Holm Family Cookbook

Some eat to live, we live to eat!

Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

Granny's Recipe for Love and Spaghetti

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Granny with great-granddaughter Laina

Our grandmother, Ione Holm or "Granny" to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was the inspiration for our cookbook. She was such a poignant person in my life that I would often hope I died before her because I didn't think I could go on living without her. Although she had nine grandchildren, each one of us felt her love as though we were her favorite grandchild. Extended family and friends felt that same love.


She rarely spoke about it to us, but Granny had a hard childhood. Her mother suffered from mental illness and eventually could not care for her four young children. The children had to move to Arkansas to live with an aunt. While living in Arkansas the children went with their aunt to someone else's home for a meal (I don't recall if it was a friend or family member--so I'm referring to that person as "someone else"). This someone else was not happy to have the children at her house and treated them that way. She would not allow them to sit with the others to eat the meal. The uncomfortable and dreadful feeling of being at a home where you were not welcome stayed with Granny for the rest of her life and she made sure that everyone who came to her house always felt welcomed and loved.

Granny would express her love through kind words, hugs, listening, food, and her generosity. Everyone was welcome in her house and at her table. Granny would have Sunday dinner at her house for anyone that wanted to come. I think the average was usually 25 people. I can't imagine cooking for 25 people every Sunday, but this is what Granny lived for. When my cousins, sisters, and I were in our twenties and living on our own, in addition to the Sunday dinners, Granny would cook supper on Thursday nights for anyone who wanted to come. And, ANYONE who happened to stop by her house any day of the week would be treated to lunch, dinner, or cookies with coffee.

Granny lived on the family ranch in the Livermore Hills, which is about a 20 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. In addition to the food she purchased on her weekly trip to town, she kept a well stocked pantry and a freezer stocked with food she preserved or that our grandfather had grown. During the summer she had our grandfather's large vegetable garden as a resource for fresh fruit and vegetables. She was like a magician in the way she could whip up a huge meal with little notice and without the use of a microwave oven to defrost or heat up food.

Granny passed away on February 12, 1998, just 11 days before her 92nd birthday. She passed from this earth in her sleep, in her beloved home overlooking Cedar Mountain with some of her family members nearby enjoying a meal and each other's company. She had lived a long life--her body had given out and her passing was a blessing.

The most important thing Granny left us with was the recipe for the love of friends and family. She also left us with many of her recipes for food. When I make her recipes I can remember the love I felt at her house with our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now when my sisters, cousins, and I have gatherings, it is doubtful anyone ever leaves feeling hungry or unwelcomed.

Below is the recipe for Granny's spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti was one of the meals she would serve for Sunday dinner with love.

Granny's great-granddaughter Laina with love all over her face

Granny’s Spaghetti Sauce -  Makes about 7 cups of sauce

Granny would make her spaghetti sauce in her pressure cooker. She stewed tomatoes she canned herself. Most of us are afraid of pressure cookers and don’t make the time to can our own tomatoes, so we have adjusted her recipe to work for us.


½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms (or your preference of mushrooms)

1 cup hot water

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

2 pounds ground beef

2-14.5 oz. cans whole stewed tomatoes

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon crushed oregano

1 bay leaf


In a small bowl, pour the cup of hot water over the dried mushrooms to rehydrate. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, but not brown.  In the same skillet, brown the ground beef and drain fat.  Stir in the next 6 ingredients.  Remove mushrooms from the water and add the water to the sauce.  Slice the rehydrated mushrooms into thin slices and add to the sauce.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf. Continue simmering 30 minutes, removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.

Serve over 1 pound of cooked spaghetti noodles.


~merry carter~

Nonni's Ravioli

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 31, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Our friend Bruce Burton loves to cook for and with people, foods from scratch, that take hours and hours, such as ravioli, tamales (that's the next blog!), and the like.

Our Executive Chef

We had tasted his ravioli before, including butternut squash ravioli that just melted in your mouth, but we never had the opportunity to cook with Bruce. We finally found the time to “whip up” his Nonni’s (from Italy) ravioli. We passed out the ingredient list to friends, set aside a Saturday afternoon in the party barn, and got to work. We were making the dough, the filling, and the sauce. In hindsight, next time we may make the sauce, or filling, or both, the day before, as this was an all day process with multiple hands at work!

We really started from scratch by grinding our own meat. We had a couple of pork butts and a chuck roast that we sliced into strips and ran through the grinder.

The Meat Grinder

We didn’t follow the recipes to the tee (as usual!). We didn’t have chicken, so we doubled the pork, and for the sauce, we didn’t have canned tomatoes, we only used tomato sauce. Then the chopping began--lotsa chopping--and it had to be diced fine to fit into those delicate little pillows! Bruce’s Sous Chef, Joan (his wife!), was the chop master, with oysters, half a dozen fresh herbs, spinach, Swiss chard, onions, and, of course, lotsa garlic!

