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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Collards, Cakes and a side of nostalgia...

Sitting on my Great-Grandparent's porch swing with my brother

Just yesterday, I grabbed the frozen zip-loc bag from the freezer. The many bags of peas sit next to the multiple bags of peanuts that were picked up, shelled and bagged by my Papaw. I remind myself to make homemade peanut butter soon (as I do every time and have yet to accomplish). I use scissors to cut the bag open along the edges to make sure that I don't spill the bag and take the chance of losing any of the peas as they are a precious commodity (I have an assortment of white peas and butterbeans right now). Supplies are dwindling.  I fill the pot with just the right amount of water and then add my seasonings;  a slice of bacon cut up and some of my "Mamaw" seasoning which is really just a packet of Goya but I refer to as my "Mamaw seasoning" and will until I die.

The way my house smells as they cook transports me back in time. I'm sitting in her kitchen and just smelling all of the wonderful food that is being prepared; dressing, dumpling, collards, fried cornbread, okra, and peas. The smell makes me smile because I know as an adult that all I need to do to feel closer to my grandparents is to cook the food they made with love countless times. I've found my way through dumplings and now my husband swears they are 'better' than my elders (I disagree or at least would never admit to that). Collard greens are no longer an intimidating vegetable at the market but something I greet with a smile and sigh knowing how delicious they'll be later that evening served with pepper sauce that Papaw sent home with me last time in an old Crown Royal bottle.

Cooking is certainly not my forte by any stretch but food just brings it all together for me....especially where my Grandparents are concerned.  It's memories. It's knowing that when I showed up at each of my grandparents house that Mamaw would have that Layered Chocolate cake waiting and that Grandma would have an Italian Cream Cake ready to go or biscuits with tomato gravy for breakfast.  It's the legacy of many people. My Great-Granddaddy almost always had a pound cake baked for company and I desperately remind myself to bake one when I know company is coming. I usually don't have one on the ready for fear I'll eat the entire thing myself. But I strive to take a cue from his book.

Lucky for me all of my Grandparents are still alive. I feel so grateful for this time as an adult. You appreciate more the older you get. You really listen to stories. Absorb information.  I still get that joy of going to their house and being able to smell something familiar. It may not be cakes or collards anymore but it's a comforting scent no less. Living in the South has provided me the chance to see them more than I had growing up and one my 2014 goals is to incorporate more of those travels into our lives. They have so much to teach and I love sharing what I take away from those conversations.

This has me thinking so much though about what I'll leave behind one day. What will my hypothetical grandchildren think of when they think of me? What will my children think of me? I want to be a purposeful and thoughtful person and make sure I remind myself of those questions each day. That I want to be the best version of myself as possible because it's what we leave behind in memories that is most important.

What memories do you have, food that you cook, thing that you do to help you feel connected to your Grandparents or Family?

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