Friday, December 26, 2014

Chapter 8- Muffin

1968 was an exciting year, elections, riots and police brutality on network TV, and we got our first pet. After much begging by me and Diane, my mother gave in, and we went to the shelter to get a cat. We settled on a grey tabby kitten with singed whiskers; my mom said the mishap was a sign of a curious and healthy cat. The shelter said it was a girl, and we named her Muffin. A few weeks later when we took her to the vet, we found out she was a he! However, I don't think Muffin cared what we called him as long as we called him for meals!
the sewing machine was the ideal spot for scouting kitchen table offerings

At first Muffin was supposed to be kept in the basement, but was very quickly allowed in the breeze-way where we watched TV. Every chance he got, though, he would bolt for an open door, so he soon had the run of the whole house during the day. Diane and I would have made that 24 hours, but he could not learn to be quiet at night, so my parents made him go back to the basement at night. I can't remember if it was finished when we got him, but if not, it was not long before he had carpet, chairs and a hide-a-bed to lounge on.

Muffin was playful, sometimes scaring us a bit when he'd make a mad dash across the back of the sofa. He was also fairly tolerant of us playing with him, submitting to the indignity of being dressed up in Easter bonnets and swimming caps. He loved his cat food, and would even jump for it, so meal time came to be called "Hop Hop" However, he also loved people food. My mother was oddly lax about letting him jump on the kitchen table, and many mornings he'd be stalking my cereal bowl. I would try to block him with cereal boxes, but that just made it more fun for him. Eventually, he'd be rewarded with the milk in the bottom of the bowl.

Other times he was fast and sneaky enough to get things we had not given him, pepperoni off a pizza, tuna right out of the sandwich as my dad was eating it, a nice buttery corn cob out of the trash! He didn't have much sense about it sometimes, jumping on the counter and helping himself to bacon grease put him in some severe digestive distress! Another unfortunate occurrence was eating the string from a rolled beef roast, my mom got the unpleasant duty of helping pull it out of his rear end! He even ate through a plastic bag to get at chocolate chip cookies a few times, luckily he did not get enough chocolate to get sick.

Muffin was supposed to be an indoor cat; he was allowed out on a leash in the backyard only. Once in a while he would escape and start exploring the neighbor's bushes. Usually he was quickly lured back with food, but sometimes he managed to be gone for a few hours. One thing he really, really liked was licking the wrappers from instant milk, a fad of the early '70s. One time I was not sure if he'd got past me when I came home from school, so I opened a milk packet. No cat came running inside the house. Then I looked out the back door and he was right there! Could he possibly have heard me open that from outside? I don't know, but it got him in.

So nearly any recipe from my youth would work for this chapter, Here is one of my mother's specialties that I'm sure Muffin liked taste testing if he got a chance.

                          Swedish Meatballs

Recipe By: Donna (Nelson) Simonian
Serving Size: 4

-= Ingredients =-
1 pound Ground beef ; or turkey
1 1/2 cups Bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Onion ; minced
1/2 cup Milk
1 ea Egg
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
2 tablespoon Flour
5 ounces Beef stock
1 cups Milk
2 tablespoon (or more) chicken stock or

-= Instructions =-
Combine first 9 ingredients ( easiest in food processor) , blend well and form into 1" balls. Place on a cookie sheet , greasing may not be necessary, bake at 350 about 25 min. until brown.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in beef consomme and milk. heat just to boiling, stirring constantly,

Add meatballs and simmer 15 min. Add sherry, heat 15 min. more. Serve over noodles.

