I’m not sure where this one will go; I just know it is another of those nights when sleep is a few hours away if it is there at all. I usually know what I want to say when I approach the keyboard; then I figure out how to say it as I go along. Tonight I really don’t know what or how.
For obvious reasons I have been very concerned about how I would handle November, December and January. I was expecting them to be tough. November met those expectations but I was kind of prepared and I think I am doing OK.
I have spent some time; actually I have spent a lot of time, in the kitchen this week. I haven’t cooked much because it is almost impossible to cook in an upside down kitchen. I have almost completed the difficult task (physically and emotionally) of converting the place from Sharyl’s kitchen to my kitchen. It wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted help doing; I probably needed help but I wasn’t smart enough to ask.
I had time to think about or revisit the kitchens that have been part of my life. There are three of them and if it is OK I will share some of the things that crossed my mind as I emptied and rearranged the cabinets this week.
One of those kitchens belonged to the lady I called mom, my kids called her Granny Pearl. One of them belonged to the lady my girls called mom and my grandkids called Maw Maw. The third belongs to a tired senile old man; I shudder to think what others may call him.
I know sometimes kitchens are shared, that wasn’t an option with these three kitchens. Thinking about my mom and Sharyl sharing a kitchen is laughable. They got along great, thought the world of each other and they both were very good cooks but their philosophies regarding kitchens and cooking were completely opposite. Technically Sharyl and I shared for about three years, but I really just used hers and I tried not to change anything so on her good days she was comfortable there.
Sharyl’s kitchen was my home kitchen for more than forty years. She was a good cook; however if she would have made a list of the things she liked to do, cooking wouldn’t have cracked the top twenty-five. She cooked because it came with the territory and approached it kind of like she approached life. She stayed between the lines, she didn’t vary much from the printed recipe she had in front of her.
I remembered one of her social outlets in our early years was an occasional Tupperware party because I discovered quite a bit of vintage Tupperware tucked away in the dark corners of the cabinets. She also was a heck of a homeroom mother because if the oven was big enough I have enough muffin tins to do 68 muffins or cupcakes at one time.
Our daily use cookware is some Salad master stainless steel we bought at one of those party deals in 1965. We couldn’t afford it, but we managed to pay it out over the next three or twelve years. I guess it was a good investment because I think I still have all of it and it is almost good as new.
The first twenty something years of my life I took my nourishment in this lady’s kitchen.
Mom would have placed cooking at or very near the top of a list of things she liked to do. I’m sure she had some printed recipes but I don’t remember ever seeing one. Mom’s cooking was a little like her life it didn’t bother her to get outside the lines from time to time. Honestly I don’t think there were lines in her kitchen.
I think it is a little characteristic of those ladies that lived the great depression to be very innovative in the kitchen. My mom became an adult and started her family during that time. If she had a pound of ground beef and enough saltine crackers, she could make enough meatloaf to feed an army. During some of the tough years when I was a kid we frequently had sauerkraut and wieners or “kraut and weenies” as we called it. Often when the bowl got to me there weren’t many weenies left. I accused my brother of getting all the weenies; fact is there weren’t many weenies to begin with. Mom did what she needed to do with what she had.
She knew how to make lye soap and to render lard from hog fat. She canned everything imaginable; I spent a lot of summer days washing fruit jars to support her canning habit and I guess she canned to support our eating habit.
She continued to can, primarily pickles, relish and jellies and jams as long as she was physically able. One time she was making plum jelly and apple jelly, at the end of the day she had a little bit of each juice left, the old do not waste it depression mindset kicked in. Did you ever have apple-plum jelly? My girls loved it; every year thereafter she would make the girls some apple-plum jelly.
Mom cooked professionally for several years, primarily as a pastry cook. In ’62 she made a scale model (I guess that is what you call it) cake for the dedication ceremony of the Raley Chapel at Okla. Baptist University. One time Sharyl and I delivered a very large wedding cake on snow covered roads for her. I think it was about a thirty-mile trip.
The problem with not using written recipes is; things don’t always taste like they did last time. Most of mom’s stuff was always very good but when she made meatloaf or dressing as in turkey and dressing; we learned to approach it with caution. Sometimes it was very good and sometimes you wished you would have only taken a small helping. I would like to try one more slice of that meatloaf.
The third kitchen in my life is still very much a work in progress. I should have shared kitchen duties with Sharyl over the years, I didn’t, no excuses. We were very compatible in a lot of the things we did; cooking was not one of those things.
When she got sick some wonderful friends fed us very well for about two months. If I would have allowed it they might still be bringing meals and yes I have had second thoughts. I tried to fix what Sharyl could and would eat. She was appreciative and forgiving because she knew I was trying. I’m not sure if genetics or environment is the primary driving force in my cooking style. I use recipes but I usually deviate a little, I have always preferred to at least step over the line just a little. I think if I was smart enough or experienced enough I would probably be more like my mom. Don’t accept an invitation if I’m having meatloaf.
The conversion is almost complete, if I took a before and after picture they would look almost the same. The in process picture would be scary. I have a few lids without containers and some containers without lids, but mostly I just put this where that was and that where this was. Kind of done it my way.
I’m sorry this one got a little long. I’m not real sure when I’ll be back, I don’t have anything in mind to write about but I’ll probably have a goofy thought worth sharing in a few days or a few weeks.
Thanks for reading what I write and god knows I still need your prayers.
Good Night and god Bless.