Liz Novak is a woman who shares much of her godly ways with others. Today, I share some of her words -- and her recipes:
"I was born in the house that my grandmother had built ... I was born in the upstairs bedroom before health care and hospitalization. The bill for my birth was $5, hard to pay back then. My grandmother immediately took me from my mother, cared for me and wrapped me up and took me to St. Irenaeus Catholic Church and prayed over my life, dedicating me to God. The first day of my life started with God. Baptized a month later, I was named Elizabeth -- a Hebrew name meaning 'Oath of God' or 'God has Sworn.'
"Grandmother was my mother's mother. Her name was Maria Elizabeth. She was born in 1880 and outlived two husbands and a son. She raised 14 children and two orphans.
"Grandmother fed me, rocked me to sleep, prayed over me when I was sick, sang hymns to me, taught me to garden and grow things. The two of us would pick berries in the woods. We made jelly. We picked vegetables from her garden and canned them for winter.
"We lived near the railroad and there were transients still from Depression days. They knew my grandmother from the time she had the farm and often came to the door. I sat at the kitchen table and watched grandma cook eggs and bacon so they could have a hot meal. While they washed and shaved, she packed sandwiches for them as well as placed a dollar or two in their sack.
"Everything we had was homemade. Grandma taught me how to make bread and butter. She made wonderful soups. She kept chickens and ducks, gathering their down to make her pillows and a comforter. My greatest delight was to lie on her feather bed when I was sick.
"My mother's name was Helen. She was born in 1917 and was the most marvelous housekeeper I ever knew. Before the days of automatic washers, dryers, spot removers and detergents, she had the whitest laundry I had ever seen. She scrubbed our dirty socks on the wash board by hand, boiled the sheets and made the lye soap over the rendered fat of the pigs when they were slaughtered.
"My mother taught us how to bake, cook, clean, iron and take care of babies, including making formula.
"Our home was the center of every holiday and birthday. Friends and relatives came and mother cooked and served them all. They would play cards and leave all the pennies that fell to the floor for us to keep. She was a most wise and understanding woman and many came to her for advice.
"My recipes are a testament to women of bygone days who worked long hard hours in the home and the kitchen. Thus the challenge to carry on their memory and their love."
AUNT SUE'S NUT COOKIES
In a large bowl sift together (and make a well in flour):
8 heaping cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
Melt (use microwave or stovetop) and pour into flour well:
1 pound margarine and 1 pound Crisco (2 cups margarine and 2 cups Crisco, melted)
Mix with fork or fingers (careful, though, of the hot melted shortening). Dough will have course texture like pie dough.
1 envelope dry yeast in a small amount of lukewarm water (no more than 1/4 cup) to which you add a pinch of sugar.
5 eggs (until a lemon color)
Add: 1 cup sour cream and yeast mixture to beaten eggs and mix evenly. Pour over flour mixture. Mix until all flour is moist, cover and refrigerate in 1/2 cup rounds overnight or no less than 3 hours. Should have 20 to 21 1/2-cup rounds.
Roll to a round shape between waxed paper to about the size of a luncheon plate, and cut into 6 equal pie shapes. Don't roll too thin or thick.
Using pastry filling, any flavor (do not use jelly or jam or preserves) or nut filling below, place some filling on the large end of dough, flip over large end to cover filling; press to seal, bring sides to inside and finish rolling like a crescent roll.
Roll in granulated sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheet, end piece down. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Cookies should be golden on bottom and top.
NUT FILLING: 1 pound ground walnuts, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; enough milk to make paste. Can be purchased in can. Solo brand fillings are good.
PASKA (SWEET EASTER BREAD)
Makes: 10 dozen
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups milk -- scalded and cooled to lukewarm
8 cups flour, divided
1 cup sugar, divided in half
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted (margarine can be substituted)
1 cup golden raisins
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
Dissolve yeast in milk. Stir in 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Let rise covered until dough doubles in bulk and is bubbly, about three hours.
Add eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, raisins, and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead well. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Turn out onto floured board and knead again (using more flour if sticky). Divide in half and shape into 2 round loaves or make braided loaves by separating each half into 3 long pieces and pinching at one end, braid and pinch at closing. Place rounds in 2 greased 9-inch pie pans or use cookie sheets for the braids. Let dough rise again until doubled. Dough should always rise in a warm place not of drafts.
Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk. Use to brush the top of the loaves. Grandmother made a small cross and placed on each loaf.
Note: Each half cup makes 6 triangles to fill/roll/bake
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.