Friday, December 5, 2014

chapter 7 Television

I can remember when we had just one black & white TV. Eventually, we got a smaller one for the kitchen, too, but we did not get a color TV until I was 12. That was a little behind the neighbors, but not by much. TV was still rather new when I was young, there were only broadcast channels, no cable, and no video players. However, there was no monthly fee other than the electricity to run it. We did develop the unfortunate habit of watching it at lunchtime. At first that was Bozo the Clown or a game show, a very suitable thing for kids. But then these got replaced by soap operas! So I was not even out of grade school when my mom got us hooked on All My Children.
Muffin lounging on our first color TV

Supper was different though, perhaps my dad did not approve, so TV at supper was only for special events, like a genuinely classic movie on Family Classics on Sunday. Diane and I, like most kids of the 1960s, liked our Saturday morning cartoons, but we still had to get our cleaning chores done, too. Evening TV was very much a family event with lots of “wholesome” shows like Andy Griffith, Batman, Dick Van Dyke, I Dream of Jeannie and Hogan’s Heroes. Bewitched was one of my favorites; I think Samantha may have influenced me quite a bit.

Advertising had its effect, too, perhaps only slightly less insidious than it is now. I know we ended up buying and eating certain breakfast cereals because Diane and I would see them and ask for them. However, it seems the positive side of TV was more prevalent back then. There was a lot of educational programming for kids before Sesame Street- we had Captain Kangaroo, Romper Room, Garfield Goose and Friends, and others.

On weekends, long before there was any Food Network, public television aired the French Chef! My mother was probably watching Julia Child to learn, but Diane and I were more likely enjoying the showmanship. I recently revisited some of these, and giggled at the ruined crepe tossed to the floor all over again. One way or another, I think we were all influenced, and my mother bought the show’s companion cookbook. I don’t know if Julia’s recipes were served at some of the elegant buffet parties my parents had for my dad’s department at Christmas, but she may have set the style for those. For me it was also more about the style and fearless attitude than actual recipes. Bœuf Bourguignon was the famous first episode of the French Chef. Watching that again, I realize the recipe I'm using is not much like it. However, it is one I tinkered with until it was tasting the way I thought it should.

                            Beef Burgundy

evolved from several French recipes I've encountered with much fat trimming

Recipe By: Nicole
Serving Size: 8

-= Ingredients =-
24 ounces Beef bottom round ; cubed
1/2 cup All purpose flour ; for dredging
2 tablespoon Olive oil
2 Onion ; chopped
2 clove Garlic ; minced
4 stalks Celery ; chopped
2 Carrot ; sliced
2 teaspoon Dried thyme
2 teaspoon Dried marjoram
1 teaspoon Tarragon
1 cup Burgundy ; or other dry red wine
1/2 cup Tomato sauce
4 cups Beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup Peas
4 large Red potatoes -optional
Salt ; to taste
Tabasco sauce ; to taste

-= Instructions =-
Dredge beef in flour. Brown in olive in Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add onion, celery, carrot, and herbs when beef is nearly brown and continue cooking until beef is brown.

Add burgundy, tomato sauce and beef broth-broth should just cover meat, you may need to adjust amount depending on your pan. If you are using potatoes, add these now. Simmer about 2 hours until beef is tender. Or put everything in crockpot on low for 4-8 hours after browning beef.

Add peas (and pearl onions for that variation) and heat through. Add salt and Tabasco to taste-if your broth is salted , no extra salt may be needed.

Serve with a crusty French bread, or over noodles or rice if doing the pearl onion variation.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

chapter 6 Thanksgiving

Hostessing Thanksgiving often seemed to fall to my mother, I am not sure why. She and Auntie Margaret and any adult females who came generally had the cooking under control, or if they needed another pair of hands, my dad would be allowed in the kitchen. So Diane and I were free to watch the Macy’s parade on TV during our early grade school years. Maybe we saw some football, too, but we thought it was boring. After all, our male relatives fell asleep watching it after dinner! Those who did not succumb to football or tryptophan often played a lively game of Tripoli after washing dishes- this was a card game that involved poker chips, but was quite different from poker as I recall.

