She was forced to quit school at 12 to work in a tobacco
factory. Married at 22, she helped keep her family alive
through the Great Depression by rising every weekday
morning at 5 AM to make cinnamon buns from scratch,
then leaving them for my two uncles to deliver in a little
red wagon while she went off to work as a seamstress all
day (my Pop Pop worked as a cabinetmaker).
My fondest memories of childhood, after my Pop Pop
passed away and she moved into the apartment over my
parent’s home, was spending nearly every day after
school with Nana. My love for cooking and sewing is
a tribute to the hours she invested patiently into
my young life.
Though she has been gone for decades, her talents live
on through generations of Home Ec. students I taught,
as well as family and friends who enjoy her recipes as
much today as I did as a child.
As the holidays approach, my thoughts go back to the incredibly tasty potato filling she always made when
company came calling at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her recipes were always from scratch and always from
memory (thankfully, by asking many questions, my Mom and I were able to translate “a little dash of this” and “a
dollop of that” into reproducible measurements!).
Many in other areas of the country who grew up with cornbread stuffing or dressing find this potato filling a
surprisingly wonderful alternative.
This year, why not try my Nana’s recipe with a holiday meal to “Wilkumm” your guests. It’s a perfect side-
dish with turkey, ham or chicken. And if you eat too much, remember the old Pennsylvania Dutch proverb:
“Besser der Maage verreisse as Ess-sach weck gschmisse” (Better to bust one’s stomach than to throw