Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)
TITLE: Nanny’s Kitchen and Tay Daddy’s Table
By Kathy Barnes
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Tay Daddy, my grandfather had made a great round table with a lazy-Susan top. I wonder how many times it has turned. The table seated a dozen at a time around it. This was good because by the time we added in all the spouses, kids and visitors; we normal had between 75 to 100 bodies in a small house. Exactly who was there changed as travel and job permitted, but most tried to make it home. The babies got the first round at the table usually while the rolls finished; the kids got paper plates, the porch and picnic table under the oak; one round of men ending up in the living room with whatever game was on; a second set eat at the table; followed by a couple of tables of women. The cooks ate last if you don’t count what we tasted along the way.
Nanny, my mother and I were the major cooks as we lived there. We started Saturday just to get enough food cooked. Up until my home-economics teacher wanted to know why my recipe for potato salad started with ten pounds of potatoes, I thought everyone cooked for small armies on the weekend. For those of you who weren’t blessed to have this experience I would like to describe a normal meal. I am sorry, but no words can do justice to the smells and tastes, but the memories of these delicious tastes still make my mouth water.
We would typically have a ham baked to perfection with a pineapple glaze; a turkey, skin golden brown and juice oozing down as you cut; a rump roast cooked until it was falling apart in the brown gravy, onions, carrots, and new potatoes; a plate full of fresh caught fish; or venison steaks depending on the season. If Aunt Linda managed to come up from the gulf, fresh crabs or shrimps. There were large roasters of cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and bake beans. Large plates of corn on the cob covered in melting butter, and crisp French-fries, okra, and green tomatoes invite you to taste. Savory bowl of black eye peas, mustard greens and ham hock sat with steam rising from them and appetizing bowls of green salad, potato salad, coleslaw, and exquisite ambrosia beckoned ones pallets. Then there were the scrumptiously yummy homemade yeast rolls, and pans of cornbread. Someone would bring banana pudding, deviled eggs, sliced tomatoes, fried chicken, rice and dumplings. Aunt Skeet and Dot would bring platters of homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and fried apple pies. You had your choice of cold ice tea, hot coffee or fresh milk straight from the cow.
This feast was followed by a break, as the crowd before or after you finished eating. When the bellies would allow, then the deserts took center stage. There was of course fresh ice-cold watermelon, and cantaloupes. We always had one fresh cobbler of either peach, apple, blackberry. Nanny’s cobbler won blue ribbons at the fair. There were chocolate pies, caramel pies, and old fashion lemon cheesecake. My Mother’s white coconut cake with pineapple filling and cream cheese icing, hummingbird cake and chocolate pound cake with hot fudge sauce, nothing was ever left on the plate. The kids would have cold bottoms from sitting on freezers of vanilla, peach or strawberry ice cream, while parents churned.
I am sure somewhere or time there was a bad dish, but I cannot remember it. I do remember all the fun we had. My grandmother taught me a lot about life during those times of bonding over hot stoves, laughing at jokes, catching up of each person’s lives. Those times must have been enchanting because despite the paper plates, I barely remember all those dirty pots and pans, and hard work. My grandmother died as I started colleges and we slowly disbanded. However, I would love to go back to that time again. I can still close my eyes, smell the food and taste the love that filled the house and overflow into our hearts.
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