- Making pies - any kind of pie, with whatever was coming out of their orchard, bushes or vines.
- Peeling apples, spooning out the fruit to us as small children while we "tweeted" and pretended we were birds.
- "Unfastening Beans" as I called it when I was little - or shelling beans.
- Canning - she and my grandfather would can and/or freeze everything from their garden.
- Using the old, hand-crank meat grinder.
- Frying, frying and more frying.
- Always filling up a little jar on the stove with leftover grease after the frying. (Everything was cooked in some kind of pork fat usually.) Yummy!
I smile when I remember that she was always wearing an apron and often had a cigarette going while cooking. Even when she was very old and suffering from some dementia, she would have a cigarette either hanging from her lip or her hands or sitting in an ashtray next to the stove. We were always reminding her that her ashes were falling. (I wonder how many ended up in the food!)
One cooking tradition I have always maintained from her is fried yellow squash. Whenever I see the first ones hit the market, I slice them in thin rounds, toss them in cornmeal and flour, salt and pepper and fry them. I remember eating them as soon as they came out of the pan when she would make them.
She influenced me, like my other grandmother, to be patient, that cooking was a labor of love, not to be rushed, but to be enjoyed. Whenever I "unfasten" beans or peel apples, I sit, as she did, with a big bowl on my lap, in the quiet of the kitchen or the fresh air outside and work calmly at my task. It is very zen for me, and for her, it was her peaceful time, before the grouchy husband got home, before the crowd showed up for dinner, when she could truly be alone with her thoughts and peaceful surroundings.
Thank you Nana for passing on the feeling of peace that cooking gives me. Happy Birthday!