Monday, July 26, 2010

Grandma's Recipe Box

I just returned from spending ten days in Arkansas, my childhood home. It’s been a few years since I have been able to spend that much time with my family and it sure felt good! Being around my family is a reminder of my roots….not just with good southern home cookin’ but a reminder of the legacy of those who came before me…..who shaped me into the creative, complicated woman that I am. I got to spend a day with my Grandma Haley cooking up a storm…..purple hull peas, fried okra, fried corn, banana pudding, and, of course, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. My childhood home is a place where neighbors, family, and friends bring over their extra produce….simply to share. Both of my grandmas looked first to what had they in their pantry and created dinner from there. I think that is where I developed my cooking style….one of creating dinner as I go after seeing what I have on hand and adding whatever seems beautiful.

One morning after Daddy and Darlene cooked breakfast (French toast, bacon, tomatoes, eggs….no wonder my clothes are a little snug right now), we set to looking for my Grandma Jean’s pickle recipe. We pulled her recipe boxes out onto the table and went through them one by one. Seeing my grandma’s handwriting took me back to a time where I sat on the red iron stool watching her cook. She would explain the how’s and why’s of what she was doing and I would write down her instructions one by one. Sitting next to Grandma Jean making biscuits, dumplings, pies, is where I learned cooking was not science but art. One has to “feel” the dough, taste the soup, and add a little bit here and there. Cooking never seemed to be a chore for her…..it was her art…..her contribution to her family…her place to be creative.

While going through those walnut stained boxes, I found a couple of writings. Grandma Jean wrote from her heart and (in my opinion) wrote to work things out in her head (much like I do now). I didn’t realize that she was a writer until I visited her as an adult several years back. Grandma Jean was nearing the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and I felt the need to come for a visit - just the two of us. Sometimes she recognized me and sometimes she didn’t…….we would sit on the porch and wait for Grandpa to get home (he had passed away several years before) and plan our dinner. She would rail about how her kids took away her car saying she was, “gonna take a switch to them,” when she saw them…..and then told me how much her children loved her. Jean had moments of great lucidity where she told me that she thought she was going crazy….that she knew she forgot things….tears would fill her beautiful blue eyes and she would look out the window for Grandpa to come back.....lucid moment gone. She had moments of playfulness when she said we needed to go shopping and spend all of my daddy’s money - which we did - the first shopping outing she had allowed in years. My Grandma was a wise woman….wise in the ways of the heart. As I child, my feelings would get hurt and I would run into another room, find a place on the floor and cry where no one would see me. No one followed me…..and in my little girl mind, it meant that nobody cared….and I would pout. Grandma would find me there hiding between the bed and the wall and tell me how much I was loved….that my daddy loved me and my aunts and uncles loved me…and that God loved me. She never once told me to stop crying…..to stop feeling….she just directed my thoughts to the true nature of things. I loved my Grandma!

Jean was the refuge for many a “problem” child. She would have distant cousins come live with her because (quite honestly) the parents (or the grandparents who were raising them) needed a break. Grandma Jean was firm...she would grab a flyswatter or a switch in a flash or even a glass of cold well water if needed - she could throw a shoe at a misbehaving dog and hit him from 20 yards away...but she would “love those kids like the dickens,” (as she used to say).

Sitting at that table with my Daddy last week, I came across this writing:

Why Fish bite the Worm on Your Fishing Hook


Father like mother loves their little children and little children loves father as well as mother.


Who? has the right to say no you can’t have them.


Both mother and father loves their children. If they, mother and father don’t, they are no parent at all.


But confusion can and will destroy a child’s faith in both mother and father if they are kept away from one or the other. Hate comes in. So in the end what you have is they grow up loving no one, believing in no one, believing that both parents did not care about them. So there, why bother? Sooner or later they will end up like mother and father, caring for no one, just about themselves. Maybe they will get a good job and maybe [meet] a nice person and learn to care about them. And maybe they will marry him or her. But take care and open your eyes and want & will to learn about love and caring-not only about the one you found, but about the mother and father and especially about the little children because they will be grown soon and need to learn to love and care for other people. We are all God’s children and He cares about you and me and every person.


Open your eyes and heart. You are needed. Open your arms.

Grandma had seen so many hurting people using their children as weapons - not allowing them to spend time with their X - not allowing their children to know that their X loves them. She saw the damage it did to the children…..how it shaped their ability to love and to care about anything. Children need to learn to love and learn to care about other people…..even when it is not easy….for us or for them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - My Kettle Korn Addiction

Thank you to my new favorite recipe blog http://pinchmysalt.com/ for inspiring me to have my own Wordless Wednesday post. 

My Kettle Korn Addiction