The Monday morning warmup from Jo Knowles was to describe a kitchen from our childhood. Grandma's kitchen I decided, made a perfect slice. And, yes, this is the same grandma as Grandma's Garage.
Quite simply, it smelled of love.
There was always something cooking or baking in Grandma's kitchen, especially on Sundays. Sunday dinners put most restaurant buffets to shame. Grandma and Grandpa started cooking early in the morning, and it seemed like the stove or oven was going all day. A beef roast and a pork roast cooked together in a roaster (because it made the best gravy to cook them together), pork cutlets or chicken fried in a nearby pan. Potatoes boiled. Macaroni and cheese baked in the oven (called witch's brew when it was warmed up for supper). Pies cooled on the counter--lemon merengue, banana cream, French Silk chocolate, and always an apple. Recipes never skimped on ingredients--real whipped cream, pie crusts from lard, butter for potatoes. You didn't try to diet on Sunday.
The grown-ups gathered at the kitchen table for dinner. The seven grandkids sat in the "breezeway". Conversation flowed from room to room, as food passed around the table. If you were hungry when you left the table, it was your own fault.
After the dinner was cleared and dishes were done, we moved on to the activities of the day. Often we grandkids were herded up and taken to the movies (I have a special fondness for John Wayne/Clint Eastwood/cowboy movies to this day). If it was nice outside, we might be able to talk Grandpa into a hike through the woods.
But my favorite Sundays were the days we played cards.
When I finally got to start playing cards with the grownups I felt like I had arrived. Grandma taught us all to play cards at that kitchen table. And you always played for money. Your money. If you didn't have money to play, you could "earn" it, but Grandma never gave it to you. We first learned 500 Rummy. Then Pitch, 500. And finally Poker--all those goofy "ladies" games with lots of jokers. Grandma never let us win. If you beat her a card game, you really beat her, and she loved it. If you made mistakes playing, you heard about it, and you better not make that mistake again. I loved playing cards with her.
Sundays ended as they began, with food. Dinners remains were pulled from the fridge and warmed up. We gathered around the kitchen table and laughed and joked about the day.
Grandma and Grandpa's house was my safe haven as a kid. I always knew I was loved there. When life got tough at home, I could ride my bike to see them. We'd sit at the kitchen table, have a cookie and a glass of milk and I could spill my troubles. After an hour or so, I'd feel better and ride back home, ready to face the world again.