Once Upon A Time... - Sweet & Savory Blog at Allrecipes.com - 272728

Sweet & Savory

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.

Apr. 12, 2012 6:05 pm
Thanks Bibi, What a great blog! I got teary-eyed and felt like I was there, too. My favorite part is that when times were better, they made sure to say grace to God for what they had been given.
Apr. 12, 2012 6:32 pm
OK - I am wiping tears from my cheeks... why are my eyes weeping? What a loving tribute to your Momma Whitson - what a wonderful legacy - the gift of love and acceptance and of the love of real food. Oh gosh - you are blessed to have these memories - thank you for sharing them with us, Bibi.
Apr. 12, 2012 6:38 pm
OMGOSH! What a wonderful, wonderful blog! You have an amazing writing gift and I could absolutely picture what you were saying. I cannot wait until you write another blog, Bibi!
Apr. 12, 2012 6:46 pm
This was great Bibi! It's almost like you plucked a memory from my head! I watched my grandpa cut a roosters head off for dinner as a child. Let me tell you, that's a memory that has stuck with me forever. And, don't get me wrong, it's not a bad one, and it brings so many others to mind.
Apr. 12, 2012 6:48 pm
Thanks, stick, I end all my grace prayers with that, in honor of my step-grandfather, God rest his soul.
Apr. 12, 2012 6:49 pm
High praise, B'Nana. I think I was about 5 years old when I stayed with her. It was a golden time!
Apr. 12, 2012 6:50 pm
Witchy, I thought about it for a long time, debated whether or not I wanted to share such a precious memory. Thanks for your kindness!
Apr. 12, 2012 6:52 pm
sassy, you know that story has more details--like watching what happens after the beheading, and holding the plucked chicken over the gas flame on the stove to blacken the pin feathers so they could be pulled out! I didn't want to get TOO scary!
Apr. 12, 2012 6:54 pm
That's why I didn't say any more.....:) Somewhere here I think I have my grandma's butter mold.
Apr. 12, 2012 6:57 pm
Great job Bibi! I loved reading that. I admit, my mouth was watering the entire time reading that. The food sounded so delicious. I can imagine everything you said about the home, the gatherings, and your grandmother in my head well. Thanks, for sharing your memories!
Apr. 12, 2012 6:58 pm
I have Momma Whitson's butter pat--don't know what else to call it, that wooden tool she patted the butter mound with.
Apr. 12, 2012 7:00 pm
You're sweet, Baker Bee! I know family is important to you, too!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:08 pm
Isn't it amazing how these memories stick with you? At the time you have no idea what you are experiencing or how it will affect you later on. But then--WHAM!--out of the blue you realize what you are so privileged to have known and experienced. We always called our grandmothers by their last name then. I hardly ever see that now. It was a special time. Don't you wonder what your kids will think of us later on???? Thanks for a nice blog.
Apr. 12, 2012 7:09 pm
Bibi, I was so surprised to read your loving tribute to your grandmother. I too am working on a blog about my grandmothers. Great minds think alike. Seems memories of them stir something in our souls and a longing for simpler times. Thanks so much for sharing. This is a lovely first blog. Viva Las Vegas kid!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:14 pm
Marianne, it was indeed a special time. I do wonder what my kids will think of me someday. I hope they will be merciful!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:16 pm
mauigirl, thanks for the kind words. We've been in Texas now for 20 years, and I'm still not over being separated from the extended family! I miss those boisterous holidays!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:18 pm
Great reading; could almost taste the food!!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:20 pm
Bibi, Great Blog. Thank you for sharing your memories. Have to say I was surprised to read that the men in your family went through the food line first. My family does the same thing and every time someone new was around they were shocked that we did it that way :) I've never heard anyone else doing that. I'm glad that it wasn't just us! And you are so right the women get the best seats :)
Apr. 12, 2012 7:23 pm
oh sounds like such fun!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:23 pm
Thanks, Chocomaniac! B.T.W., your screen name is my alter ego!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:26 pm
Yes, rae, both sides of my family had the men go first. They thought it was their due, I guess, but as I said, I think the women really knew what they were doing by sitting at the food table! What part of San Antonio do you live in? I'm near the airport.
Apr. 12, 2012 7:26 pm
kimmy, indeed it was wonderful. Holidays just don't seem the same without a big crowd!
Apr. 12, 2012 7:45 pm
Bibi I'm actually in Seguin. For now.
Apr. 12, 2012 8:01 pm