Thanksgiving 1967

Diane and I were not entirely off the hook though; we got to help set the table and help with clean-up, and as we got older, we had more of a hand in the side dishes. The main part of the meal was the standard Midwestern turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, sometimes the green bean casserole would be there, but not always. One rather fussy side we may have helped with was pan-glazed sweet potatoes, round slices dipped in brown sugar and fried in butter. Other vegetables and sides varied year to year, and yes, sometimes there was a jello salad. Pumpkin pie was a given, other desserts might depend on the number of guests. Sometimes my mother made Lowell Inn crescent rolls, but the one bread that had to be on the table was Limpa, a Swedish rye bread. Perhaps it was a favorite of my grandfather or uncles on the Nelson side, but everyone loved it, so it’s hard to say. It has some unusual flavors, but the sweetness appealed to us as children. My mother’s recipe may be based on a Betty Crocker version, but had some important differences, like the anise seeds.

                         Limpa ( Swedish Rye)

2 loaves

Recipe By: Donna (Nelson) Simonian

-= Ingredients =-
4 1/2 teaspoon Yeast
1 1/2 cup Water ; warm
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Molasses
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Orange peel
1 tablespoon Anise seeds
2 tablespoon Shortening
1 cup Rye flour
3 cups Bread flour

-= Instructions =-
Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Place rye and half of bread flour in mixer bowl with bread hook. ( this can be done with a spoon and hand kneading as well) Stir in dissolved yeast, brown sugar, molasses, salt, shortening, anise and orange peel. Stir in enough bread flour to make a kneadable dough.  Knead in bowl or on board, gradually adding more bread flour as needed, until smooth, elastic, and springy.

Place in greased bowl in a warm spot. Cover and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise until double again. Punch down and form into  2 round loaves. Bake at 375 degrees 30 -40 min. on greased pans.  Brush with butter after baking.

Stuffing was always my favorite part of the dinner, though. If I did not have much room for seconds, I would just have another helping of stuffing. It seems a good stuffing recipe has been in the family quite a while--from my mother’s memoir on the subject of my great-grandmother Magdalena’s cooking “When I was small I remember celebrating some holidays at my grandparents’ farm. These occasions were rather subdued, but my grandmother was a wonderful cook and baker so the meals were always wonderful.  Some of the things I remember were her wonderful bread stuffing and fried eggplant.” I don’t know how close this recipe is to Magdalena’s. It is fairly close to what my mother usually did, though she was known to experiment. So do I, so there may be further variation.


Recipe By:  Donna (Nelson) Simonian
Enough for a 12 lb bird

-= Ingredients =-
1 1/2 quart Bread cubes ; old, dry best
1/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Onion ; chopped
1/2 cup Celery ; chopped
1/2 teaspoon Sage
1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Rosemary
1 pinch Paprika
1/2 pinch Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt ; optional and adjustable
1 tablespoon Parsley ; minced
3/4 cup Chicken broth
1 Egg ; beaten

-= Instructions =-
Sauté onion and celery in butter until translucent. Add seasonings and sauté 1 min. to blend flavors.

Add to bread cubes and toss. Moisten with broth and egg, may need to adjust broth amount. May also adjust salt to taste.  If preparing ahead, this can be chilled at this point, NOT inside the bird.

Stuff loosely inside bird before roasting or bake in a separate buttered dish, covered at 350 for 1 hour.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

chapter 5-more Christmas

It seemed we were at Auntie & Uncle Clay’s for Christmas more often than not. That may have made it easier for my dad to do the Santa trick. He would go out to the back yard to smoke a pipe, and somehow Santa always dropped the presents off at the front porch while he was out. We may have figured out the game before we admitted it, but we wanted to keep believing in Santa. Diane even convinced me she saw Rudolph in the sky one year. I should add here that Auntie Margaret, for all her rigidity, did spoil us a little too, in a more practical way. She worked part time in a department store and enjoyed choosing quality bed linens and dresses for us. It seems she also took time to read to me , despite having dropped out of high school to chase boys herself!
1 year old me on Auntie's lap, my mother in the background

It was one of these Christmases when I got my Easy Bake oven. It cooked things with a light bulb! We had a lot of fun stirring up the little mix packets, sliding them through the oven and eating the results, nearly instant gratification. However, it was not long before we graduated to the real oven. I think scrambled eggs was one of the first things I learned. Then we got the idea from our Brownie handbook that we should cook breakfast for our parents on Sat. morning since we were up first. The only problem with that was that we didn't know how to work the coffee pot, so my dad still had to make his own.

