Last weekend, Mr. Vittles and I went to a family reunion in Connecticut for my dad's side of the family.
They call it a reunion, but it's kind of misleading- the term makes it seem like these people haven't seen each other in 15 or 20 years. Really, we saw each other last year.
And the year before that.
And... the year before that.
But my dad's father has seven siblings (more than half of them still living), and almost all of them have kids and grandkids and some even have great-grandkids. So with such a large extended family, the 'reunions' are a good reason for everyone to get together.
The Elders - Yaya and Poppa Vittles are front right
I especially look forward to these events because Yaya Vittles is quite a pistol, and so is my grandfather Poppa Vittles- there is always at least one comment or event that makes me chuckle the whole three hour drive back home.
This year they did not disappoint.
But first let me give you the lowdown on Poppa Vittles:
- name an ailment, he's had it - he scoffs at cats with only nine lives because (I'm convinced) he has at least 17
- he will be married to my grandmother 60 years (!) this September, and they have probably driven each other half crazy for most of them
- growing up he would tease us grandkids that she was too bossy, so he was "gonna run away" - he called his lottery tickets 'runaway tickets'
- his favorite show is "Walker, Texas Ranger" and his favorite expression is "Holy Socks!"
- he loves money, and as kids if we got cash in our Christmas cards he would always try to 'steal' it
- he earned the nicknames 'Shrek' and 'Ozzy Osbourne' because he is big, amusingly grumpy, and most times you can't understand a word he's saying
- he claims he was the only kid in history to get kicked out of kindergarten
- and, even though he's not really supposed to be drinking, there is nothing he loves more than a glass of red wine
Sure enough, he was not at the reunion more than five minutes before he started complaining there was no wine. My cousin tried to distract him with a beer and he took it grumbling, "What's this?"
"It's a beer," my cousin responded. "No one has any wine."
Poppa V shrugged and raised the can. "Salute," he said... and down the hatch it went.
Not one to discriminate, I guess.
As we have already discussed, Yaya Vittles is a do-er. She was always go-go-go, which is how she got the nickname Fast Mary (and how she ends up doing things like making cookies without putting in the eggs, etc). Even though she's wheelchair-bound due to losing her leg years ago, she never turns down an opportunity to get out & about and she is sharp as a tack.
"Oh Mag," she lamented on Saturday, "If only I had a leg and a car, I would go back to work."
When I talked to her on her birthday in June, "if she only had a leg and a car" she said we would "never find her."
Apparently now she's decided she would stick around, but get herself a job. Most people can't wait for the day they retire, but I guess there are a few who actually would want to go back to work!
She probably misses the daily interaction with people, though, not to mention having a few extra bucks - like many elderly couples on a fixed income, budgeting can be a struggle for them.
Especially when my grandfather demands an "allowance" of $75.00 a week... even though neither one of them can leave the house without help anymore, and he has absolutely no place to spend this money. Yaya Vittles said the cash was starting to pile up, so she eventually asked for some of it back. He begrudgingly gave her all but a $20 bill, because he "likes the way it feels in his pocket."
Oh boy. I can't wait to see what joys await Mr. V and I after 60 years of marriage.
We also marveled at the way Yaya Vittles was able to take down an entire plate of baked goods without batting an eye. I know she likes her sweets, so I got a plate with two brownies, a piece of cake, blondies, and two types of chocolate chip cookies for her to choose from.
Key word there being "choose." But she ate all of them except for a brownie that I managed to grab before she gobbled it down.
So in honor of my grandmother, I am posting my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
Mr. V and Chris Vittles love these cookies because they come out chewy and are loaded with chocolate chips. The recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen - which, by the way, is an excellent resource for home cooks that I would highly recommend!
And no, I did not get paid to say that :)
The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 C. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/4 t. salt
- 12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter, cooled slightly
- 1 C. brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 C. granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips.
Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate your hands palm up (so that the jagged edges are facing up) and rejoin the two halves of the cookie. With jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet (you should only put about 8 per sheet).
Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy (12-14 minutes in my oven).
Cool cookies on sheets, until able to lift in one piece. Cool on wire rack.
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated