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Bebe and Pop-pop

August 10, 2009

Bebe and me, 1983

On July 27th, my grandfather, “Pop-pop”, called to let us know that my grandmother, Shirley ‘Bebe’ Hutt had passed away. Bebe is the pepper to Pop-pop’s salt, and I don’t think any of us were quite ready for her to go. I won’t dwell on the details of her death or my family’s grief. Instead, I’d like to use this space to reminisce about the food that I ate at my grandparents’ homes in New York and New Jersey.

I know that Bebe cooked many meals in her lifetime, but I actually don’t have too many memories of her particular recipes. Off the top of my head, I can only recall the pot roast and her stuffed artichokes. Her kitchen in Long Beach, NY, was tiny and not conducive to more than one cook. So, I never really helped her in the kitchen much. Later in the week, I’ll share my grandmother’s Ginger Snap pot roast recipe, but for now I’ll just give y’all a peek into my family’s kitchen and dining room. Here’s a brief list of my childhood favorites.

1) Jello pudding pops – loved by Bill Cosby and the Hutt grandchildren. I’m sure most of my clothing had stains from these fast-melting treats. They no longer make these *cries and cries,* but click here for a recipe of the homemade version.

2) Tree top (?) apple juice in the small cans with the sticker pull tab – the perfect amount of apple juice for this former juice fiend.

3) Olives, pickles, and anything else related to those two food groups. My grandparents’ supply of these is second only to the Olive bar at Whole Foods. How many young kids do you know who love kosher dill pickles and kalamata olives? I’ve only met a few and they’re all related to me.

4) Bagels and lox – I’m not a fan of lox and I get a lot of flak for this in my family, but I’ll eat a whole, gigantic NY bagel with gobs of cream cheese to prove that I’m serious about breakfast.

5) Coffee – Regular is available at all hours of the day in varying degrees of freshness and temperature.

6) Candy – Ah, the constant availability of M&M’s, Dove chocolate, and York peppermint patties drove my mother nuts. Bebe and Pop-pop always have a little bowl of at least one of these candies out. As a kid, I was very adept at taking from these bowls when my mother wasn’t looking. In fact, all the Hutt grandchildren have reached an advanced skill level for surreptitiously eating small amounts of candy when our mothers aren’t looking. Sorry, Stefan and Mikey – the gig is up.

7) Those little boxes of General Mills, or Kellogg’s, cereal that come in a variety pack. I lived for those as a kid. LIVED FOR THEM!!!!

8) Brie (and Jarlsburg, and Cheddar, and on and on) – Pop-pop has discovered in the last few years, or maybe earlier, that brie on bagels is pretty freaking fantastic.

*Side story: I once showed Pop-pop that the best way to soften brie from the fridge is to microwave a plate (just the plate) and then place the brie on the warmed plate for a few minutes on the counter. It’s a gentle way to warm the brie without actually nuking it (God forbid!). Pop-pop was very impressed and I got lots of kudos the rest of the morning!

9) Salmon patties with Spanish olives. I can’t remember if Pop-pop ever made these at the Long Beach house, but he made them for me when he and Bebe lived down here in Louisiana for a few months when I was 13-14 years old. My love for these is natural (please see #3).

10) Beer – Pop-pop would poor a little of his Heineken into a juice cup for me when I was a kid (my mother just learned of this – I guess she thought it was apple juice). Since Bebe was drinking her White Zin from a juice cup too, I felt pretty grown up while I sipped my 2 ounces of beer.

I’m sure my cousins (Angelica, Arielle, Sasha, Stefan, and Michael) have many of their own particular memories, but these are the ones that are most prevalent in my mind right now.

I think everyone should add your favorite grand-parent related food memories in the comments section!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Molly permalink
    August 10, 2009 1:26 pm

    Those little boxes of cereal! Yes! Grandma and Grandpa Fischer would have those whenever we went to visit. It was the only time I ever got to eat Corn Pops. Those were the best.

    Another treat from Grandma and Grandpa's house was cheese on buttered toast. Who knew something so simple would be so delicious?

  2. jhutt permalink
    August 10, 2009 6:19 pm

    Well now…great post Sarah…once I got past the tears…

    My favorite little Bebe snack was celery stuffed with Cheez Whiz…you just haven't lived unless you've eaten that! And I believe the Cheez Whiz might have had pimento's in it – but I can't swear to that.

    Aunt Joce

  3. Shelly permalink
    August 10, 2009 7:40 pm

    When you mentioned the bowl of candy, I immediately thought about how my grandma loves Andes mints. She keeps them hidden in the veggie drawer in the fridge, and I still sneak a few when I go over to visit her. . . and I do mean sneak a few. She would have a cow if she realized that I was eating candy at 8 in the morning.

  4. Vicki Ferstel permalink
    August 10, 2009 8:46 pm


    OMG — Pop-Pop gave you beer!!!!!
    OK. I'm calm now.
    Wonderful post, Sari. You really made me cry, in the best way possible.
    My favorite memory of Bebe is the crazy electric stove she had in the Valley Stream house, with a button for each heat level. The durn thing never worked and Bebe just hated it.
    Naturally, I inherited Bebe's hate/hate relationship with kitchen appliances…which is why you pretty much had spaghetti six nites a week and we ordered pizza on Friday nites.
    Where did you learn to cook?

    Love and kisses,

  5. Lisa Quackenbush permalink
    August 11, 2009 1:55 pm

    Hi Sarah –
    Your Aunt Jocelyn told me about your blog, and I think it's great! Food and family are definitely connected, even if your parents/grandparents aren't good cooks! My parents fell in love because my mom didn't know how to make a grilled cheese sandwhich without using a waffle iron (!! and she was working at a grille at a bowling alley at the time), so it won't be a surprise to you to hear her mother wasn't a great cook. I used to visit my grandmother and we'd have a pork chop, a baked potato, canned corn, and jello. The smell of canned corn still brings me back …
    I was raving about Julie and Julia to your Aunt yesterday – it's a really fun, sweet movie, and I bet you'd love it!
    Thanks for the great blog, Sarah, and I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother.

  6. Daniel permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:10 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    Great little blog (site or whatever you call it). I love that pic of mom and you !
    My fav thing is about heating the plate for warming brie– 45 years of eating cold cheese, and I never thought of that.
    Uncle Danny

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