What a wonderful blog! I love how you write. I could just picture it and felt like I was right there with you. Our family is no where that big but I miss our extended family gatherings too. Everyone is dying off and it just is not the same as it used to be. Hard to get excited about the holidays any more.
Apr. 12, 2012 8:13 pm
bibi you captured a true down-hone southern slice of life. heck we even had an outhouse at some relatives houses. i miss those reunions so much too. i always looked forward to my aunt rilla's coconut cake. men 1st in line, women second then us rugrats. when all tables were full we sat on the floor or in the root cellar ( much cooler.)
Apr. 12, 2012 8:47 pm
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing :)
Apr. 12, 2012 10:38 pm
Oh my goodness, I just read that as I'm getting ready to drift off to sleep. That was the best bedtime story I have had since I was a little girl. I'll probably be joining your childhood memories in my dreams tonight since you created such a vivid picture. Thank you for sharing such a sweet story. You truly have a gift for writing.
Apr. 13, 2012 3:29 am
rae, we could meet for lunch sometime!
Apr. 13, 2012 3:30 am
Iceemama, thanks for you comments. I know what you mean!
Apr. 13, 2012 3:30 am
Your grandmother sounds like the kind of person everyone hopes to call "friend"! What wonderful memories you have of her!
Apr. 13, 2012 3:32 am
Yes, Gary, pardon me, but my Southern is showing, lol! Momma Whitson made fresh coconut cake, too. Wouldn't have been Christmas without it! Thanks for stopping by!
Apr. 13, 2012 3:33 am
Welcome, Valerie. Thanks for your comment!
Apr. 13, 2012 3:35 am
Delmargirl, that's a lovely compliment. Hope you "visit" my grandmothers house in the springtime! It was so pretty that time of year.
Apr. 13, 2012 3:36 am
sueb, I'm so happy that came across. Thanks for starting your day with me!
Apr. 13, 2012 5:43 am
Great memories, Bibi! Grandmas are such a blessing!
Apr. 13, 2012 5:46 am
We had the VERY large family holidays too. The first through the buffet line was the mamas making a plate for the little ones. I think they wanted to get the kids settled with their meal (at the little person's table) Then dad and mom could dish up. Have to admit a pet peeve here......when I lay out a buffet spread and try to round up the troops and everyone tries to be polite and not want to be the first. The food is getting COLD! LOL
Apr. 13, 2012 5:48 am
Bibi, I loved your blog! I remember going to my grandmother's home and sitting with only 2 generations around the table. She grew up in the Depression as well. She grew almost anything in the garden. I remember her calling my mom. We only had 1 phone and it was at my dad's store. He'd holler (we lived next to my dad's service station) to go to grandma's (his mom). My mom would take me and my sister. I thought it was fun to run through the corn field! We'd pick peas, beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, etc. It was fun being in her garden but I hated the work when we got home. My grandmother was a widow at an early age. I do not want to share the details about that. She and granddaddy had 4 children. It brought back memories as I read your blog.
Apr. 13, 2012 6:14 am
Thanks for sharing time with me, mickdee! Agree, my grandmother was a blessing. I hope my granddaughter has fond memories of me, some day, too.
Apr. 13, 2012 6:15 am
mauigirl, weren't those gatherings great! I wish I could hear more of those stories, now!
Apr. 13, 2012 6:21 am
I have to say that I am envious of your memories...I don't really have any like that. When I was growing up, food was a necessity, not something that was enjoyed. I have to say that your post did remind me of reading Little House on the Prairie and THAT brings back wonderful memories. Congrats on this making the most popular list...it's just too good of a memory not to be there!
Apr. 13, 2012 6:28 am
luv2cook, your comments are really sweet! Do you remember party lines? I remember the hot,sweaty work of a garden, too, but I miss those fresh vegetables now!
Apr. 13, 2012 6:35 am
Witchy, when I was very young, Dad worked at the phone company, and Mom stayed home with the 3 of us kids. We had some thin times when Dad was out on strike, but when the family got together, they pooled their resources and always had a great spread. Thanks for sharing a few moments with me!
Apr. 13, 2012 6:43 am
Bibi, I would pay handsomely to read a book written by you! You have a gift for writing, for drawing people in, for making words come to life! I could just see Momma Whitson's house, with the garden and chicken yard, the butter churn and most likely curtains floating with the breeze at the kitchen window and a screen door that was forever in motion! How blessed you are to have had those wonderful experiences with your grandmother. Thank you for sharing with us! By the way...do you know what happened to that butter churn?
Apr. 13, 2012 6:48 am
