In the spirit of celebrating my culinary heritage, I have a collection of old recipes hanging on my kitchen wall. When we moved into our new house a few years ago, I thought how special it would be to frame copies of handwritten recipes from our mothers and grandmothers.
I searched through their recipes to find the ones that were written in their hand.....the same hands that kneaded, shelled, chopped, and peeled those listed ingredients into delectable dishes that would make your eyes roll back into your head. Most were written on writing tablet paper or index cards, and a few were even scribbled down on the back of deposit slips or offering envelopes. I can only assume those were recipes that were exchanged in the line at the bank or at the church potluck dinner. Some were torn from years of being folded into a recipe box and some were splattered with grease from being on the front lines of the action.
I wanted to find the recipes that sparked memories like Grandmother's dressing, Mama's marble cake, and my mother-in-law's sweet potato pie. These recipes brought back memories of days that have passed. I can still picture every single one of my grandmother's tablecloths. I remember that when I was asked to fill up her amber colored glasses with ice, my mouth would start to water with anticipation. I remember how my Mimi made some really good chocolate icing and how her well water made the most delicious sweet tea. I remember how my mother's Sunday chicken spaghetti and lemon ice box pie were a wonderful prelude to long after church naps.
I chose the recipes that I remembered well, copied them onto cardstock, seared the edges and framed them. They're a reminder that cooking for others is a love language all in itself.
My grandmother would get up to cook a big breakfast for us when we were visiting her house....rolling out her biscuits and frying up the bacon in her iron skillet. She'd get out the fig preserves that she'd put up in the summertime and put the roast in the oven for lunch. Granddaddy's field peas would be simmering on the stove and a couple of hours later, she'd pour off the juice from the meat and make her rich gravy for the potatoes she'd creamed in her Sunbeam mixer. She'd put a fresh tablecloth on the table and take the cornbread out of the oven and place it next to the warm banana pudding.
She was always the last one to sit down to enjoy what she'd worked so hard on all day and just as soon as we were moaning and rubbing our satisfied bellies, Grandmother was planning what we'd have for supper. It was her way of saying to us, "I'm so glad you're here and I want you to know that I love you."
There's nothing I wouldn't do to be able to sit at her table one more time.....to breathe in the smell of her house.....to enjoy one more plate of her chicken pie and garden vegetables on that red, floral tablecloth. I'd love to give her a kiss and feel her soft cheek on my lips.....and to have her sit and talk with me for a little while and tell me about heaven.....and what Jesus is like.
The recipes hanging in my kitchen remind me that love was and is always the main ingredient and that, in the south, food really is the way to the heart. We have awfully strong affections for the people who have cooked for us throughout our lives. I know I sure do.