Long story short, I wound up hunting for my grandma’s recipes, and you know what? I found the one my mom received after telling Grandma, “Write down everything!”
This is what Grandma gave her:
Open cabinet door. Take out your oblong glass cake pan.
Next, roll out graham crackers. Put layer in bottom of pan.
Thicken a quart of rhubarb sauce and pour over crumbs and cool good.
Take a tub of Cool Whip, add small marshmallows and put on top of rhubarb. Next mix up a box of instant vanilla pudding and then put that on top. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top. Then when cooled good you can eat it.
Notice how Grandma mastered the art of crystal clear confusion?
I decided we needed to chat.
Beings how she was called to that great heavenly kitchen in the sky some 25 years ago, this proved tricky. Once again, my imagination didn’t let me down.
Me: Grandma! Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you! (We hug.) How have you been?
Grandma: Where am I?
Me: In my blog.
Grandma: Your what?
Me: Never mind. Could you introduce yourself to my readers?
Grandma: You got readers?
Me: I like to think so, yes.
Grandma: (She looks around) There’s no one here, dear.
Me: Well, they’re kind of… never mind Grandma. Listen, I was hoping you could help me with this recipe of yours. The rhubarb one you gave Mom? I was thinking if we made it together, I could show my readers how it’s done.
Grandma: The readers who ain’t here, you mean.
Me: Let it go, Grandma. Now, I’ve already done the first part, see? I opened the cabinet door.
Me: And then you write: take out your oblong glass cake pan. What size pan would that be, Grandma?
Grandma: I don’t know. Whatever size my oblong cake pan is.
Me: Right… so… would you say that was 13 by 9? Or 11 by 7? Personally, I like 11 by 7.
Grandma: (Shrugs) I don’t measure it. I just use it.
Me: Let’s say it’s an 11 by 7.
Grandma: Fine by me. (Looks around) Where are your aprons? If I’m gonna cook, I need an apron.
Me: Wow, Grandma, you haven’t changed a bit. As it so happens, I have a few of your aprons over here. See? I made a little display of them.
Grandma: (Puts one on) Alrighty, now where do you keep your rhubarb? I hoped you canned plenty. Oh, and you better take the Cool Whip out of the freezer.
Me: Okay, first up, no one does canning anymore Grandma. And I can’t grow rhubarb in Phoenix.
Grandma: Kinda hard to make rhubarb dessert with no rhubarb.
Me: No, it’s okay! See? I bought frozen. Also, I was hoping we could use real whipped cream? It’s so much better than Cool Whip, and my readers have come to expect quality from me.
Grandma: Again, the readers who ain’t here.
Grandma: Fine, only I ain’t gonna whip no cream. You gotta do that.
Me: I’m way ahead of you, Grandma. I’ve got the beaters right here. I’ll whip this baby up in no time.
Grandma: Okay, you do that. Now, let’s see… I’ll do the crust… Hmm… coulda swore I put nuts in this.
Me: WHAT’D YA SAY, GRANDMA? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE BEATERS.
Grandma: I SAID I FORGOT TO WRITE DOWN NUTS – I USUALLY PUT NUTS IN THE CRUST.
Me: THAT’S OKAY. I GOT NUTS.
Grandma: GOOD. WHERE DO YOU YOU KEEP YOUR… oh land’s sake, I’ll just find it myself.
Me: WHAT’D YA SAY, GRANDMA?
Grandma: I SAID NEVER MIND!
(Three minutes pass)
Me: Okay, Grandma, I finished the whipped cream. Now about that rhubarb. How do you make that?
Grandma: Hmm? Oh, that’s done. It’s in the fridge.
Me: Wait… what?
Grandma: And here’s the pudding. I made that too.
Me: Grandma! I wanted to see how you did everything!
Grandma: Time and dessert wait for no man.
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
Grandma: This goes a lot faster if you use Cool Whip.
Grandma: There, that’s done (hands me the finished dessert). Now, what are you planning for dinner?
Me: I didn’t even get a picture…
Grandma: How about bean soup? You got bacon, don’t you? And beans? Tell me you got beans.
Me: (sighs) Yeah, I got beans. I love you, Grandma.
Grandma: I love you too, sweetie. Now scootch yourself outta here and let me cook. Oh, and where’s your mop? Your floor’s a little sticky over here…
Grandma's Rhubarb Dessert
- 1 sleeve graham crackers (9 whole crackers)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 cups frozen or fresh rhubarb, sliced thin
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups small marshmallows
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding, plus milk for mixing
- 2 cups whipping cream (or 9-oz tub Cool Whip… sigh)
Use a rolling pin or food processor to grind crackers and walnuts into crumbs. Remove 1/3 cup for topping, put remaining in 11 x 7 cake pan.
In a medium saucepan, stir together rhubarb and sugar, cooking over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Pour over cracker crumbs. Let cool completely.
While mixture is cooling, prepare vanilla pudding according to package directions.
Beat whipping cream, add a couple tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, beat until soft peaks form (if you’re cheating and using Cool Whip, skip this part). Mix together the whipped cream with the marshmallows, set aside.
When rhubarb is fully cooled, spread whipped cream and marshmallow mixture on top, and pudding on top of that. Sprinkle top with remaining crumbs. Let cool completely in fridge.
Then, as Grandma says, when cooled good you can eat it.