Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Invitation to the Kitchen (Blog Prompt 6)

I remember we would travel to Akron, Ohio from Rochester, New York to visit my grandmother several times during the year. Usually we would go for the major holidays and during the summer time. My grandmother, Elizabeth Fender Duncan, lived with her Step Mother who I have spoken of before in this blog, Grandma Willie. She was legally blind but I remember holding papers right up to her nose to make out letter and I remember her touching the picture of her husband who had passed away every day, also in this blog, Edward Fender. My grandmother was very proper about many things. Linens were to be starched by the laundry; I remember the laundry bag being left by the door of her second floor apartment on West Exchange Street. She liked her linens “crisp.” She rented the entire second floor. There was a kitchen, a breakfast room and a formal dining room which was where we would eat those Sunday dinners that she planned when we were “home”. In my world, “home” was where my grandmother was, she was my everything.

The dining room table was huge, or it seemed so when I was little, and it had high back chairs. The good dishes came out of the china cabinet and the pantry in the breakfast room. I don’t remember the “kitchen” ware ever being on the dining room table but I remember my grandmother’s kitchen dishes. I can see a coffee cup in my minds eye right now, with a crack and a chip out of the lip. I miss her so so much. They were white with brushed green and a person on them I think? Some sort of picture in the center but I can not remember what it was exactly. But I digress. On the dining room table was the china of hers that I own today and china that I cherish because it was hers. We had cloth napkins taken from the drawer of the china cabinet and we had to sit up straight.

We combed our hair and would come to the table nice and clean and while I don’t remember if there was a standard meal, I do know that my grandmother loved a “good cut of meat” and her occasional wee ticky of Scotch. Roast beef I remember. What I do remember most was Grandma Willies “Southern Beans”. Never did a green bean taste better when she snapped fresh beans and simmered them with onion and pork rind. While I make it too today, it has never tasted how she made them so I wonder if there was a secret ingredient or if some things simply can not be duplicated. Grandma Willie’s southern style beans will always taste better simply because it was she that made them. Without her sight she did not do a lot in the kitchen but this was one recipe she could do with her eyes closed.

This blog prompt has brought along some very good memories so I asked my co-workers to answer the prompt too and here are their memories and I will tell you there was a smile in their eyes when they told their stories.

Shirley has a story of what the dog wouldn’t eat! Karen has memories of an Italian home where hospitality was a very big part of Sunday.

Shirley’s Story:

Sunday dinners at our house were usually the biggest meals of the week. We generally ate around 2 pm. The one I remember the most, is when my mom was making new dishes and using
us as the “guinea pigs” as you were. One week, she made a salad that called for mayonnaise. No one would eat it or even try it. She was so proud of it and was hurt because no one would try it. She was so upset she told us the following Sunday she was going to serve hot dogs and French fries! I think she thought she was punishing us, but let me tell you, those were the best tasting hot dogs and French fries I ever remember eating!

Karen’s Story:

Sunday dinner in our family was an event. We usually went to my Grandmother’s house on Sunday for dinner and a visit. As soon as you walked into the house, your senses were overwhelmed by the smell of home made sauce, meatballs and freshly baked Italian bread. There was talking and laughter around the huge table in the dining room, kids running around and playing indoors and out. Though today I’m not so sure if the table was big because it was big or if it was big because I was little. My Grandmother always had a full house on Sunday’s. Not only with family, but also friends would stop in during the course of the day to visit. Her table was always full; I can remember trays of pasta, meatballs, sausage, salad, bread, and antipasto. She would also have wine to offer and coffee or espresso in the pretty little espresso cups after dinner. There were always loafs of fresh Italian bread on the kitchen table cooling, waiting to be cut. That is probably one of my favorite memories – the smell and taste of fresh bread hot and right out of the oven. I don’t think she ever made anything that anyone wouldn’t eat. My Grandmother had a way of making everyone and everything special – she was special.


Judith Richards Shubert said...

What wonderful memories you have all shared. You made the sights and smells "alive" and the grandmother's so near. Thanks to all of you. I really enjoyed this post. Hope you'll visit me over at Genealogy Traces soon.


Greta Koehl said...

A very evocative description of the visits to your grandmother, and I love the description of her dishes and the linens. Some of the images that have stayed in my memory the longest are of the dishes we had. And I like your idea of inviting others to share memories as well; I hope I can persuade some of my friends and relatives to share their memories, too. Karen's description of italian family meals reminds my of my husband's stories of dinners at his Aunt Flo's.

M. Diane Rogers said...

Great post - I can feel again the stiff tablecloths and napkins. Do any of us still use starch for linens?

I, too, really liked that you asked others to share - what a nice idea - like a
I have awarded you the Kreativ Blogger Award. See my posting at: CanadaGenealogy