Memories of my grandmothers, and potato casserole

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I am obsessed with retro vintage sewing patterns. Obsessed. It is a relatively recent addition to the long list of my obsessions – and I blame this one squarely on the hard-working shoulders of my grandmothers. Every time I press my sewing machine into use (which is almost daily now), they both cross my mind.

My obsession was created (unveiled? unleashed from the secret corners of my soul?) earlier this year, when my maternal grandma passed away. My mother and I were sitting in Grandma’s sewing room. Grandma didn’t have many patterns; she was an amazing quilter, among her many other hobbies, including knitting and crochet, and those were her focus. One of my most prized possessions is a gorgeous purple log cabin quilt that she made me when I was 15. Her quilts were always incredible works of art, and much valued by those of us who were lucky enough to get our hands on one. Her hands were always busy, and her eyes bright and ready to laugh. I don’t really recall her sitting at her sewing machine; I recall her knitting, or hand-quilting. Ah I miss her.

Due to Grandma’s known prowess with quilting, Mom and I were a bit surprised to find a couple really old vintage clothing patterns tucked behind her quilting fabric stash.

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I was smitten.

How could I not be? These were absolute gems. I’d never seen anything like them. The styles, the cuts. The design.

I got home and dusted off my sewing machine that had previously only been used for the occasional costume or repair. It took some effort to remember what I was doing. I could hear both grandmas’ words of advice as I started each project. My Mother’s advice, also – she has been super supportive in my newfound obsession. Mom has, however, taken particular delight in my mess-ups, like the time I ironed interfacing TO my ironing board cover. I’m always happy to provide her with entertainment. 😉

Years ago, my paternal grandma and I used to talk sewing all the time. I’d have dreams about dresses, and she would tell me it was totally feasible to create. She was an incredibly talented seamstress. Gifted. She sewed matching clothing for her growing family; I’ve heard some neat stories about that. My wedding dress belonged to my mother (circa late 70s), and my grandma made it fit me – with my mother’s approval of course, after going with me to countless wedding apparel stores where I never could find that perfect dress – Gram took it in and transformed the high neck to an off-the-shoulder line. She left the delicate lacy bell sleeves. It is truly a work of art. The first shirt she taught me to sew was a hilarious comedy of errors, and a favorite memory…a story for another time.

But back to the point here! I totally knew I would go way off topic when discussing my Grams. I’m trying to stay on point, honest.

Okay. Focus! Patterns, vintage. Rediscovered. Sewing machine, dusted off and oiled and humming along. Tears, often…in that bittersweet form that comes with sweet memories coupled with the ache of missing. Sewing, for me, has become an emotional outlet. A rewarding, fulfilling one. One that brings me closer to my treasured memories and the ones who helped shape my creative growth.

I’ve pretty much been sewing ever since this spring pattern discovery. Tons of dresses. Jackets for my boys. Wall hanging pockets for field trips. Table runners. Bed catch-alls. Quilted pegboards. Curtains. Costumes. Currently I’m starting on some Barbie clothing, a surprise for my niece. Shhh! I’m knee-deep in fabric and I love it.

eBay has an amazing offering of vintage patterns. I’ve been scooping them up at fantastic prices. Storage is fast becoming an issue; I’m working on it though. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share :)

On to the food. Yay!

On the afternoons when the machine is hot and zipping and my sharp fabric scissors are flying, I rely on tried-and-true favorites for meals. This is a family favorite, shortcut with convenience foods. It is often made with the cream-of soups; mine relies on a dried soup mix for flavor. It mixes up relatively easily, and is very comforting on those nights when I’m a bit drained and craving some comfort food. The recipe can be doubled for a larger group. One batch makes 9 servings; but I’ve found most people want extra helpings. It is great heated up the next day as well.

Potato Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick (4oz) of butter
1 small box (4.2oz) dehydrated shredded potatoes
1/2 cup of seasoned dry potato soup mix
1 regular (16oz) container of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Add hot water to the dehydrated potatoes. They need to stand for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pan, cook onion over medium heat in all the butter until it is translucent and beginning to brown. Remove from heat. Add the sour cream and soup mix and stir thoroughly. By this time the potatoes should be ready; drain them and gently stir into the onion mixture. Pour this mixture into a greased 9×9 casserole dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until it starts to brown around the edges. Slice into 9 equal portions and serve.

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This is in no way shape or form healthy. You could possibly lighten it up with light sour cream, much less butter, and throw in steamed shredded carrots or broccoli. Another addition idea is to add cooked shredded chicken or cooked fajita chicken, add a fresh garden salad on the side, and make it a meal. Play with it; do whatever suits your fancy.

Enjoy!
~glutenvygirl xoxo


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One Response to Memories of my grandmothers, and potato casserole

  1. Louis Bruno had this to say about that:

    This dish looks very good and easy to make. Looking forward to trying this out!

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