Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I come from a long line of domestics

1910 -9- March - scrawled on the back of this photo taken of my great grandmother - exactly one hundred years ago today. Wow - I had no idea of the date until I flipped it over to scan it.

She came to this country at age fifteen, her passage paid for by a French woman for whom she became a personal lady's maid. She left her family behind in Ireland. From what I understand, my ancestors were a tough people. The family motto was "Inimicus Inimico", roughly translated "I am hostile to those who are hostile to me"...*ahem* Apparently her employer was good to her, so good in fact that my great grandmother named my grandmother after her.

This is my grandmother. I lived with her off and on when I was little. She didn't like many people, but she liked me and I liked her. She rarely ever called me Jodi. Her two favorite names for me were "Mabel" and "Maggie May, you bold brass article". She was one tough cookie and one fabulous cook. From what I remember, she spent most of her life in the kitchen. She made three hot meals a day from scratch, something I didn't appreciate as a child but I'm amazed at now, considering the amount of work it must have taken. She loved african violets. Her favorite color was pale lavender. And she made the best pork chops with pan-fried gravy that I've ever tasted. I believe my love of cooking came from her. When I look in the mirror, I see her face.

Here's her recipe for Irish soda bread:
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Mix together and form into a round loaf. With a sharp knife, slash an 'X' across the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.

20 comments:

Stephanie Ann said...

The bread looks so yummy. Maybe we'll make some next week. It looks absolutely perfect in your picture, you'll have to write a cookbook one of these days.

JoAnn said...

I love this! Family history is so much fun.

Val said...

I love the expression "you bold brass article"
and that is a gorgeous photo of your Great Grandmother..I wonder how old she was when it was taken.

Zach said...

As someone who has seen both pictures, you also bear more than a passing resemblance to your great grandmother.

imchosen4worship said...

I was thinking the same thing, Zach.

Jodi said...

hey Val, I'm guessing she's still a teenager in this photo. I love the dress in combo with the sturdy, working girl shoes, and there's no wedding ring on her finger as of yet.

Jodi said...

You're right, Zach and Rosie, I was given the photo because of our likeness.

Treasures on GOD'S mountain said...

I enjoyed your 'blog' on your ancestors, interesting to find out about your Irish heritage !!
So 'U & I' both are 'here' in the USA, cause of our great grandparents.......:o)
Toni

Treasures on GOD'S mountain said...

I found an Irish Soda bread recipe, was going to make it for my daughter in law, who is pure 'IRISH', HAVEN'T done so yet..Was going to make it for her birthday in Jan. Maybe I'll remember it for Mother's day or before.
Toni :o)

Jodi said...

Toni, give the bread a try. It's really easy, and it's good with currents, too.

Val said...

I wonder if it was taken just before she left or just after she arrived as a photo for her family to keep?

Jodi said...

Hi Val, that's a good question, but I don't know the answer. I think it may've been taken here; she looks a little older than 15.

Stephanie Ann said...

Jodi was nice enough to let me make this Irish soda bread with currants in her kitchen. It was really really delicious!

Jodi said...

Steph, oxo

Amy said...

Well, I got lost in all your wonderful March posts looking for this one about your great grandmother. Worth the Search! Sounds like you have a heritage of strong and capable women. I can't imagine making three meals from scratch daily, either!

Southern Gal said...

Well, there you go. You can make Irish Soda Bread! One day you'll make sourdough, too. I love that you know so much about your ancestry.

Leslie said...

I LOVE this story (especially the family motto ;)

Love, too, that your grandmother called you "Maggie May, you bold brass article."

And that you have (and bake) her recipe for Irish soda bread.

My great-grandparents came over from Norway (on my mother's side) and Ireland (on my father's side.) The Norwegians were watchmakers, the Irish were characters. (At least from what I can gather from family stories.) My maiden name was Lawless. According to legend, the name fit the crime, somewhere back in old Ireland...)

Nancy said...

Is hers the pork chop with pan-fried gravy you shared with Deidra on Facebook not too long ago? Cause that's kind of a cool story--sharing an old-timey family recipe with virtual friends via the internets.

You bold brass article, you!

Ramblings by Carol Nuckols said...

What a story of Irish emigration! You know about the "American wake," I suppose, a wake the Irish held for family members leaving for America, whom they knew they'd never see again.
I may try your soda bread recipe. I'm wondering about the use of white flour --- was it the norm during your great-grandmother's time? I just spent three months in Ireland, and the delicious soda bread served there now is whole grain, also known as "brown bread."

Jodi said...

Carol, they could have used a whole meal flour in Ireland. My grandmother taught me using white. I don't know about Irish wakes for the living. When I was a child, I did attend my uncle Patrick's wake. He was laid out in the living room while people ate, drank, and toasted his memory around the body. It was quite unnerving to my delicate child psyche.

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