Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grandma Treats

Last week we lost our dear Grandma Ginny. I can think of no better way to honor her than to remember what she did best: love and feed her family.

This is her infamous roast pot. Roast was usually the meat du jour on for Sunday dinner. Her old gas oven magically produced the most perfect, dark, burnished, tender roast that, like the loaves and fishes, fed as many as it needed to.

Last week I made a roast in her honor. She taught me to season it well and give it a long, dark sear before putting it the oven with a few onions and just a little water. Cook it for at least 3 hours at 300 degrees.

Grandma was an expert pie maker. She always brought pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving in this shallow, wide pan. She encouraged me to bake and was always so generous in her compliments. We loved to talk about recipes and we'd always discuss Saturday's food shows on a Sunday evening.

We never left grandmas without a treat. It was a rule. She always said, "No one leaves my house hungry." She always had a candy jar, a cookie tin, or a super-secret stash of chocolates in her top dreser drawer. She knew how to entertain, but she would never use the word "entertain". She just fed us like crazy and loved us even more.

How we will miss that roast, and your potato salad, tender homemade crescent rolls, marshmallow brownies, raisin bars, zucchini bread, homemade chile sauce made in your food grinder, real Cokes, scalloped potatoes, cucumbers in vinegar, your simple green salad that always tasted better than anyone's, pickled beets, strawberry shortcake, clam chowder, ham and bean soup, franks & beans, date pinwheel cookies, endless bags of potato chips, that magical mixture of lime-aid and strawberry punch, the glass of Tampico after mowing your lawn, a lunch of hamburger patties and cottage cheese in the middle of a work day, your chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles, bags of homemade peanut brittle, penoche, and caramels and Christmas, savory pork roasts, little pizzas on english muffins, oven fried chicken, macaroni salad with little shrimp, celery, and olives, popsicles in the summer, clam chowder in the winter, pickles, pickles, pickles all year long.
This is the true story of Sunday nights and grandma's house:

For almost a century, the warm, soft air of this house draws us like children to the piper. We are led to this house by spirits gone past, bringing us back to the places of our childhood, leading us to this sanctuary. Children have slept on this grass, boys have wrestled in these rooms and strangers have partaken within these walls. These rooms bear the joys and burdens of birth and death, and quiet bowl of bottled cherries with family.

Coke bottles are tossed slantwise in the snow, beads of water stream down the kitchen window, and grandma's hands run butter over the hot rolls. We ride in the wheelbarrow, play whiffle ball in the thick warm grass, hang from the clothes line and pretend under the boughs of the tall evergreen. We can hear the lid of the silver candy dish, the squeak of the towel rod and the whir of the cooler. We can rest our eyes on heavy pink roses. We can smell the perfect roast. What things we have learned sitting in the shade of the little white house as the cars thump and creep their way home.

What brings us here is more than all these things. We come down because we belong here. And while the streets have changed, this house will outlast them all, standing guard on this little corner of Navajo Street.

And now that the light on Navajo street is dark and the contents of this house scattered into our own homes like seeds, we begin anew. We take your pots, your dishes, your chairs and your love, and we nourish these seeds you have planted and we welcome all as our own. We will always have our Navajo streets, where we eat a little too much, laugh a little too hard, and stay just a little too long.


amanda said...

Awww. I remember that roast pot. I'm glad you got some of her kitchen stuff so the tradition of wonderful cooking can live on.

Jessica said...

That is so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. It is good to reflect on the legacy that we should really be trying to leave behind for our kids and families.

Carrie said...

what a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother! when you were listing the food she made, it made me think of my own Grandma. I am having roast cravings now. Love it!

Alison said...

That was a very sweet tribute. As I read it, I had thoughts of playing cards, sleeping over, and being spoiled at my grandma's house. You have to feel sorry for those who never lived by their grandparents.