It’s 1965 and my grandmother Reine Silon after 20 years of marriage to my handsome, but austere, Grandfather Bob Berkowitz decides she wants out. Even though she has never earned a living outside of being a homemaker and he owns and runs a very successful paper company, she tells him that she wants nothing from him financially. So, with three kids and zero prospects, they separate and she lands a part time job in Montclair, NJ, at a marketing & research firm called Daniel Yankelovich Inc. Mr. Yankelovich had had the brilliant idea of pulling in local housewives during the day to help test and research products while their children were at school. My grandmother is one of the first to raise her hand. Later, the firm is renamed Yankelovich, Skelly & White and becomes one of the most prestigious marketing and research firms in the world. By the time my grandmother leaves Montclair, NJ and moves with YS&W to a large windowed office overlooking Madison Avenue in Manhattan, she has been promoted multiple times and is now running the entire division. 25 years after beginning her accidental career and traveling all over the world, she retires as a Vice President at Saatchi & Saatchi.
My grandmother, affectionately known as Gammy, is magic. Being around her as a little girl was magic. Full of life, she said “yes” more often than “no.” As Gammy loves to tell the story to anyone who will listen, there was one particular family dinner at her jeweled toned penthouse apartment in honor of my father’s birthday. Out of the kitchen Gammy emerged carrying my father’s favorite dessert, a snow white strawberry short cake, layered with whipped cream, dotted with the deepest red slices of strawberries. I had never seen anything more beautiful. I tip toed around the table, my black patent Mary-Janes stiff with each step, leaning into my grandmother, I whispered in her ear, my southern accent was still strong at age 5.
“Gammy, do you know what?”
“What darling?” She whispered back into my ear.
“Gammy, I want to take my face and smash it into that beautiful white cake.”
She lifted her head and locked her deep brown eyes with mine. I could smell the ‘Shalamar’ perfume that she wore, it enveloped me like a soft cashmere wrap.
“Then you should do it.” Taking my tiny hand, she moved me around the table and positioned the cake in front of my pig tailed party dressed little girl body.
“Go for it!” She whispered loudly, and so I did.
The guests were horrified (my mother and my great grandmother in particular), but my Gammy’s laughter filled the dining room, it reverberated and sparkled with the candlelight and her finest china. That was life with Gammy. Magic.
To this day my Gammy, even at 97 years old, is one of the most glamorous women that I know. There’s no debating this. The fact that she is my grandmother changes nothing. It’s not an opinion or a biased perspective through a Vaselined lense of hazy love. She was “Elizabeth Taylor knock your socks off Hollywood beauty” in the flesh. And she was that long before she was ever my Gammy.
In the era of crockpots, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and women all over America leaving their kitchens to head to the office, going to work with Gammy was a highlight of my childhood. Over the George Washington Bridge we would drive to her gleaming office where all of the women wore high heels, smoked cigarettes, and had deep emerald green tubes of Revlon Lipstick on their desktops. GLAMOUR. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, a turkey sandwich on rye with spicy mustard and Russian dressing would arrive, delivered by a local deli, and afterwards Gammy would turn me loose into the “Store.”
The “Store” was exactly what it sounded like. Inside the offices of YS&W was a glass enclosed mini grocery store. Mini aisles were filled with all of the products that Gammy and her team were researching. Pringle’s, De Giorno Pizzas, Revlon Lipsticks. None of it was off limits to me.
All along one wall of the store was an expanse of glass. The store on one side, projector with a large movie screen on the other. All throughout the work day episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show“ and “Rhoda” would play. All of the commercials in the shows were placed for the products that Gammy had helped give wings to. After lunch she would walk me down the long hallways to the “Store.” Swinging open the heavy door, I was hit with a blast of air conditioning and she would place me up on a counter stool at that windowed wall that faced the projector.
For the rest of the afternoon it was me, a mini mart, and Mary Tyler Moore. There was only one other woman in that building even lovelier to look at besides Mary, and that was my Gammy.
There will never be another like her. She is the woman who taught me “more is more” and to never be without a pink lippy. She is the woman who looked at a 5 year old little girl gazing longingly at a fluffy white cake and whispered “Go for it!”. She was there front row center for every accomplishment, every achievement of mine, and up until last week she would watch every Instagram story with pride and then tell me with laughter to clean up my language and go brush my hair.
Every girl should be so lucky to have a Gammy. This ReciBEE is dedicated to my Gammy, the ultimate independent working woman.
MarBEE Tyler Moore Crock Pot Chicken
- Heavy Bottomed Large Pan (Jule's favorite is linked below)
- Crock Pot (Jule's favorite is linked below)
- 1 package Chicken Thighs on the bone, skin on (8-9 thighs) serves 4
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil for browning the chicken
- Rice or Orzo (or Cauliflower Rice if you're a skinny b*tch)
- 4 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
- Leftover Pan Drippings from browning the chicken
- 2 tbsp Potato Starch (if you don't have potato starch, you can use flour) Potato Starch is an amazing thickening agent. It can be used as a substitute for white flour. If you choose to use it (linked below
), not only does it become a gluten free ReciBEE, but it's also amazing for your gut microbial.
- Juice of 1 Large Lemon
- Few glugs Good Quality White Wine
- 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
- Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your marinade.
- Season your chicken with kosher salt and place chicken thighs in mixing bowl, coating with marinade. Place in refrigerator allowing chicken to marinate in bowl for at least 1 hour (even better overnight).
- 30 minutes ahead of cooking bring chicken to room temperature, leaving in bowl.
- On stove top, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat in a heavy bottomed large pan (click here for Jule's favorite). Non-stick is not preferred here, as you won't achieve the deep color and the crispy texture that you're looking for.
- When pan is hot, carefully begin placing chicken, skin side down. As soon as you hear a sizzle, shake the pan to prevent sticking.
- Being careful not to crowd the pan, continue to place thighs skin side down.
- While chicken browns, plug in crockpot (click here for Jule's favorite), as close to your stove top as possible so you can easily transfer chicken as you cook. Note: When browning the chicken you are not cooking the chicken through. You are only looking to brown and crisp the skin.
- Once deeply golden brown, transfer the chicken, skin side up, to your crockpot nestling the pieces together.
- Keeping your pan that you used to brown your chicken in on the stove, move to an unused burner so that the oil cools and does not continue to cook.
- Set slow cooker to 5 hours on high. Run! You've got time! Spend it wisely!
- After 4.5 hours, assemble your ingredients listed above for your sauce.
- In your now cooled heavy bottomed pan, keep all caramelized bits and appx. 2 tbsp of the accumulated oil. Discard the rest of the oil.
- Heat remaining oil and caramelized bits on a low flame.
- Add your potato starch and start to whisk.
- Once dissolved, add juice from your squeezed lemon and continue to whisk.
- Add a few glugs of white wine, continuing to whisk.
- Add chicken stock, whisking the entire time.
- After appx. 5 minutes your sauce should be thickening, thanks to the potato starch. Season with a little bit of kosher salt and black pepper, and add sauce directly into your crock pot.
- Make rice or orzo separately.
- Serve the chicken over rice, orzo, or cauliflower rice, spooning sauce over the chicken.
- Think of those independent working women like my Gammy and Mary Tyler Moore, and go get seconds.
All illustrations by @courtneycoloring.