English Popovers: A Christmas Tradition

It was 1940 in Hamstead, England. Audrey Lloyd was a British girl in her teens, attending St. Christopher boarding school.   Life changed quickly however, when The Second World War began. Audrey was forced to leave England, and relocate with her family to Brazil. It was there, in Rio, that she met a young American Naval Officer, named Randolph.

Audrey and Randolph fell in love upon first glance, and married three months later. They moved to the United States to begin their new life together.  After arriving in Washington DC, Randolph was summoned to England to fight in the war. Audrey found herself alone, in a foreign land, homesick, and pregnant with her first child. Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. Soon, a year had passed, and still Randolph did not return. Audrey continued to hope and wait for his homecoming.

To keep her worry and homesickness at bay, she entertained and cooked for her new American friends. She often referenced her “Joy of Cooking” cookbook to fuse classic British fare, like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, with new American flavors.

Over a year after Randolph’s departure to England, he returned home from World War II. He arrived to greet his bride and 4-month old daughter, whom, today, I affectionately call Mom. Audrey and Randy went on to raise four children, along with a houseful of dogs, cats, birds, and one pet duck. They spent the next 59 years entertaining and cooking for their family and friends.

Since I can remember, every Christmas Eve, we honor Granny Auds with a proper English dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding popovers, and mincemeat pies. We pull English crackers, tell jokes, and wear paper crowns. The “Joy of Cooking” cookbook was passed down to my mom, and now she shares those recipes with me.

Today, I had the great pleasure of sharing Granny Auds’ popovers with my daughter. The recipe is simple, only five ingredients, and my little one loved pouring the batter and watching the popovers puff up in the oven. Once cool, we ate them over a glass of milk and cup of tea.

I imagine Granny and Grandfather doing the same up in Heaven, cooking together, eating popovers, and playing cribbage. Only, they are drinking Bourbon instead of milk and tea.

As she would say, “Happy Christmas.” I hope you enjoy!

Recipe: Joy of Cooking. Rombauer &Becker, ©1931


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