell me that they have hung my column on their refrigerator or mailed it to someone (often anonymously) to try to make a point humorously and semi-tactfully. Since we are going into the holiday feast season, and since several readers have asked me to rerun that code of conduct for the holidays column, I am sending out this list of Grandma’s house rules that might serve as a gentle reminder for family dinner etiquette.

Grouchy Grandma’s House

Rules for the Holidays:

#1. I’m not dead yet. Holidays are still important to me. If being in my Last Will and Testament is important to you, please consider moving heaven and earth to be with me for the holidays.

#2. If I say, “Dinner is at 2:00!” that does not mean 2:05 or 2:15. It wouldn’t hurt for you to arrive a little early to help an old lady with the preparations, now would it?

#3. The turkey will be roasted in the oven not fried in one of those contraptions filled with $90.00 worth of peanut oil that could ignite and burn down the garage. How in the world am I supposed to conjure up a gallon of gravy if we deep fat fry the bird? Don’t even suggest those little gravy packets!

#4. Other than turkey, options might include prime rib, shrimp, or ham. There is no vegan entree, so invite your guests accordingly. In this family, we have canine teeth that would impress Little Red Riding Hood. There are side dishes that may or may not be vegetarian because they might include ham or bacon (see # 9) and oh yes, the pie crusts are made with lard!

#5. Please do not arrive at my house needing to use the oven and the stove--I am using the oven and all the burners on the stove. Bring your own heating device--a crockpot, electric frying pan, griddle, barbecue, or build a camp fire if you need BTU’s!

#6. Paper plates and plastic cups might be bad for the environment, but I will be gone soon and you will have to save the earth from global warming without me, so we will use a few of them along with my finest dishes, because my blankety blank Energy saving dishwasher has to run 110 minutes per load. My old dishwasher would run two holiday loads in 90 minutes--now how is running over twice as long going to save energy?

#7. During dinner, please put your cell phones in the mud room. Trying to text inconspicuously under the tablecloth is just not polite.

#8. Grandmothers give children cookies and candy. That is just one of the facts of life. (Remember that talk we had about “the facts of life?” Yeah, me neither!) They can eat healthy at your house the other 364 days of the year!

#9. Bacon is a mainstay of holiday cooking. It has not completely clogged my arteries yet, so apparently wrapping everything in bacon is a grand holiday tradition!

#10. It is acceptable to get your phone from the mud room to take pictures and videos. Take lots, because I want the slideshow at my funeral to be lengthy and memorable. I would appreciate it if you would become proficient at Photoshop, so you can hack 30 pounds and 30 years off of me before you project images of me up on the screen at the funeral. I would like to preview it and add music and subtitles to it before I kick the bucket if that can be arranged.

#11. If your pet MUST accompany you to dinner, it MUST either stay in the car, be tied or kenneled, or take its chances outside with the coyotes, because it is not welcome in my house during dinner.

#12. I am old, so I have learned to always say what I mean. If I say that you don’t need to bring anything, you can take me at my word. If I ask you to bring something, please bring it in a quantity that will serve our entire clan plus several uninvited guests.

#13. Speaking of uninvited guests. . . feel free to bring anyone who needs a holiday meal; however, please call me with a headcount before I peel the potatoes or set the table. Don’t e-mail or text or personal message me--I am too busy cooking to check those, but I am not completely deaf so I can hear the phone when it rings!

#14. Do not dare to talk religion or politics--especially if you disagree with me on either topic. I cannot afford to elevate my blood pressure and risk popping a vessel somewhere. Suggested safe topics include the weather, amusing anecdotes about your job or your kids, or perhaps elaborate upon your undying admiration for me.

#15. Holidays are about love of family. You don’t have to like everyone in this family, but you do have to love them!

I would like to share some of this grouchy Grandma’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes this week. I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! Please remember to count your blessings!

Mother’s Maraschino Cherry


Mix and pat into an 8 inch square pan:

1/2 C. butter

1 C. flour

2 T. powdered sugar

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


1 t. vanilla

1 C. sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 C. coconut

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 C. flour

2 small bottle of maraschino cherries (chopped) and juice

chopped walnuts as desired

Spread cherry mixture over crust. Return to the oven and bake 30 minutes.

Cut-out Cookies

1 C. butter

1 C. sugar

1 egg

1 t. baking powder

2 T. orange juice

1 t. vanilla

2 1/2 C. flour

Mix first six ingredient with a mixer until fluffy. Stir in flour by hand until well mixed. Chill dough 3 hours until firm enough to roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cutters. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees until edges of cookies are light brown. Frost and decorate with buttercream icing: Combine 3 C. powdered sugar, 1/3 C. butter, 1 to 2 T. milk or cream (to spreading consistency), and 1 t. vanilla. Mix until smooth, and add coloring if desired.

Leftover Turkey Casserole

6 C. chopped leftover turkey meat (or more)

1 medium onion, diced

2 C. chopped celery stalks with leaves

2 C. mayonnaise

1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 pkg. slivered almonds

1 can water chestnuts, sliced

1/4 C green onions, chopped

1/4 C.. pimentos, chopped (optional)

1 can Chinese noodles

Saute onion and celery in butter just until translucent. Add all the remaining ingredients except the Chinese noodles and mix well. Put in buttered casserole dish and top with Chinese noodles. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.