Once upon a time...
Apr. 12, 2012 5:44 pm
Updated: Apr. 19, 2012 2:57 am
Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I went to stay with my grandmother for a few days. Momma Whitson, as we called her, lived in a small farming community all her life. She had a white clapboard house with a swing in the side yard, a vegetable
garden, and a chicken yard behind her house, where she kept some hens and a rooster that awakened us at 0:dark30! My grandmother was a tall, graceful woman who always wore her hair in a French twist, with soft curls around her kindly face. She was always
busy, but she never seemed to rush. I followed her around, watching everything she did. One bright, sunny morning, we went into the chicken yard to gather eggs. After we wiped them off and put them in the kitchen, Momma Whitson went back out to the chicken
yard to select a hen for dinner. I will spare you the details, but I will never forget them! "Slow" food has a lot of steps, and not all of them are pleasant!
"Slow" food requires a lot a patience, also, as I found out a little later. Momma Whitson said she was going to make butter. "Make butter," I wondered to myself. "I thought you bought it at the store". I discovered that my grandmother knew how to do a lot
of things on that visit. She had a stoneware churn, about knee high, with a wooden dasher. She filled the churn with milk, then sat down with the churn between her knees and began to pump the dasher up and down, for an eternity, it seemed to me! I helped
her some, but when I began to have blisters on my hands, she relieved me and finished the job. When the dasher slowed and began to be difficult to pump, she drained out the buttermilk and began to shape what was left with her hands. As the solids began to
cling together, she put them on a plate. Then she picked up a flat wooden tool and began to pat the mound. She patted and patted, shaping and turning as she went, until she was satisfied with her work. I was amazed that we started out with milk and wound
up with butter! Later that day, we had fresh fried chicken and huge, fluffy biscuits, spread with sweet, silky homemade butter.
My grandmother was a widow with five young children to provide for during the Depression. She was skilled at pinching pennies, making do with very little, and stretching meager food supplies. We grandchildren did not know the level of deprivation our parents
had to suffer. I think that's the reason that when we all got together at Momma Whitson's house, there was always a banquet. Christmas, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, we all got together without fail. By the time you add up 5 siblings, 14 grandchildren,
in-laws, and step-s, it was a noisy, exuberant bunch. And the food--everything you can imagine! Since everybody had a vegetable garden, and the women wanted to show off their cooking skills, the food was amazing! The buffet was set up in the kitchen, with
desserts outside on the screened-in porch. Before anyone served themselves, we always said Grace. "Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our lives to Thy service. In Christ's name, Amen." Then, the men in the family always went through
the line first and sat at the dining room table. The kids went next, finding places anywhere they could--even on the floors and the stair steps when all the chairs were taken. The women went last, and they scooted their plates in on the edge of the kitchen
table, where all the food was set up. I think they had the best seats!
I have many pleasant memories of the gathering of the clan, all crowded into that tiny house. Warmth and laughter surrounded us all as we ate together. (Is it any wonder that I sometimes confuse food with love?) How I wish I could sit in that kitchen again,
to experience that sense of connection and acceptance! When I became an adult with children of my own, I took my children to the gatherings, too. The family had become even larger, with the third and fourth generations coming along. But Momma Whitson gave
me a gift. She made me feel special, among all those loving relatives. She knew I loved turnip greens and cornbread, and no matter what else was on the menu, she made sure they were always present, just for me! As long as she was able, she continued to
make butter, and there is nothing like greens with hot cornbread, spread with my grandmother's silky, creamy, sweet homemade butter.
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador(a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on Sweet & Savory. The reviews, content and opinions expressed
in this blog are purely the sole opinions of mine, Bibi.