My Grandma Roback, born Viola Bell De Tray who was born from a bloodline of French Royalty who had escaped and fought for the US in the American Revolution along side Lafayette and George Washington was a great cook. Mostly because of the challenge of raising 4 boys and one girl in a rural Southern Michigan town named Onsted where there was little money, but lots of farm land.
Grandma Roback, AKA Granny, Dwannie (said in my best Tweety bird), was a 4 foot 10′ powerhouse who could cook up a storm when the family gathered for visits at the local homestead in the late 70’s and early 80’s. As you’d pile out of the sardine car you’d been trapped in for 6 long hours, flounder up the stairs and swing the door open wide to the smells of hot home cooked food, awaiting our hungry stomachs. After hugs and hearing the latest on everyone’s lives we’d gather at the table for our meal. The old homestead table is now in my brother’s house. However, it has traveled extensively and has made its residence on both coasts and even in Hawaii. This table surrounded by family members is the best and the most delicious way to eat the dishes prepared by my Grandma with our happiness and taste-buds in mind.
Ah… let it just sit there and roll of the tongue… SLUM-GUL-E-ON. Slumgullion is my favorite dish in the whole wide world, and I don’t understand how it is possible that it is not a staple of every kitchen, family, food plan or menu. I was told as a child that this dish was recalled every summer by our family and the recipe had evolved into its current form all the way back from during the great depression years. Those memories of times when food for the whole family was very difficult to come by were not soon forgotten by my family. Back in those times hamburger was cheap and was the only meat that was even close to attainable. Tomatoes and other vegetables that were growing in the garden and plentiful all summer long. As the summer would ware on, the dish would take on different flavors. The first summer batch filled with fresh hard greenies; always tasted completely different from the last batch filled with the orange and yellow tomatoes found in early October while hanging onto an Indian summer.