Coffee, Tea, Lunch, Punch! And a cake from my great-grandma

      A post by Molly

   We always called my Great-Grandma Julie, Baba. Baba means old woman in Polish…we think. In fact, I didn’t actually know her real name until years after she passed away. She lived in the coal mining town of Colver, Pennsylvania. Every summer, we’d take the long drive to Colver to visit Bubba and my Great Grandpa “Pap”.

 Because I was only four-years old when my great grandma died, there are very few things I remember about these trips. (This also may be a defense mechanism as I was packed in the back of a van with three siblings for 14 hours on those road trips as we made our way from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.) My own memories are neither as interesting nor as complete as my siblings’. However, all four of us shared a few common memories, mostly games Baba played with us: Coffee, Tea, Lunch, Punch (the first three said with a light tap on your arm, then the last said with a firm punch on the shoulder). She loved to turn us into a pretzel…forcefully.

    My greatest memory though, is the way Bubba’s kitchen smelled.

    Whenever we visited it seemed like Bubba knew the exact time we would arrive at her house, and accordingly had a hot feast ready when we walked through the door, even if we arrived in the middle of the night. Her kitchen was always warm and smelled like cooked cabbage. Her cooking mainly consisted of Polish dishes, halubki, pieroghi, paska. Some of her meals show up regularly in our dinners today —  pork chops, apple sauce, and sauerkraut is one of my favorites.

     And of course, there were her desserts. All though not traditional Polish food, my Great Grandma’s No Bake Banana Cake remains the best any of us have ever had.

      Originally made in a hot Great Depression era kitchen, the cake is fabulous for a sweet tooth in incredibly steamy weather.

No-Bake Chocolate Cake

Graham Crackers

Sliced Bananas

1. Lay graham crackers together on a flat plate until they form a rectangle. Choose the size of your cake depending on the amount of bananas you have. It takes about one banana per layer.

2. Slice over-ripe bananas and lay on top of the slices of graham crackers. (repeat two to three times)

3. Frost thickly, so that the cake is sealed.

4. Refrigerate for three days, then your cake will be ready to serve.

Fudge Frosting

1/2 cup Butter

1/3 cup cocoa

~2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

~1/3 cup milk

1. Mix butter, cocoa, ~1/4 cup of sugar, and a splash of the milk. Stir until well blended.

2. Alternately add the rest of the powdered sugar and milk, until frosting is smooth.

Some may see rotten bananas, I see an amazing dessert just waiting to happen
During the three days, the hardest part was keeping my brothers from snacking on it
Even harder than keeping my brothers away from the cake was keeping them away from the frosting
A thick frosting’s best for this cake
Baba with all of us in Colver (Vinnie is preparing for his pretzeling).
Baba was a mean pretzeler, but we always ended up smiling
All of us at the house on twenty row. My Dad is pulling a near Michael Jackson “blanket” with me.

4 thoughts on “Coffee, Tea, Lunch, Punch! And a cake from my great-grandma

  1. This is a great post, Molly. Your Polish great-grandmother reminds me of my Norwegian bestamor (grandmother). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Looks like I’m shopping for bananas and graham crackers, should I invite you down for a piece in a few days??

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