Okay, I know this is Monday and it’s supposed to be about nutrition. In an “over the river and through the woods” sort of way it is. Today is the tenth anniversary of my grandmother’s death and I’m using her as an excuse for my wayward ways on the path to healthy eating! Don’t worry, she had a great sense of humor.
My grandmother Bea (Dad’s mother) was one of those people who loved to make other people happy. At an early age she learned she could do that with her cooking! She was a good cook and enjoyed cooking, a lethal combination for the recipients of her talents. There were always cookies in the cookie jar and plenty of ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry for anything from lasagna to a chocolate fudge sundae! Oh, did I mention that she also grew up during The Great Depression??
Gran talked about the big “D” all the time. It was her reason for buying twenty pounds of sugar at one time or having six cans of coffee in the pantry. “You never know…” she'd say. I guess having “done without” made such a profound impact on her that she was determined to never go through that again. If the country ran out of sugar she would at least have her own supply!
Gran‘s cooking was old school- lard or Crisco, butter, salt, sugar-and more was always better. Gravy was a staple and bacon was a condiment. And cheese…oh, my, the woman loved cheese!
Gran’s cooking was very different from Mom’s. Dad always says HE taught Mom to cook. Gran always said SHE taught Mom to cook, and I think what both of them really meant was that they convinced Mom to cook with more seasonings and spices. I think her basic inclination was to use more vegetables and fewer additives because that’s the way she was raised on the farm. Gran spent more time in town, and at the old hotel, and was exposed to more variety. Anyway, at Gran’s I was introduced to sour cream, garlic, heavy casseroles, and an endless array of spicy foods. Apparently when Gran moved to California, just before my birth, she went wild over Mexican and Italian foods.
Of course Gran also retained some of her “Okie ways” and made the best fried chicken you ever tasted. She made her own hominy (which I HATED). She made hog’s head cheese. For the uninitiated that has everything to do with a hog’s head, and NOTHING to do with cheese! Lol She made fluffy biscuits topped with thick white gravy. She made pinto beans that brought truck drivers to tears!
Yes, Gran cooked in a variety of public places, and owned a café. For a while she cooked at Johnny’s, a little hole in the wall café in the middle of an industrial area of town. Delivery vans, trucks, and pickups began crowding into the parking lot at around 6am and the lot didn’t clear out until they closed the doors in the evening. I remember being in the place several times when it was so crowded I thought I couldn’t breathe, but I was so proud to hear the guys raving about Gran’s cooking. I didn’t understand their fascination with beans and biscuits until I realized that both reminded them of home and their own families.
To get back to my title, Gran loved me. I was her only granddaughter. You do the math. If I wanted something she did everything in her power to get it for me. If I wanted another cookie, no one was going to tell me “no”. Cake? Ice cream? More chicken? No problem! Any admonishment from my parents was either blatantly ignored or met with “now a little more won’t hurt…” J So…I blame her for my love of food- especially cheese, nuts, fried chicken, and ice cream. I blame her for my inability to stop at “just one”. She also added a few genes to the pool that I’m sure I could do without. Of course she would threaten to “put me over her checkered apron” if I didn’t also mention that she taught me to be tough and independent. So I guess I’d better stop making excuses and putting the blame on her.