Some the oldest and best childhood memories I have are of my grandmother. She’ll always be my definition of unconditional love, and for that reason alone she’s an incredible role model. My father’s mother didn’t live long, and had a typical life for a woman of her generation: a high school education, a blue collar career, a family and a house. The dinners she ate in restaurants were fewer than 25. She became a teenager when the Depression hit, and the economic lessons learned during that time never left.
As Jenn and I have written about before regarding eating locally and in-season, our grandparent’s generation knew the art of canning and preserving to help enjoy out of season vegetables. The household cooks which came of age during that time also had to worry about trichinosis and the ice man failing to show up and not having enough arms to carry the canvas bags of groceries on the trolley twice a week. Regarding the former, like most of the cooks of the time, she cooked meat until it was like shoe leather, which helped guarantee parasites were dead. Strangely, vegetables got similar treatment, and there were stews where you couldn’t tell a carrot from a potato.
Madeline's minestrone. ©Reel Chow
The place where she stood apart from the crowd was with her minestrone. It’s with true pride we present Madeline’s minestrone. Brought over from the peasants of northern Italy, this recipe was altered to utilize readily-available produce in the United States. Feel free to use this recipe as a starting point. Tweak it as you like.