Soon, around ages 8 and 9, Diane and I were trying our hand at real cake recipes, and were foolishly pleased when we could make it turn out “as good as a mix!” We also ordered a Peanuts cookbook at one of the Scholastic book sales at school. The recipes were easy, but they were real cooking, I still make Lucy’s Applesauce pie today , though I have changed a few things, like I don’t peel the apples any more.

                            Applesauce Pie

Serving Size: 6
-= Ingredients =-
6 medium Apples; cored and sliced
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 dashes Salt
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoon Butter ; softened
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 dashes Cinnamon

-= Instructions =-
Slice apples into medium saucepan. Add sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook over medium heat ( covered and stirring frequently) until extra liquid is gone. Stir and mash until large lumps are gone. Turn apples into a pie plate and cover with topping.

Topping: Blend flour, soft butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with fingertips and sprinkle over applesauce. Bake at 375 until top is brown and crusty, about 20 min.

Variation: I sometimes add 1/2 cup of quick oats to the crumb topping.

chapter 4 -Auntie & Uncle Clay

Auntie Margaret was a bit slower to let us kids in the kitchen, preferring the more expert and less messy assistance of my mother. We got shooed outside to ride various toy vehicles-Uncle Clay had a pedal car, a couple tricycles and a contraption called an Irish Mail for us- or colour with crayons in the garage. He loved getting us a fresh box of 64 colours! The garage was huge and had a deluxe work bench where Uncle Clay built things and it was easy enough to colour and draw there, but the real reason we were out there is that Auntie Margaret was a neat freak. She kept a spotless house, and ironed sheets and underwear. She also paid us a quarter each visit to not touch the walls! Easy money for us, Diane and I were not on the habit of doing that anyway, but maybe some of our cousins were a bit rowdier.

Uncle Clay, however, was all about spoiling us. Not just with crayons and toys, but he would be out there playing with us. He even let us tie him up with jump ropes for “cowboys and Indians”. When we got a bit bigger, he also bought us Schwinn bicycles. He also sang funny songs to us at bedtime. One of them went something like “where was Googie when the lights went out? Down in the kitchen eating sauerkraut” However, the refrigerator was not stocked with that when we visited, but 3 Musketeers bars, ice cream and Bosco chocolate sauce. Uncle Clay liked his TV sports, especially baseball, but he had a big lounge chair with wide arms, so we could all 3 be in it eating ice cream sundaes.

That did not prevent us from enjoying Auntie Margaret’s baking though. There were many excellent pies, cakes and cookies to eat up. A holiday meal at her house might mean 3 different pies, all made by her! Sunday dinners were occasions, too. It was not anything trendy or exotic, mostly roasts with mashed potatoes and gravy , or ham and scalloped potatoes, but everything was cooked to perfection. Eventually, we did get to help with simpler things like shelling peas, or peeling and cutting up apples for applesauce. However, I’d say Auntie Margaret’s biggest influence on my cooking was setting a kind of standard of excellence, that it was something worth doing well and serving in style. Here is one of her most impressive pastries.


                          Almond Coffee Cake
Recipe By: Auntie Margaret (Margaret Lutz Kennedy)
Serving Size: 18

-= Ingredients =-
4 cups All purpose flour
2 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 pound Butter
1 pkg Yeast
1/4 cup Warm water
1 cup Milk ; cold
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
1/2 can Almond filling

-= Instructions =-
Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Cut in first amount of butter.

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir yeast and cold milk into dry ingredients.

Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Cream second amount of butter & sugar. Beat in almond filling.

Divide chilled dough into 3 parts. Roll each into a 6" x 12" rectangle.

Spread 1/3 of filling mixture down center of each rectangle, and then fold sides over.

With scissors, cut through top layers of dough at 1" intervals.

Let rise in warm place until nearly double,  1 hour estimate but will depend on degree of chilling.

