After reading another bloggers story concerning “Sunday Dinners” I began thinking back to memories of my childhood. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. I don’t remember them being together so the divorce didn’t immediately have an effect on me. As the years went by and I grew older the effects of the divorce began to take its toll on me. My mother had no choice but to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. She worked many long hours so I was left during the days with my grandmother whom I called “Granny”. My father didn’t really have much of a role in my life. His visits became less and less frequent. As a result my Granny and my Grandpa became my substitute parents.
Granny was a wonderful mother figure to me. She took on all of the mothering duties my own mother sadly wasn’t able to do. Granny had cooked all her life making meals from scratch for her family. As she got older her health declined and she and my Grandpa began eating meals out more and more. One thing I cherished about those times at my Grandparents was Granny never allowing us to eat in the living room in front of the TV. We would always sit at her red formica kichen table and have our meals together. Even if it were just a biscuit from a local fast food joint or a cheap frozen pizza cooked in the oven we would sit and eat together.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas Granny would muster up the energy and always cook. I would sit in awe as I watched her whip up our favorite hand-me-down holiday recipes such as fudge, chess, pumpkin and chocolate pies, turkey, cornbread dressing and her cornbread made in an iron skillet. I have tried for years to replicate her cornbread recipe but have never found a recipe that tasted quite right. My mother and grandmother would be in Granny’s small kitchen for hours making the tastiest dishes.
In 1990 Granny was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 54. Her last thanksgiving we had our meal at my mother’s home. Granny was so weakened by her cancer she couldn’t cook anymore. My mother made the meal and some of my Granny’s favorite dishes. Granny was so sick at her stomach from the chemo and radiation therapy she was undergoing she couldn’t eat but a bite or two. But during that meal we all sat for her last Thanksgiving at a table as a family. In January of 1991 after 8 months of battling cancer Granny passed away. I was 13 and completely devastated.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas when my Mother and I are preparing the traditional holiday meal I think of Granny. I can almost see her standing there making her much loved pumpkin pies. Even though we are guilty of sitting in front of the TV when we eat our day to day meals we still carry on the tradition of sitting at a table as a family during holidays. Our family now is much smaller than it was when Granny was living. It is amazing how one person is the glue to an entire family and after they are gone everything and everyone falls apart.
In December of last year I gave birth to a daughter whom I absolutely adore. I cannot wait to start traditions with her. I made a promise to myself that I would make an effort to have meals at the table every single day as a family. I look forward to sharing with her the wonderful memories of my childhood and of what an amazing woman her Great Grandmother was.
Here are a couple of Granny’s much loved holiday recipes:
Granny’s Pumpkin Pie
1 C. Sugar
1/2 t. Nutmeg
1/2 t. Allspice
1 3/4t Cinnamon
2 c. Whole Milk
2 T. Butter
1 t. Vanilla
3 Large Eggs, Beaten
2 Deep Dish Pie Shells
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine sugar and spices.
3. On stove mix milk and butter and cook on medium high heat until butter is melted.
4. Remove from heat and add sugar spice mixture, vanilla, pumpkin and beaten eggs.
5. Mix well.
6. Pour into 2 unbaked deep dish pie shells.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Increase temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 45 minutes or until set and lightly brown.
8. Cool and enjoy!
Granny’s Chess Pie
1 c. Sugar
1 t. Vinegar
1/4 t. Vanilla
1 T. Cornmeal
1/2 t. Nutmeg
1 Stick Butter, Melted
9 Inch Unbaked Pie Shell
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingrediants. Pour into 9 inch unbaked pie shell. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until done.