Granny’s Prune Roast Makes Me Happy

I came across this picture of me, my cousin Sara who I have always adored, and my Grandma Beryl, Granny’s daughter. It is, by far, the happiest-looking Little Me I have ever seen. I loved being with the Jewish side of my family (my mom converted, but her family was….different…fun, warm, loving, but…), especially these two, my dad’s mom Beryl, and my dad’s brother’s daughter, my cousin Sara. People used to think we were twins, which I loved. And I wonder why! Grandma bought Sara and I matching terry-cloth shorts outfits, sent us to camp together, let us sleep in the fancy room with twin beds and bamboo-inspired dressers. She let us explore her several closets full of pressed and fashionable clothing and wear any of her hundreds of pairs of very high heeled, pointy-toed, size 5 shoes. And privately, when Sara was distracted and Grandma downstairs futzing, I would poke around the jewelry bins.

Finding the picture made me think of Hanukah.

And prune roast.

When I imagine the perfect food, I think of Granny’s sweet, vinegary prune-y roast. But I have never attempted to make it, as it just seemed so….I don’t know….natural to someone else, not a dish one makes, or could ever duplicate. But feeling brazen, on a lark I asked my mom if she happened to know how to make it. And indeed she had a recipe! Written down straight from Granny’s mouth!

Granny was Beryl’s mom, my great-grandmother. Azalea’s great-great-Grandma. The woman who died at 96 ish, still hitch-hiking to town for groceries. Granny was already seriously old by the time I was born, all business, in constant motion, always cooking, never laughing, hairs on her chin, and she called me Stephanie, but even as young as I was, I was ok with it. I loved her dark, cookie-scented house, an old Victorian, from what my memories can conjure, with a narrow kitchen in the back. One of her daughters, Sylvia, also very old, lived there with her. Sylvia was always chewing on the last bit of something.

Hard candies in the living room. My brothers and I snooping through scary closets upstairs.

So I guess I am really going to make Granny’s Prune Roast for Hanukah. Azalea doesn’t like latkes, silly thing. I am still going to make them, but she has requested (she is really starting to learn how to please me, deeply) that I make something else as well. And then when I told her about the brisket, and that I would make it, she actually threw her arms around my neck and called me “so nice!”

Apparently some meritorious activity is miraculously coming to fruition!


Granny’s Prune Roast

Put brisket uncovered with a little water in 500 degrees for half an hour to brown it.

Remove meat.

Add three inches hot water and three handfuls of brown sugar. Salt. Pepper. 3/4 Cup vinegar, two large onions in chunks. Put in at 400, covered until it boils.

Add potatoes and prunes and meat. Put back in oven at 400 till starts to cook, then turn down to 350.

 Remove onions when cooked.

 Cook 2 more hours.