Glaze with egg white beaten until frothy before baking.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 min.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

chapter 3- Our Middle Eastern Heritage

Before and throughout grade school, many weekends were spent visiting family. We went back to Auntie & Uncle Clay’s house most often, but also visited my dad’s side of the family regularly; he had moved in with his uncle and aunt and their boys when he came to America. Their real names were Vahan and Vartar, but we knew them as Dada Zeke and Auntie Rose.

There were horse and soldier action figures to play with (all our cousins on this side were boys!) and perhaps a few other toys, but Auntie Rose’s kitchen was where the action was and where we liked to be. The aromas were quite different from Auntie Margaret’s, the onion, parsley and garlic used so much in Armenian food are some I recall. There was also a hint of rosewater from the pastries stored in the basement, mostly paklava (baklava) and boorma. As best as I can remember, there were far fewer processed foods here than in my mother’s kitchen, or even Auntie Margaret’s. Auntie Rose baked every kind of baked good they needed.

Diane and I were allowed to help by a certain age. Armenian food is often labor intensive and gets done more easily with many helping hands. I think it may be like that because it was also an opportunity to socialize--daughters, sisters, cousins, daughters-in-law and grand-daughters would all be around the kitchen table chopping and mixing and stuffing while chatting. The men and boys would be in the living room. There was further gender division when the meal began; only the men got to have a shot of hard liquor!

Auntie Rose did not have written recipes. As a teenager, my sister stayed over for several days so she could learn and write down some of them. However, thanks to a small spiral cookbook from the Detroit chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, we had a starting point for traditional recipes. So my mother learned to cook some of these dishes, and Manti aka“Baby Shoes” is one we liked making and eating. The nickname comes from the size and appearance of the dumplings, I don’t know if any other families call them that.



Recipe By: possibly based on one from Treasured Armenian Recipes by the Detroit AGBU
Serving Size: 8

-= Ingredients =-
3 cups All purpose flour
3 Egg
1/2 cup Water ; scant
1 pinch Salt
1 pound Lamb ; ground
1 large Onion ; minced
1/3 cup Parsley ; chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1 1/2 quart Chicken broth
1 clove Garlic

-= Instructions =-
Stir first four ingredients together to make a stiff dough. Let sit one-two hours.

Combine lamb, onion, second amount of salt ,pepper and parsley.

Roll out dough to 1/16 inch. Cut into squares. Place a small ball of meat mixture on each and wrap up like a canoe.

Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 min. May freeze at this stage.

Boil in chicken broth with garlic until soft. May also add a tablespoon of tomato sauce for extra flavor.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

chapter 2 -Sisters

My sister, Diane Celeste Simonian, was born August 14, 1961, so I don’t remember any of my time as an only child. People would sometimes ask if we were twins! We did not really look that much alike, but both of us had dark brown eyes and hair, worn in the same style when we were little.

We had long since moved out of Auntie & Uncle Clay’s , and then moved to a house in Deerfield, IL to have enough room for Diane. I have a few fleeting memories of that home, one of my dad making pancakes. Though the division of labor in the household was mostly typical of 1960s America with my mom doing most of the cooking and cleaning, my dad did pitch in, and he seemed to enjoy cooking. Now here you might expect a pancake recipe, but they used Bisquick!

I remember a bit more of our next home on “Teacher’s Row” in Clarendon Hills, IL. My dad had been hired to teach French at Hinsdale Central High School which allowed new staff to rent one of several houses the district owned for a bargain price for up to 3 years. One memory I have is of biting into a brown crayon to see if it was chocolate! No, it was nasty, and I spit it out. I also have some faint memories of playing with the boys next door, tearing around with tricycles and wagons. And it may have been for my 3rd birthday that my mother made an awesome Christmas tree shaped cake. Maybe I saw photos of it later, but I think I might actually remember it because it was pretty special.