Bibi dear, I just went to respond to your comments on my blog and accidently deleted it while trying to delete the spam comment above! I'm so sorry, and thank you for the lovely comment!
Apr. 13, 2012 7:06 am
Wyattdogster, you're right! I forgot about the sound of the screen door! I think my sister may have the churn. I have Momma Whitson's butter "pat" and her rolling pin. Thanks for dropping by!
Apr. 13, 2012 7:27 am
Way to go,Bibi, love your blogs.
Apr. 13, 2012 7:57 am
Thanks, Tabasco mom!
Apr. 13, 2012 8:55 am
Glad WW sent me over to read this.Brought back fond memories of Grammie's house and garden.
Apr. 13, 2012 9:47 am
Thanks for coming, suzanne! Wish we could visit them again, don't you?
Apr. 13, 2012 10:55 am
What lovely memories you carry. I sometimes think the Depression made outstanding cooks. My grandmother too could make something from almost nothing. Thanks for sharing this slice of your life.
Apr. 13, 2012 2:57 pm
You are welcome, BigShotsMom! Thanks for dropping by!
Apr. 13, 2012 4:09 pm
LOVED THIS!! More Please!!
Apr. 13, 2012 4:18 pm
Bibi, I do not know what made me click back onto your blog. I do remember party lines! My grandmother lived in another city. so, it was long distance. My dad would call his mom every single night. They would talk for an hour! I asked my mom 'what could they possibly say tonight that they haven't mentioned before'. He really loved his mom. She was a talker as well. My dad had a loud voice and so did his mom. I could hear her but couldn't make out what she was saying.
Apr. 13, 2012 4:48 pm
Thanks, IrishCattleWoman. We shall see.... luv2cook, isn't it wonderful when something stirs the memory? I'm looking forward to some extra time this summer to just sit. Maybe something else will bubble up from the depths! ;~)
Apr. 13, 2012 8:22 pm
So neat, bibi! I hope my own grandkids remember me as fondly as you do Momma Whitson. It sounds like you come from real good stock!
Apr. 14, 2012 4:45 am
Hi, petey! What a nice compliment! At this age and stage, I'm beginning to think about things like that.
Apr. 14, 2012 7:57 am
Bibi, my grandma was a special lady who I admired for her cooking skills as well as her mannerisms. My grandma always made everyone feel special. I have many fond memories of her. It sounds like your grandma was also a wonderful person. Nice blog.
Apr. 14, 2012 8:39 am
Bibi - I thoroughly enjoyed your blog! You have an awesome way with words. I felt like I was a part of this huge family - getting together and enjoying such wonderful food. Thank you for writing this!
Apr. 14, 2012 11:15 am
Lela and Mother Ann, you are both so kind to take a look at my blog and respond. Your comments honor my grandmother, too!
Apr. 14, 2012 1:25 pm
What great memories! It makes me think of my grandparent's get togethers at the holidays. Tons of delicious dishes lined the counters, stove and any open space available. I know my grandmother measured our love for her by how much we ate. We never let her down and always finished our plates. She always had fresh baked bread and chocolate chip cookies every visit we made. But we all know that food is love :)
Apr. 14, 2012 1:57 pm
Oh yeah, MImom! No such word as "DIE-t" in my grandmother's vocabulary, either! Thanks for stopping by!
Apr. 14, 2012 3:42 pm
Oh, my experiences were similar to those you describe. Except that I was fortunate to live in the same small town as both sets of grandparents. My maternal grandparnets farmed. And, I know the details of selecting the chicken. My grandma kept a bent coat hanger over the door of the back porch, which she used to catch the leg of the selected hen!
Apr. 14, 2012 5:34 pm
Thisni Caza, you were fortunate indeed! For me, one set of grandparents lived about 80 miles away in one direction, and the other set lived about 80 miles away in another direction. I remember being in the car a lot, when I was young! Thanks for coming by!
Apr. 14, 2012 8:31 pm
Good morning Bibi! Xristos voskrese! Or 'Christ Has Risen' It is now the break of the new Dawn of the Orthodox Easter here in Moldova. I signed into AR to see if there were a recipe I was thinking of sharing next week when I return home. But as usual I became 'distracted' by so many interesting things here - today being your blog about your Grandmother. Bibi, those vanishing vistas of sweet innocent times are precious to each of us. They help to bring us closer to our calm within when the swirling world surrounds us. I can easily visualise Momma Whitson, in ways very similar to the lady I loved so much whose family cared for my horse during the winter seasons. Thank you so very much for sharing part of yourself. I'm sure many here will be able to smile as their own sweet memories return on this Easter Morning. voistinu voskrese!! 'Christ has Risen Indeed!' Fr. Bill [] www.Anglicans.blogspot.com
Apr. 15, 2012 3:19 am
Thank you for the kind words, Father Bill. "Vanishing vistas" is correct. I need to take the time to capture them with remembering! Have a blessed Easter!
Apr. 15, 2012 7:04 am
