Food and Memories

This past week spent with my family brought back so many wonderful memories of years past, and especially had me thinking of times when my Granny was still with us.  I’m going to phone it in today with a re-post of a tribute I wrote a couple of years ago to her and her wonderful cooking.

From April 7, 2015 –

I still crave my grandmother’s cooking, although she’s been gone now for more than 15 years.

My Granny

She wasn’t a “chef,” or a fancy cook, but she prepared delicious, abundant meals and she poured her love for her family into every casserole and every slice of cornbread. I think because she and my granddaddy had lived through the Depression, when times were so hard and food was scarce, it was important for her afterwards to make a feast of every family meal.

Sunday dinner at my Granny’s was a momentous occasion. (And Sunday dinner means lunch, by the way. In the old South, “supper” is the evening meal.)

She started cooking for Sunday on Saturday morning.

She always had two or three meats (ham, a beef roast, fried chicken, fried catfish or country-fried steak with white gravy) along with one or two types of potatoes (mashed with gravy/sweet potato casserole/potato salad), a vegetable medley casserole, macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas, fried summer squash, fried sweet corn, green beans, slow cooked turnip greens with fatback, fresh sliced tomatoes in the Summer and fried green tomatoes in the Spring, and my all-time favorite, cornmeal–battered okra (the super crispy, slightly burned pieces are the best).

Hushpuppies, fresh-baked cornbread, yeast rolls and biscuits to sop up the gravy, or to slather with butter and her homemade plum jelly. Coconut cake, banana pudding, pecan pie, strawberry shortcake and peach cobbler would satisfy your sweet tooth (should you have any energy left to open your mouth.)

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I have dined at some of the finest restaurants in this country. I’d trade every one of those meals for one more chance to sit at her table.

Of course, she never sat at her own table. She bustled throughout the entire meal, filling up glasses with iced tea and water, fetching a fresh batch of biscuits from the oven, replenishing the chow-chow. After everyone else had stuffed themselves senseless, and the table was cleared, she might stop a moment for a small plate for herself.

She was always urging you to eat more. “But your plate is empty!” she’d wail.

Biscuits, butter and jelly

Bulging eyes, tightening belts, groaning tummies and protests of being “full as a tick” had no impact: She’d just sniff and mourn that “you must not have liked it.”

Jewish grandmas got nothing on Southern grannies for food and guilt.

There are days when I yearn for for the food of my childhood.

Her food.

I’ll pick up squash and fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I even bake biscuits. I have the technology, recipes and equations that should make them taste the same, but they never do.

Southern food is au courant. Farm-to-table is all the rage. You can spend a fortune on something called “soul food” in trendy restaurants in New York, Chicago and L.A.

The true soul of Southern food isn’t just grits and greens, though; it’s the passion that goes into making them.

It’s the time and care in the cooking, the bond of the family at table; the joy of generations sharing stories and sustenance, passing down the memories along with the recipes.

It’s my Granny, piling up my plate not just with food, but with her love.

“We believed in our grandmother’s cooking more fervently than we believed in God.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer

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Chaos Friday


The day after Thanksgiving at my parent’s house: Happy chaos.

Earlier, we went shopping.  Right now, we’re dancing, eating, watching a movie and singing karaoke in Spanish. All at once.

To top it all off, my Mom-in-law Linda, niece Olivia and I just initiated some experimental cookery, based on a Facebook video, for these little brie and cranberry baked hors d’oeuvres.

The Facebook Teaser Video

The video doesn’t actually provide a written recipe but the time-ramped demonstration displays the steps and ingredients (set to a zippy tune), so we grabbed what we thought we needed at Wallyworld earlier in the day, and just decided we’d dive in to the culinary unknown.

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Ingredients: wheel of Brie, chopped pecans, cranberry sauce, fresh rosemary and crescent roll dough.

As we interpreted from the video: Grease a mini muffin tin. (We used the Pam Olive Oil spray.) Crack open a can of crescent rolls and spread out the dough as a long rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

We used a rolling pin to blend together the perforated edges to give a smooth sheet, then we cut them into 24 *roughly* equal squares, which we tucked into each cup of the muffin tin.

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Chop up the Brie into little cubes, then place one into each cup on top of the crescent dough square.

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Top with cranberry sauce, chopped pecans, and a sprig of rosemary.

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Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, then take them out and let them cool for a few seconds (they’re super hot!!!)

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Inhale!

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As if I haven’t had enough food over the past two days, but still: yummm.  This was fun, especially doing it with my MIL and niece.

Seriously, such a lovely day – I can’t believe it’s over already!  I hope y’all had a wonderful celebration, too, with folks you love and love to be with!

Thanksgiving Eve

So thrilled and thankful to be home with my whole family!  It’s been a crazy but good week.

Another nine-hour drive today, but finally united with the folks I love and a chance to relax and just enjoy time being with them.

And look!  David won a dog, too!

And the Great Pie Caper Continues…

Oh, yeah, I renamed it “The Great Pie Caper of 2018.”  Sounds a little more exciting.

Yesterday, my business partner, Mike, and I journeyed over 300 miles (all within the confines of “Metro” Atlanta), to deliver pumpkin pies to our clients as a Thank You for letting us help them find their perfect home.

Today, we woke up, exhausted, but with 14 more pies to deliver.  We decided to split up – I took the North, he took the South.

At least it was a beautiful day for driving.

It was really awesome to see how our clients have settled in and made their new homes “their own.” From yard improvements, paint jobs and new furnishings, they’ve all updated their places to reflect their personalities.

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And their sense of humor.

(Oh, by the way, I won a dog!!!)

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
David Mamet, Boston Marriage

The Great Pie Drop 2018

Today my business partner and I picked up 30 fresh-baked pumpkin pies and delivered them to clients we had helped to buy or sell a home this year.

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We’re the kind of realtors who make all we do about genuinely taking care of our clients – we go where they need us verses limiting ourselves to a certain neighborhood or area of town.  We’ve worked with people over the entire Metro Area this year, from Canton in the northern ‘burbs to Covington, down south.

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Today we drove almost 300 miles dropping off pies to our client list.  No kidding.  From 10 this morning until almost 10 tonight.

Some people weren’t home, but we did manage to catch up with about seven or eight of our clients and spend a few minutes with them before we were off to the next destination.  It was so wonderful to see them living in and loving their homes and so excited about the changes in their lives!

We’re definitely thankful for our wonderful clients – most who’ve become friends and part of our family.  Wishing them and you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Cat Rules 101 – Rule 374: Feline Fight Club

I’d like to resurrect a discussion, which has come to my attention, regarding one of the most important Cat Rules, and thus necessary to this primer.  I specifically mean Rule #374: Feline Fight Club.

But of course, the first rule of Feline Fight Club:

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You do not talk about Feline Fight Club.

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No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
– Abraham Lincoln