Mmmm, curry. . . I’m pretty sure I have a curry addiction. Sometimes I just crave it, and then, nothing satisfies me more than reaching deep into my spice cabinet for mustard seeds, turmeric and fenugreek seeds, and whipping up homemade Indian food like a pro. And recently, I was thrilled to discover a local Asian market that carries fresh curry leaves. There’s nothing better!
Me: Which cookbook is the recipe in?
Grandpa: [hesitates. . . then very clearly] Yes, you may have the recipe.
Me: [confused] But what cookbook is it in?
Grandpa: [shakes his head and smiles] This always happens!
Of all the cookbooks in Grandma Hazel’s old collection, this unfortunately titled one, “Yes, you may have the recipe,” is the most marked-up and well-use. This cute little cookbook was self-published by Chicago author Maria Baker in 1981, and Grandma had the third printing which came out in 1983. At that time my Grandma and Grandpa were living in the Chicago area, so Grandma must have bumped into it somewhere locally and started cooking from it regularly.
Lemon bars are a classic American sweet which became popular in the 1970’s. With a crumbly shortbread cookie crust and a tangy, rich lemon topping, they’re especially popular for Easter and Mother’s Day celebrations (although they’re so delicious and easy, you can bake them year-round). Some variations have you make a lemon topping that’s a custard or a curd, but I think Grandma Hazel’s version is the most pure and simple style of lemon bar – it doesn’t use cream or butter, just egg, sugar, flour, baking powder and lemon juice.
I’m so happy to finally post something dumpling-ish on this blog, and this is the perfect recipe. In Nebraska we have a fast food chain called RUNZA – the term “runza” is actually trademarked by the company, which is ridiculous because they didn’t invent the runza. A runza is a Russian meat pie made with yeasted dough, and it can be made in a variety of different shapes with different savory meat fillings. From Russia, the runza’s popularity spread to Germany, and they were brought to the Midwestern region of the United States by German immigrants.
Most Nebraskans know runzas as delicious fast food, but thanks to my Grandma Hazel, my family knows what a non-fast-food, from-scratch runza is supposed to taste like. I was so happy when my Aunt passed this recipe for grandma’s runzas along to me. My family might not be German or Russian, but we are 100% Nebraskan, and to me, this is Nebraska comfort food at its best.