A Cookbook by Grandmothers



To mark a recent visit, an old friend from my native Berlin gave me a newly published cook book featuring traditional German dishes called “Wir haben einfach gekocht” (Umschau, 2015), which basically means: we just cooked, meaning: in a simple fashion. Those who cooked are a group of elderly, but very lively women interviewed for this book, most of them well into their eighth decade.

The team behind the project, Jörg Reuter, Manuela Rehn, Cathrin Brandes and Caro Hoenes, went off on a journey across Germany with the mission to visit a number of care homes and to quiz the residents about their favourite recipes as well the memories associated with those. They cooked, shared the odd trick, and ate together.  In the absence of steady companionship or the opportunity to cook for themselves anymore, these senior citizens clearly enjoyed the chance to make themselves useful and to be sociable.

“Wir haben einfach gekocht” goes straight to the roots of the kind of cooking we associate with family and all things homely. It harks back to a fuss-free and regional cuisine that was supposed to nourish and sustain you, and most importantly, was always enjoyed en famille, at the table. As a result, such wonderful classics as “Sauerbraten”, liver with apple rings, onions and mashed potato, potato dumplings, pea soup and “Streuselkuchen” are getting the proper treatment here, not a make-over.

It is obvious why this idea appeals to Our Stories and why I should mention it here: housewives or not, these women had to cook for themselves and their families, day in, day out, the dishes often passed on to them by their own mothers and grandmothers and perfected over time. Sharing these recipes means sharing a piece of their history if not their identity.



Much like Our Stories sees itself as an incentive for others to engage with the elders in their families, the authors behind this book want to encourage readers to visit care homes for the elderly, perhaps get acquainted with an elderly person, listen to them, cook for them.

How about a British version of this book…anyone?



The website and Facebook pages are in German:



An Irish School’s Request To Its Pupils: Bring your Grandparents in!

I came across this whilst researching documentaries on the subject and was touched listening to this short piece about a  school in Sligo, which in order to celebrate its 50th anniversary, asked pupils to bring in their grandparents to share their stories with them. Here is what happened.


Maple Walk a Go!

Thank you to Maple Walk Primary School in Harlesden and Mrs Gillam, the headteacher, as well as Miss Dancey for inviting Our Stories. The Reception class children are now busy collecting stories from their grandparents and I look forward to hearing them all after half-term.


Back To School, Back to Our Stories

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A new school year has begun. The autumn term is a fantastic time to get cosy and share Our Stories, so let’s get to it!

This coming term Our Stories is looking forward to be working with Maple Walk School, who are very enthusiastic about the idea.

The latest edition of story books, which is looking beautiful, was delivered to Salusbury Primary School this morning and I hope parents, children and grandparents will enjoy them for many years to come. Thank you all for sharing your family stories. (see pics above!)

If you would like to suggest introducing the project at your child’s primary school, please get in touch via the website and spread the word. There is not much work involved and not only the kids, but the whole family gets something out of it.

See you soon!

This Weekend 15th/16th August-“Dirty Stop Outs”- Youth Music Theatre UK Stages a Musical about Grandparents in Halifax

Youth Music Theatre UK has created a verbatim play/musical based on the teenage lives of grandparents. It is based on anecdotes told in interviews, which the teenage actors conducted with their grandparents or older relatives. Please read this article and if you are anywhere near Halifax: go and see the play at The Square Chapel, 2.30pm 15th & 16th August 2015. Let’s hope it transfers to London soon!



Get the conversation going!

Our Stories likes The School of Life’s ‘100 Questions: Family Edition’

  ‘It isn’t always easy for families to relate, but good conversation can play a part in building a strong connection between generations.

Inside this box you will find 100 carefully composed questions designed to get you into imaginative, thought-provoking conversations between children and adults.’

Our Stories at Salusbury Primary School


It has been a tumultuous few days politically speaking, but on the upside, the three reception classes at Salusbury Primary School in London’s NW6 have had a very productive week sharing stories from, about and even, in some cases, with the help of their grandparents. So, Salusbury School is a winner in my eyes.

I was lucky enough to witness a lovely grandmother telling a class of 30 wide-eyed, suddenly less wriggly 5 year-olds about how her childhood had been very different from that of her listeners and how she always loved music, whilst she casually produced a few ‘objects from the past’ out of her bag, conjuring up a Mary Poppins moment. There were a black-and-white photograph, a big old, wooden radio and a record, yes, a gramophone record, which led one of the children to shout in excitement, ‘A giant CD!’ as he was (ironically) probably thinking that it reminded him of those strange smaller, plastic discs that you still see lying around around in a few households called cd’s.

The children were hooked and in a quick, elegant arc our storyteller professed how music and singing, in particular, had helped her through hard times and has become a source of pride as she now sings in a well-known choir, performing on TV and radio. To prove it, she chose a clip of the choir doing a cover of a well known pop song on YouTube for the kids to see.

And there it was-all tying together in one short moment: the children accessing the past, the grandmother being the transmitter and bridging almost a century’s worth of technological advancement and change, all wrapped in a simple story full of humanity. Watching and listening from the sidelines were the parents, teachers and myself, marvelling at past, present and future. I am so glad I was there and look forward to reading all the other stories.