Bibi reading your memory of your grandmother has reminded me of my fantasy of my future. The next stage of my life will be as grandmother . No grand babies yet, only most loved pets. I would love to be the grandmother memory you so skillfully portray. This can be for my own children ,their loved ones , their pets, our friends. I believe you can make a statement of lasting positive love to anyone in your life. The cliche "it takes a village" comes to mind. Though I must admit I make it loud and clear I want grandchildren!!!!
Apr. 15, 2012 10:17 am
Totally understand, greenola! Fur-babies are nice, but human babies are nicer, IMO! Agree, also, that loving is not limited to blood relatives!
Apr. 15, 2012 3:50 pm
Great blog!
Apr. 15, 2012 6:48 pm
Thank you, Bibi, for sharing such wonderful memories with us. I loved every word of your blog! Do you know if the white clapboard house is still standing, and who is living there now? My dad told of having to wait until first the men ate, then the women ate, then the children got to be seated and eat what was left. By then they were starving, and, of course, the best pieces of chicken were gone! He said he remembered his uncles reaching for another piece of chicken, and the kids just about groaned out loud! He was born in 1910. We have the children go through the line first (with a little help), so they can be comfortable, and then the teenagers and adults go through. Everyone has at least 1 special dish they "have" to bring to any family dinner!
Apr. 16, 2012 8:26 am
What wonderful memories. It would be wonderful if children of today could create the same memories as you. I loved reading your blog, thank you so much for sharing.
Apr. 16, 2012 2:42 pm
CookandBakeGirl and Cheoah, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Appreciate it!!
Apr. 16, 2012 2:51 pm
Mamaw1, we called our other grandmother "mamaw"! In answer to your question, Momma Whitson's house is still standing, but it does not belong to a family member, now. I only have a few cousins left in that community. I believe she was born in 1894.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:42 pm
Thank you for that story. She sounds a lot like my great grandmother who was also a widow raising 5 children during the Great Depression. My great grandmother died long before I was born, but I imagine there is a lot of her left in my grandmother.
Apr. 17, 2012 1:02 pm
You are welcome, Liz! Grandmothers are awesome people!
Apr. 18, 2012 7:10 am
Good Morning Bibi, we've been traveling and I'm just today trying to get caught up on reading blogs. Read yours and now I'm on a "sentimental journey" with my own Grandmothers. You have a gift of evoking emotion through your writing skills. I LOVED reading through your blog. Wonderful! Simply wonderful!
Apr. 18, 2012 12:18 pm
My grandmother had 14 children (and then kicked her husband out). The gatherings were much as you described (not the vegetable gardens and the chicken coops, as she lived in the city). There was no room for sit down dinners. If you found a chair you didn't dare move because it would be gone when you came back. The stairs would be full of grandkids eating on their laps. It was a fun time!!!! Sadly, she passed away in 1980 and it hasn't been the same since. Thanks for the memories.
Apr. 18, 2012 1:13 pm
Candice and jad1954, so glad I helped you remember your grandmothers. Weren't they wonderful? Like you jad, it was not the same after she passed, and the tradition has been lost. The last time all my cousins were together was at her funeral. Sad.
Apr. 18, 2012 3:59 pm
Bibi, thank you for the images so sweetly placed by your words. I like to think that tblessing our food brings us closer to the ones we love both here and in Heaven. This is the prayer I taught my own, I was a widow raising five teens in 2002, and now I am a Grandmother: "Heavenly Father, please bless this food and the hands that prepared it and the hands that provided it." and then I would add something funny like, ...and please don't let anyone trip over the shoes that John has left infront of the door again... Reading your story has elevated my awareness of who I will always be to the ones I love. Bless you.
Apr. 18, 2012 4:46 pm
I loved reading your blog post, Bibi! Such vivid memories painted in words...so clear for me to see your loving family gathered in that tiny house. Thanks for sharing!
Apr. 18, 2012 7:03 pm
What great tender loving memories you have to treasure for a lifetime. You are very blessed to have had such a wonderful grandmother in Momma Whitson and loving family. Oh how I long for memories like that!
Apr. 19, 2012 2:22 am
bflood, love the way you say grace! It shows if folks are listening if they laugh, and I think it shows that you believe God has a sense of humor! Thanks for your blessing!
Apr. 19, 2012 2:57 am
Paula and KGora, thanks for the kind words. I treasure the memories of those times together. So glad you enjoyed reading about them!
Click to Change your Profile Picture