Our Sous Chef hard at work

We put our Italian friend Kristin (maiden name: Amicucci!) to work on the garlic.

The Italian Garlic Princess - Ms. Amicucci

Some of the same ingredients were used in the filling and the gravy (which we American’s would call sauce), we were working on those simultaneously. We needed to get the gravy on early so it could stew for about 3 to 4 hours. It was really amazing how much was happening on the party barn ping-pong table, multiple stations along the progress of our ravioli adventure.

Nonni's Gravy

Once we had the filling all chopped and mixed, and the gravy back in my kitchen on a slow simmer (the hot plates in the barn couldn’t cut the mustard), we got to work on the ravioli dough. Just like Mario Battali, Bruce started the dough with a pile of flour, made a well, dropped in the eggs, oil and salt and got to kneading.


Nonni's Dough

Three batches later, we were ready to starting rolling out the dough in the machine.

Once it was just about see-through, very thin, but not so thin it would tear, we placed it over the floured ravioli pan, made little divots, spooned a small amount of filling into the hole, watered the edges, and placed another layer of dough on top.

Then we used a small rolling pin to roll all the edges,

flipped the pan over onto a corn floured baking sheet, and got on to the next batch.

The final step was boiling the ravioli in a large pot of salted water. You dump the ravioli in and when they float, mission accomplished, about 5 to 6 minutes. We poured a bit of sauce on the plate, placed the ravioli on top, and poured more sauce over the top, and dug in.

My first bite was worth all the effort, these little pillows of loveliness melted in your mouth! I don’t remember ever tasting pasta that soft and velvety, I was so overwhelmed with eating that I never did get the “money shot” of the finished product! This picture doesn’t do those ravioli justice.

Nonni's Ravioli

So the next occasion you have multiple hands available, a lot of time, and the ingredients on hand, “whip up” some ravioli, it’s well worth the time and effort, and for those of you without an Italian Nonni like me, now you have a recipe!

Mangia! Nancy



1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce

½ small can tomato paste

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. red pepper

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. dried thyme

pepper to taste

Blend plum tomatoes in cuisinart. Put in a 6-quart pot with remaining ingredients.

In cuisinart chop:

½ bunch parsley

10 large fresh mushrooms

½ cup dried mushrooms (soaked in water, squeezed and chopped, use strained liquid)

Add ingredients to the pot.


1 pound ground beef

Chop in cuisinart to a fine texture and add to pot.

1 leg and 1 thigh of chicken

2½ cups water

1 pound boneless chuck roast

Cut big slices through the chuck but leave in one piece. Brown the chuck and chicken pieces. Cook with 2 ½ cups of water to make broth. Strain out the meat and chicken bones, add broth to the sauce and cook for 3 or more hours.


NONNI’S RAVIOLI FILLING (1/4 batch, 5 ounces = 1 dozen ravioli)

¼ pound sirloin

½ pound pork butt

¾ pound chicken (we didn’t use chicken, but more pork)

½ jar fresh oysters, chopped

¼ cube butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

¼ cup celery, finely chopped

1 tbsp. Thyme and rosemary, finely chopped

½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup spinach, finely chopped and cooked

1 cup Swiss chard, finely chopped and cooked

6 eggs

3 tbsp. olive oil

8 ounces ricotta cheese

¾ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup breadcrumbs

Grind the beef, pork and chicken. Fry celery and onions in butter and olive oil. Fry the pork, then beef and chicken. Mix with the remaining ingredients to stuff the ravioli.



1¼ pounds of flour

3 eggs

2 tbsp. Oil

¼ tsp. Salt

Hot water if needed, use oil in hot weather

Make a well in the mound of flour. Place the eggs, oil and salt in the middle of the flour. Mix together, kneed, put in bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hour or so. Roll out, add filling, top with dough, cut into raviolis.

West Coast Crab Feeds

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 12, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Dungeness crab

During the fall and winter months in the San Francisco Bay Area and other communities along the west coast, many organizations hold crab feeds as their major yearly fundraiser. The crab feeds are typically held at an event center that can hold 200 - 300 people. The crab being served at the crab feeds are Dungeness crabs. Good, fresh Dungeness crab meat is sweet, tender and tastes great. The Dungeness crabs have hard shells and the crabs have usually been cleaned and cracked, but are still in the shell. Occasionally I hear about crabs feeds where the crabs are served already shelled, but it is really a lot of fun sitting around shelling and eating crab with your friends while wearing bibs. 

The Shrine Event Center in Livermore is a venue for several crab feeds every year

The menu at nearly all of the crab feeds that I have attended included all you can eat crab, salad, pasta, and garlic bread. Several crab feeds in the Bay Area also include all you can eat shrimp.  I would imagine that if someone were to attend several crab feeds during the crab feed season, they could easily pack on 25 pounds.

