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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published February 25 2009

Bebe’s stories, bread always brought a smile

One of my grandma’s best friends was Nora Nelson Ottis. We called her Bebe.

They had met when they were young at druggists conventions. Both were married to pharmacists. Bebe lived in Wyndmere, N.D., with her husband, Ben, and Gram – Petra Somo Krantz – in Dazey, N.D., with her husband, Herman.

My grandfather died in 1917 not long after my mother was born. Later, having both moved to Fargo, their daughters became friends and Bebe and Petra were reacquainted. Bebe was a widow by that time, too.

And I, too, got to know Bebe. Often, when I was feeling down, I would go to visit her and she would regale me with stories of days of yore. I remember one that I heard several times:

She’d been out riding in a carriage with a beau, and the horse pooped and some landed on the front of her dress. The carriage was turned around, and the young man took her home. Not a word was said about the accident. You didn’t talk about things like that in those days.

I loved her very much and would always leave her company with a smile on my face.

Once at a wedding reception, I took a photo of Gram and Bebe. They have their heads together, and Bebe has her hand covering her mouth as if she’s telling a secret. Each has a champagne glass in one hand, and Gram looks a little misty-eyed. She was very fond of champagne.

I framed the photo, and when Bebe saw it in my apartment, she was peeved and said they looked like a couple of old ladies gossiping, which of course they were.

Bebe’s apartment was across the street from her daughter, Helen Pepple, and she often cooked in Helen’s kitchen.

I loved her dark bread and asked her for the recipe, which wasn’t written down. So I went to Helen’s one day and followed her around the kitchen and took notes. It was the same way I got Grandma’s bread recipe.

The following recipe is the one I got that day with the exception of the instructions in parentheses, which I have added for those who don’t have any old ladies to lovingly teach them how to make bread.

Bebe’s Pumpernickel Bread

1 medium potato, covered with water, cooked and sieved with the water

1 cup All-Bran Buds with 3 cups of water

2 packages yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 cup of water

About 5 to 6 cups white flour

(Add potato, bran and yeast mixture to flour and knead until combined.)

1 cup shortening, 1 cup molasses, salt and 4 to 5 cups graham or whole wheat flour

(Add to above mixture and knead until a stiff dough is formed.)

Let rise once in very low oven

Put in pans and press down

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Source: Andrea’s recipe box


Readers can reach Forum writer Andrea Halgrimson at (701) 241-5517