Home Town
Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA
Living In
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Member Since
Dec. 2009

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

Gardening, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting

Go Pro!

In Season

Easter Desserts
Easter Desserts

Bunny cakes, lamb cakes, chocolate eggs, and carrot cakes to nibble on.

Plan Your Easter Brunch
Plan Your Easter Brunch

Breakfast casseroles, drinks, fancy eggs, and brunch ideas for a sweet Easter event.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
My cooking experiences began in the 4th grade Conservation Club. Cooking and Sewing were classes for girls, and my mom agreed to teach them for me and a couple of friends. We began with a blond brownie sort of dessert. After I made it a few times, I began to experiment with the recipe. Mom was a no-recipe cook, and I do that, too, but I usually follow a new recipe the first time. Most of the time, I can tell by looking if we will like it. I have a husband, 2 sons, 1 granddaughter, and one ex-daughter-in-law. I was chosen to be an AllRecipes Allstar Ambassador in 2012, and I am so excited! 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 my blog, "Sweet & Savory". The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of me, Bibi.
My favorite things to cook
My favorite thing to cook is dressing (I'm a Southern Gal) for holiday turkey. I never work from a recipe, but I just start sauteing and mixing, sampling as I go. By the time I think it's right for the oven, I've eaten a full serving of the raw mix!
My favorite family cooking traditions
I have some heirloom recipes from both my grandmothers, my mother, and other family members. When I prepare them, I am remembering time in their kitchens.
My cooking triumphs
One year, we hosted my husband's office Christmas party in our home. I did the whole dinner for 24, and it was a huge success.
My cooking tragedies
My first try at making croissants was kind of embarrassing. The croissants were a success, but the house was a disaster, and of course, the guests were already there! The recipe said to bake them in a jelly roll pan, but I used a cookie sheet. As the butter in the croissants melted, it ran off the sheet and into the hot oven, smoking up the whole house! Was my face red ...
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States