There is a group of friends and family members that I usually attend at least one crab feed with every year. Last Saturday night we attended the Livermore Rotary's crab feed. When we attend a crab feed, we don't just show up and eat. There are things to bring and some planning involved. Our friend Kim brings butter warmers, butter, and hand wipes. Although there is seafood sauce on the tables, my aunt Patsy brings her crab dressing, which I prefer over the seafood sauce. I bring light appetizers, such as crudités. Everyone brings tools to help make extracting the crab from the shell a bit easier.

One of Kim's butter warmers

Aunt Patsy's crab dressing

The tools we use to extract the crab from the shell

The salad

The pasta

A bowl of the all you can eat crab at the Livermore Rotary's crab feed

This was the first time we attended the Livermore Rotary's crab feed and fortunately, the Rotarians and their guests were well behaved. The event was much more low key than crab feed we attended a couple of years ago where there were "chick fights," dirty dancing, and wardrobe malfunctions (all performed by mom's that had way too many cocktails at this church affiliated crab feed).  The emcee for the Rotary's crab feed was Juliette Goodrich from CBS 5 news. It was a lot of fun seeing many old friends and coworkers at the event--even more so seeing them wearing bibs.

Emmy award winning reporter Juliette Goodrich emceed the event

It was a lot of fun seeing many old friends, like Jacob, at the Rotary Crab Feed

Aunt Patsy's Crab Dressing


1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire


In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, and blend well.


So, the West Coast has crab feeds, what kind of feeds do you have in your part of the country?

1980's Flashback

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 3, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Last week I was flipping through channels looking for a movie to watch. I caught the tail end of one of my favorite movies from the 80's, St. Elmo's Fire, which was cast with the popular actors of the time. Think Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy. Watching that movie reminded me of the things I loved about the 80's--the big hair, the music, Miami Vice, California Wine Coolers sold in the 2-liter plastic bottles like soda, Rick Springfield, Ray Ban and Vuarnet sunglasses, Gucci purses, think Rob Lowe again . . . . and the list goes on.  Some of the foods that became popular during the 80's were blackened fish, buffalo wings, potato skins, ranch dressing, quiche, sun-dried tomatoes, sushi, mud pie, seven layer salad, and goat cheese (yuck) on salads and pizza.

My friends and me (that's me in the middle) toasting the bride and groom with our California Wine Coolers at a 1980's wedding

One weekend in the late 80's some of my friends (those California Wine Cooler drinking friends above) and I went to Napa for a wine tasting weekend. Being the wine connoisseurs that we were (remember the wine coolers), I think we probably tasted all of the sweet pink White Zin that Napa had to offer. 

While in Napa we went to a restaurant in an old brick building that had a line of people out the door waiting to get in. When we finally did get seated, it was late and the restaurant was nearly sold out of everything on the menu. What they did have left was the special. I had never heard of the special before and it was on the menu in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, which happened to be that day. I don't remember what the server told me that sold me on trying the pasta with the green sauce, which would have been outside of my comfort zone, but after that night the sauce became one of my all-time favorite sauces. The first bite of my pesto and pasta, covered with walnuts and chicken was incredible. At that time my hometown of Livermore was restaurant-challenged and I was afraid that night would be the first and last time I would ever eat pesto. Never fear, pesto would become more and more popular through the 80's and 90's. I would even be able to purchase frozen pesto at Safeway. Armanino frozen pesto in the blue box is my favorite frozen pesto.

I've mentioned before that I love the smell of fresh basil and I usually have some growing in my garden. I bought a basil plant at Trader Joe's in the late spring, planted it in my garden, and it is now huge and still has plenty of leaves on it. Well, basil just happens to be the main ingredient of pesto. So last week, after watching St. Elmo's Fire, I made some pesto for the family for dinner. A few nights later one of my friends was coming over for dinner and instead of running to the store for meat, I made another batch of pesto. Before the month is over, I hope to have made a batch or two more of pesto to freeze.

Here's the recipe I used for my pesto.

Basil Pesto - Makes one cup of pesto


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts

3 medium sized garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


If  you've picked your basil fresh from your garden, make sure you rinse it well and be on the lookout for critters.

Fresh basil from the garden, rinsed and critter free

In a food processor, combine the basil with the pine nuts (or walnuts). Add the garlic, pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and combine. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until everything is well blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Pine nuts

All pesto ingredients blended well

Pesto mixed with pasta and ready to serve

To serve with pasta: Cook one pound of pasta according to the directions on package. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the pesto until all of the pasta is well coated. If the pasta has cooled down, put the pot on medium high heat until the pesto and pasta is heated.  Remove the pasta from the pot into a serving dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese and pine nuts (or walnuts). 

Other serving ideas:

Add grilled chicken:  Add bite sized pieces of grilled chicken into the pasta and pesto.

Add broccoli:  During the last two minutes of boiling the pasta, add bite sized pieces of broccoli to the pot. Drain the broccoli with the pasta and cover with the pesto. This is the method I used to get my girls to eat broccoli when they were toddlers.

Healthy eating: Use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber and other healthy benefits, which include lower blood pressure and reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.