Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just wondering.....

I realized at some point that most of my 'comfort food' recipes so far have been from my paternal grandmothers collection.  Trying to analyze the possible reasoning and make sure I don't shortchange the Grandma who is still alive - she was always a good cook, as is my mother whom I haven't mentioned much either.  This lead to one of those trips down memory lane that people of a certain age are so prone to! (how embarrassing!)  I have memories of very early in my childhood and my mother has confirmed that these events occurred, although she says I always tell them from my point of view.  I do tease her that it really is the only one I can know for sure! 

I come from a very close family and spent a lot of time with both sets of grandparents and my grandparents got along well with each other so I have photos of the family and both sets of grandparents in various places.  My grandfathers were storybook grandfathers - they were laughing, funny, devoted Christian farmers and they both loved me.  (they loved my brother and the other cousins as well but that was not as important to me)  I loved them both dearly and spent many happy hours with them.  My grandmothers were also storybook grandmas - in wonderfully different ways.

My mom's mom is Grandma Nellie, and I remember taking walks in the timber, making crafts at vacation bible school, eating tomatoes right in the garden, her quilts, the beautiful clothes she made us without a pattern, to this day I don't think there is anything she couldn't do in her prime if she set her mind to it, she worked like a man and created beautiful things from 'stuff'.  When  I was putting together a memory book for my parents 50th anniversary I collected stories about the wedding and events leading up to it from old friends and family. Mom and Grandma had looked at bridal gowns and when Mom found the one she wanted Grandma looked at it real close and said OK and then made it for her - I asked about the hoop skirt - how on earth - what did you use to keep it stiff?  Grandma's response was typical of her - "oh I think it was just something laying around on the farm, might of been baling wire"!!  She really was frugal!  Grandma was a good cook, she made the best sweet pickles and her corn flake candy was awesome!  At 100 (101 in September God willing) she says she never didn't eat something because someone told her it was bad for her.  Right before her 100th birthday party she got on her exercise bicycle and I have a picture of her riding her exercise bike and eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candy bar - I told her they'd probably pay her to do that in an ad!  She never said a mean word about anyone and she always loved us and never judged us even during our 'dumb years' and we all had them!
Grandma Nellie and my 2 oldest. 

My mom worked like a man as a young girl as well, Grandad didn't have any sons so his daughters had to fill the bill. Mom liked to be outside and liked the animals and she was the oldest so she worked outside - one of the other two sisters did most of the cooking.  So when Mom got married she really didn't know how to cook much at all.  When she and Daddy told these stories later on in their lives they made them sound funny, but I know that there were some hurt feelings and it took some real perseverance on Mom's part, she had married a man whose mother was an excellent cook and he was kind of spoiled!

Grandma Lottie and my oldest - now 30!

That would be my other grandma, Grandma Lottie.  She had two boys and their wives both thought she spoiled them a little.  (or a lot depending on when you asked!)  This grandma had gotten her first job working for a Swedish family in their kitchen, learning from the cook.  She was the oldest of several children and had learned to cook and keep house and take care of the others early in her life.  She was the quintessential 'homemaker'.  She and Grandad farmed most of their married life, he was a punctual organized German, he ate breakfast at 6am, went out and worked in the fields, came in for dinner at 12 noon and supper at 6pm!  Grandma always had a huge garden without a single weed!  Don't ask me how she did it - we used to say that the weeds were scared to live in her garden!  (dirt felt the same way in her house!)  She figured that if Listerine would kill germs in your mouth it would work on cuts and scrapes too.  (let me tell you that stuff stings) She turned out a farm sized breakfast every morning and as soon as the dishes were done she had started prepping for dinner and supper was planned.  She baked pies for church and visited the sick, she helped with vacation bible school, she was a 4-H leader for cooking and was the only one of her siblings to take care of her father.  But she spent the most time with us granddaughters in the kitchen, and as she taught us to cook she also told us stories -about our dads getting in trouble, about her mom telling stories of the wolves in Russia, about her childhood.  She always sent us home with food even during the years we just lived up the road.  When Grandad had a heart attack and the doctors told him what he should eat - she determined to take care of him by feeding him properly, she adapted recipes and fed him heart healthy, she didn't do too bad he - lived  20 more years after that!

Grandma Lottie taught my mom to cook and she taught me and my cousins as well.  Mom is an excellent cook and my kids have 'grandma favorites' like her roast for Sunday dinner, or her biscuits and gravy breakfasts, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies.  As good a cook as she is I would never say that my mom loves to cook - she doesn't, and I don't think Grandma Nellie does either, they both cooked to eat.  Grandma Lottie loved to cook and cooked to love!

And there it is - the reason so much of my comfort food comes from my paternal grandma.  The comfort of being loved has always been mine and I know that I am more fortunate than many to have had that comfort from all the people in my family!

I feel better now - it is always good to trace these things back - you know to make sure I'm not getting too batty yet!! 

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