Friday, May 11, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Grandma's Kitchen

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.


 

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt made me think of kitchens.  No kitchen holds as many memories as my Grandma Lucille Rucker Davis’s kitchen.  It was a small box, 12’x12’ if that.  Along one outside wall was the only set of cabinets made of white metal which shared space with a stove and sink under a window. 

Me in Grandma's kitchen 1965
Written on the back:  I didn't want my
picture taken. Daddy chased me!

The opposite wall held a small refrigerator which fit into an alcove under the stairs.  In the middle of the room were a grey-white enamel kitchen table and 4 chairs with black vinyl seats.  A metal appliance cart in the corner held an electric frying pan and a few choice baking dishes.  But that was it.  Today’s homeowner wants COUNTERSPACE.  There was none to speak of in Grandma’s kitchen.  She did her prep work on that table. 

And Grandma did the cooking EVERY Sunday.  EVERY Thanksgiving.  EVERY Christmas. And whenever she felt like it. I inherited some of my grandmother’s dishes but not her ability to bang out a meal on demand.  Whenever I reach for my grandmother’s Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf bowl, I am instantly taken back to her kitchen.



I can hear the cacophony of pots and pans as Grandma dug through the cramped lower cabinets, pots stacked precariously toppling over, lids crashing onto the floor, baking sheets and muffin tins being reassigned a new spot with every bang of a pan.  (Today when my sister or I get a little noisy in the kitchen, we say, “Look out, Lucille!”)

I can still see the steam glistening on the glossy white walls.   At times they seemed to actually sweat with the frenzy of meal preparation.

I can smell the aroma of tomatoes and green peppers in the Swiss steak bubbling away in the skillet. 

Crammed somewhere in the little refrigerator would be a dish of Jello salad.  Grandma thought no meal was complete without Jello.

Grandma's recipe for Swiss Steak written in her
distinctive back-slant and her Jell-o cookbook

The yellow Pyrex dish was perfect for Grandma’s potato salad then.  It’s perfect for her potato salad now.  (And because of Grandma’s recipe, we’re potato salad snobs.  You won’t see us picking up potato salad at Sam’s Club to take to a covered-dish event.)



Grandma’s kitchen was a small room, but in it she created some big memorable dishes.

See what else is cookin’ at Sepia Saturday.



40 comments:

  1. What great memories! I love the picture--and what you wrote on the back. :)

    I have lots of great memories of my grandma's kitchen as well. I find myself writing about them often since her death nearly three years ago. I had some of the best times of my young life at Grandma's house and in her tiny kitchen. Thanks for bringing back those memories. :)

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    1. Thank-ya ma'am. It's about time I returned the favor. You always evoke memories and cause me to recall things I haven't thought about in ages.

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  2. My grandmother's kitchen had a Rayburn (a poorer version of an Aga) which was lit all year round as it also heated the water. She also had a conventional cooker. There was a knack to cooking with the Rayburn but her cakes were delicious.

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    1. My husband always talks about how his grandmother cooked on a wood stove and how delicious her cakes and rolls were. By the time I got into the family, she was no longer able to cook because of her severe arthritis.

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  3. It’s as though we were all there in your grandma’s kitchen; a wonderful description. It’s nice to have the recipes and books and her lovely dishes too. What great memories.

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    1. It is nice. We're a sentimental bunch.

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  4. I don't remember my grandmas or their houses; the kitchen in the house where I was born is a different matter - that I remember vividly as it had the warm black-leaded grate which never went out as it provided our hot water - but only a gallon at a time.

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    1. ONE gallon?? I'm too much of a princess -- that would be too hard for me.

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  5. Wendy, this is so great. I can just imagine being at your Grandma's for dinner. Thanks for triggering the memories of my own grandmothers kitchens too ... Grandma J. had one (though she redesigned it later on) and taught me so much in there. Grandma T. had three and I mainly remember home-canned peaches, fruit salad and Brussels sprouts.

    A most excellent and detailed post!

    Kathy M.

