Well what can we say about our meeting with Thelma and Martha? These two beautiful women were the cat’s pajamas, comical and full of life. Thelma is 90 and Martha is 97 and let me tell you they are firecrackers. Thelma Wagner is my husband’s grandmother and she is a vision of elegance and a full of life personality. It was such a pleasure to sit down and listen to all their awe-inspiring stories. We just sat back and watched the twinkle in their eyes as they reminisced on the Glory days. They both live in an assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida. They shared their memories of girl-hood and how they had learned to cook. They both agreed that they learned from trial and error or through their friends. We first visited with Thelma where she shared a story about how she always felt that Grandpa fell in love with her because of her mother’s Devils Food Cake.
When all the guys from the Navy were in town, she had asked Grandpa over for milk, coffee and cake. Well after that encounter with Thelma, coffee and Devils food Cake; Grandpa chose to ride that beautiful wave of romance for the rest of his life time. Thelma also shared with us that once her mother had baked the Devils Food Cake and placed it on top of the refrigerator. Thelma said “that cake sure does look good; I wish I could just take a bite right out of the side of it.” Her mother replied go ahead and take a bite. Grandma took the cake down and sure enough took a bite and had cake all over her face and said to so just heavenly. She and grandpa really took care of themselves and ate healthy. But Thelma confessed that she always loved sweets and so did grandpa, so she would bake for them on occasions. After we chewed the fat with grandma it was time to mosey on down to chitchat with Martha.
Can we just say this Lady is so spry and full of dynamite? We were in awe of her. She is 97 and is just remarkable. As we went into Martha’s apartment we noticed it was filled with beautiful shamrock plants. I noticed on top of her refrigerator she had her Channukiah and three small bowls of avocado pits germinating in water so that she could grow her own avocado tree. As we sat in a circle in her villa, she began to automatically share with us stories of long-ago. She told us of a time when her Synagogue was going to have a function called “Noodles and Strudels” she asked who would be making the strudel and they replied no one. Well she thought this is kind of crazy not to have the strudel and call the affair “Noodles and Strudels”. So she volunteered to make it. She called around and finally found a recipe so she made the strudel and what do you know; it was amazing. They were so amazing that her and her sister started making and selling these delightful pieces of heaven. She talked about how they would roll the dough so thin you could see through it. Traditionally, Strudel dough is made from scratch out of high-gluten flour, water, and oil. Preparing the dough is manually intensive. It requires an intense kneading period to develop the gluten strands, followed by a resting period for the dough (and the baker!). This gives the dough the elasticity it needs to be stretched into a very thin sheet – so thin that it is almost transparent. The history of the Strudel dates back hundreds of years. It was made as an easy yet satisfying meal by the poor. However, it was the Turkish Baklava pastry, introduced into Austria in 1453, that laid the foundation for the Strudel. The Austrians first created the Wiener Apfelstrudel (Viennese Apple Strudel).
We had such a marvelous time listening to these remarkable women. They were just a delight!