We moved again before the 3 years were up, and before I started kindergarten, just across town to the ranch-style house that is still my dad’s home. Diane and I soon found friends across the street, the Glovers had 2 daughters our age, Kathy & Julie, plus they had a younger brother and sister, and then later, twin baby brothers. Grab a couple other kids from the block and it was easy to have team games like “Red Rover” in our backyards. Or sometimes we pestered some unfortunate older boys whose mothers made them play “cops & robbers” with us. Sometimes we were inside doing quieter things like playing with dolls, having a pretend hospital or coloring. Yet I seem to remember a lot of time spent outside. In addition to the games and bike riding, we sometimes acted out fairy tales or made things out of the grasses and brush in the Glovers’ lower yard. It was on a hill and terraced, so the upper 2 levels were like normal suburban backyards, but the lower one was allowed to be wild.

All that activity gave us pretty good appetites, and I don’t remember anyone being truly fussy. We also walked to and from school, and in those days we came home for lunch. Soup and sandwich was a fairly common one for us. Maybe sometimes the soup was this one from my grandmother Gladys (Lutz) Nelson. However, I think we had it more often on Saturdays when my mom could get Diane and I to help make  the croutons.

                             Potato Soup

Recipe By: Grandma Gladys (Gladys Lutz Nelson)
Serving Size: 4

-= Ingredients =-
3 slices Bacon ; diced
1 small Onion ; chopped
2 large Potatoes ; diced
1 pinch White pepper
1 pinch Salt
Water ; as required
1 teaspoon Parsley ; chopped
2 cups Milk

-= Instructions =-
Fry bacon and onion together in large saucepan. Drain fat.

Add potatoes and seasonings and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.

Reduce heat. Add milk and heat through. Serve with croutons.

Grandma Gladys

Monday, November 10, 2014

Growing Up Foodie- Chapter 1 Merry Chrismabirthday to me!

My mother was inspired to write about her childhood by reading a biographical sketch of her great-grandfather. Thanks to her memoir I know a little something about family members who died before I was born, and how different growing up in her time and place was from my experience. I hope to do the same for my descendants, but with my own twist- it seems to me I should include some recipes.

I was born, Nicole Marie Simonian, on Dec. 18, 1959 in DeKalb, IL to Donna Jean (Nelson) Simonian and Pierre Bedros Simonian. I was told I was 10 days early; well, of course, I didn’t want to miss Christmas! Though I did not get to eat them that year, here is one of my favorite holiday cookies, made often by my mother and great-aunt, though this version is the one I developed as a teenager. They once won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair.
Servings: 4-5 dozen

-= Ingredients =-
2 cups Butter ; unsalted best
1 1/3 cups Sugar
6 Egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon Salt ; omit if butter is salted
1 1/2 teaspoon Almond extract
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
5 cups All purpose flour ; or use 1/2 cake flour if competing!

-= Instructions =-
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and extracts.  Stir in flour gradually. May wish to chill dough slightly, this is more necessary in the summer.

Squirt dough through cookie press into desired shapes directly onto cookie sheet. Decorate with colored sugar and nonpareils.

Bake at 375 about 8 min for thicker shapes, 6 for thinner ones, until edges are just barely brown. Remove carefully from sheets to cool.

My dad was in the army in Korea at the time of my birth, so my mother was staying with Auntie Margaret & Uncle Clay (my great-aunt and great-uncle). My grandmother had already passed away, so they functioned as grandparents for me. Uncle Clay was wonderful with kids though they had none of their own. I’m told he would carry me through the kitchen, opening and closing cupboard doors to entertain me. Auntie did have an awesome kitchen, larger than some people’s living rooms though it was a small house otherwise. It had a breakfast nook next to the back door, many sky blue cupboards lining 2 walls and a large white gas stove-it may have been a 6 burner. Though many wonderful aromas came from Auntie’s kitchen, there was a baseline scent of fresh ground coffee.
Auntie's kitchen, no idea how that toy was allowed in there!

My dad came home when I was 8 months old and reportedly I was not afraid of him as babies often are of strangers at that age. You may be able to tell from their names that my parents had different backgrounds. My mother grew up in rural DeKalb county and had German and Swedish ancestry. My father immigrated from France as a teenager, but is ethnically 100% Armenian. Both went through hard times during the Depression and World War II, though the war had more impact on my dad’s family. They met at Northern Illinois University, which was a teacher’s college at the time.