Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grandma's Kitchen

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.


  1. I enjoyed reading the card playing scene. I felt her presence as I read it, even though I never met her. Very authentic writing.

  2. You deftly moved this piece beyond the smells and tastes of food to those other essential qualities of life lived with those who loved you.

  3. I loved the way you began with delectable food...and then segued into all the other family stuff that makes for great memories. Wonderful piece, Deb!

  4. Your description of Sunday dinners at your Grandma's made me salivate! I'm very hungry now. What lovely memories you have of growing up--I'm afraid the pace of life has kept many kids from having such a wonderful experience with family. What a blessing for you!

  5. You took me back to my family Sunday dinner when we would visit Wisconsin. Those are memories to savor. Nice, Deb, just so nice.

  6. It makes me so nostalgic for those times, Deb. How did they do it so many times. You wrote this so beautifully, with the food first, which really is where its place is, & then the seating, and finally that wonderful entertainment. We played Pitch &/or Canasta, but on longer times, someone always got the Monopoly out. There were those moments I saw the same glimpse too, like 'Grandma would never let us win.' We didn't argue, we just improved so we could win. Exactly. Thanks for the memories.

  7. What a lovely memory. You took me back to the dinners at Grandma's and yes, we played cards - Canasta - and always for a prize. I don't think Grandma let us win, we had to earn it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our grandchildren will have similar memories. Thanks for sharing.

  8. "I always knew I was loved there." What a descriptive line that is! It holds so much weight, that line. It makes me think that is the kind of place you provide for your students. A place where they can be sure they are cared about.

    I sucked it up and I am joining you and Linda and the others for the summer writing camp challenge. I might fade in and out, but I figured some is better than none!

  9. I read a slice (someone else's) about grandma's hands today. And now your slice is about your grandma's kitchen. How wonderful to see grandmas getting so many props today.

    Hope you're enjoying summer writing camp!

  10. I'm hungry and want to play cards! Everything grandmas and grandpas are good for - food, lots of love and games! I love how you captured these special times. I had flashbacks of photographs my mom has of the family, sitting around the table, laughing and playing cards. A perfect memory!

  11. Deb,
    You captured your grandma's kitchen perfectly! Like Michelle, I'm hungry, and I want to play cards (but I would rather play with someone else's money, thank you! I still haven't done my "place" writing. Guess I should go get busy.

  12. As I read, I could picture my grandmother's kitchen and dining room where we would gather. Foods as you described were there - wholesome, natural, plentiful, delicious, aromatic - and the card games...for pennies...that I would lose. Cribbage, Pokeno...and some Monopoly, too. Kitchen overlooked the ocean where our grandfather taught us to lobster and row a boat.
    Thanks for bringing back memories of love! Loved the way you told it.


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