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    1. My grandma let me help too. Good times! My grandma made fig preserves that were a family favorite (not mine though). We've been unable to find a suitable replacement for hers.

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  6. Grandma was an amazing cook. I STILL miss her fried chicken, chicken gravy, steaming hot rolls! I can remember her rule for not opening the folding door between the kitchen and dining room while the chicken was frying! Her hair was always "busted" when she finished, but what a meal!

    My favorite time in her kitchen is when she would steam the crabs caught at St. Julian's creek.

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    1. Too bad we don't have a picture of Grandma in action!

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  7. Oh what a delightful post. Funny thing for me, even though my grandma has been gone for too long now, her kitchen is still my favorite. I can be somewhere and catch a scent that takes me right back to her kitchen and her cooking! Thanks!

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    1. I know what you mean, Karen. I was at a friend's house a few weeks ago and she served a dessert that my Grandmother used to make a lot. It's been years since I've had that dessert. I don't know what was better -- the dessert or the memories that came with it.

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  8. Ah yes, the happy days in Grandma's kitchen... I'm sure your grandmother loved having you there with her. Cooks of that generation had to be excellent space and equipment managers - my grandmother cooked for a whole farm crew, three meals a day during threshing season in a space about this same size. Lookng back, I regard this as a minor miracle.

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    1. Miracle, indeed! Fixing ONE big meal for company takes it out of me.

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  9. Lovely post! It took me back to my grandmother's kitchens too. I don't remember ever helping either of them cook though.

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    1. I don't have vivid memories of helping although I know I did. I was probably in the way more than helpful!

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  10. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for inviting us in to grandma's kitchen. I'd love to have her recipe for Swiss steak.
    Nancy

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    1. Are you serious? If so, I'll get it to you.

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  11. Wonderful memories, never forgotten, always cherished. It is for sure the best outfitted kitchen does not make the cook!

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    1. You are so right. A good cook infuses her secret ingredient -- love!

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  12. Wonderful images and memories. And that kitchen of your grandma's could almost be a perfect match for the one of my mothers.

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    1. It's probably a good thing that the former generation of cooks didn't know what they were missing.

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  13. That's a cute picture of you and the kitchen. I does look rather crowded.

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    1. Definitely room for only 1 person between the counter and table!

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  14. Your kitchen-related memories have triggered a few memories of my own too, especially of my grandmother and her sister in the kitchen together....

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    1. That scenario can go one of two ways: lots of sisterly fun OR a recipe for disaster!

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  15. What evocative memories you have recounted - thank you.

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  16. Enjoyed your post - it brought back memories of both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother spoiled us with her homemade macaroni and cheese - we don't settle for the Kraft blue box. My children have never had the Kraft version. :) I like your grandmother's dishes. Isn't it great to use dishes that have been a part of many family meals through your lifetime? The dishes evoke memories and a connection to the past.

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    1. No Kraft mac'n'cheese here either! I agree, using Grandma's dishes always triggers a memory. I think the food maybe even tastes better.

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  17. It is amazing how much food hits us on every level, allowing memories to come flooding back and the sight, smell, or taste of something. Recipes passed down are richer than an object.

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  18. So True Wendy.Kitchen Memories evoke so many different senses.Aroma:Sound:Taste:Motion.The Living Heart of The Home.

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    1. "Living Heart of the Home" -- I like that!

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  19. Hey! That looks exactly like the kitchen from my first apartment, except I think mine was smaller! I too have wonderful memories of both of my grandmothers' kitchens, they were always such happy places. I own the same Jewel Tea ball jug, in fact I have a collection of 20 ball jugs, they were all made by the Hall China Company in the 1930's to late 1950's. Great post Wendy!

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    1. I'd love to see that collection. 20 jugs lined up together would make a beautiful presentation.

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  20. Why is it that grandmas always seemed to hold secrets to making a great meal? And why did they keep it to themselves?!? Loved seeing that Jell-o cookbook!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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    1. Yeah - naughty grandmas. It's not nice not to share.

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