My husband’s Aunt Helen, the sister of his grandmother Ina, was truly the best aunt ever. My children and the entire family have only happy memories of her. Her large home in Toledo was the gathering spot for large holiday dinners for the extended family.
While orphaned young, and having to grow up working hard on a farm, she never found life anything but delightful. Helen never had children and it was the only tragedy she admitted to in her life. She had tried to adopt once, but after that failed, she decided to be the best Aunt ever.
Every child in the neighborhood loved her, and she was always happy to babysit for free. She insisted she just enjoyed spending time with children. What was clear is that every child enjoyed spending time with her.
My husband and I would visit her in her large Toledo Ohio home. It was the perfect home for family gatherings. Her home had many bedrooms, but most of the younger children ended up sleeping in bed with Aunt Helen, having a late night party eating snacks and drinking Vernor’s ginger ale.
Helen had her favorite recipes, that everyone looked forward to for every holiday. Sure these were classics from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, but she wouldn’t even know where to find kale at the grocery store. It should be noted Helen and her 3 sisters, all lived well into their 90’s. Potatoes were a staple of every dinner.
I never made one of the her most beloved dishes, cream potatoes, until after her death.
12 oz. frozen diced potatoes
1 and 1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons butter (or more to taste)
Put frozen diced potatoes in frying pan with butter and half and half. Heat on top of stove until thawed.
Pour in casserole, put cheese on top of leave plain. Add more cheese through out casserole if you wish. Make sure you use enough real butter.
Put in oven for 15 minutes or till HOT.
The ingredients of creamy potatoes rather shocked me, but let’s face it, every good recipe has the secret ingredients of cream and real butter. These recipes were why a long walk was taken after the holiday meal. We also take long walks after a holiday dinner, in memory of Helen and also to work off those calories.
The secret to her popularity was that she made YOU feel good about yourself. She was truly delighted to spend time with you. No matter what age you were. She just loved people.
The secret to her cooking was simplicity, butter, and love.