My grandmother passed away last week. She was 97 years, 6 months and 24 days old. She was not the traditional doting grandmother, but I have many fond memories of her. The one that sticks in my mind the most was what an amazing cook she was. She raised her family in an age when there were no packaged conveniences or boxed mixes. She did everything by scratch and she did it every day. In her later years she did use the occasional mix but she was making pies into her 90s and the crust was always from scratch.
Is it wrong to miss someone for their cooking? Mr. Boyfriend tells me that there is no wrong in the way that we miss someone or that we grieve. It has been a weird week because I was gone for days at the family farm and then came back to being on Spring Break. But I feel like I have never settled down, and even though I do not really want to go back to work, I think the routine will help.
My grandmother was a painter. She made clothes and costumes and quilts. She loved antiques. She loved cats. She loved to read and talk about history and debate various facets of life and the beyond. She loved to garden and grow things. She LOVED Christmas, decorating for Christmas, cooking for Christmas. Christmas.
Let's return to the cooking for a minute.
Seafood Gumbo. It was only a few years ago when I had anyone and I mean anyone else's gumbo. Why try others when you know you've had the best?
Coconut Cake and Chocolate Pie. Seven minute frosting and the most moist layers of cake. Chocolatey layers of pie filling that she tweaked by hand that will be hard to replicate.
Cornbread Dressing. She made the cornbread in a cast iron skillet first and then added the seasonings. I absolutely adored her cornbread dressing, but my family tended more towards rice dressing and as others took over the Christmas cooking duties it disappeared from the table. And then one year, there it was. She made it because she knew I liked it.
Hamburgers. I don't understand this one and probably never will. My mother and I have talked about it, dissected it, guessed at it, but to no avail. Nothing tasted to me like her hamburgers. Salt, pepper, maybe garlic salt? Maybe it was the pan? Maybe it was the country air? I don't know but I know I'll never have a burger like that again.
I could go on and on but you get the idea. But the most amazing thing about all of this was that she lost her sense of smell and taste early on. She could taste general things like salty or sweet, but not the subtleties, yet she was an amazing cook.
It feels weird because I know theoretically she is gone, and sometimes a memory will hit and make me cry, but other than that I feel generally ok. I know however when Christmas comes around this year, it is going to be a very different story.
But for now I'll look at the few pieces I brought home with me and see if maybe I can get into the kitchen a little more often, pay a little bit more attention to my neglected plants and maybe pick up a paint brush a time or two.