Saturday, March 28, 2009

Remembering Grandma with her pizza burgers

My beloved Grandma died last Sunday. She was 94, almost blind, almost deaf, and bent over from osteoporosis, but she hadn't lost her keen mind, her personality, or her quick wit.

She had told me she was "ready to go" -- several times -- so I thought I would be OK when she passed away. When I got the call, though, the feeling of grief and loss was overwhelming. To know I wouldn't hear her voice or her laughter again ... everyone who has lost a loved one knows the feelings, and yet, that doesn't make them any easier. Some people remind me that she is in a better place, but selfishly, that doesn't make me miss her any less.

Our family is scattered across the country, and one of her last wishes was for us to all get together and have a big party in the summer. She'd be there "one way or another," she said. As a result, a celebration of her life is planned for August, and I'm looking forward to it. But since I live far away from the rest of my family, last week had me feeling adrift and alone when it came to dealing with my sadness and my memories.

I played a game of Yahtzee with my younger son -- a game I remembered playing for hours at her dining room table in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (shown here, with three of her 15 great grandkids).

"If Nana is watching us play this game, she sure isn't giving us very good rolls," I remarked, and then my son rolled a Yahtzee. I swear I could feel her thumbing her nose at me.

I went and saw the flowers at the Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park, because she loved plants and flowers, both inside and outside. I remember going to Highland Park with her when she visited, and she had a keen interest in everything that grew there.

I decided to make a recipe that my cousins and I remember her making for us many times. It's pizza burgers, made with a combination of ground beef and hot dogs, a combination straight out of the 1960s. It's a retro recipe, and far from being health food, but it comes together very quickly and feeds a lot of people -- something important when you have 20 grandchildren that come to visit! In keeping with the retro dish, I served them with tater tots, which was a big treat for my guys -- I never buy tater tots.

I took one bite of the burger, was transported back to that Lake Geneva table, and the lump in my throat got so big that I didn't think I could swallow. Bad idea. Although my husband and one son enjoyed them, I've decided I'm going to keep this recipe on the back burner for now. Maybe someday I'll make it for my grandkids, and tell them about how my wonderful grandma used to make it for me when I was little.

For more recipes from special Grandmas, check out the Grandma's recipe event at The Spiced Life!

Betty's Pizza Burgers

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground bologna or hot dogs (Turkey hot dogs work fine. Just put them in the food processor and whir until the texture resembles ground beef)

Grandma's seasonings: 1 Tablespoon dried sage and 1 Tablespoon dried oregano OR
My seasonings: 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage, 1 1/2 teaspoons Penzey's pizza seasoning, and 1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 1/2 cups (or a 14-oz jar) pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (You can use mozzarella if you're out of cheddar, but cheddar tastes better.)

Brown ground beef and drain any fat. Add ground hot dogs, seasonings, and pizza sauce. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and add grated cheese. (You can do this ahead.)

Spread on halves of hamburger buns. Top with a little extra cheese, if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so, until hot and cheese is melted. Makes a dozen or so.

23 comments:

Sue said...

Oh, Tracy, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I'm sending you a giant hug over the blogosphere. It takes awhile to get over these things and is it horrible if I say that it might get worse before it gets better? It took me months and months before I could look at my mother's recipe file with her handwritten recipes. You were brave to make those pizza burgers and any grandchild would be lucky to have you make them for him or her.

Lisa said...

So sorry to hear of your nana's passing but what a great way to honor her.

Tracy said...

Sue and Lisa, thanks.

Sue, I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I know I'm very lucky to have both of my parents alive, plus to have had my Grandma around for so long.

Michele said...

My heart goes out to you Tracy. My Grandma was my best friend in the whole world. It was very hard losing her. I'm sure that you are going through much the same right now. I love her idea of the family getting together for a big party this summer! Hang in there...and remember all of the good times.

Emily said...

Tracy, I'm very sorry to hear about your grandmother. I know how much you loved her from your posts. She sound like a lovely lady. You're lucky to have so many wonderful memories of her.

The burgers sound yummy. I've never had a pizza burger before.

The Inexperienced Foodie said...

I'm very sorry for your loss, I better she left you so many great recipes that you will continue to make and pass on. I look forward to reading your blog every week.

Karin said...

I felt the same way when I got the call about my grandfather. I'm just happy that both of my kids knew him well and will remember him, too. Enjoy her recipies and all the memories that go with them. Did I tell you that Haley and I had a sudden urge to make the oatmeal raspberry bars last Sunday? We hadn't made them for about a year.

Tracy said...

Michele, Emily, Stephanie & Karin, thanks!

Karin, that's an interesting coincidence about the oatmeal raspberry bars. That's a recipe I could make without too much emotional fallout because I make it so often. Maybe this week.

Allie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, sounds like she left a long list of lasting memories you'll be able to pass on.

Amy said...

Sorry about your grandmother Tracy.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I'm so sorry that you lost your grandmother. She was quite a lady and what wonderful memories you will have of her.

Barbara said...

Tracy, I'm sorry for your loss. I remember last summer when you visited with her. You'll always have those great memories.

Julie said...

My very deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.

Mary said...

Tracy, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your words are one of the nicest memorials your grandmother could receive. Hugs...Mary

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. She was a great great grandmother to me.

Those pizza burgers were delicious.

B

Lori said...

Very sorry to hear about your Grandmother. She sounds like a pistol! I love that. A better place sure doesnt help when you miss someone so. Cheers to your Grandmother! God Bless her.

Elisabeth said...

Tracy, I'm so sorry to read about your grandmother. What a lovely tribute.

Janice said...

Grandma's are special. It a shame we can't be young at the same time they are. I have had those same feelings towards my parents!

Karen Harris said...

What a sweet, sweet story and a great tribute to your grandmother. The pizza burgers look delicious.

Laura said...

Your post made me cry--I lost my grandma this winter too. I also thought I would be prepared for it--and turned out not to be.

Do you mind if I enter your post in my Grandma's Recipes event? The deadline is this Saturday--and your entry is perfect. Drop me an email if it is ok.

thespicedlife@gmail.com

http://thespicedlife.blogspot.com/2009/03/announcing-blog-event-grandmas-recipes.html

from my motorhome to yours said...

so very sorry about your grammy, mind if I follow along

HoneyB said...

Tracy, such a touching post and tribute to your grandmother. It is always hard to lose someone even when you expect it to happen. Hugs.

haleysuzanne said...

Losing a close family member is so hard. But, having recipes that bring back so many memories will be beautiful one day. Thanks for sharing your story.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...