Gramma’s Dandelion Wine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfIf you’re foolish enough to hang around with me for any length of time you won’t escape hearing about my grandmother. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette and I spent most weekdays with her until she died when I was seven years and three days old.

She was a proper English lady though she’d be quick to tell you she came from good common stock rather than the highborn kind. She was proper all the same so I’m not sure how she’d feel about being represented by a recipe for spirits. But this is such a writers’ treasure kind of story I can’t resist. Please, forgive me, Gramma.

I found the recipe in a very old notebook written in a lovely but substantial hand. Substantial enough to be read many decades after it was written. The ink is faded of course. Real ink like the kind that used to come in bottles and inkwells. The pages are soft with age and worn off at the corners. I handle them carefully for fear they’ll disintegrate into powder.

The pasteboard covers are separating at the spine. The original brown was probably dark but is now a dusky shade. She wrote “Cook Book – Mrs. Boudiette – 467 Holley Street – Watertown NY” on the front cover. She refers to herself in what was once considered appropriately modest for a married woman. She doesn’t use her first name.

This inscription tells me something about the age of the notebook. Grandma lived on Holley Street long before she and my scary grandfather moved to the tall brown house on West Main where I spent the happiest hours of my 1940’s childhood with Gramma in her kitchen. But I always had to be gone before Grandpa got home which was fine with me.

I run my hand over the letters she wrote on the faded brown cover of her small notebook. The sensitive skin of my fingertips touches the place where her hand had been and of course I weep. She died going on seventy years ago but she is still deeply entrenched in me. Everything good that has happened in my life began somehow with Gramma.

Only two actual dates appear in the notebook. November 1, 1927 after her recipe for Apple Jam and March 9, 1931 above Tasty Salad. Other entries include How to Remove Ink from Clothes and Receipt for Tanning Hides. Bless you Gramma. You were the first and among the best blessings of my life. Here is Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette’s Dandelion Wine in her own words.

6 quarts fresh heads of dandelion blossoms in stone jar or granite. 1 gallon hot water poured on the blossoms. Put aside for 3 days and nights, then strain through a cloth. Now add 3 pounds sugar, juice of 2 lemons and 3 oranges. Add one-half yeast cake.

Pour mixture into a stone jar and let it stand 4 days and nights. Then strain again through a cloth. Bottle. Let stand in bottles with corks set in loose until it stops working. Otherwise it will blow off or break bottles. After it stops working cork tightly and store where cool.

Shared by Alice Jane’s granddaughter Alice Orr – The picture is of me and Gramma in her garden when I was two and a half years old.


7 thoughts on “Gramma’s Dandelion Wine

    • Hi Carol.

      My entire life is filled with love for my grandmother. I love to write about her also. I’m grateful for this blog which allows and even encourages us to tell about the personal side of ourselves. It gives me the opportunity to tell stories like this one that come straight from my heart.



  1. My mother made such a book filled with all sorts of odd recipes for things like salves as well as pickles, cookies, and all those favorite meals we grow up loving. Often little notes appeared that told who provided the recipe, usually an older relative. It must have been the thing to do back then. Fortunately I have most of the recipes that were in that book because at some point my sister threw it out, but I would have loved to have had the book.

    Your scary grandfather reminded me of my great-grandfather. For some reason they always acted as though he ate children for breakfast and I was never to talk to him. So I watched him. He wasn’t scary at all. You must tell us more about your grandfather.

    Thanks for such a fun post filled with memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi E.

      I’m glad you got to see your grandmother’s notebook at least and copy contents too. I know the frustration of having people throw away such things. When my grandmother died all of her amazing needlework was thrown away. Tatted pillowcases and embroidery and knitting. It was thought of as old fashioned. How I would love to have some of that now.

      I did get the opportunity to watch my grandfather after my grandmother died and he showed up for dinner on occasion. He took pleasure in saying things that upset my mother. She would go into the kitchen and cry. I also learned from my Uncle John – the one sibling of my mother who was willing to talk much about the family – how mean and scary my grandfather really was complete with altogether too disturbing examples.

      Cousins have reported in on the subject also. Apparently everyone in my generation was warned away from him. As for writing about him – I may do that in a novel one day where I can keep him at arm’s length but I wouldn’t want to blog about him. He’d have to be too close for me to do that. I believe in keeping mean-streak folks out of my personal circle. I will say this about my grandfather. He’s helped me to be able to spot those mean streaks fairly early on after encountering them.

      Anyway I prefer goodhearted company. I also do my best to belong in that company myself.



    • Hi Susan.

      Yes it is sad. My life would have been spent in her light for longer if she’d lived longer. But I am happy with the place I now inhabit and especially with my own grandma role and my wonderful grandchildren. I embrace all that happened in between to bring me here. I also still have Gramma with me every day in everything I do.



  2. I have a recipe book I picked up from a historical society and it’s filled with recipes like Martha Washington’s cake and Ben Franklin’s punch. It’s a hoot, but I doubt I’d ever try any of the recipes. I have nothing from my grandparents, though. It must be wonderful to have a lasting link to someone you love.


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